We Answer 9 Important Questions About Costco's Party Platters

Vegetable and cheese party platters
Vegetable and cheese party platters - Littleny/Getty Images

There's no better time to buy in bulk than when you're hosting a party, and there's no better place to stock up than Costco. Cases of soda? Check. Giant bags of chips? Check. Enough hot dogs and buns to feed a small army? Check and check.

And that doesn't even take into account the freshly made products coming out of Costco's deli and bakery departments. You guessed it: We're talking party platters. Trays of sandwiches, freshly baked cookies, and custom cakes are the party-planning hacks you need, and Costco makes it easy.

Whether you're planning ahead and have time to place a custom order or grabbing a few things from the cold case for a last-minute gathering, Costco is a must-use resource. With food for a crowd, cups and plates, drinks, and cleaning supplies all in one place, you can go from zero to party in one stop. We headed to a local warehouse — and made some cross-country calls to other Costco locations — to get all the important answers to your burning Costco party platter questions. Here's what you need to know.

Read more: 23 Whole Foods Baked Goods, Ranked

What Types Of Food Trays Does Costco Offer?

Shrimp cocktails with lemons in plastic containers
Shrimp cocktails with lemons in plastic containers - Jaimie Mackey/Tasting Table

Costco party platters have a little something for everyone. Sweet and savory, appetizers and mains, ready-made and special orders. Let's discuss the latter first.

Costco's deli department offers a selection of special order cold platters, a great choice if you're hosting a get-together or even a catered meeting. With only a day of advance notice, you can get an artisan bread sandwich platter ($49.99), a fruit, meat, and cheese platter ($39.99), or a shrimp platter ($39.99).

As for special order sweets, you're probably familiar with Costco's round and sheet cakes — they're affordable, delicious, and iconic party desserts. But did you know you can also order a variety cookie tray of 60 cookies in Costco's classic flavors, available for $22.99?

Beyond the special order food trays, the beauty of Costco selling in bulk is that almost anything can be a party platter. Depending on the location, you might spot ready-to-eat trays of ribs or chicken drumsticks alongside the rotisserie chicken or wrap sandwiches in the cold case, as well as take-and-bake items like lasagna or macaroni and cheese for a large group. And, if you live near one of the Costco locations with an in-house sushi kitchen, you're in luck. Grab a ready-made 2-pound platter featuring a variety of sushi rolls and pieces as an easy appetizer for your next cocktail party for $40 or under.

How Do You Order A Costco Party Platter?

Costco party platter order kiosk
Costco party platter order kiosk - Jaimie Mackey/Tasting Table

The only downside to Costco's special order party platters is the ordering process. Why? It has to be done in person via the order sheets at the bakery and deli kiosks.

Special order cakes, cookie trays, sandwich platters, meat and cheese platters, and shrimp platters need to be ordered with at least one day of advance notice, and you can specify a pickup date. Simply note your selections (including things like cake flavor, design, and writing), fill out your member information, and drop it in the slot at the kiosk before coming back on your selected day to pick up your items.

There is one exception to Costco's aversion to ordering over the phone: pizza. You can call your local warehouse, get connected to the food court, and order a whole pizza (or pizzas) for pick up at a specified time.

Ready-made food platters, like Costco's fresh salads or wraps, don't require advanced ordering and can be picked up right from the displays. If you're knee-deep in party preparations, Costco partners with Instacart for online grocery shopping, saving you a trip to the store.

Do The Types Of Party Platters Vary By Location?

Costco sushi counter in Issaquah, WA
Costco sushi counter in Issaquah, WA - The Image Party/Shutterstock

While many of Costco's offerings are consistent from location to location, there are some party platters that you can only get if you live in the right place. Namely, Costco's sushi platters that come from its in-house kitchen. Kirkland Signature sushi counters have been available at select locations in Japan, South Korea, and Hawaii for some time now, but it wasn't until the sushi kitchen opened in Issaquah, Washington in June of 2023 that it hit the continental United States.

If you don't live near Issaquah, it may be some time before you see a Costco sushi production counter, but if you're one of the lucky ones, these platters are an affordable addition to any celebratory spread. Ready-made and available in the sushi display case, each sushi platter costs between $35 and $40 per tray. As with all things Costco, it's quite a bargain compared to your local sushi restaurant and way faster than waiting for delivery.

According to a sushi counter employee, the variety of rolls is preset and can't be customized. Unlike some other party platters, you don't have to order in advance unless you're planning to buy upwards of 10 platters. In that case, Costco staff asks that you let them know so they can prepare extra platters available to other customers.

Does Costco Sell Fruit Trays?

Costco Del Monte fruit bowls
Costco Del Monte fruit bowls - Jaimie Mackey/Tasting Table

A fresh fruit salad or platter is a juicy and refreshing addition to your summer barbecue spread or dessert display. But can you pick one up at Costco?

In the walk-in produce refrigerator, you'll find a ready-made 3-pound fresh-cut fruit bowl for $13.11. It's not as pretty as the meticulously displayed trays you can order at other grocery stores — and it's packaged by Del Monte, not cut in-house — but it does save you the hassle of having to slice up melons and pineapples for a crowd. If you'd rather make your own show-stopping fruit salad, Costco's huge variety of seasonal produce makes putting together a fresh fruit bowl a breeze.

For something a little more highbrow, look to Costco's fruit, meat, and cheese platters. It features Italian salami, soppressata, grapes, and cubed cheddar and gouda cheeses. The premade trays in the cool cases are a bit smaller, with approximately 12 servings per platter, and priced at around $26, depending on the weight. If you special order the same platter, you'll get one that serves 18 to 24 people and costs $39.99.

What Breakfast Platters Does Costco Offer?

Display of Costco croissants
Display of Costco croissants - Jaimie Mackey/Tasting Table

Gearing up for a big morning meeting or making brunch for a large bunch? Let Costco do some of the heavy lifting. While Costco does not offer special order breakfast platters, the breakfast pastries from each warehouse's in-house bakery are sized for large groups, making it easy to put together a mouthwatering spread — all you have to do is arrange them to your liking.

In addition to premade classic butter croissants and jumbo muffins, you can pick up danishes, apple strudels, and sugar-coated morning buns flavored with cinnamon and orange zest. Dress the Costco goodies up with a drizzle of cream cheese frosting to really wow your guests (and just maybe convince them you've baked the treats yourself). Or opt for an already-iced blueberry lemon loaf to serve alongside coffee.

While most of the baked offerings are sweet, the bakery does roll out bags of bagels. Flavors may vary but usually include plain, sesame, and everything varieties.

Can You Order Platters Of Hot Food From Costco?

Costco pork baby back ribs
Costco pork baby back ribs - Jaimie Mackey/Tasting Table

Serving hot food to a big party can be tricky. Navigating oven space, keeping things warm, and getting everything to the table at the right temperature requires some intricate choreography that's often reserved for Thanksgiving. Can Costco help? Sort of.

Costco's special order party platters are all cold items — sandwiches, shrimp cocktails, and meat and cheese platters — but that doesn't mean cold food is your only choice.

Alongside Costco's famous rotisserie chickens are trays of premade pork ribs, which some shoppers argue are even better than the chicken. While the price-per-serving doesn't come close to the chicken's notorious affordability, it's easy to see why the ribs are a better choice for a crowd. Slicing up ribs is way easier than carving a whole chicken! But if you've got your heart set on serving chicken, look for the garlic pepper seasoned drumsticks, also ready-made in the hot case.

There are also a variety of Kirkland Signature heat-and-eat items to round out your meal that you can grab from the cool cases. Trays of chicken alfredo, macaroni and cheese, and even pasta with meatballs can get popped into the oven before guests arrive.

Whole pizzas are the only hot food that can be pre-ordered from Costco. If you want to order in real-time, you can place an order in the food court and wait for it to be ready.

Does Costco Offer Dessert Party Platters?

Costco cakes on shelves
Costco cakes on shelves - Jaimie Mackey/Tasting Table

While we're still mourning that Costco's beloved All-American Chocolate Cake is no longer available, the chain's bakeries are churning out some pretty delicious dessert alternatives, remaining the go-to for decorated party cakes and filling cakes with airy mousses. You can pick one that's already made from the fridge or preorder a customized one. The tailor-made cakes can feed anywhere from 16 to 48 people — or more if you're a little stingy with the slices.

In addition to custom cakes, Costco also offers special order, crowd-pleasing cookies. The variety cookie tray is loaded with 60 cookies in four flavors: white chocolate cranberry, chocolate chunk, double nut, and oatmeal. The price is what really sets this platter apart. 60 cookies cost $22.99, or $0.38 per cookie. For comparison, a 24-pack of premade cookies at Costco is $10.92, or $0.45 per cookie.

The variety of cookies on the special order tray can't be customized, though, so if you've got flavor preferences or allergies, you'll want to grab a few of those ready-made 24-packs and make your own tray. And keep an eye out for seasonal and rotating varieties, like the almond florentines or raspberry crumble cookies, to add some oomph to your dessert display.

Can You Customize Costco Party Platters?

Costco birthday cakes
Costco birthday cakes - Jaimie Mackey/Tasting Table

The one downside to party platters at Costco is that they can't be customized; any of the special order items come as-is, in set flavors and varieties. Sure, you can choose the design of your chocolate mousse cake, but if you want a chocolate cake with vanilla cheesecake filling instead, you're out of luck.

The same goes for the sandwich or meat and cheese platters — the options listed on the order forms are what you'll get, with no substitutions. The artisan bread sandwich platter, for example, includes a selection of roasted chicken, salami, and roast beef sandwiches. All the sandwiches are garnished with slow-roasted tomatoes, swiss and cheddar cheese, garlic herb aioli, and Grillo's pickle chips, and the garnishes and condiments can't be changed. So, while Costco's party platters are a convenient way to feed a throng, you're trading customization for ease and affordability.

For hosts looking to have a little more control over what is being served, consider using Costco as your source of ingredients instead of the finished product. Stock up on baguettes or ciabatta rolls to make sandwiches, pick and choose your favorite cookies for a dessert table, or head to Costco's produce section for ingredients to craft a homemade salad. You'll still be saving money by buying in bulk and will benefit from Costco's carefully selected products, though you'll have to invest a bit more time for prep and plating.

Are There Ready-Made Platters Available?

Costco fruit, meat and cheese platter
Costco fruit, meat and cheese platter - Jaimie Mackey/Tasting Table

Being able to pre-order party platters makes planning a breeze, but if you're gathering last-minute (or just want some more options), Costco also offers a variety of ready-made food trays. You can find them in the deli and bakery sections, or you can have them delivered via Instacart (something you can't do with the special order party platters).

While the exact offerings might vary by store and by season, here's a sampling of what you can find. The deli case includes smaller versions of the shrimp cocktail platter ($8.99 per pound) and fruit, meat, and cheese platter ($6.99 per pound), each about half the size of the special order versions. There are also trays of roasted chicken wraps — wrap sandwiches had been a special-order party platter option in the past — at $6.99 per pound for 12 pieces.

If you head into the walk-in produce refrigerator, you'll find two more ready-made party platter options that are a great addition to your spread, though they aren't produced in-house. Del Monte offers a mixed fruit bowl and Taylor Farms has a vegetable tray that pairs mini bell peppers, carrots, celery, snap peas, broccoli, and cauliflower with everything ranch dip. They are relatively easy and affordable even if they aren't made in the Costco kitchen.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.