How much does a brisket cost? Meat prices may fluctuate, but it’s possible to get a general idea of how much you can expect to spend. Our guide to brisket prices is designed to help you set your budget.
As of this writing, the price of brisket ranges from $5 to $15 per pound. Higher quality briskets will cost more than the ones you can buy at Walmart and Costco. The price can also fluctuate depending on the time of year, where you live, and other factors.
Breaking Down the Subprimals
Before you start shopping, understand that the brisket is a primal cut that can be divided into two subsections. These are known as the flat and the point.
The flat end of the brisket is often sold individually. It’s a long, narrow, relatively lean piece of beef that slices well. You can use the brisket flat to make pastrami and corned beef, but it’s also excellent when slow-smoked and carved into thin slices.
The brisket point is a fattier cut, with a triangular shape and irregular grain. The higher fat content makes it more juicy and flavorful than the flat. This is the portion of the brisket that’s used to make burnt ends, a barbecue staple.
You can also buy the brisket whole. When it’s sold this way, it may be labeled as a “whole packer” brisket. Be forewarned that this is a huge cut—the entire brisket can weigh up to 20 pounds, though cuts in the 10-to-16 pound range are more common.
What Determines Brisket Price?
There are a number of factors that come into play when determining brisket price. Let’s take a look at them.
Like all beef, brisket is subject to the USDA grading system.
Prime brisket will be well-marbled and of excellent quality overall. Choice briskets might have a bit less marbling, but they should still be high-quality cuts. Select brisket will have a tougher texture and minimal amounts of intramuscular fat.
Plan on spending top dollar if you want to add Prime brisket to your shopping list. Since brisket is a fatty cut in general, I don’t see anything wrong with opting for a Choice cut.
Beef tends to be cheaper in the Midwest, where cattle ranches are ubiquitous. If you live in this region, you’ll pay less for brisket than you would in New England or along the coast of California.
Time of Year
Brisket prices tend to spike during the summer months. That’s because more recreational grilling enthusiasts are breaking out their equipment in the warmer weather.
If you’re like me, you enjoy cooking outdoors all year round. That means you can take advantage of the lower prices during the fall and winter.
When the flat is sold individually, it carries a higher per-pound price than the whole packer. Since it’s easier to smoke the point and the flat separately, you’re paying for the convenience of having someone else divide the cut for you.
What if you want to buy the point and not the flat? In this case, you’ll probably have to ask your butcher for a special order. While brisket flats are easy to find, the point isn’t often sold separately.
Brisket Price: Where Are You Shopping?
The price of brisket also varies depending on where you buy it. What’s the best place to buy brisket if you’re looking for a deal?
Expect brisket to cost between $5 and $9 per pound when shopping at your local supermarket or grocery store.
Be forewarned that you may have to make a special order—or at least speak with the butcher—unless you’re shopping around St. Patrick’s Day. During most of the year, it’s rare for supermarkets to have prepackaged brisket sitting out on the shelf.
If you’re willing to plan ahead, check out an online retailer like Crowd Cow or Snake River Farms. D’Artagnan is another solid option. Buying online offers variety and flexibility in terms of size.
Online prices for brisket range from $12 to $25 per pound. Whole packer briskets fall on the lower end of the spectrum, while brisket flats—especially those from Wagyu cattle—will be pricier.
The drawback? You won’t be able to see the cut before shelling out the cash. Fortunately, the retailers we’ve mentioned have excellent reputations, so you shouldn’t have to worry about quality.
Big-box stores like Costco can get away with charging competitive prices, even for premium items such as brisket. Members will often pay as little as $3 to $4 per pound for brisket when shopping here.
There is a trade-off, however: The beef might not be as high-quality as you’d like. If it’s premium beef you’re after, go with a smaller store or online retailer instead.
Since Walmart is another big-box outfit, their prices are on the lower side. It’s not uncommon for their beef brisket to be priced in the $4- to $6-per-pound range.
Note that the prices can fluctuate based on supply and demand. If you’re trying to save money, be sure to check the current per-pound price before making a selection.
Is Brisket Expensive?
As cuts of beef go, brisket is fairly inexpensive. Filet mignon, for example, is currently fetching around $50 per pound at online retailers. When compared to that, brisket looks like a real bargain.
Remember, though, that brisket is a large cut that shrinks down a great deal during the cooking process. You should plan on buying about 1 pound of brisket per person to account for shrinkage, especially if you’re hoping to have leftovers.
Let’s assume that you’re buying a 10-pound whole packer from an online retailer for $12.50 per pound. The brisket will cost $125, plus tax and shipping.
While you’ll end up with 5 to 6 pounds of delectable beef, that’s a major investment. That’s one of the reasons why barbecue fiends like myself are always searching for a great deal.
How much you spend on brisket depends on where you live, what time of year it is, and what type of retailer you use.
If you’re only feeding a few people, you might be inclined to buy only the brisket flat, which weighs 5 to 7 pounds on average. However, given that the per-pound price for the flat is often higher, it could be more cost-effective to spring for the whole packer.