The Costco Food Court Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner
There’s no other dining establishment quite like the Costco food court. The wholesale retailer might be known for its cavernous aisles full of high-quality Kirkland products and unbelievable discounts, but loyal customers know that the food court is the real gem. The low prices of the food court are almost as astonishing as the consistently good quality of the items that are sold. Some food court menu items like pizza slices and hot dogs have developed a following separate from Costco shoppers, and the Costco food court offerings vary by country.
The Costco food court is limited and low-priced by design, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with it. There are plenty of ways to mix and match dishes to make creations all your own out of the most common U.S. Costco food court menu items. If the typical Costco menu fare bores you, the internet is full of ideas that range from genius to outrageous ways for amping up the humble Costco food court plates.
We’ve rounded up several Costco food court hacks that you will wish you knew about sooner. They range from popular to more niche, but all of them are undoubtedly unique. It’s the exact list to consult before your next trip to Costco so that you can make the most out of the food court and beyond. Thankfully, if you don’t like some of the more outrageous mix-ups, it likely won’t cost you more than a few dollars for experimentation’s sake.
Hot dog with a pizza bun
Considering the popularity of Costco’s hot dog and pizza slices, it’s not that surprising that a few curious food court fans decided to make a mash-up of the two staples. There are a few iterations of the classic hot dog wrapped in a slice of pizza, but the best one depends on personal taste preference. Some people prefer to roll up the hot dog, without its usual plain bun, inside of the entire pizza slice. Others prefer a more "keto" friendly option that involves taking the entire slice of cheese and toppings apart from the pizza crust, and then wrapping the hot dog in the cheesy top portion of the pizza. Based on some online chatter, there doesn’t seem to be one agreed-upon name for this gluttonous menu hack, probably because it really is so customizable. Some people who include the crust might call it a pizza taco, while the cheese-only version seems like more of a pizza dog.
For $3.50, you can recreate this abomination from the comfort of your car, or right in the food court if you have no shame. Plus, you get a drink to wash it all down that is already included in the low price. If you’re a bit wary of the pizza and hot dog combination, Costco executives have made it pretty clear that the $1.50 deal for a hot dog isn’t going anywhere, so you definitely have some time to warm up to it.
The Forbidden Glizzy is one of the most well-known Costco secret menu items, and also one of its most ridiculous in appearance. It’s another hack that starts with the humble hot dog and the food court’s popular warm chicken bake entree. The chicken bake is a piece of fried bread filled with pieces of chicken breast, three kinds of cheese, bacon, and creamy Caesar dressing that is resemblant of a calzone or a Hot Pocket.
The Forbidden Glizzy is a bit of an awkward dish to make as it involves shoving a hot dog into the center of the chicken bake and eating the entire mash-up like an abominable corndog. Apparently, the chicken bake itself isn’t too stuffed with filling, so it actually isn’t as difficult as one might expect to bite off the top of the dough and slide the hot dog right in the middle. It just feels a bit wrong to be eating the two items together at once, but the resulting flavor will suggest otherwise.
Again, the Forbidden Glizzy is another hack that’s best executed in the privacy of your own car, but it’s become so popular online that it wouldn’t be outrageous to see someone making one in your local Costco food court. Once you taste the Forbidden Glizzy once, you’ll probably never go back to your more traditional Costco food court order after a long shopping trip, especially if it involves eating a hot dog and a chicken bake separately.
Pizza-wrapped Forbidden Glizzy
The pizza-wrapped Forbidden Glizzy is just the even more outrageous version of both of the above hacks. The concept is not at all difficult to grasp, but it technically is like two hacks combined into one Franken-hack. First, you will need to put the hot dog inside the chicken bake to make the Forbidden Glizzy as previously directed. Then, in a fashion that resembles a taco, you wrap the entire chicken bake with a slice of pizza of your choice, whether it be topped with cheese or pepperoni. It is definitely the hungry man’s Costco meal or, as u/Shawn_miller wrote on Reddit, "Its the Kirkland version of a Tur-duc-hen."
The one-of-a-kind mashup has almost a whopping 2,500 calories if you wash it down with a sugary soda, so it’s far from a light snack from the food court. It would be shocking to see anyone actually eat a complete pizza-wrapped Forbidden Glizzy in one sitting at one of the little dining tables without preparing ahead of time, as it’s no small undertaking. The pizza-wrapped Forbidden Glizzy could be someone’s go-to option if they end their Costco shopping excursion with an insatiable hunger, and they’re having trouble deciding between ordering a hot dog, a slice of pizza, or a chicken bake. It’s a hack that makes the best of all three worlds.
Utilizing free ice to keep food cold
The Costco food court is the gift that keeps on giving in more ways than one. It’s one of the reasons so many of us shell out an annual $60-$120 for membership. The small food court even comes in handy in underappreciated ways, such as when you need to transport perishable food on a long drive and forgot a packed cooler to keep it fresh in the car. An easy way to "hack" the food court is by utilizing the ice dispenser from the soft drink machine to keep meat, seafood, and other items cold during your long car ride home.
Costco doesn’t have an official policy on taking ice from the soft drink dispenser to keep food purchased at their stores cold on the ride home. However, many social media users have noted that it’s a common practice they have seen anecdotally while shopping at their local Costco locations. Many shoppers have also noted that employees do not seem to discourage people from taking a little ice in a bag for the ride home, especially on a hot day when they’re loading their cars with perishable items or frozen goods that are at risk of going bad during the commute.
Costco brought churros back to its food court menu following a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. The revamped recipe features a twisted churrothat is still just as massive as the old one and is coated with cinnamon sugar. Churros in general are always made even better when paired with other sugary dessert elements like ice cream. Churros are often served with sweet dipping sauces like caramel or hot fudge, but unfortunately, those aren’t available to buy at the Costco food court. The churros are too good to save until you get home to eat with your own pantry ingredients, so there is an easy way to make the pastry a little more special right in the food court.
A simple Costco menu hack is to order your ice cream sundae of choice, preferably either topped with chocolate or strawberries, and dip the fresh churro right in it. To make the monster dessert a bit easier to eat, you can rip the churro up into pieces and throw it into the sundae cup to eat with a spoon. It’s a particularly successful pairing because neither the ice cream, or frozen nonfat yogurt at some Costco locations, or the churro is especially sweet. So when paired together, the resulting loaded sundae is an indulgent dessert that isn’t too rich to eat in its entirety after a long day of grocery shopping.
Rotisserie chicken pizza
One of the more reliable aspects of life is Costco’s $5 rotisserie chicken that remains the same price regardless of inflation or what’s going on in the world around it. It’s almost too easy to mindlessly throw a ready-made chicken in your cart for endless possible uses for later, including updating food court items. Costco’s food court pizza offerings have gotten pretty limited, especially after the retailer discontinued its popular combo pizza in recent years.
If the regular cheese and pepperoni options are just too plain for your palate, the internet is full of creative ideas for updating the humble slice into something more flavorful. One easy hack to is shred a little bit of the famous rotisserie chicken and put it on top of the pizza for a protein-packed slice. It’s a hack best executed at home, but the rotisserie chicken isn’t an odd item to whip out at the food court, especially among fellow Costco shoppers who know how great it is. Plus, both the pizza and the chicken will still be hot if you put your pride aside and assemble this secret menu item right at your food court table. You might even inspire fellow diners to get more creative with the plain menu items.
Freeze pizza slices and reheat in the air fryer
Sometimes when you’re shopping, you’re in too much of a rush to spend some time leisurely enjoying a fresh slice of Costco pizza in the food court. Thankfully, it’s not hard to take a slice to-go to enjoy later, whether it be in your car or at home. Cold pizza is never a bad idea, but the best hack for making Costco pizza even better than it was the first time is to reheat it in the air fryer. It only needs a few minutes at a high temperature like 375-400 degrees Fahrenheit in the air fryer, and the resulting slice is hot, melty, and even way more crispy than when it was made fresh.
Reddit user u/BeachBrew even recommends buying a whole pizza, individually freezing slices, and then reheating them in the air fryer for a quick and satisfying meal that doesn’t require you to make an outing to Costco to enjoy it. The Costco food court pizza will always be consistent too, whether you eat it fresh or freeze it for later. That consistency is due to Costco’s inventive pizza making machine that makes sure every pie comes out perfectly, including the amount of sauce, toppings, and cheese. It’s almost more reliable than buying a pre-frozen pizza as no other pie can ever be exactly the same as those carefully made by Costco’s pizza robots.
Food menu hacks are always going to be controversial, but making "salad pizza" from Costco’s menu items may be one of the most divisive on the entire list so far. A few brave souls on the internet have shared their affinity for a piece of food court pizza topped with little pre-made salad for added freshness. The sentiment isn’t bad, as pizza and salad are often eaten in tandem. It’s even common to see a pie topped with fresh vegetables for added texture on pizza parlor menus. However, some people hold their pizza sacred, especially if it comes from the Costco food court, meaning that salad pizza is essentially sacrilegious.
Costco’s food court sells a chicken Caesar salad that could easily be used in this hack, but some people prefer to buy a pre-made salad from inside the store and whip it out at the food court. The Caesar might not be the most flavorful option, especially considering it’s usually made with romaine lettuce. A salad with spinach or arugula as its base could be a better de facto food court pizza topping, from a flavor standpoint. The kind of salad you use should ultimately be up to personal taste preference, not what people on the internet decide is good to eat. It’s like a more intense way of dipping your pizza in ranch dressing, and it’s a secret menu item you shouldn’t knock until you try it.
DIY root beer float
The soft drink dispenser at the food court can be a saving grace for thirsty shoppers looking for reprieve. Costco’s food court has been strictly Pepsi territory since 2013, and some of the stores’ soft drink dispensers carry the always-refreshing Mug Root Beer. The fountain soda from Costco is always a treat, usually because of its low price and the fact that it typically comes alongside the hot dog deal. Ordering a soda from Costco can be even more special when you get creative, like combining root beer from the soft drink machine with vanilla ice cream to make your own root beer float.
The Costco root beer float is one of the easiest hacks — order a vanilla ice cream cup and a large drink and combine the two. Even if the machine doesn’t have Mug, you can always make different soda floats with Pepsi, orange soda, or Dr. Pepper depending on the store’s selection. The 20-ounce soda and vanilla ice cream will cost you less than $4, which is probably the cheapest root beer float you can get anywhere that you don’t make yourself at home.
Cinnamon mocha freeze
One of the Costco food court’s more recent additions is the cold brew mocha freeze, which is a combination of cold brew coffee for a caffeine boost with an icy chocolate slushy to make it more of an indulgent treat. Some people up the ante even more by combining the massive churro with the mocha freeze to add a cinnamon twist into the drink. Others take it a step further by combining the mocha freeze with ice cream and then topping it with a churro, making it way more of a dessert with just a hint of coffee.
The mocha freeze and churro combination is almost like a more indulgent version of a Starbucks Frappuccino, but it’ll only cost you around $2.50 thanks to the food court’s always low prices. It is important to note that this treat has nearly 850 calories and about 130 grams of carbohydrates, so it may be more of a special occasion drink — like a shopping visit to Costco — than a daily replacement for your morning cup of coffee.
Stopping at the food court before shopping
Most Costco shoppers hit the food court as their last stop on their bulk shopping trip. It can sometimes feel like a reward after a long and exhausting journey that includes pushing a cart, navigating around fellow bulk shoppers, and waiting in long checkout lines. The die-hard Costco food court enthusiasts have learned that, contrary to popular opinion, the food court should actually be your first stop after you flash your membership card to a Costco worker.
U/ChamonLee on Reddit gave several solid explanations as to why eating at the food court first is better, the main being that it’s never a good idea to go grocery shopping while you’re hungry. The food court snack will satiate you enough so that you aren’t making rash purchases in Costco on an empty stomach. Another perk is that you aren’t bogged down with a full cart while trying to enjoy a hot dog or a slice of pizza, as the food court usually already has pretty tight quarters. Additionally, you can really get a bang for your buck with the $0.69 refillable drink; you can sip on it while you shop and go back for endless Pepsi-branded refills.