Why Costco Pizza is so Delicious? Know Here
Costco Pizza: There’s no more welcome sight than the Costco food court after an hour or two of shopping for bulk toilet paper and cheap printer cartridges. And although there is a menu board chock-full of tantalizing options, it’s the ridiculously inexpensive $1.50 hot dog and soda deal that gets all the attention. Sure, they make a mean dog, which probably explains why 135 million hot dog combos were sold in 2017, and the price of the meal, unchanged since the deal’s inception in 1985, truly cannot be beaten. But let’s forget about the hot dogs for a moment, because Costco’s pizza deserves some attention, too.
Thanks to their 750 locations and high sales — the food court brings in $1 billion annually — Costco is frequently cited as one of the nation’s biggest pizza chains. In fact, according to Business Insider, the company ranked as the 14th largest chain in 2015 — not too shabby for a warehouse store. But what is it that makes Costco’s pizza so irresistible? We all know there isn’t just one reason why it’s so good. Let’s break it down.
Costco Pizza Price
If you’ve ever ordered a slice of Costco pizza, you know that it is massive. We’re talking about a slice that hangs way over the edge of a paper plate here. And that massive slice will only set you back $1.99 (or a jaw-dropping $9.95 for an 18-inch pie), whether you choose cheese, pepperoni, or combo. But while that kind of deal would make any pizza taste better, it’s not just the low price that makes it so delicious.
A major factor in what makes Costco’s pizza great is that they do not skimp on toppings, and you know that each slice you get will be fully loaded. Kaiwen Zhao, a supervisor at Costco, explained on Quora, “We never shortcut the ingredients, everything is measured to a standard, every Costco pizza you get should have the same amount of sauce, cheese, and toppings.”
Costco Pizza Order
How do they manage to ensure that each and every pie is so perfect? Robots (with a little help from human helpers). The dough, which according to Zhao is allowed to rise for 24 to 27 hours and is key to the pizza’s success, is placed onto a machine that effortlessly presses the blob into a nice even circle, guaranteeing that it’s not overworked. After that, Costco food court workers only have to stretch the dough the littlest bit to make it fit the pan before rolling it with a dough docker. This spiky contraption helps ensure that the finished crust isn’t fraught with huge air bubbles. Now comes the fun part — the sauce robot. The pizza pan takes a spin under a spigot that perfectly sauces every pie, dispensing just the right amount each time (and bringing to mind memories of kindergarten spin art). After that, it’s back to the humans for the finishing touches, where the cheese gets weighed precisely on a scale, and the prescribed amount of pepperoni gets placed just so.
Because these pizzas are cooked in only six minutes, thanks to super-efficient conveyor belt ovens that cook from all sides, you can always expect a fresh slice waiting for you at the food court window. In fact, Zhao confirms that “any pizza slice that doesn’t sell within the hour gets thrown out and replaced to maintain freshness.”
If there’s one knock on Costco’s pizza, it’s that the slices lack crispness. But really, how can you expect a pizza that’s loaded with 24 ounces of cheese to stay super-crisp? Yes, a cheese pizza really does contain one-and-a-half pounds of “aged, buttery cheeses (an 80 percent—20 percent blend of low-fat, part-skim-milk mozzarella and provolone) and 10-month-aged shredded Parmesan,” according to The Costco Connection. A pepperoni pie boasts 60 thin slices of spicy meat, and a combo weighs in at almost four-and-a-half pounds thanks to all the sausage, pepperoni, green bell peppers, red onion, mushrooms, and black olives. A slight lack of crispness in exchange for that kind of toppings extravaganza seems like a fair trade, no?
Wondering how all that cheese and meat stacks up when it comes to calorie count? Depending on which slice you choose, you’re looking at 710 to 760 calories, with total fat hovering around 30 grams each, approximately half of your daily intake, and saturated fat content weighing in around 65 to 70 percent of your recommended daily value. But hey, you’re also getting up to 40 grams of protein just for chowing down on an amazing slice of pizza, which is a big win. The bottom line is that Costco pizza, in all it’s greasy, cheesy glory, isn’t meant to be diet food — it’s just meant to taste good. And it does.
Costco Pizza Calories
At peak times, the Costco food court can be packed, and it’s not uncommon to be waiting in a line of 10 or more people. But even the longest lines move fast, and that’s due, in part, to how fast the pizzas are made and baked.
Would you believe that in under 30 seconds a big blob of dough gets turned into a pizza waiting to be dressed with all those delicious toppings? Well, it does, thanks to a dough squisher and a pizza sauce turntable (yes, of course, those are the technical names). After the pizza takes a spin on the saucer, it’s ready to get cheesed and topped, which is still done by humans because robots don’t run Costco — yet. The finished pie then heads to the ultra-efficient conveyor belt oven, and after baking for just six minutes, the pizza is ready and waiting to be sliced and served.
Costco Pizza Size
If you’ve been eating fast food for a few decades, you know that the price you now pay when you hit the drive-thru is substantially more than it used to be. Take McDonald’s, for instance. In 1985, a Big Mac, supersize fries, and large soda could be had for $2.59. Compare that to 2019, when you’re shelling out $9.28 for a similarly sized meal (according to the McDonald’s app). That’s about a 258 percent increase in 34 years.
Costco, on the other hand, has been selling their hot dog and soda combo since 1985, and their pizza since 1989, and those prices have never increased since their menu debuts. You still pay the same today as you did 30 years ago — $1.50 for the hot dog, and $9.95 for a fully-loaded 18-inch pie (or $1.99 for a slice). And not only has that combo meal remained the same bargain-basement price it always was, but the dog is 10 percent bigger now, and the soda increased in size, too, from 12-ounce to 20-ounce with free refills. Bet you can’t say that about your favorite fast food joint.
Costco Cauliflower Pizza
They say there’s no such thing as bad pizza, and we’d tend to agree, except for one minor problem: pizza’s not exactly health food. Sure, you can top it with vegetables (and here are 30 great vegetarian pizzas you can make) or use a whole wheat crust (try this Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza for starters). But however you slice it, it’s still bread topped with cheese…right?
This cheesy, crispy-crusted (and somewhat unexpected) pizza is chock full of fiber and vitamin C. It’s a pizza game-changer, and guess what? Costco, one of our favorite budget food-shopping spots, has added it to their frozen food selection!
What’s In It?
The pizza everyone’s drooling over at Costco contains lots of cauliflower, plus rice flour to bind everything together. It’s made by Milton’s Craft Bakers, it’s called Thin & Crispy Cauliflower Crust Pizza and though it contains rice flour, it’s totally gluten-free. Costco currently has the Margherita (with four kinds of cheese!) and the Roasted Vegetable versions.
Cauliflower has taken the healthy eating world by storm. It steps in as a low-carb, high-fiber, vitamin-rich replacement for carbs. You’ve probably heard the buzz about cauliflower rice (here’s how to make it). You can also create a cauliflower pizza at home, even one that’s completely grain-free. Use the recipe for these Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks and turn ’em into grain-free pizza crust by patting the ingredients into a pan.
Costco Frozen Pizza
Given that Costco sells premade Kirkland chicken bakes by the box in the freezer section, this tidbit might come as a bit of a surprise — the chicken bakes you get at the food court are actually made fresh from scratch every day.
A former Costco food court employee explained on Reddit that this is definitely the reason they’re so much better than the ones we reheat at home, saying, “…I will tell you that the frozen chicken bakes they sell [in the store] are not anywhere near the same as the ones that we made at the food court. Food court ones are superior in every way.”
If you’re really ambitious, you can follow this recipe the Redditor provided, and skip the box altogether: Pizza dough is brushed with Caesar dressing, filled with pre-cooked chicken breast, bacon bits, and pizza cheese, then rolled into a tube and pinched at the ends. The exterior is then brushed with more dressing and sprinkled with more cheese, and baked at 600 degrees for six minutes.
Popping a frozen chicken baked in the oven might be easier, but not tastier.
Costco Pizza Nutrition
Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to Costco specifically to visit the food court. Plenty of us have, and why wouldn’t you? A $1.50 hot dog and soda combo or a slice of cheap but amazing pizza beats just about any value meal from a drive-thru and depending on your local menu’s offerings, you might even be able to satisfy that fast food craving with a hamburger and fries. Whether you’re in the mood for greasy grub or a “meaty” vegetarian salad, they’re got it all.
As often as you’ve noshed at the warehouse store though, you probably don’t know all the fun facts and sketchy secrets of the Costco food court. How do those pizzas get made so quickly and so perfectly each time? And just how much cheese and oil are used? (Spoiler alert: A whole lot.) Which piece of kitchen equipment rarely gets washed? And how many hot dogs get sold each year? Let’s find out.
How Much Is The Pizza At Costco?
Costco food court pizzas are available in three delectable variations; pepperoni, cheese, and combination served in slices priced at $1.99 per slice, while the whole pizza measures 16 inches and is priced at $9.99 per pie.
How Do I Order Pizza From Costco?
There are three ways to order pizza and other food from Costco:
- Call in your order.
- Order at the food court.
- Order in the checkout line of the main store.