What to Eat at Costco Food Court: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

Costco exterior

 Slobo / Getty Images

Costco is a warehouse club where members can purchase products in bulk for slightly discounted prices. The first location opened in Seattle in 1983. Since the late 1980s, the Costco food court has been the home of affordable, quick, and classic American comfort foods

Its well-known menu items include beef hot dogs, chicken Caesar salad, pepperoni pizza, and nonfat frozen yogurt. As any Costco customer would expect, the food court prices are very low (and haven't changed in years), especially considering the hefty portion sizes

In recent years, Costco introduced açai bowls and vegan al pastor salads in attempts to add healthier options to its quick-service food stand, but offerings do vary depending on location. If you dine at a Costco food court, be cautious of the menu items that are high in sodium and sugar.

What Experts Say

"Costco food court items are best eaten only on occasion. Pizza, sausage, and French fries are rich in fat, sodium, and carbs. One item Costco offers with vegetables is the chicken Caesar salad. If you choose it, aim to get the dressing on the side to reduce added sodium and fat."
Barbie Cervoni, RD, CDE

Navigating the Menu

At first glance, the Costco food court menu seems pretty straightforward. With giant pictures of mouthwatering pizza and hot dogs, it may seem like nothing on the menu aligns with your idea of healthy. There are a few options you can feel good about ordering if you are looking to follow a nutritious eating plan.

The menu can be divided into hot food, cold food, drinks, and dessert. Not every location's menu is the same, but typically, you might find:

  • Hot food: All-beef or Polish hot dogs, chicken bake, hot turkey and provolone sandwich, BBQ beef brisket sandwich, and whole or sliced pizza
  • Cold food: Chicken Caesar sandwich and al pastor salad
  • Drinks: 20-ounce fountain drink, berry smoothie, latte freeze, and mocha freeze
  • Dessert: Gelato, açai bowl, very berry sundae, nonfat frozen yogurt, hand-dipped ice cream bar, and twisted churro
Most Nutritious Options
  • BBQ beef brisket sandwich

  • Al pastor salad (with less dressing)

  • Chicken Caesar salad (with less dressing)

  • Berry smoothie

  • Latte freeze

  • Açai bowl

Least Nutritious Options
  • All-beef hot dogs

  • Polish hot dogs

  • Chicken bake

  • Hot turkey and provolone sandwich

  • Pizza

  • Mocha freeze

  • Berry sundae

If you’re looking for the healthiest meal at Costco’s food court, the chicken Caesar salad’s nutrition profile makes it the best choice.

Hot Food

Costco is famous for its single-serve pizza slices and ready-made hot dogs. The menu also features hot sandwiches and a chicken dish.

Most of the hot food at Costco’s food court is high in calories, sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fat. Since the portion sizes are so large, you can cut the calories in half by splitting your order with another person or taking half to go and eating it another time.

Most Nutritious Option

While not the most nutritious item on the menu, the hot food offering that has the least calories and saturated fat is the BBQ beef brisket sandwich. It has 610 calories, 34g fat (52% of daily value), 11g saturated fat, 54g carbohydrate (18%DV), 27g protein, and 1310mg sodium (55%DV).

Least Nutritious Option

Turkey is usually associated with being a healthier option. However, at the Costco food court, the hot turkey and provolone sandwich is among the least nutritious choices. This menu item contains 740 calories, 34g fat (52%DV), 12g saturated fat, 49g carbohydrate (16%DV), 43g protein, and 1710mg sodium (71%DV).

Cold Food

Costco’s food court cold options contain most of the nutritious options overall. This small category contains two salads. For vegans and vegetarians, one of the options in this section is plant-based. Both options are especially friendly to people following a low-calorie diet. When ordering either salad, be sure to get the dressing on the side and use less than provided.

Most Nutritious Option

When using a fraction of the dressing that comes with this menu item, the vegan al pastor salad can be the least in calories and cholesterol. At the most, this salad contains 750 calories, 56g fat (58%DV), 8g saturated fat, 59g carbohydrate (27%DV), 32g protein, and 3270mg sodium (142%DV).

Cutting back on the dressing improves this nutrient profile. Without the dressing, the salad is closer to 330 calories.

Least Nutritious Option

Like the al pastor salad, the chicken Caesar salad can be a nutritious option when using less of the salad dressing. However, when eaten as it comes, the salad contains 650 calories, 40g fat (62%DV), 9g saturated fat, 34g carbohydrates (11%DV), 40g protein, and 2450mg sodium (102%).

Despite seeming like a healthier option, the chicken Caesar salad has the highest sodium content on the whole menu. It also contains 120mg cholesterol (40%DV). To make this salad one of the most nutritious on the menu, use a fraction of the salad dressing and order without the croutons. When you make these modifications, the chicken Caesar salad goes from being one of the least nutritious options to one of the healthiest.

Drinks

Costco has a simple selection of cold drinks to choose from, many of which are soda. Customers can help themselves to the fountain, which contains various types of Pepsi beverages. Other options include the berry smoothie, latte freeze, and mocha freeze. 

Costco’s drink selections tend to be high in sugar. To reduce your sugar consumption, opt for the latte freeze. If calories and sugars are a concern, Costco also offers diet Pepsi.

Most Nutritious Option

The most nutritious option will always be a good old glass of water, but if you're looking to order something special off the menu, the latte freeze is lower in calories and sugar than Costco's beverages.

A 15-ounce serving of the latte freeze contains 190 calories, 7g fat (11%DV), 5g saturated fat, 19g carbohydrate (6%DV), 12g protein, and 160mg sodium (7%). It also contains only 30mg cholesterol (10%DV).

Least Nutritious Option

It’s easy to mistake the latte freeze for the mocha freeze. However, that would more than double your sugar consumption. A 15-ounce serving of Costco’s mocha freeze contains 310 calories, 6g fat (9%DV), 4g saturated fat, 52g carbohydrate (17%), 11g protein, and 180mg sodium (8%DV). This drink also packs 46g sugar.

Dessert

Costco is almost as famous for its frozen yogurt as it is for its hot dogs. However, dessert can be the most difficult food category in which to find a healthier option. At Costco, your best bet is most likely the açai bowl, though it’s more of a breakfast or snack than a dessert. The other options, which are mainly ice cream or frozen yogurt, are higher in calories and sugar. 

Most Nutritious Option

Each açai bowl contains 330 calories, 8g fat (12%DV), 0g saturated fat, 72g carbohydrate (24%DV), 3g protein, and 55mg sodium. It also contains 41g sugar, which likely comes mostly from the natural sugar in fruit. What makes this option stand out is that it’s free of saturated fat and very low in sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

The fan-favorite berry sundae is a delicious dessert, but not a great source of nutrition. A 13-ounce serving contains 480 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 107g carbohydrates (36%DV), 45g protein, and 260mg sodium (11%DV). It also contains a whopping 83g sugar.

Diet-Specific Options

Eating out with dietary restrictions or food allergies can be challenging. Typically, with a few modifications, you can continue on with your meal. At most restaurants, accommodating all dietary patterns is nearly impossible. Costco’s limited menu makes this even less likely. However, some menu items are compliant or can be modified to suit several dietary preferences.

Gluten-Free

  • Berry sundae
  • Nonfat frozen yogurt
  • Açai bowl
  • Berry smoothie
  • Chicken Caesar salad (order with no croutons)

Though Costco’s gluten-free selections aren't certified gluten-free, these options do not contain gluten ingredients. If you order a salad, ask for it without croutons. You can also order a hot dog without the bun.

Low-Carb

  • Latte freeze
  • Fountain drink

Many of the meat-based food items, such as hot dogs and sandwiches, contain simple carbs in the form of bread. You can order hot dogs with the bun for a truly low-carb meal, though you’ll still need to be mindful of cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium.

Low-FODMAP

  • Chicken Caesar salad (order with no croutons, no cheese, and no dressing)

People following a low-FODMAP diet have very slim pickings at the Costco food court. Your safest option is a salad, though you have to remove several of the toppings.

Diabetes-Friendly

  • Chicken Caesar salad

Many people with diabetes follow a diet low in carbs, sugar, and processed foods. Since Costco’s food court is highly processed, the choices for people with diabetes are slim. The salad is a viable option. Depending on which diabetes-friendly diet you follow, you may want to remove some of the toppings.

Low-Fat

  • Berry sundae
  • Nonfat frozen yogurt
  • Açai bowl
  • Berry smoothie

Low-Sodium

  • Berry smoothie
  • Açai bowl

Vegetarian

  • Berry smoothie
  • Açai bowl
  • Al pastor salad
  • Cheese pizza
  • Berry sundae

Vegan

  • Berry smoothie
  • Açai bowl
  • Al pastor salad
  • Fountain drinks

Food Allergies and Safety

Costco has increased its selection of dairy-free and plant-based options. However, people with severe food allergies should be cautious of potential cross-contamination as food is likely prepared on the same equipment or surface. 

People with allergies to soy, egg, fish, and nuts should be able to find a safe option on the Costco menu by asking to remove potential allergens.

Many of the menu items can be made dairy-free by omitting the cheese, though several of the frozen drinks and desserts contain milk by default. People with gluten or wheat allergies may be confined to chilled drinks, desserts, and salads.

A Word From Verywell

Costco is a beloved retailer with hundreds of locations internationally. Its reasonable prices and vast inventory draw customers in, and the quick-service food court invites customers to grab a bite to eat before and after their shopping trip. The salads are among the most nutritious picks if you limit the amount of dressing you use. Enjoy other menu items in moderation.

Generally, you are bound to make a sacrifice when you opt for fast food. In the case of Costco, the food may be fast and affordable, though it tends to be higher in sodium, saturated fat, and sugar. If you know you’re going to Costco ahead of time, you can try to work these percentages into your daily nutritional breakdown.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Costco Food Court BBQ beef brisket sandwich. Nutritionix Restaurant Database. Updated August 24, 2016.

  2. Costco Food Court hot turkey and provolone sandwich. Nutritionix Restaurant Database. Updated August 24, 2016.

  3. Costco Food Court chicken Caesar salad. Nutritionix Restaurant Database. Updated August 24, 2016.

  4. Costco Food Court latte freeze. Nutritionix Restaurant Database. Updated August 24, 2016.

  5. Costco Food Court mocha freeze. Nutritionix Restaurant Database. Updated August 24, 2016.

  6. Costco Food Court acai bowl. My Food Diary.

  7. Costco Food Court berry sundae. Nutritionix Restaurant Database. Updated August 24, 2016.