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Can Costco’s $10 Carry-Out Pizza Compete With Delivery? We Put It To A Blind Taste Test

Costco’s pizza is a classic at this point. The superstore has been serving pizza by the slice and carry-out since 1989. While they’ve discontinued their Supreme pie in a lot of markets, their Cheese and Pepperoni slices and pies are still hugely popular. In fact, if you tally the numbers, Costco is one of the biggest pizza chains in the country (seriously) with around 700 stores nationwide. People like and maybe even love their Costco carry-out.

But how does it stand up against iconic delivery pies that you don’t need to trek to Costco to pick up? That’s what we’re trying to find out.

For this tasting (it’s not exactly “blind” because it’s immediately obvious at first sight which pie is which), I’m stacking Costco’s classic pepperoni against a large pepperoni from Domino’s and the same from Papa John’s. All the pies are large with standard crusts, cheese, and sauce. Any extras would be an unfair advantage against the Costco pie. While I’d like to add a Brooklyn crust from Domino’s, it’d just be too different from the others to not completely stand out (and likely win).

For the adjudicating, I’m tasting each slice and judging based on crust (doughy, crispy, well-seasoned?), sauce (too bland, too sweet, good spice?), cheese (too gooey, too plasticky, good flavor?), and pepperoni (good spice, not too greasy, nice texture?) with an overall grade for cohesiveness. If that sounds complicated, it isn’t, this is pizza, not rocket science.

The pizza in play:

  • Costco Pepperoni Pizza
  • Domino’s Large Pepperoni Pizza (Hand-tossed crust)
  • Papa John’s Large Pepperoni Pizza (Original crust)

Let’s see how these delivery pies stand up to Costco’s carry-out!

Part 1: The Tasting/Ranking

Costco Pizza Test
Zach Johnston

3. Papa John’s Large Pepperoni Pizza (Original crust) — Taste 3

Costco Pizza Test
Zach Johnston

Price: $15.69 + $4.75 delivery fee (!) + tax and tip

Size and Slices: 14″, 8 slices

The Pizza

Papa John’s rises their dough for three days in a cold walk-in. The crust is rolled out (with spikes) before saucing with (a lot of) Papa John’s own tinned tomato sauce. The white cheese mix is likely some combination of low-moisture mozzarella, provolone, and fontina or asiago (they don’t really say much). The pepperoni is standard stuff. The pie is baked at 483°F for exactly 7.5 minutes.

Blind Tasting Notes:

The crust was pretty bland. It really felt like those frozen pie crusts you get at the grocery store with a slight plastic vibe. It was also the densest crust by far that was mostly chewy and barely crispy at the rim. The sauce was a lot but somehow the most flavorless (maybe that’s why they use so much?). There was a hint of sweet and tinniness but little else. Maybe there was the idea of tomato in there after a bite or two. The cheese was very plasticky and sort of clumped more than it pulled. It was just plain. The pepperoni was fine, crispy, etc., but that was sort of besides the point in the end.

This is a big “meh…” with a full rotation shoulder shrug from me.

Bottom Line

This wasn’t worth the $4.75 delivery fee much less the $15 price tag! Seriously, this was the most expensive by far and not even close to the other two. Hard pass.

Find your nearest Papa John’s here.

2. Costco Pepperoni Pizza — Taste 1

Costco Pizza Test
Zach Johnston

Price: $9.95 + tax

Size and Slices: 18″, 12 slices

The Pizza

This is a made-to-order pie. The crust is raised for over 24 hours (overnight) and then rolled with spikes. The whole thing is measured out by computer for exactness from pie to pie with nearly two pounds of cheese (mozzarella, provolone, and ten-month-aged shredded parmesan), 60 slices of pepperoni, and a tinned pizza sauce. The pie is cooked in about six minutes via a conveyor belt oven.

Blind Tasting Notes:

The crust is very chewy but does have a decent crumb and balance of bready flavor. The sauce is sweet but not sugary sweet. There’s a hint of tomato umami with a dash of onion and garlic spice/sweetness in the sauce. Overall, the sauce is okay. The cheese is very chewy and a tad plasticky. It’s nice but doesn’t really have a good pull and feels more clumpy than stringy. Still, the flavor is there, if not the texture. The pepperoni is nice, crispy on the edges with a soft interior. There’s a nice chili/peppery/smoky spiciness with a hint of onion and dried chili.

The overall slice is very cohesive and not nearly as soupy as the cheese pizza from Costco.

Bottom Line

There’s a good balance to these slices. The cheese is the only real downer on the slice with the crust feeling real albeit a little too chewy and barely crispy at the rim.

Find your nearest Costco here.

1. Domino’s Large Pepperoni Pizza (Hand-tossed crust) — Taste 2

Costco Pizza Test
Zach Johnston

Price: $12.99 + tax and tip

Size and Slices: 14″, 8 slices

The Pizza

Domino’s Hand-Tossed crusts rise for three days in a walk-in cooler before they’re, you guessed it, hand-tossed for baking. Those pies are covered in Domino’s own red sauce, a mix of white cheeses (mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and white cheddar), and handfuls of pepperoni. The pies are baked in a fast conveyor belt oven in about four minutes (or less).

Blind Tasting Notes:

The crust is immediately better. It has a nice chew to it with a great crumb. This feels like real bread that’s properly airy. Plus, the rim crust is well-seasoned with garlic butter, and that puts this pizza over the top immediately. The sauce is not too sweet and not too… well, anything. There’s a hint of spice and it’s well seasoned, but that tomato bite is very hard to find. It’s okay but very, “meh.” The cheese, on the other hand, is very tasty, has a great pull/stretch, and stays stringy for the whole slice. It feels sort of classic. The pepperoni is definitely spicier with a nice crispy edge and soft middle. There’s a good level of fat but it’s not greasy.

This is a really good, simple slice.

Bottom Line

That garlic seasoning on the crust put this over the top. It’s like a little nibble of garlic bread at the end of your slice. Genius? Overall, this was just better but was lacking in the sauce department. Still, that’s only one major fault.

Find your nearest Domino’s here.

Part 2: Final Thoughts

Costco Pizza Test
Zach Johnston

Papa John’s ended up being $25 all-in compared to Domino’s $20 and Costco’s $12.14 (after tax). Costco 100% wins the best value by far. It’s a perfectly good pizza with okay crust and mediocre-to-fine cheese. The rest is perfectly good for what it is.

Yes, the Domino’s slice was better overall, but we’re talking $2.50/slice after tax and tip for delivery. A slice from the Costco pie is only $1.01. Basically, you’re paying $1.49 for delivery. Economics aside, the slices aren’t that much different. Yes, the Domino’s slice is better overall but it’s not nearly as big a gap between Costco and Domino’s as Papa John’s and everything else.

Ideally, I’d take Domino’s crust and cheese with Costco’s sauce and pepp and bake that a little bit longer like the Costco pie. That’s the sweet spot.

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