Is Costco a good choice for buying brisket?
In short, the answer is yes.
Needing lots of meat, folks think of a few stores right away. Needing to feed 15 to 20 people in one sitting and those options shrink to a small number easily fit on one hand. Costco is one of them. Brisket is the perfect meat for a large party, especially folks who want to enjoy a solid BBQ meal but one that doesn’t break the bank for the cook.
Costco, no surprise, is quite capable of providing plenty of high quality supply in the meat category, and there is no shortage of choices, including brisket. How that choice measures up against the grocery store option, however, tends to be a bone of contention.
What Makes Costco a Good Place to Buy Brisket
First off, the meat grade makes a big difference in taste and final BBQ output. Costco brisket comes out consistently as USDA prime, a top choice expected by consumers on a regular basis.
Lower grades are good, but it would be like comparing a premium sports car to a gas-sipping commuting wagon. They’re not even in the same playing field.
Buying Brisket in Bulk
The typical purchase choice is going to be sizable, ranging at close to 19 or 20 lbs in the shopping cart. It’s a huge difference versus what one might typically get from the grocery store, usually around 10 to 13 lbs instead. And given the price point, you’re easily getting more bang for your buck on the cost alone at, wait for the name, Costco.
And, it’s not uncommon for customers to sometimes get the lovely choice of being able to purchase a 20+ lb brisket as well. Now, what you’re going to do with that much meat is another matter entirely. It’s Costco’s job to get that prime meat to you in pristine condition, and they do it well. Most folks get the bigger piece, carve it up into sections, and place the excess in the freezer for a smaller BBQ event on a different day.
For immediate cooking and handling, folks are going to find, however, a smaller size is simply easier to handle on a single BBQ or smoker. If you do have one of those football field long grills, on the other hand, the 20+ lb whale should be a fun challenge to wrestle with.
Different Cuts of Brisket Possible
Out of the bag, the Costco meat choice will need some trimming. Grocery store orders tend to get more personal attention, so the trim looks cleaner and less work. Of course, every time someone is sticking a knife in a cut of meat, it’s a source of potential contamination. The less contact, believe it or not, is better for you.
As a result, while the Costco choice will have some additional oddball ends and pieces you need to snip off, just chalk it up to a cleaner meat for your meal and throw the bits on the grill for the doggie or cat so they’re not bugging you for your plate by sitting on your feet at the dinner table. Of course, you could leave the fat bits on; many argue that adds to the taste. But who wants to bite into a big glob of fat on the piece of brisket? It’s not quite the most appealing part of a grilled meal.
Performance on the Grill
The Costco brisket is bigger, so it’s going to take a bit more time to cook than a smaller piece from a typical grocery store order. One can expect that the typical cooking range will be a slower roast in the range of 225 degrees Fahrenheit on the low end and a maximum of 275 degrees on the high end if you don’t want charcoal for lunch.
Lots of folks get tempted to cook these big box meats hotter to speed up the cooking process, but it’s a mistake. All that happens is that the outside gets burned and the inside is undercooked.
A real professional cooking will include at least 4 to 5 hours for the cooking itself, and then a resting time of probably 3 to 4 hours until the internal temp gets down to about 145 inside the meat. Most folks wrap the brisket right off the grille and then place it in an insulated cooler or similar with towels to let the meat simmer down and the juices inside to distribute again. The result regularly produces a tasty, juicy brisket meal that folks will be quite happy with and want seconds.
Folks will find that the Costco brisket on BBQ coals will come out a bit smokier than a grocery store option. For some reason, the larger size meat tends to soak up more of the charcoal flavor in the cooking process. That could be ideal for smoker-style cooking. Gas cooking, on the other hand, pretty much comes out the same.
Difference Bottom Line
Costco brisket is a big bonus and a bargain for a larger party meal. Granted, meat prices have gone up recently, but one can easily expect that the Costco price for brisket per pound could be as much as half of that in the grocery store.
Even better, the quality is at least on par if not a bit better, depending on whom you ask. The best path, of course, is to try the meat yourself and compare it with your own cooking style.