Costco Vs Sam's Club: Who Makes A Better Pizza?

The Costco and Sam's Club competition for customers manifests in interesting ways — for example, both warehouse stores are locked in a battle to sell better, cheaper pizza. You probably aren't choosing to get a membership based solely on the quality of this one dish from the food court, but if that were the case, skip the clubs altogether and support a local pizzeria. Neither chain sells a life-changing slice of pie, just cheap and filling. 

That doesn't mean this dish is simply glorified frozen pizza, though. Both chains use real dough and stretch their crusts on-site. When you order, they add fresh toppings and bake the pizzas on demand. They are at least on par with Little Caesar's and almost as good as Pizza Hut, Papa John's, and Domino's. The price is lower, though. These pizzas are exactly the thing to offer your teenager when they are hanging out with friends.

The most compelling reason to buy a pizza at either retailer is the ease after an exhausting afternoon of shopping. You'd probably prefer getting one at the store you usually visit. That being said, the Member's Mark pizzas from Sam's Club and the Kirkland from Costco differ in a few fundamental ways. One may appeal to you more than another based on the crust, sauce, or toppings. More likely, you're more worried about the value or convenience. Read on to find out which is more suited to your taste.

Selection of pizzas

Whether you're a pepperoni lover or an olives-and-mushrooms sort of person, you have your favorite pizza toppings. If you prefer something Sally-style (like from "When Harry Met Sally"), you won't get it from these warehouse retailers. Despite selling massive quantities of pies, neither Sam's Club nor Costco are truly pizzerias, and they have a limited list of ingredients. Pick between just cheese or pepperoni pizza at Costco. Order it half and half if your family can't decide between the two. Sam's Club ups the ante by offering deluxe, four-meat, and the first two flavors as well. This cafe doesn't split pizzas, though, so you have to pick only one or buy two whole pizzas. Both chains offer a single size and crust style. If you're seeking slightly more complexity, head to Sam's Club.

In all honesty, though, the reduced menus at these stores make life a little easier. Once in a while, it's refreshing not to have to think so hard. Pizza is pizza is pizza. You don't have to specify that you want a hand-tossed medium and then pick green peppers, olives, and hamburger from a list of twenty possible ingredients. Sam's Club and Costco serve simple pizzas without apologies or complications. Ordering a pizza shouldn't contribute to your mental fatigue; both chains cater to that.

Comparing Sam's Club and Costco cheese pizza

Sometimes simple is best, especially if you're dealing with selective kiddos at home, and that's a fantastic reason to order a cheese pizza. The real question is whether Costco or Sam's Club makes a better one. Kirkland pizza, on the right in the photo, has generous cheese, but the Member's Mark, on the left, seems to have even more. If your littles wanted cheese pizza, they'd be happy with either. If they wanted extra cheese, they'd likely prefer the Sam's Club pizza. Unfortunately, both chains use salty, fairly flavorless cheese that gets greasy when it bakes — especially the cheese from Costco. In other words, neither chain uses high-quality mozzarella to make these extra-cheap pies. This isn't surprising, and don't worry — children have fairly indiscriminate palettes when it comes to these things.

There's a more creative reason to order a cheese pizza. Remember, neither food court offers a huge range of toppings. So, if you get cheese, you can take it home and adorn it with veggies and meats — basil and caramelized tomatoes, perhaps, or chicken and ranch. Then, stick it in the oven for a bit longer. You could even add a bit of fancier cheese — wouldn't a sprinkling of parmesan cheese or a bit of gruyere add some flavor? Doing this will be tastier than a frozen pizza, easier than homemade, cheaper than a pizzeria, and more interesting than sticking to the offered toppings.

Comparing the Sam's Club and Costco pepperoni pizza

Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the US. If you close your eyes and picture a pizza, it probably has pepperoni on it. The pizza emoji has pepperoni on it, too. The Italian sausage is practically synonymous with pizza. So, in food courts with limited toppings, pepperoni has to be one of them. Sam's Club, on the left in the photo above, and Costco, on the right, have delivered.

Before deciding which pepperoni pizza is better, it's important to think about what makes a pepperoni pizza so irresistible — is it the spiciness, the greasiness, the slightly crunchy edges, or simply the quantity of little red circles on it? The pizzas from Sam's Club and Costco check all the boxes regarding these characteristics. The spice of their sausage is just enough to tingle on the tongue pleasantly, and each pepperoni is like a tiny grease jacuzzi. The edges are just crisp enough to add the right texture but not overdone to the point of crunchiness. Even in quantity, the two food courts come out about equal — both pizzas average around five pepperoni pieces per slice. In all honesty, ranking Sam's Club or Costco pizza solely on the quality of this topping is difficult since they're so similar.

Sam's Club four-meat pizza

Sam's Club wins, hands down when it comes to the four-meat pizza because Costco has no equivalent pizza to compete in this category. The Member's Mark kitchen packs this 16-inch pie with Italian sausage, pepperoni, ham, and bacon. Amazingly, the four-meat costs the same amount as the cheese and pepperoni pizzas despite the apparent abundance of toppings. You might even compare it to Pizza Hut's Meat Lovers pizza, and you won't find much difference except in the price. A 14-inch from Pizza Hut costs around $18.49. That's significantly less pizza for around double the price of this one ($8.98). The fact that Pizza Hut puts on some additional seasoned pork and beef doesn't seem like sufficient justification for the higher price.

The people who designed the bargain four-meat pizza did a good job. The ratio of meat to crust is perfect. The amount of meat on the pizza doesn't weigh the crust down or make it difficult to eat. The toppings go well together. Finally, the harder-to-chew meats, like bacon and ham, come chopped. That means they're already in bite-size pieces, and you won't have to worry about biting through a tough bacon strip while awkwardly holding the opposite end down on your slice.

Sam's Club deluxe pizza

The deluxe pizza is a deciding point in Sam's Club's favor. This pie comes topped with pepperoni, red and green peppers, black olives, mushrooms, and onion. It's mouthwateringly delicious, and there is no similar Kirkland pizza in the Costco food court. Strangely enough, once upon a time, there was one, but it seems to have disappeared during the pandemic. Many users on the r/Costco subreddit lament the disappearance of this much-famed combo pizza, with DrWashi starting a thread titled "I long for the lost Combo Pizza." Jako_Spade, on the other hand, named his thread, "Sorry Costco but Sams got ya beat," and posted a pic of a Member's Mark deluxe pizza. Costco fanatics weren't too happy about that second one.

With all the veggies and pepperoni, this pizza may come the closest to one from a bonafide pizza chain. If there were ever a pizza that could change minds and steal customers, it might be the Member's Mark deluxe. Yet, Costco shoppers are quick to defend and extoll the virtues of their preferred retailer, so Sam's Club will need to do more than bake up deluxe pizzas to win them over.

Comparing the crusts

The difference between Kirkland and Member's Mark pizzas is the clearest when you bite into the crust. Sam's Club crust, in the picture on the right, is dense and heavy, formed into a thin, even layer. The bubbles formed by the yeast in the dough are uniform and small. The crust is firm, so you can grab onto a slice of pizza without the tip drooping down. It's crisp on the bottom but also, unfortunately, chewy. This bready part of the pizza is acceptable, but if the company reworked its recipe, it might produce higher quality pizzas.

Costco crust, on the other hand, is markedly sweet, light, and fluffy. You may find it's a little thicker in some places and thinner in others. The yeast bubbles also range in size from large to tiny. When you pick up a piece of a Kirkland pizza, it's flexible — not hard on the bottom –, but it doesn't sag either. When you bite in, it's easy to tear off a piece because it's not tough. In this category, Costco comes out on top: Kirkland crust is more pleasant.

Comparing the sauces

Pizza sauce can get people upset since most have a specific way they like it. Some connoisseurs prefer abundant quantities, while others wish it were barely noticeable — lightly brushed on. The lots-o-sauce group should head to Costco. Their food courts even have a sauce robot to make sure the stuff goes on evenly. The setup involves an automated saucet (sauce + faucet) that squirts tomato goo in a spiral onto a crust on the turn table below. It's hypnotizing to watch. In so far as taste, Kirkland sauce is sweeter and more tomatoey.

Sam's Club puts on less sauce than the competition. It's not exactly brushed on lightly, though. Additionally, this warehouse gets a point deducted for not using a robot. Likely, its food court workers have to resort to the old ladle and spread technique. Finally, Member's Mark sauce tends toward spicy and unbearably salty.


Since Sam's Club and Costco sell their pizzas for similar prices, size seems like the easiest way to measure where you'll get more for your money. Brilliant minds have thoroughly analyzed this question. At first, the answer seems obvious: Costco's pizza measures a massive 18-inch while Sam's Club offers smaller 16-inch monstrosities. In his Reddit thread, Electriccars says a two-inch wider diameter comes out to about 20% more pizza at Costco, meaning you pay less per square inch of pizza at Costco. 

There's one thing the Redditor didn't take into account, though. The pizza at Costco comes with a wider band of crust around the edge by about an inch and a half, while the toppings at Sam's Club are spread nearly to the brim. That means that while the pizza at Costco is larger, most of the additional pizza is just bread, not cheese, sauce, or meat. The part of the pizzas with fixings takes up a nearly identical area.

Single-slice servings

You've taken your kids with you on the monthly shopping trip to the warehouse. It was going smoothly initially, but with each passing aisle, the littles got grumpier. Somehow, calculating which toothpaste was a cent and a half cheaper per ounce didn't interest them nearly as much as it did you. This is heading towards a fiasco, but both Sam's Club and Costco have your back. After going through the checkout, you can bribe your children into complacency with a nice hot slice of pizza in the food court.

It won't cost you much either. A single slice at Sam's Club costs $1.89, and it's a fifth of the whole pizza. Don't ask us how their food court employees manage to cut a 16-inch pie into five equal pieces. Meanwhile, a single slice at Costco goes for $1.99. There, it's only a sixth of the 18-inch pizza. A geometric analysis from a Redditor on the r/Costco subreddit showed that the slice from Sam's was about 5% smaller than the one from Costco, so perhaps the $.10 higher price is justified.

Service, wait time, and price

Convenience and value are the biggest arguments for purchasing a pizza from Sam's Club or Costco. Most people aren't heading to these food courts because of the unique taste of their dishes, so these elements that affect the whole experience make the purchase worthwhile (or not).

A Sam's Club pizza costs $8.98, while a Costco one goes for $9.95. The toppings don't change prices, making Sam's Club's deluxe and four-meat offerings even more attractive. Both chains sell their pies for quite a bit cheaper than the national average — $17.81. At most locations in both warehouses, you don't have to be a member to order. Anyone can walk in off the street and get a pizza. Be aware that some of the busiest Costcos have changed this, though.

Order a pie with either chain's app while shopping. Once you have most of the merchandise you want to buy in your cart, order the pizza. Then, walk to the front of the store, wait in line, pay the cashier, and your pizza will be ready. It's perfectly fresh and right out of the oven, and you didn't have to wait long at all. That also means that you don't have too much contact with the workers — only when they hand the pizza over. If you're hoping for more personalized service, you'll probably find it in a local pizzeria.

How well they hold up as leftovers

Since we're talking about 16 and 18-inch pizzas, eating the whole thing takes some effort. A group of four adults might even have trouble getting through one. That means you'll probably have leftovers, and it's important to know how good they'll taste the next day.

The good news is both pizzas do pretty well in the fridge or freezer. Stick them in the oven for a few minutes, and they taste almost as good as when you ordered them. Heat either in the microwave, and the crust on either will get floppy.

There's one big difference here. The crust on the Sam's Club pizza is already a little stiffer and more compact than on the one from Costco. That means a second time in the oven makes it just crisp enough that some people — especially picky kids — won't like it. In contrast, Costco's softer, spongier dough can take another round of baking without any noticeable side effects.

When you can order your pizza

If you're looking for a pizza to calm a late-night craving, neither Sam's Club nor Costco will help. Sam's Club Cafe opens from 10:00 to 7:00. Here, Costco has a leg up on the other store since the warehouse remains open until 8:30. That gives you an additional hour and a half window to order pizza which comes in handy if you have to work late. On the other hand, even that extra time may not be enough.

Pizza is a typical food to share while watching a movie with friends or for a game night. Those kinds of gatherings often occur after 8 pm. You might remember too late that you wanted to order pizza for your event and then have to pay more. Chains like Papa John's, Pizza Hut, and Domino's are open far later — some locations until 1 am. If your heart is set on spending less than $10, your best bet is planning, buying the pizza ahead, and reheating it in the oven.