People always rave about Wagyu briskets, Prime Angus briskets, grass-fed, handfed, the luxurious list goes on and on.
But what about the humble Costco brisket?
Well, I’m here to right some wrongs, because there ain’t nothing wrong with a hunk of meat from Costco.
Yup, that’s right. We put one to the test.
Here’s whether these briskets are of quality, whether they are good for smoking, and everything you need to know when shopping for them!
Costco’s meat variety almost rivals that of a butcher – they pretty much sell the whole cow!
So it’s no surprise that you can actually find all parts of a brisket there, from the whole packer to the flat, (“deckle-off brisket”) or the point.
Though every time I go I seem to find fewer packer cuts and more points. This could just be due to the popularity of the flat and others getting in before I do!
Still, it’s good to know that you can source any cut of brisket to suit your needs, whether you’re looking for a whole packer to serve brisket to a crowd, or you’re looking to smoke brisket burnt ends to devour yourself.
If you’re looking for something a little different, Costco even sells corned beef brisket too.
Are Costco Briskets Good Quality?
Although more expensive briskets are normally one indication of high quality, such as Wagyu or Prime Angus, if you treat a brisket right you can even turn a humble Costco brisket into something truly amazing.
The good news? Three different grades of brisket are offered, all certified and graded by their quality according to the USDA beef grading system.
This system grades beef mainly by it’s marbling, or fat content and distribution:
- USDA Prime beef brisket has great marbling but is a bit more expensive.
- USDA Choice beef brisket is your mid-range for quality and price.
- USDA Select beef brisket tends to be the lower quality cut but at a much more affordable price.
I guarantee that you can create a beautiful beef brisket with any of the grades, but generally, the higher grades will come out more tender, flavorful, and juicier.
So these briskets absolutely are of quality, and you can choose the grade to fit your liking and price point.
Are Costco Briskets Good For Smoking?
Let’s first address what makes a brisket ideal for smoking.
In my eyes, if you know your way around the brisket and a smoker you can turn pretty much any cut of brisket into something truly spectacular.
Still, if you’re looking for a quality brisket to smoke, look for one that has good marbling, has been well trimmed, is thick and evenly cut, and generally speaking the bigger the better, simply because it cooks more consistently.
From this perspective, Costco certainly offers briskets that are great for smoking.
The proof? Well, I took it upon myself to pick up a 12-pound Choice, point cut of brisket and smoked it for 14 hours on charcoal with hickory. Stunning result.
For me, that’s all I need to know. I will happily return to get myself another brisket at a decent price point, and I’ll even try to pick up a full packer. I’ve smoked Costco Beef Ribs to a great result too!
How Much Is A Brisket At Costco?
Brisket comes in many shapes, cuts, and weights. So, when we talk about the cost of brisket, it’s best to go by price per pound.
Now, since three different grades of beef brisket are offered, following the USDA certification, each grade has a drastically different price per pound.
Here’s how much each grade of brisket is on average at your local Costco:
- USDA Select Beef Brisket: $2.50 per pound
- USDA Choice Beef Brisket: $3.50 per pound
- USDA Prime Brisket: $5.50 per pound
Of course, these prices can fluctuate based on supply and which state you’re in!
Everything You Need To Know About A Costco Brisket
So, now that we know that Costco supplies some pretty decent quality beef briskets, let’s go a little further.
If you’re shopping around for a brisket, here’s everything you should look out for and what to consider to find the best one of the lot!
Is Costco Brisket Fresh?
Freshness is one of the biggest contributors to the deliciousness of a brisket. Generally speaking, the fresher the meat, the nicer the color, flavor, and overall juiciness.
Most Costco briskets come packaged in Cryovac. This certainly seals in freshness, and the packing date is clearly listed on the brisket too.
But, over time meats that are deprived of oxygen (like in Cryovac) can start to develop a bit of a funny smell. This happens most infamously with fatty meats like when vacuum-sealed pork ribs smell.
If you open the Cryovac’d brisket and are met with a smell, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s off, just that it’s been stored for some time.
Always check the best before date on the brisket, and choose the freshest option that suits your cooking schedule.
Costco Brisket Weight Range
You can find briskets weighing anywhere between 10-20 pounds at Costco. This means you can certainly pick a size to fit your fancy.
However, where possible you should try for one that’s thick enough and big enough to cook evenly. Smaller, thinner briskets are more likely to overcook and become tough!
Generally speaking, the sweet spot for brisket is between 14-16 pounds, or larger if your smoker can accommodate it comfortably!
Check For Marbling
Marbling is a universal measure of the fat content and distribution within the beef.
Although the USDA grading system should show pretty clear differences in marbling, it doesn’t hurt to pick up a few briskets and check them out yourself.
Once you’ve selected which grade you want to go with, pick up a few of that grade and examine them from the side of the brisket.
You should see beautiful white ripples of fat flowing through them, and you can quite easily compare the marbling between a few different briskets.
Check The Fat Cap
If you’ve been around briskets you’ll know that some can come with a pretty hefty fat cap on top.
This can contribute a fair chunk of the brisket’s overall weight. Since you’re paying for the entire weight of the brisket you want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth!
Always check the thickness of the fat cap on your briskets and try to get one that’s not TOO thick.
Whether you’ve got a thin or thick fat cap on your brisket, always take your brisket trimming knife and trim it down to about 1/8 of an inch thickness. This delivers a more consistent bark, with remarkable flavor.
Any excess fat you’ve trimmed can always be turned to tallow too!
I’m not going to beat around the bush here.
Costco briskets are definitely GOOD quality and are ideal for smoking with on any budget.
If you’re looking for top quality you can always get a Prime packer brisket. If you’re just cooking for yourself or a small gathering you can easily get away with a Choice or Select grade too!
To get the best out of a brisket, always check the grade, the freshness, the marbling, and the fat cap.
Once you’re sure you’ve got the best one, give it a bit of a slap on top, place it nicely in your cart, and continue on your merry way.
Happy times to come.
If you’re looking for more barbecue delights, check out our guide to pork shoulder from Costco!