What Makes Costco’s Food Court Pizza So Delicious?

Every Costco shopper knows how easy it is to work up an appetite hunting for deals amongst the store’s towering shelves. Luckily, the beloved big box store has a food court that rivals some restaurant chains. And when it comes to prices? Well, nobody can compete.

It’s not just the $1.50 hot dogs that keep shoppers coming back to Costco food courts. The retailer’s delicious, paper-plate-swallowing pizza, available for a drool-worthy $1.99 per slice, has its own devoted fan club. In fact, it’s a bit of a nationwide phenomenon. With more 700 locations Costco is considered the 14th largest pizza chain in the country.

One of the things that makes these pies so special is that no matter how (cheese, pepperoni, or combo) or where you order one, you can count on perfect consistency. And they neverskimp on the toppings.

“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,” Kaiwen Zhao, a supervisor at Costco, explained on Quora.

Keep reading to find out how Costco keeps its pizza so uniform and delicious across more than 700 locations.

The Dough

According to Zhao, the dough is key to the pizza’s success. And Costco’s secret? Allowing it to rise for 24 to 27 hours. After it’s risen, the dough is flattened into a perfect circle by a machine. From there, employees fit it into a pan before rolling it with a dough docker to prevent air bubbles.

The Sauce

The coolest part of the process is when the dough takes a spin with the sauce robot. The pizza pan goes for a ride beneath a sauce dispensing spigot on a record player-like machine, which guarantees and even layer of sauce.

The Toppings

After the pizza has been sauced it makes its way to the toppings station. First Costco’s cheese blend (80%-20% blend of low-fat, part-skim-milk mozzarella and provolone) is weighed out and sprinkled on the sauce in a thick, even layer. Then the toppings are added and placed just so. A full cheese pizza packs a whopping two pounds of cheese, and pepperoni pies are adorned with exactly 60 slices of US-made pepperoni. With hearty helpings of sausage, pepperoni, green bell peppers, red onion, mushrooms, and black olives, a full-size combo pizza weighs in at almost four-and-a-half pounds.

The Oven

The pizza’s final stop is in the conveyor belt oven that cooks each pie evenly from all sides in just six minutes.

The Standards

You’ll never find a soggy old pizza behind a Costco food court window. “A pizza slice that doesn’t sell within the hour gets thrown out and replaced to maintain freshness,” Zhao explained.

SOURCE: Southern Living, by Meghan Overdeep