What Sets Costco's Black Label Cashews Apart From The Standard

Costco is a haven for bargain hunters and bulk buyers alike. Its aisles are brimming with goods that run the gamut from household staples to a $6,000 doomsday-ready survival kit. But if you're just looking for a snack to chow down on at home, Costco also has a devoted section where you can find stacks of boxed cashews under its in-house Kirkland Signature brand.


Next to the plastic-bagged varieties, however, you might also find glass, cashew-filled jars with pricey-looking black labels stuck to the front. The silvery cursive writing displaying only the word "Cashews" suggests that these "Black Label" drupes are of superior quality to Costco's standard cashew offerings.

Indeed, not all cashews are created equal. Like wine or coffee, these crunchy treats have different grades. According to an eBay listing for the Kirkland Signature product, the Black Label variety is made from W180 cashews, a specific strain known for its larger, more flavorful drupes that go by the moniker "King of Cashew."

Is the King of Cashew as good as it sounds?

What really sets W180 cashews apart from other varieties is their size — in fact, they're larger than any other kind of cashew on the market today. They're also quite rare, accounting for only 5 to 10% of the global crop, and while cashews are often expensive, this is especially true for the W180 variety. Their scarcity likely contributes to the Black Label's limited availability — while the standard Kirkland Signature bag can be found year-round, the appearance of Black Label cashews tends to be more sporadic.


Besides these cashews' rarity and larger size, fans of the Black Label variety also rave about the drupes' supposedly creamier, more buttery flavor, as discussed in a 2023 Reddit thread. One user even described them as the best cashews they'd ever had.

Some skeptics in the thread, however, argued that these cashews don't taste significantly different from the usual grade and that the perceived superior flavor is a result of the expectations set by the premium glass packaging. So, if you're buying Costco's Black Label cashews, you might want to do so for their larger size rather than their allegedly superior taste.

What kind of cashews are the regular Costco brand?

Besides checking the ingredient list — which simply reads, "Cashews, peanut oil, sea salt" — it's hard to determine what kind of cashews Kirkland uses for its non-Black Label bags. It's safe to assume, however, that they occupy a lower tier than the illustrious W180 cashews packaged in those pricey glass jars. While this is unconfirmed, they may be W210 cashews, better known as "Jumbos." This variety is smaller than W180 but is still considered larger than average.


As for whether or not Kirkland's standard bagged variety tastes noticeably different from its Black Label cashews, there doesn't seem to be a consensus. Many believe the Black Label is better, but plenty of folks disagree. Additionally, while the cashew grading method rates the drupes' size and general appearance after their necessary steaming, it doesn't indicate a better taste.

The best way to end this debate might be to try both varieties and determine which one you prefer. Even if the Black Label doesn't taste significantly better than the standard version, you still get bigger cashews, plus a pretty glass jar.