How Does Costco Cook Its Famous Hot Dogs?

If there's one Costco item everyone is familiar with, it's got to be Costco's $1.50 hot dog. Regardless of whether or not you personally shop at Costco, you've got to admit that's one heck of a deal. And as it turns out, that deal goes all the way back to the chain's early years.

According to Costco Food Court, the warehouse giant has been selling hot dogs since the early 1980s, at which time hot dogs and pop were the only two items on the food court menu. Today, you can still get that same hot dog and drink combo for $1.50, thanks to the sheer determination of co-founder Jim Sinegal.

With all that said, how on earth does Costco manage to cook all those millions of hot dogs? Many of us cook hot dogs on the grill, in the oven, or even in a deep fryer, but as it turns out, Costco doesn't use any of these methods.

Costco opts for a quick and easy boiling method

When you're churning out as many hot dogs as Costco does — about 151 million a year, according to Puget Sound Business Journals – you've got to find an efficient way to cook them. In other words, giving each hot dog individualized attention on the grill just isn't a feasible option. And so the chain boils its hot dogs.

Per, Costco drops its famous hot dogs in 180-degree water for approximately 15 minutes, or until the hot dogs reach a safe-for-consumption core temperature of 165 degrees. This quickly reheats the hot dogs and leaves them hot and juicy. Even better, the hot dogs receive an even cook, free of char marks (sorry, not sorry, but char marks are not it).

Once cooked, Costco hot dogs actually have a very short shelf life. They're either purchased and eaten by hungry shoppers, or they're thrown out after an hour, as the USDA says foods like hot dogs should not be kept out at room temperature for more than an hour or two. And there you have it, the Costco method. Simple enough that you could even get the Costco experience at home!