There are many reasons to love Costco and one of them is their ample supply of briskets! I am fortunate to have a Costco in town and they routinely stock Prime Grade whole packer briskets in the 12-18 pound range.
Let’s take a quick look at these briskets!
Prime Briskets at Costco
One reason that I love getting briskets at Costco is because they sell Prime briskets for less than the other stores in town charge for Choice and Select briskets.
If you are unfamiliar with the different grades of beef then “Select” is the lowest grade, “Choice” is in the middle and “Prime” is the best. These ratings are made by the USDA and reflect how much marbling is in the meat. The amount of marbling impacts tenderness and flavor.
Does USDA Prime Make a Difference?
There are certain cuts of beef where the difference in quality between Choice and Prime is massive. The cuts that benefit the most by being Prime are ones that are prone to marbling, such as Ribeye steaks.
When it comes to brisket I do not believe that you get that much more benefit by the meat being Prime instead of Choice.
The brisket is composed of two muscles. The “Point” is going to have a TON of marbling even in Choice beef. The “Flat” is a naturally lean muscle (which makes it great for making brisket jerky) that picks up very little marbling despite the Prime grade.
I have found that the Prime briskets I get from Costco do have more fat but it is primarily hard fat on the exterior of the beef that I end up trimming off.
Don’t get me wrong, I will take a Prime brisket from Costco over a Select brisket from HEB any day of the week. That being said, don’t expect a massive upgrade over a Choice or Certified Angus Beef brisket.
Cryovac with Pack Date
A nice feature of the Costco briskets are still sealed in Cryovac and are marked with the Pack Date.
The combination of Cyrovac and knowing the Pack Date makes these briskets PERFECT for one of the greatest “secret tricks” in the world of barbecue.
One way competition pitmasters make their briskets incredibly tender is to Wet Age them for 45-60 days. You can read my post on Wet Aging Brisket if you want to learn more about this. s
What Size Brisket Should You Buy?
Most folks should stay away from briskets that weigh over 15 pounds. A brisket that size is usually bigger than the space available on most smokers.
Additionally, a brisket that size is going to take an incredibly long time to cook and most folks will give up and end up eating a tough brisket rather than taking the time to smoke them properly.
A whole packer brisket under 12 pounds isn’t going to have a very large flat and I always found they cooked up funny.
The Briskets at Costco Are Worth the Money!
If you have a Costco in your town and have been on the fence about whether to join or not I can tell you that the briskets alone are worth the cost of membership.
You can almost always pick up a Prime full packer in cryovac for a fraction of teh cost of a lesser grade brisket at other stores.