8 Things You Should Buy at Costco When You're Hosting a Party, According to a Food Editor

Getting your snacks and apps from this warehouse store makes entertaining easier.

My family entertains a lot. From the Super Bowl and World Cup to birthday parties and more, people know they're always welcome at our house. And one of the first things I do before we have people over is make a Costco shopping list.

When I start planning to have folks over, I start with the "main" menu (aka what we'll eat for dinner), then figure out the dessert, then lastly I decide what apps and snacks round out the meal. I try to make the meal make sense. To me, that means I keep it on-theme and also have the meal feel balanced. For example, if we're having a carb-heavy meal like spaghetti and meatballs, I'll make a light snack spread like veggies and dip along with some spiced nuts.

a photo of a Costco storefront
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Then comes my grocery shopping list, which is divided up by store and—of course—there's a column for what to buy at Costco. Outside of the things I buy there frequently, there are several items that I buy almost exclusively when I entertain. Here are my top eight.

1. Rojo's Black Bean Six Layer Dip

A fantastic app for Super Bowl parties, as well as taco-themed shindigs, this dip makes everyone swoon. I'm super psyched that they started selling these in a two-tub package (because who doesn't want to have leftovers for the next day?). It's packed with black beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and two types of cheese. I also love to bring this to the beach and on camping trips in the summer.

2. Kirkland Organic Tortilla Chips

Obviously you need some tortilla chips to scoop up that dip. Costco usually has a couple of brands of tortilla chips, but their store-brand organic chips are the only ones I buy. This monstrous 40-ounce bag is just the thing you need for entertaining. The chips are crispy, crunchy and the right amount of salty. Once I get to the bottom crumbs, I make a batch of chili to sprinkle them on top of.

3. Cheese

I buy 90% of my cheese from Costco. Not only do I buy the cheeses we eat on a weekly basis (Cheddar, Parmesan and feta, if you're curious), I also get fresh mozzarella, blue cheese. Manchego and more. With such a wide variety, it's easy to assemble a well-balanced cheese board. Just open up a box of crackers, garnish the board with apple slices or grapes, and your cheese plate is done and done.

4. Crackers

Speaking of crackers … I'm not going to list a specific brand here because you should just buy what you like. Before the holidays, I bought the Kellogg's Entertainment Crackers Collection, which I've been slowly chipping away at. There are several sleeves of a variety of types in the package, so you can choose the one that goes best with the dip or cheese you're pairing it with. I also like that there are different sleeves, so I can open just what I'll likely need without the entire box going stale. Or grab a box of Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers, Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers or one of the other versatile brands Costco carries.

5. Kirkland Extra Fancy Mixed Nuts

We're big snackers of nuts at my house, so I always have some on hand. I usually put out a bowl of them whenever we have people over. They're great for nervous snacking during contentious sporting events, as well as a good option for vegan guests. On an unrelated side note, Costco started packing these in a bag instead of a hard plastic container and I couldn't be more pleased by the switch—and the packaging says this option uses 85% less plastic!

6. Chicken Quesadillas

I know most people run to the deli section for the rotisserie chickens, but I only buy one thing there: the quesadillas. You get 8 good-sized quesadillas, jam-packed with spicy chicken and cheese, plus mini containers of salsa, sour cream and guacamole. I usually buy them for a quick lunch or dinner, but they're also easy to cook and platter up for parties.

7. Mini Bell Peppers

If you plan to have any dips, grabbing a bag of these sweet bites is a good move. They pair with just about anything you're serving up. Or try stuffing them with pimiento cheese—you could even run them under the broiler to make the cheese a little melty.

8. Bibigo Chicken & Vegetable Potstickers

Honestly, you can't go wrong with any potsticker or dumpling from the freezer section, although I like these and the ones by Ling Ling best because they come with sauce packets. You can cook them up in batches a bit in advance (not too far in advance, though) and keep them warm in a 200°F oven until your guests arrive. Plus, you have them on hand for quick dinners like soups and stir-frys, too.

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