Every Item At The Costco Food Court, Ranked

There have been a lot of casualties in the restaurant world during the current pandemic. Perhaps surprisingly, the Costco food court is included in that list. Over the past few years, Costco has quietly done away with many favorite options, citing the pandemic as the reason. Many other classic items have increased substantially in price, at least in terms of Costco standards. 

With the new slimmed-down menu, you may wonder what is worth it and what is not? We are here to help. We have tried every item on the food court menu and have ranked them from worst to best. The good news is that holding true to Costco standards, the food court food items are still cheap and come in truly monstrous sizes. At these prices, however, how Costco can possibly be making money on its food court? Well, the truth is, it doesn't always. Many of its food courts operate at a deficit; not surprising when the classic Costco hot dog price hasn't changed at all since 1985. But just because the items are cheap and almost obscenely large doesn't mean they are good. There are a few items at the food court we will not have in the future and others that we hope Costco never changes. (Some limited or regional menu items may not be included.)

12. Twisted Churro

Coming in last is the Twisted Churro with cinnamon and sugar. This was perhaps the most disappointing menu item because we were so looking forward to it. How do you screw up fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar? It should have been fantastic. To be very blunt, though, this was practically inedible. The dough was insanely dry. We are not sure how something that was submerged in oil to cook could be this bone dry. In fact, the cinnamon and sugar fell off in droves, coating the table and our pants. And heaven forbid you to try to cut one of these cinnamon sticks ... you're likely to break the flimsy foodcourt plastic knife in half.

The lackluster flavor of this snack is very disappointing because prior to this, Costco offered a different churro that was loved by many. When Costco finally announced the reappearance of the churro in 2021, it should have been a triumphant return. However, the churro returned in its new larger form, and people were unhappy. Many commented on the company's Facebook page that they preferred the old recipe. The size and new twist to the churro are not enough to save it. Sadly, this churro may be new, but it's certainly not improved and is not even worth the $1.50 Costco is charging for it.

11. Cold Brew Mocha Freeze

At $2.99, the Cold Brew Mocha Freeze is one of the more expensive items on the Costco food court menu, and yet it is also one of the worst. If you were hoping for a substitute for a Starbucks mocha frappuccino, keep looking. This is not that by any stretch. The food court menu describes the ingredients as "cold brew iced coffee, Kirkland signature Colombian beans, premium chocolate." This description almost feels like false advertising. The coffee flavor barely came through — though we certainly got the acid from it. The chocolate syrup just made it worse. It was overpoweringly sweet and not chocolaty. There was nothing about this item that made it either "signature" or "premium."

The consistency of the drink, too, was off. It tasted icy and not well blended. It was not rich or creamy at all like we have come to expect from frozen coffee drinks from other chains. Overall, we would much rather skip this Cold Brew Mocha Freeze in favor of spending a few dollars more at a coffee shop that can get it right.

10. Cold Brew Latte Freeze

One thing the Cold Brew Latte Freeze has over the mocha variety is that you do not have to suffer by adding the overwhelmingly sweet chocolate sauce. What is odd, though, is that this Cold Brew Latte Freeze costs the same amount as the mocha freeze. This is particularly odd because the same chocolate sauce is used on the chocolate sundae, which costs $0.50 more than the untopped Costco ice cream cup. Seriously, we would at least expect to pay less since we aren't getting the chocolate. But no. For the same $2.99, we still have to suffer through the icy acidic Cold Brew Latte Freeze. 

At least with this coffee drink, the coffee flavor comes through marginally more, due to the lack of sickeningly sweet chocolate sauce. We suppose that if someone were absolutely desperate for a coffee fix while they shopped, this would work in a pinch, but we would not be going out of the way for it and would choose almost any other beverage from the food court over it.

9. Chicken Bake

No one is immune to inflation, not even Costco. As of June 2022 the Chicken Bake went from $2.99 to its new price of $3.99. While this is still cheap considering the sheer size of the item, the inflation was still a hard pill to swallow, especially given that the Chicken Bake is not one of the best items on the menu. We are now entering the food court options that are not oppressively bad; they are simply mediocre. This is exactly how we would describe the Chicken Bake; it is a very mediocre chicken calzone. It is also the most expensive single item on the food court menu.

The Chicken Bake is chicken breast, cheese, bacon, and Caesar dressing, wrapped in dough and baked. As we said, it is not offensively bad, but it is pretty bland. The inside is unusually beige, and the flavor is basically the taste of that very color. A different dressing or a sharper cheese may have made the difference for this one. But sadly, not even the presence of bacon was enough to get the Chicken Bake to rank higher on this list.

8. Chocolate sundae

We have already made it quite clear that we do not love the chocolate sauce offered at the Costco food court. The chocolate sauce included in the retailer giant's chocolate sundae is the same as the chocolate sauce in the Cold Brew Mocha Freeze. Luckily it works better on the sundae. While it is still very sweet, it works better for a dessert such as this than it did on the icy abomination of the aforementioned coffee drink. That being said, this is still our least favorite of the ice cream treats. It was about as boring as a chocolate sundae can get. The chocolate sauce is still only mediocre, and there are just better ice cream options on the menu. Heck, even better sundae options can be found at Costco's competitor Sam's Club

To its credit, though, we will say that the chocolate sauce was well distributed, with the cup being coated before and after being filled to the top with ice cream. Costco certainly did not skimp on the serving size here, and you could likely split this with another person easily. For $2.49, that is a pretty good deal. But we would be lying if we said it did not make us miss the Costco chocolate froyo, which was better than this sundae. RIP, Costco chocolate frozen yogurt.

7. Strawberry sundae

The Costco strawberry sundae is actually pretty good. It has a base of the Costco vanilla ice cream and is layered with a strawberry sauce that actually has pieces of strawberries in it, which adds a nice texture and the taste of natural fruit. It also appears to be the same sauce added to the food court's fruit smoothie. 

The strawberry sundae is thick enough to scoop with each bite but not so thick that it becomes gelatinous. Much like the chocolate sundae, the sauce is layered both on the bottom and the top of this sundae. And we appreciate that. Few things are more frustrating than when companies skimp out on the toppings. Costco certainly is certainly not guilty of this. The food court employees fill the entire 16-ounce cup with strawberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. Overall if we had one complaint, it would be that it is just a smidge boring. But for $2.49, we can't complain too much and would certainly get this as a sweet treat after completing a Costco shopping trip.

6. Ice cream cup

We will admit that when Costco discontinued its fat-free frozen yogurt and replaced it with its vanilla ice cream cup, we were skeptical. However, the Costco frozen yogurt was a delicious treat that came in chocolate, vanilla, and twist. We loved it and will forever be hoping for a return. That being said, we would not pass up a chase to get the newer ice cream cup. It only comes in vanilla, with no chocolate or twist, but the flavor is spot on. It is a creamy and decadent soft serve delight.

There is no need to adorn this with chocolate or strawberry sauce. The ice cream cup stands tall by itself as a great dessert. Plus, by getting it solo, you save $0.50 from the sundaes. The total cost of the Costco ice cream cup is only $1.99, and it comes in the same 16-ounce cup. This is a steal, and, once again, it is very splittable. This is a worthy purchase if you are a fan of soft serve ice cream.

5. 20 ounce soda with refills

Yes, our number five pick is simply the soda. This may seem odd, but hear us out. Even with the recent price hike, a Costco 20 oz soda is only $0.69. This is cheaper than buying a bottle or can of soda in most places. Even better, the Costco soda comes with free refills. This is one of those Costco deals so good that it is worth the membership. You could likely pay for this one with the loose change found in your couch.

The only downside to the Costco soda is that the options are extremely limited. They are mostly relegated to Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Brisk Tea. That's right, if you are a Coke or Dr. Pepper fan, you are simply out of luck. It's Pepsi products only at the Costco food court! We can forgive this, though, for the price. As long as one of the options is at least tolerable to you, snagging a soda for less than a dollar along with unlimited refills is a hard deal to beat.

4. Fruit smoothie

The fruit smoothie at the Costco food court has been a hotly contested item. When it first appeared, it replaced the Berry Smoothie, and people were not exactly thrilled about it. The smoothie more than doubled in price from $1.45 to $2.99. It was also only marginally lower in calories but much higher in things like sodium. These are not great trade offs. But if you look at the fruit smoothie on its own, we think you will find that it is a delicious fruity treat.

The smoothies sign in the food court touts no artificial flavors, added sugars, and an offering of four servings of fruit. This is honestly pretty good, considering the cost of $2.99. Costco blends a fruit smoothie base with some strawberry topping, providing an icy smoothie consistency with authentic pieces of fruit mixed in. It is sweet but not overly so that it will give you a stomach ache from too much sugar. The fruit smoothie is easily the best of the frozen drink options, and given it runs the same price as the frozen coffee drinks, ordering this instead is a no-brainer. 

3. Cheese pizza

Who doesn't love a cheese pizza? It is the friendliest and easiest pizza in the world to eat. This is probably why so many of the people we saw ordering this appeared to be post-shopping parents buying it for their hungry hordes of children. We don't blame them. The cheese pizza is an incredible deal at $1.99 a slice or $9.95 for a whole pizza. And remember, a single slice of pizza is enormous. A single slice comes in at 710 calories, which is functionally two slices. The whole pizza is 18 inches and is typically cut into eight large slices or 12 smaller ones.

Is this gourmet pizza? No, not by any stretch. But even unexceptional pizza is not necessarily bad pizza, and this is not bad pizza. The crust was chewy and not dry, it had a generous amount of cheese, and was not too saucy. It is roughly the equivalent of what you would expect from a movie theater with pizza, or a cheap pizza chain. The only difference is this pizza is priced at a much better bargain, and a whole pie could easily feed a family of four. Plus, it is one of the menu's only vegetarian savory food options. So this is an excellent option if you like a plain cheese pizza and need a quick bite.

2. Pepperoni pizza

Want to kick it up to 11 for the same great price of $1.99? Grab a slice of the pepperoni pizza. Costco used to offer a combo pizza, which featured pepperoni, onions, olives, and peppers. It was a truly sad day when that option went away. But still, at least we have the pepperoni. The pepperoni pizza beats out the plain cheese pizza for one key reason: it is exactly the same price. While most other places charge more for toppings, not Costco! Costco keeps it all affordable. Even the whole pizza is still the same price as the plain cheese option at $9.95. The pepperoni is not very spicy but it's pleasant and adds a necessary flavor.

We would be hard-pressed to find a food item that is a better deal elsewhere. But, of course, it doesn't help that Costco pizza is almost universally known to be delicious. It is such a popular item for the company it has actually helped make the wholesale store one of the top pizza chains in the United States. Plus, in a time crunch, Costco can make an entire pizza in under 10 minutes. So it may not be the best pizza in the world, but for the price and quality, this pepperoni pizza is one of the best items to buy in the Costco food court.

1. Hot dog and soda

It is no surprise that the classic Costco Hot Dog and Soda combo comes in as the number one item on our list. The price of the hot dog soda combo has not changed since 1985, so it is no wonder this choice remains so popular with consumers. Seriously, it is a price that can not be beaten. In fact, Costco loses money on every hot dog it sells. When the idea of raising the price has come up in the past, the CEO is reported to have said, "If you raise the effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out." He seems to feel pretty passionate about the deal.

Still, some have worried that the price of the hot dog would follow suit with the recent inflation. Thankfully, CNBC reports this will not be the case. Even though soda on its own has gone up $0.10, the combo is staying right where it is.

The classic combo comes with a full ¼ pound of an all-beef hot dog. It comes on a bun that it practically spills out of. While it comes plain, Costco offers a small selection of condiments to dress it up however you like. And the whole thing comes with a soda of your choosing. This quality and price reign supreme and we doubt anything will ever beat this food court offering.