Secrets Of The Costco Food Court You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner
No matter how many times you’ve paid a visit
to the Costco food court, you don’t know all
There’s a lot of info the big-box retailer
would prefer you just not know.
Like, how do those pizzas get made so quickly?
And which piece of kitchen equipment rarely
Let’s dig into the truth of all this and more.
At peak times, the Costco food court can be
But even the longest lines move fast, and
that’s due, in part, to how fast the food
court’s pizzas are assembled and baked.
Would you believe that it takes less than
30 seconds for a blob of dough to get turned
into a sauced-up pizza, waiting to be dressed
with delicious toppings?
Well, it does, thanks to a dough squisher
and a turntable used expressly to speed up
After the pie takes a spin on the saucer,
it’s ready to be layered with cheese and toppings,
which is still done by humans for the time
being 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.
“Damn it Costco, you’ve done it again.”
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.
Take it with a grain of salt, but a Reddit
poster identifying themselves as a former
food court employee has said that this is
definitely the reason the chicken bakes from
the food court are so much better than the
ones we reheat at home.
According to the poster,
Popping a pre-made frozen chicken bake in
the oven might be easier, but it’s not going
to be tastier – and if you’re going to indulge
in something so decadent, why not make it
the best it can be?
Costco seems to be great at everything it
does, and selling pizza is no exception.
In fact, Business Insider reported in 2015
that the warehouse store ranked as the 14th
largest pizza chain in the U.S. thanks to
almost 500 of its stores selling slices and
But how does that compare to the giant chains
like Pizza Hut and Domino’s?
Well, considering that the number-one ranked
Pizza Hut operates over 15,000 locations,
it’s hard to call the two direct competitors.
But it’s still impressive that Costco has
managed to hold onto such a high position
in the list.
The company may not have a lot of locations,
but the ones it does have move pies like you
In the August 2011 issue of The Costco Connection,
a food court buyer was quoted as saying that
the company’s food courts sell more pizza
per location than any other major chain in
the U.S., and that’s without having delivery
options or being open late at night.
So there’s definitely something to these quality
pies that lots of places just don’t have.
How’s that slogan go again?
It’s not delivery.
One of the biggest knocks on Costco is that
pesky membership fee.
It can be a hard pill to swallow, but if you
spend enough money in the store, you’ll likely
recoup your membership fee in your annual
reward check, depending on what level of member
“Oh honey, I’ve got the executive membership.
I’ve got every membership ever offered by
If you go often enough, and buy the right
things, you can also make that money back
in sheer savings.
But what if you just want a simple slice of
You can head to customer service and buy a
membership like you’re supposed to…
“Or, maybe we sneak back in there.”
Not so fast.
All you’ve got to do is find a store with
the food court located outside, and as long
as you pay in cash, you can chow down at Costco
any time you want without shelling out for
that annual fee.
And if the food court is located indoors?
You’re not out of luck.
CookingLight confirmed with a Costco customer
service rep that all you need to do to get
in is tell them you’re just there to eat.
It’s apparently that easy – no sneaking required.
And if that doesn’t work, you’ve still got
two other options.
For one, you can use a gift card to gain entrance,
even if it’s old and has a zero balance.
Or, if you’re cool with some mild deception,
you can just use the “I’m thinking about joining”
routine to get through the door, and then
waltz right up to the food court window.
Forget the store policy.
If you want the hot dogs that bad, then you
deserve to have them.
“I mean, $1.50 for a quarter-pound hot dog.
And a drink!
Tres bien, right?”
Costco pizzas are known to be topped with
plenty of cheese, meat, and veggies by default,
but maybe you want a little more weight on
According to one self-identified employee
of the Costco food court, if you’re ordering
a whole pizza and ask for extra toppings,
you just might get them free of charge.
It never hurts to ask.
Writing on Reddit, the poster claimed,
A Costco customer chimed in to share more
tips on getting some extra toppings, claiming
that each store seems to follow different
practices about what they will or won’t do,
with your chances of scoring extra fixings
ultimately coming down to the employee you’re
“Well you have to pay for your pizza, sir.”
So don’t give up just because one store said
If you want twice the meat at half the price,
you’ll never make it happen without just being
bold and bringing it up.
While we wouldn’t say that Costco is exactly
known for menu hacks, there are still a few
ways you can use their standard offerings
to come up with an even more delicious dish.
We know the three basic options for Costco
pizza are cheese, pepperoni, and combo.
But what if there were more options?
Chatter on social media suggests that at least
some locations will fix you up a double-meat
pizza of pepperoni and sausage if you ask
for it, even though it’s not on the menu.
Who needs vegetables, right?
The only catch is you’ll have to order the
Other easy hacks?
Now that chili has landed a spot on the menu,
and happens to come with a side of cheese,
chili cheese dogs are a possibility.
And for dessert, you can DIY an ice cream
float by simply ordering a vanilla frozen
yogurt and a soda, and then mixing up the
float flavor of your choice.
So don’t feel restricted by the menu – let
creativity be your guide.
“Research shows rules are made to be broken.”
Based on how greasy the bottom of the box
can be, it’s not too surprising that a lot
of oil is used to make a Costco pizza.
One food court worker writing on Reddit lamented
that particular step of the process, saying
that the overabundance of oil comes straight
from corporate policy.
Strict company standards can reportedly lead
some managers to overcompensate, using a quarter
cup of oil or more during the cooking process
– enough to bring bold flavor, at the potential
expense of your health.
And then there’s all that cheese – one-and-a-half
pounds of mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan,
to be exact.
It’s enough to certainly contribute a little
extra grease to the situation.
But hey, let’s be honest – we didn’t line
up at the Costco food court for a fat-free
pizza, did we?
For lots of diners, the more immediate concern
isn’t how healthy the food is, but rather
how clean the kitchen is.
You may be happy to learn that there’s not
a lot of stories out there about poor sanitation
in Costco’s food prep areas.
There’s so little tea to spill on the topic
that one food court employee on Reddit could
only come up with one thing that might be
objectionable: the fact that some stores don’t
wash their metal pizza discs after every use.
But if that’s really the worst of it, most
of us will likely shrug our shoulders at this
piece of information.
Sure, vegetarians might prefer not to have
meat pizza juice on a cheese pizza tray, but
the health risks of cross contamination seem
The noontime lines at the Costco food court
can be bit of a nightmare, but if you know
what you’re doing, there are ways to avoid
The easiest way to skip the line is to add
your food court order at the register when
you check out.
Of course, you have to be purchasing items
from the store for this hack to work, but
you always need something from Costco, don’t
With receipt in hand, you’ll bypass all those
poor suckers waiting in line, and since your
meal is already paid for with your other groceries,
you also won’t have to worry about having
cash handy at the food court window.
According to a 2018 survey by the job market
monitors at Comparably, Costco is the best
large company to work for in the U.S.
And why wouldn’t it be?
They offer a pay rate that is well above the
federal minimum wage, and provide employees
with health and dental insurance.
Workers are also eligible for other perks
like life insurance, 401Ks, and stock options.
But just because a Costco gig is better than
some places doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
According to reports from former employees,
a Costco job comes with free executive membership
to the store, but doesn’t include any discounts
at the food court.
Of course, with Costco having kept the prices
for their hot dogs and pizza the same since
they were first introduced in the ’80s, maybe
this part of the deal evens out.
$9.95 for a fully-loaded 18-inch pizza is
nothing to sneeze at, now or 30 years ago.
On the contrary, it’s a deal that looks better
and better with each passing year.
“Hey, did you know that you could save all
kinds of money with a Costco – “
“Oh god there’s that word again.
Money money money money money!
So all this country talks about is money.”
If you happen to visit a Costco food court
in a country that’s not the United States,
you’ll likely find some menu items that you’re
a little unfamiliar with.
While you’ll always be able to get the standards
like hot dogs and pizza, you’ll also find
specialty regional cuisine.
If you’re strictly an American Costco visitor,
here’s some of the food court items you’re
missing out on.
In Canada, you can get your hands on a drool-worthy
plate of poutine, a savory combination of
french fries topped with brown gravy and cheese
In Korea and Taiwan, instead of the classic
chicken bake, you can try a bulgogi beef bake
made with marinated grilled beef.
Seafood lovers are in luck in Mexico and Japan,
where the food courts offer seafood-topped
pizza and clam chowder, respectively.
And if comfort food is your thing, the homey
cottage pie, aka a meat casserole topped with
mashed potatoes, will make your mouth water
in the United Kingdom.
So if you’re travelling abroad but still shopping
in bulk, Costco has some kind of treat in
store for you, no matter where you are.
“Another great Sunday.”
“And not too rough on the old pocketbook.”
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