When Costco first started selling pizza, many aficionados of the Italian-American classic were appalled. They thought it would be like ordering filet mignon at a Burger King drive-thru. What’s next? Duck confit a la Walmart?

But Costco customers can’t get enough of the big-box wholesaler’s pies, and a writer at the Daily Meal—one of many who has pondered this culinary mystery in recent years—claims to know why.

The secret, Kuamel Stewart says, is in the cheese. Lots and lots of sexy, nicely browned cheese.

Related: The “best pizza chef in Naples” has done the unthinkable

“Bite into a slice and you’ll wonder just how the wholesale chain’s pizza is so superior to so many other kinds of pizza that you’ve had,” Stewart writes. “Well, thankfully, we now know why.”

Stewart reports that Costco’s recipe uses a pound and a half of cheese—and not just mozzarella. The blend includes Parmesan and provolone. “When you combine all of those cheeses,” Stewart asserts, “it creates an unbeatable flavor….You’re talking about an explosion of creamy, tangy, spicy, earthy, sweet and rich cheesy flavor to complement Costco’s pizza dough and sauce.”

Additionally, as Reader’s Digest noted in a November 2022 article, keen attention to portioning makes a big difference. After all, consistency is key. “We never shortcut the ingredients,” a longtime Costco employee told Reader’s Digest. “Everything is measured to a standard. Every Costco pizza you get should have the same amount of sauce, cheese and toppings.”

The pre-made dough is carefully selected, too, according to Thrillist. Costco purchases its dough from a Brooklyn-based distributor that makes daily deliveries. After resting and proofing, it’s layered in olive oil, then loaded into a hot dough press for seven seconds to ensure uniform thickness.

Finally, it’s docked by hand to pop out any air bubbles for a more even bake, sauced by a robot, topped and placed in perforated pans for a crispier crust.

And speaking of the sauce, Costco keeps mum about how it’s made. But a blogger for FlavoryCooking.com says the chain uses “vine-ripened tomatoes and a blend of aromatic herbs and spices,” then slow-cooks it to “create a robust and complex taste. This slow-cooking method enhances the depth of the sauce, giving it a homemade quality that sets it apart from others.”

Mind you, when these various writers purr so lovingly about the deliciousness of Costco’s pizza, PMQ can only take them at their word. We’ve never tried it. We’ll stick with our favorite hometown pizza joint, thank you very much.

Food & Ingredients