The Real Reason Costco Chicken Tastes Different Now

For many shoppers, a stop at Costco's food court is the best part of the whole trip. Costco's $1 hot dog, pizza, soft pretzels — what's not to love? Well, according to some shoppers, the chicken bake has gone downhill over the years in terms of quality.

The beloved chicken bake is actually a concoction of extra ingredients — pizza dough, chicken, bacon bits, dressing, pizza cheese — and if we're being honest, that's why Costco's chicken bakes are so delicious. It combines all the flavors of our other food court favorites into a happy little calzone-sandwich of sorts.

However, sometime during the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting shutdowns, the Costco chicken bake changed. Shoppers reported that it didn't taste as good anymore, and some theorized that the recipe had changed. A further change was the chicken bake's cost increasing in July 2022 due to the inflation crisis (via Business Insider). So, what happened to the chicken bake we know and love?

Costco's chicken bake used to be made fresh at the food court

Back when Costco's chicken bake was in its prime, it was prepared fresh in the food court kitchen. At some point during the pandemic, however, Costco stopped making the chicken bake fresh. Instead, according to Reddit, the food court switched to thawing and baking frozen chicken bake. One Costco employee said that "when [the chicken bakes] were handmade, they were great ... but now they are gross." Another person described the new version of the chicken bake as "puffed dough with sauce inside," as well as being "arguably the worst thing on the menu." 

In another Reddit thread, someone suggested the food court switched to frozen chicken bake to minimize how much workers were touching shoppers' food, and that if it was because of the pandemic, it may only be temporary. (We can only hope.)

In the meantime, if you're craving a Costco chicken bake and the food court's current offerings just won't do, worry not. The internet has plenty of copycat Costco chicken bake recipes for you to try making at home.