The $8 Costco Grocery I’ve Been Stocking in My Fridge for 4 Years (I Never Leave the Store Without It!)

published Jun 10, 2024
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View of Costco wholesale storefront in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Credit: Jack Hong / Shutterstock

I just got back from a six-month sojourn to Chennai, India. I lived there for four years in my early 20s, and it’s a great thing to escape blisteringly-cold Midwestern winters for Christmas on the beach. Drinking chicory coffee, letting my hair fly as I weave my motorcycle along winding roads with surprisingly few traffic rules — it’s something I miss and crave, every year.

But this time, I missed the Midwest. After about two months, I started yearning for creamy cheese, squeaky curds, and Olive Garden salad dressing. Yes, the Italian vinaigrette is what makes those famous restaurant salads truly unlimited — my father and I can never get enough.

Whenever I return to my parents’ home, I can be sure to find a few things in the fridge: perfectly portioned Pyrex containers, or dabbas, with a mishmash of South Indian cooking and homemade yogurt, alongside a 28-ounce bottle of Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing. When that “signature” dressing first popped up on shelves at our local Costco four years ago (in a two-pack!), you bet we stocked up. 

Credit: Lavanya Narayanan

What’s So Great About Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing?

Olive Garden’s Signature Italian dressing is everything I want in an Italian dressing — in bottled form. There’s an unmistakable punch of vinegar, flecks of herbs (like dehydrated garlic) mixed in, and a nice creaminess that makes it feel indulgent, but not over-the-top. 

The eggs in the dressing, used for emulsification and stability, also add a richness I don’t find in a typical olive oil-based vinaigrette. After years of guessing the Garden’s secret ingredient, I learned the slightly rich, a tad umami, almost nutty flavor coming through is from the Romano cheese that’s blended in. 

So while I’ll continue to visit Olive Garden for its endless bowls of fresh lettuce, plump olives, and crisp croutons, if only to humor my father, it’s nice to know I can enjoy a spoonful of that magic in front of my TV.

Credit: Lavanya Narayanan

What’s the Best Way to Use Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing?

Honestly? I’m not sure there’s a wrong way, but I can tell you my favorite way: with a simple garden salad. Essentially, I build a massive base of romaine lettuce and add halved cherry tomatoes, pitted black olives, diced cucumbers, and strips of pungent red onion. If I really want to recreate the Olive Garden experience, the Pepperoncinis are a worthwhile splurge (use the rest of the jar for this one-pan creamy chicken dinner). Oh, and croutons are a must. 

The dressing is robust enough on its own that it doesn’t require cube cheese or roasted protein to round out the salad, but if you’re looking for something to add some texture or pack a nutritious punch, you can’t go wrong with grilled chicken for a bit of heft, broccoli florets or shredded carrots for bite, or some toasted nuts of your choosing, just for fun. 

An important thing to remember: If you’re using this dressing to replace a scratch-made Italian dressing in a panzanella, marinades, or even a twist on a classic chicken Caesar wrap, you might want to use less than called for, thin it out with some olive oil first, or even serve it on the side. It’s definitely a little creamier than some other Italian dressings I’ve tried.

Find it in stores: Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing, $8.99 for 2 (28-ounce) bottles

What Costco grocery is always in your fridge? Tell us about it in the comments below.