We Compared Butter Prices at Aldi, Costco, and Trader Joe’s — Here’s the Cheapest One

published Mar 13, 2023
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Graphic collage of Aldi, Costco, and Trader Joe's storefronts
Credit: Photos: Carina Romano, Philip Arno Photography, Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock; Design: Kitchn

Last week, we visited a local Aldi, Costo, and Trader Joe’s to compare milk prices at each retailer. Milk is a staple in our kitchens and we were curious to see which of these budget-friendly faves would give us the most cups for our coins. (The cheapest may even surprise you!)

Another regular grocery item in our homes? Butter. It’s very easy for us to go through multiple sticks a week when cooking, baking, board-ing, or schmearing is involved. Butter prices have increased a lot over the past year — 19.4 percent, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. We wanted to find out if it’s more cost effective these days to stock up at our go-to bulk warehouse (butter does freeze well!), or would we discover just the opposite? Once again, we grabbed our car keys and headed to the three stores.

Just as we did for milk, we visited each store on the same day. (The stores are located in a suburb of New York and less than 10 minutes from each other.) After some quick calculations, we were shocked to find out just how close the prices were between all three retailers. Here’s what we learned.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

Unsalted or Salted Butter

You can find name-brand butter at select Costco locations and even Trader Joe’s, but we didn’t spot any during our most recent trip. So instead, we focused on the store brands at all three locations. Aldi, Costco, and Trader Joe’s each stock store-brand versions of salted and unsalted butter and, within each retailer, the butters are identical in price and quantity. (The Trader Joe’s Salted Butter and Trader Joe’s Unsalted Butter, for example, were each $3.99 for one pound.) Between retailers is a bit of a different story. 

Aldi and Trader Joe’s both sell their butters in one-pound packs for almost the same price; Aldi’s Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter was on sale for $3.23, although it typically retails for $3.98. Trader Joe’s Unsalted Butter was $3.99 — that’s 76 cents more than the sale price (and only one cent more than the regular price)! 

Credit: Mara Weinraub

At first glance, the $12.99 price tag for Costco’s Kirkland Signature Unsalted Sweet Cream Butter looks way more expensive than the Trader Joe’s and Aldi options. But, like many items at the warehouse, the Kirkland butter is sold in bulk. Four-pound packs, to be exact! So we need a 1:1:1 (pound) comparison to really see which butter buy would be the most cost-effective. 

One fast and easy way to compare is to look at the unit price, which tells us how much we’re paying per pound of butter. (Another option is to use the calculator app on your phone to quickly crunch the numbers.) Of course, we did both to double check our math. If this were a race, it’d be a photo finish: The price per pound for butter at Costco is $3.248, roughly two cents more than Aldi’s butter on sale (or 73 cents less than the regular price).

In the end, the sale price made all the difference. It’s worth keeping an eye out the next time your local Aldi has a discount on butter. And if you have the room in your freezer (and your budget), you might consider stocking up — especially if you have hosting plans on the horizon.

Best price: Aldi’s Countryside Creamery Sweet Cream Unsalted or Salted Butter, $3.23 for 16 ounces

What grocery staple do you want us to compare next? Tell us in the comments.