Given Costco is known for it’s amazing bargains, people often wonder if it actually sells high quality meat.
After all, if you going to be cooking a big hunk of pork shoulder and waiting patiently for hours, you want it to be nothing short of incredible.
So, how does the humble Costco pork shoulder stack up in terms of quality, price, and deliciousness?
Here’s our test, what we found, and everything you should know when sourcing a pork shoulder from Costco.
There are two primary cuts that come from a pigs shoulder, the upper and lower shoulder.
Although both cuts can be referred to as “pork shoulder”, they are in fact very different in terms of fat content, tenderness, and in their price tags!
The first cut comes from the bottom side of the shoulder and is sometimes referred to as the pork picnic shoulder.
The pork butt, also known as the Boston butt, is the top portion of the back side of the pig’s shoulder.
Both cuts are incredible for making pulled pork, but the fat content and marbling is much greater in the pork butt cut, which is why it’s more highly desireable for those who want to make smoked pulled pork!
Luckily, Costco’s got you covered with both cuts of pork shoulder. Although the classic pork picnic shoulder is in abundance, if you look hard enough you’ll often find some slightly pricier, but remarkable pork butt shoulders.
Is Costco Pork Shoulder Good Quality?
Let’s cut straight to the chase.
Yes, pork shoulder from costco IS good quality. Really.
Although you’re probably used to seeing stacks of meat trays all over the shelves, many Costco’s also allow you to make special requests directly to the butcher. This way you can get the exact weight, cut, and quality you want, including bone-in or boneless pork shoulders.
However, this is hardly necessary as Costco usually has every type of cut and weight freshly packaged and presented to you.
Since everything in clear packaging, simply pick up a few pork shoulders and find one that you like the look and feel of, and always check the labels to confirm the freshness.
I’ve shopped at Costco and have always found the meat is of a very high standard, especially considerding the price!
Here’s some more good news for barbecue lovers: I’ve also found Costco briskets and Costco beef ribs to be top quality.
Is Costco Pork Shoulder Good For Pulled Pork?
Whether smoked low and slow, or cooked in a slow cooker or oven, Costco pork shoulder is perfect for pulled pork.
After all, the quality of the piece of meat can play a huge part in how juicy, tender, and flavorful the end result is, and Costco sells top quality pork!
Both the picnic and the pork butt cut from Costco make incredible pulled pork. But, if you want to go that extra mile then a Costco pork butt will give you that extra tenderness and flavor your looking for.
Whatever cut you’re working with, just be sure to:
- Cook it low and slow.
- Ensure it gets up to 195-205°F internal temperature.
- Be sure it probes like butter before you decide to pull it!
What To Look For When Buying A Costco Pork Shoulder
Although most pieces of pork shoulder from Costco should be meeting the mark, there’s a few things you can look for to ensure you’re getting the best value and quality available to you.
How To Spot A Quality Cut
Even though both make a good pulled pork meal, the pork butt shoulder is the better cut.
No matter what pork shoulder cut you’re after, always look for marbling. This is the secret to having the juiciest meat that will melt in your mouth.
Also look for a cut that doesn’t have too much thick white fat on the outside, as you might just end up trimming this off!
Weight & Size
Weight and size are essential when choosing pork shoulder because there should be enough food to go around for the family and any guests that may be sitting at the table.
It can be a tricky question to figure out, considering the pork will shrink up to 30-50 percent over the cooking process.
Plus, if you’re getting a bone-in pork shoulder, then the bone itself can weigh about 2-3 pounds.
So, to be on the safe side, always prepare for at least one pound of pork shoulder in raw weight per person. When it comes to serving, this means you’ll have at least half a pound of pulled pork per person.
The good news? Costco sells such a variety of sizes and weights of pork shoulder you can always ensure you’re getting enough to feed everyone.
There are two ways to look out for freshness when it comes to sourcing pork shoulder from Costco.
The best way to tell how fresh the meat is is by looking at the color of the meat. Fresh pork should have bright pink meat with clear white fat.
If it’s looking dull or on quick sale, then it’s likely much less fresh.
The second sense check you can do is to look at the packaging date and the expiry date on the package!
How To Cook Pork Shoulder From Costco In The Oven
Cooking pork shoulder in the oven is probably the easiest and quickest option.
Here’s a quick guide to cooking pork shoulder in the oven to make pulled pork.
- Preheat the oven to a low and slow 250°F.
- While the oven is preheating, generously season the pork shoulder on all sides with a sweet, spicy, or tangy rub.
- Place the pork shoulder fat side up in oven-safe cookware, in the center of the oven.
- Cook the pork shoulder for 8-10 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 195-205°F.
- Remove the pork shoulder from the oven and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Add any extra sauce or both to the oven-safe dish and begin pulling your pork. Two forks work well here.
Tip: you can cut your pork shoulder in half if you want to speed up the cooking time and maximize the crispy exterior.
How To Smoke Pork Shoulder From Costco
Cooking pork shoulder in a smoker is quite similar to roasting it in the oven. The only difference is that incredibly smokey flavor that every barbecue lover is addicted to!
Here’s an easy guide to smoking pork shoulder from Costco:
- Preheat your smoker to 250-275°F.
- Use hickory or apple wood for some amazing smokiness.
- Optionally, you can apply a binder like mustard to your pork shoulder before apply your rub.
- Generously apply a rub to your pork shoulder, not leaving any groves or spots uncovered!
- Place your pork shoulder in smoker-safe cookware, place your temperature probe in the center of your pork, and place it in the smoker.
- After 3 hours you can begin to spritz your pork, though this is up to personal preference.
- If you want your pork to become extra moist and tender, cover the smoker-safe dish completely in foil or butchers paper to lock in all the moisture. This also speeds up the cooking time too.
- Whether you’ve decided to wrap your pork shoulder or not, monitor the internal temperature and start to probe it from about 190°F to get a feel for it’s doneness.
- When your pork shoulder probes like butter, usually around 200-205°F, then you’re ready to remove it from the smoker, rest, and pull it apart!
For best results, make sure your pork shoulder is completely thawed.
Although it’s possible to smoke a frozen pork shoulder, it takes much much longer!
Considering the price, convenience, and the quality of the cut of meat, the answer is absolutely yes.
Pork shoulder from Costco is good quality and it makes for an amazing pulled pork.
Costco offers all weights and sizes of pork shoulder, and offers both classic picnic shoulder cut and the prestigious pork butt cut.
Always check for marbling, freshness, and of course – that you’re buying enough to feed everyone!