Skip to content

I Compared Costco's Pizza To 4 Popular Chains & There's Only One I Liked Better

We tested the warehouse club's popular food-court pizza against some of the biggest fast-food chains.

Ordering pizza has become the solution for so many occasions. Perhaps you're too lazy to cook, the babysitter is coming, or your kids have friends over. Maybe you're throwing a birthday party or enjoying a pool night. There are so many pizza chains out there that people tend to stick with what they know, or let's be honest, what's most convenient to get to their home.

Another option is grabbing a pizza at Costco. With over 600 locations nationwide, the popular warehouse club actually ranks among America's biggest pizza purveyors. Depending on your topping choices, a massive 18-inch pie from the retailer's food court is a steal at $9.95 or $10.95. Although you have to pick it up, you can call ahead or place your order while shopping for whatever else you may need.

Most would agree that Costco pizza is good in a pinch, but how does it stack up to those pizza chains that have become ubiquitous with takeout pizza?

To find out, I ordered pizza from four popular chains—Domino's, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, and Little Caesars—and grabbed a pie from Costco as well. I ordered each pie with half cheese and half pepperoni to test how they all did with the two most popular varieties. Pizza Hut did not fulfill my request, sending me a whole pepperoni pie instead. So I had to peel the meaty slices off to make it part plain and complete this test.

I also enlisted the help of the best connoisseurs of quick-serve pizza that I know—a gaggle of tween boys. They communicated their feedback with words like "mid" or "bet," but they had strong opinions on what was the best and were pretty in line with my views as well.

Like any food, location matters, and my local Domino's may make a better pizza than yours, or the lovely pizza maker at Costco today may not be the same one that makes our pizza next week. This matters, but the recipe characteristics—cheese, sauce, dough—should remain relatively similar across locations.

Without further ado, here's how these pizzas stacked up, ranked in descending order from my least favorite to the best pizza of all.

Little Caesars

two slices of little caesars pizza on top of a box
Photo: Samantha Lande, Eat This, Not That!
Pepperoni (Per 1 Large Classic Pizza)
Calories: 2,300
Fat: 97 g (Saturated Fat: 42 g, Trans Fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 5,050 mg
Carbs: 250 g (Fiber: 13 g, Sugar: 19 g)
Protein: 109 g

Growing up in the Detroit area, where the Little Caesars originated, I ate a lot of this pizza as a kid and even sold the chain's pizza kits for school fundraisers. So, I was very disappointed to experience Little Caesars as an adult. This particular pie didn't live up to my childhood dreams at all. At the same time, it didn't hurt my wallet nearly as much as some of the others. This pizza cost me just $7.

The look: Slightly inconsistent in the way the sauce and cheese were distributed, with some parts having a big gloppy sauce portion uncovered by cheese, but this pie featured nice brown spots on the cheese and a golden crust.

The taste: As one of the boys said, "This one didn't hit right." The sauce was extremely spiced—so much so that it was all you could taste in some bites. The crust was soft and breadier than other versions and the cheese was just okay. The pepperoni was tasteless. Sadly, I don't think I will be ordering this again.

 I Tried the Classic Pepperoni Pizza at Domino's, Papa Johns, & Pizza Hut—and This Was the Best!

Pizza Hut

two slices of pizza hut pizza on a box
Photo: Samantha Lande, Eat This, Not That!
Hand Tossed Pepperoni (Per 1 Slice)
Calories: 300
Fat: 12 g (Saturated Fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 590 mg
Carbs: 34 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 13 g

I may be dating myself here, but remember the old Pizza Hut buffet? Now, that's what dreams were made of! Sadly, that reference is completely lost on younger diners. None of the kids who helped me taste these pies had ever eaten at Pizza Hut before and they were super pumped to try. I could only get it delivered to my house through GrubHub, which was annoying and expensive (the added fees alone were a turnoff). The 14-inch pizza itself cost me $24.74.

This was a tough call, whether to rank this pizza ahead or after Domino's. Some tasters were huge fans, others weren't, but I think the two were pretty darn close.

The look: Slightly thinner than some of the other pies. The crust wasn't as uniform as others. It sort of resembled the kind of pizza you'd get in a cafeteria line.

The taste: "Like school pizza," is how one of my tween tasters described it. I am not sure that should be taken as a terrible comment. It was definitely the sturdiest of the pies with a bread-like dough. It was very sauce heavy, though, which is not something I personally love on my pizza. I wouldn't count it out completely but for me Pizza Hut didn't get top billing.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at Pizza Hut, According to a Nutritionist


two slices of dominos pizza on top of a box
Photo: Samantha Lande, Eat This, Not That!
Hand Tossed Pepperoni (Per 1 Slice):
Calories: 290
Fat: 12 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 570 mg
Carbs: 32 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 11 g

Yet another Michigan chain that I grew up with! Domino's seems to always be a fan-favorite chain. I would say the person making my pizza might want to turn down the oven a bit, but it's likely an anomaly. This pizza cost me $16.68.

The look: Quite well done. Another minute or so, and it probably would have been overcooked. This one did have a nice golden crust, however.

The taste: Domino's boasted the best-tasting pepperoni in this survey—not overly salty with a good amount of spice. The pizza crust smacked of garlic salt and some pieces were slightly oversalted, but it did give a good flavor. The sauce here is very tomato-forward. Overall, this pizza was certainly overdone but at least it didn't taste burnt.

 5 Fast-Food Chains That Serve the Best NY-Style Pizza


two slices of costco pizza on a box
Photo: Samantha Lande, Eat This, Not That!

Whole 1/2 Pepperoni & 1/2 Cheese (Per Order)
Calories: 4,080
Fat: 162 g (Saturated Fat: 84 g, Trans Fat: 35 g)
Sodium: 10,440 mg
Carbs: 453 g (Fiber: 42 g, Sugar: 33 g)
Protein: 224 g

You can think of Costco as either the most convenient or the least convenient place to get a pizza. Unlike all of the other chains, the warehouse club's food court doesn't deliver. If you live nearby, maybe this doesn't matter. Grabbing this one was easy, I placed an order at the kiosk when I arrived at the store, did my shopping in 15 minutes, and then picked up the hot and ready pie on my way out.

However, there are times when I am running out the door and order pizza for my kids in the process—a situation where I would not want to run to the store. So, it's definitely a plus and minus. For the size, however, you aren't beating this price anywhere. The whole pie cost me $10.65. Most of the large pizzas from the other spots were far smaller and cost nearly twice as much.

The look: By far the most in the toppings department, both when it comes to cheese and pepperoni. Slightly less top crust than some of its competitors and the slices were longer in length. It's certainly a "floppier" pizza, as my husband said. When you pick it up, it's hard to maintain all the weight of the cheese and toppings.  Like everything at Costco, it's go big or go home. This pizza probably had more cheese and pepperoni than the other pizzas combined.

The taste: Some said the first few bites were great and then it wasn't, and that's likely due to the sheer amount of stuff on the pizza. A slice here is like two and if you don't love cheese you are going to want to look elsewhere, it's almost like a double layer of cheese. The dough is a bit chewy and the sauce is nice and mild. The pepperoni here too ranked high.

Papa Johns

two slices of papa johns pizza on a box
Photo: Samantha Lande, Eat This, Not That!

Pepperoni (Per 1 Large Slice):
Calories: 320
Fat: 13 g (Saturated Fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 810 mg
Carbs: 38 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 12 g

I am not afraid to admit that Papa Johns' breadsticks are a guilty pleasure of mine, but I don't often eat the pizza. It is a go-to for my kids, however, and I do appreciate the amount of coupons the chain often provides. Although some of our middle picks received mixed opinions, this was hands-down the favorite pie for everyone involved. It just had the best balance of cheese and sauce and had a great crust. This pizza cost me $20.99.

The look: A nice thick top crust with a thinner undercarriage. The topping coverage was even. The cheese featured nice brown spots without looking overdone. The crust looked good and pillowy.

The taste: Everyone loved the crust on this one the best. It had a nice chew and was more of a defined crust than some of the other pies. The sauce-to-cheese ratio was balanced and the sauce wasn't overpowering. Although the pepperoni wasn't our favorite, it wasn't tasteless like some of the others. Papa Johns also had a secret weapon in its garlic butter sauce that seemed to amp up the pizza even more for some of these boys.

Even though Papa Johns was the overall winner, it's surprising to see how well Costco ranked among actual pizza chains. The warehouse food court probably isn't winning any awards or the favor of many Italians, but it does rival some of the biggest pizza chains for a solid convenient option.

Samantha Lande
Samantha is a freelance writer who covers food, health, wellness and other lifestyle subjects. Read more about Samantha