Brisket price is a fairly complicated subject, but it is important to know all about it if you want to be able to satisfy your cravings and impress your guests with this tasty cut of meat. Keep reading to find out the ultimate guide to calculating your beef brisket prices and cutting back on your grocery bill.
Why Choose Brisket?
Before getting into all the details about the price, it is worth going over why you should still be interested in brisket instead of just looking for cheaper cuts of beef. Brisket is one of my personal favorites for several reasons.
This cut of meat comes from the lower chest of a cattle. The superficial and deep pectoral muscles are responsible for holding and moving around roughly 60 percent of a cattle’s entire weight. The end result is a cut of beef loaded with connective tissues that are packed with flavor.
One of the challenges is that the very thing that makes it so flavorful can also make it tough. You have to be a true meat expert to cook a brisket. If you throw it on a strong flame for a couple minutes, you’ll end up with something that is almost inedible to chew. However, if you take your time and cook it low and slow, all the connective tissue dissolves to create meat that is packed with flavor and so tender it falls apart.
In general, I think this cut of meat is incredibly versatile, since you can roast it, braise it, smoke it, or grill it. Sadly, pretty much everyone else agrees with me that brisket is incredible, so this means it is highly sought after. There’s only a relatively small amount of brisket on each cow, and everybody wants it. This high demand and low value means you can end up with shockingly high prices.
The Average Cost of Brisket
Of course there is no one specific answer to the question of “how much does brisket cost.” Prices for meat vary all the time based on things like the time of year and the cost of gas and feed. Beef prices also change depending on where you live. You can find prices ranging from roughly $2 a pound to as much as $22 per pound. Of course these are just the extreme ends of the beef brisket price range. On average, brisket is around $4 to $5 a pound.
Stores usually price higher if it is a cut that wastes part of the beef. This means that a flat cut brisket is pricier, at around $8 a pound, while a packer or Texas brisket cut can be as low as $2 or $3 per pound. Costs may also be higher if you get a small brisket instead of buying it in bulk. If you plan on getting prime meat or grass fed beef, you can expect to pay higher costs of around $20 per pound. Brisket is one of those cuts of meat that changes price based on season. During summer when it is barbecue season, you can expect your local brisket prices to go up about $0.50. However, summer is also when stores run big sales to attract customers, so every now and then, brisket can drop below even $2.00.
Most people agree that big chain stores like Walmart have the lowest prices, but there are also reports that the meat from these stores can have some issues with freshness and there are few options to pick from. Shopping at more local grocery stores like H-E-B and Publix is likely to get you access to more varied brisket cuts and give you more options for higher levels of quality. If you go to a specialty butcher’s shop, you pay a few dollars above market price but have access to custom cuts.
Picking Out Your Brisket
Step 1: Choose Your Cut
There are three essential cuts you can choose form when shopping. Brisket has two distinct sections. The flat is the bottom section, with even muscle and almost no fat. This is called the flat cut, and it’s ideal for braising or putting in a slow cooker. The point cut is the fattier layer on the top. It fairs well with dry heat like a roast. Finally, the third cut is a Texas brisket. It’s basically the entire brisket, including both the flat and point sections. This is what you should pick if you want to smoke it.
Step 2: Decide on Your Size
Choose a size based on the number of people you are serving. Normally, about one half a pound of uncooked brisket will serve one guest.
Step 3: Go for Quality
I think skimping on quality can result in some problems if you are an inexperienced grill master. Check the label to see if it is a prime or choice cut. If possible, get a Certified Angus Beef (CAB) for better results.
Step 4. Check for Marbling and Shape
Every cut is different, so look at the meat carefully to make sure you pick a good package. You want one with a uniform thickness throughout the flat edge at the bottom. Look at the point cut to see if the fat is evenly marbled because a brisket with big, uneven chunks of fat can cook poorly and get dry in spots.
How Much Is Brisket? – Pro Tips
- Most brisket you find in the store is flat cut, so if you cannot identify the cut, it is usually safe to assume it is just flat cut.
- It’s easier to find point cut around St. Patrick’s day because that’s the cut you used for corned beef.
- If you cannot find the size or type of cut you want prepackaged in the store, ask the butcher’s department to give you a custom cut.
- Normally, a more flexible brisket will cook better, since stiff ones that don’t bend may be hiding some hard collagen fibers.
- If you have the choice, go for an untrimmed cut of meat, so you can create your ideal level of fat by trimming it yourself.
How to Find Affordable Brisket
Love the taste of brisket but feel like these prices are a bit too much? Fortunately, there are several things you can do to cut back on your grocery bill without having to give up on your favorite cut.
Join a Warehouse Club
If you have something like a Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club in your area, it might be worth your while to join. The amount you pay in membership fees could end up paying for itself when you take into account all the savings. The thing to keep in mind about buying brisket at a warehouse club is that it is cheaper, but you can usually only buy in bulk. Expect to find briskets weighing more around 12 to 20 pounds instead of the lighter ones that are six to eight pounds.
Check Out Your Local Butcher
Local butcher shops can be a little hit or miss. Some tend to have brisket priced a few dollars higher than your chain stores, but others have impressively low prices. Figuring out whether you can save money by shopping at a butcher will take a little research. Try calling around or dropping by the shop to talk to the butcher. You may find that some cuts are more expensive while others are actually more affordable.
Wait for Sales
This method is easy as long as you don’t need brisket right this second. All you have to do is stick to just buying brisket when it is on sale. Check your local stores’ online ads to see when their brisket is cheap. Then buy a bunch and freeze it until you need it.
Buy a Whole Side of Beef
One option if you really love beef and really want to save money is getting a whole side of beef. This usually involves ordering from a website or specialty shop, and you will probably need a deep freezer to hold all the meat. You pay a flat rate of somewhere between $3 to $5 per pound and get a variety of cuts, including brisket. Keep in mind that the majority of your order will not be brisket though. You will definitely get some very nice brisket at a very cheap price, but you’ll also end up with a bunch of ground beef, steaks, and roasts.