Brisket cost can vary wildly - it generally costs between $4 and $14 per pound, although Waygu can fetch $90 or more a pound. Cost factors include the quality, the grocery store you frequent, your location, and much more! And if you think brisket prices have gone up, you’re right. I’ll tell you why.
As someone who smokes brisket on the regular, I like to hunt down good deals on it. Since it’s such a large cut of meat - around 12-14 pounds for a full brisket - saving a buck or two on a pound adds up in a hurry!
In this post, I will go over how much a brisket costs and show you how to save money while shopping. Let's shop!
Beef brisket prices vary from one place to another. Below, you can find a breakdown of the beef prices at some major grocery stores as of this writing. Prices change, so use these prices as guidelines.
Price Per Pound
Costco Prime Whole Brisket
Costco Choice Flat Cut Brisket
Walmart Whole Brisket
Walmart Choice Angus Brisket
Walmart Brisket Flat
Trader Joes Teva Angus Kosher Brisket
The above prices are from large chain stores. Local butchers will often charge a bit more per pound of brisket than chain grocery stores. This is typically because they have access to better-quality beef. The meat tends to be fresher, too.
We’ve also got to talk about American wagyu. This premium cut of meat is exploding in popularity. While true wagyu is imported from Japan, it is exceptionally rare. The American variant on the other hand, comes from a special breed of cows from Japan that are bred with American cattle.
American Wagyu is buttery, finely marbled, and absolutely delicious. You’ll pay for the deliciousness. Expect to pay anywhere from $42 to $90 per pound for wagyu brisket.
Beef prices are rising across the country and the globe. In America, brisket prices are up by 16 percent since last year, and the cost appears to be increasing.
Until recently, beef brisket was a downright cheap cut of meat. These days, purchasing brisket is going to put a bigger dent in your wallet. What gives?
One of the causes of rising beef prices is inflation.
Weather issues, like drought, have led to fewer animals. These reduced herd sizes are also pushing brisket prices up. Worker shortages and supply chain disruption also shoulder some of the blame.
Higher feed prices are yet another reason for the spike in brisket cost.
The word’s out - brisket is delicious, and demand is surging.
Once upon a time, the humble brisket was largely found in the South in barbecue joints. You would also find it in Delis as corned beef.
Over the last few years, though, there has been an explosion in all things barbecue. Backyard BBQ enthusiasts have been enlightened and are experimenting with smoking meats, including smoked beef brisket.
Economics 101 tells us that if demand for something goes up, it eats into the supply. Retailers counter this by increasing prices to taper the demand.
There are just two briskets in one cow. Ground beef can be made from any cut of meat on the cow. That isn't the case with brisket. We can’t just give cows another pectoral muscle.
As long as brisket continues to be popular, you can expect to pay higher prices for it.
There isn't a baseline per-pound price for brisket. There are so many factors that come into play with the price of a raw brisket.
Having a better understanding of how the meat is priced can help you to cut down on the cost. I’ve got the skinny for you. Let’s take a look:
Beef is priced according to quality. This is why wagyu brisket is so much more expensive than regular Angus beef - it’s a superior cut of beef.
The more effort that was taken to raise the cows, the more expensive the beef will be. So a product like grass-fed beef is almost always more expensive. Organic beef that’s not from a factory farm is going to cost more.
The grade of the beef also impacts its cost. USDA Prime grade is the highest grade - around 2% of beef qualifies. USDA Choice grade is next, followed by USDA Select.
Of course, Prime grade, Choice grade, and Select grade can be broken down into several categories as well. (Is it organic? Is it grass-fed? Etc.) Grass-fed Prime will likely cost more than regular Prime.
A whole-packer brisket is made of two muscles: the point and the flat. A whole brisket is sometimes referred to as a “Texas brisket cut.”
A whole-packer brisket is a big slab of beef. When left whole, an entire brisket can be anywhere from 12 to 20 pounds.
As you can imagine, unless you’re a BBQ nut, you probably don’t need this much brisket. Often, butchers will divide the brisket into the flat and the point.
The flat cut tends to be the most widely available. Not only is it a slightly larger section, but it has a uniform shape which makes it easier to cook.
The point has more fat and, to me, is one of the best cuts of beef on a steer. If you’re smoking a brisket and you’re debating between the point and the flat, buy the point. Ask the butcher to cut one for you if there isn’t one on the shelf (there often isn’t).
The cost of brisket varies throughout the year.
I’ve seen brisket drop in price for Father’s Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. Think of it like turkey during Thanksgiving. During the major summer holidays (grilling season), look for the price of brisket to drop. Grab one sale and stick it in the freezer (freezing instructions later in the article).
Ready to get thrifty? Here are the top tips and tricks that you can use to save on brisket:
Typically, the lower the grade, the lower the price. Again, wagyu and Prime are the best cuts of beef, then Select, then Choice.
I’d stay away from Select grade brisket. It’s great ground up and used for burgers. For smoked brisket, not so much.
It doesn't matter if you’re the greatest pitmaster who ever lived. Use a Select grade brisket, and odds are it’ll come out dry and tough. There just isn’t enough marbling in the meat to withstand a long cook.
The good news is that Choice grade, cooked well, makes excellent smoked brisket. No need to splurge for Prime grade unless it’s a special occasion.
As for Wagyu, if you’ve got the dough, good for you! Wagyu brisket, smoked properly, is life-altering. It will also likely set you back hundreds of dollars.
A whole brisket is usually cheaper than the smaller flat or point cut per pound. It’s less work for the butcher and less packaging.
One great thing about brisket is that the leftovers can be used in so many ways. You can chop it up and use it in chili, toss some on salads, use it for the best taco you ever tasted, etc.
Even if you have lots of meat left over, it isn't going to go to waste. Not on my watch. Stick leftovers in a Ziplock bag and freeze them. Reheat the meat when you’re ready for it.
Another option is to cut the brisket in half when you get home. Freeze half of the raw beef to cook later, and smoke the rest.
I try to get my meat from a butcher as often as possible - I like to shop local. But buying from a butcher tends to be more expensive than chain stores. If you’re feeling the pinch with brisket prices at an all-time high, consider shopping at the supermarket.
Before you go shopping, though, check the prices at Sam's, Trader Joe’s, Costco, etc. online. This will give you an idea of who has the best bargains on any given week.
Of the national grocery stores, I’m a fan of meat from Trader Joe’s and Costco. Walmart is also solid. I’m not a Sam’s Club member, but I’ve heard good things about their meat. I am not a huge fan of meat from Aldi’s, but maybe you’ve had better luck than I have.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of local and regional grocery stores. I can’t speak to all of their meat quality, but you likely have a handle on your local store.
There are some butchers that sell their meat online. It is worth it to check out these options, too, as they may yield cheaper results. The Butcher Shoppe in Florida is wildly popular with those in the know. (That includes you now!) Snake River Farms is another large and popular distributor.
One drawback of having the meat shipped to you is the shipping time. You won’t get your brisket immediately.
You can save a ton of dough if you buy your brisket on sale and freeze it. It’s usually wrapped in Cryovac, which can go right in the freezer. If it’s not, then I wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer. It’s almost as good as fresh. Use it within 6 months, preferably 3, for best results.
Pro tip: write the date on the packaging before freezing it. Then, you’ll know when you should smoke it.
Is a Select brisket the best that you can afford? Great! I’ll teach you how to turn it into a mouthwatering ‘que.
Dry brine your brisket. This will help to tenderize the meat and add flavor to it. Use ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt per pound or ¼ teaspoon of table salt per pound. Sprinkle the salt all over the meat, then stick the brisket in the fridge for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours. I usually let it sit overnight.
Some people like to inject the meat with a marinade (not me). There are plenty you can use - the goal is to add moisture deep into the meat, where it won't readily evaporate.
Finally, make sure to cook the brisket at the tried and true temperature of 225°F. It takes a long time (12-14 hours or more) if you’re cooking a full-packer brisket, but the rewards are delicious. The long cook at low temperatures gives time for all that tough connective tissue to break down and become tender and juicy.
Cook the brisket until it is ultra-tender, around 203°F. A probe or toothpick should slide in like a hot knife through butter.
Then let it rest for 2-4 hours in an insulated cooler. This gives time for all that moisture to be reabsorbed by the meat.
Brisket can be expensive if you are choosing a higher quality cut, particularly at a time when there is great demand. Brisket from a butcher can also be more expensive than one from a big box store.
The cost can vary from $4 per pound to $14 a pound (and up to $90 for some wagyu). A cut of this size can cost between $24 and $84. Wagyu would be a staggering $540.
Brisket of this size can cost between $80 and $280. Are you sitting down? A $90/lb Wagyu 20-pounder would cost $1,800.
As you can see, brisket can get pretty pricey. Global factors like inflation have led to increased prices lately. A surge in demand for brisket has also bumped the price up.
But I’ve shown you how to get the most bang for your buck! Avoid high prices by grabbing brisket when it’s on sale, and smoking USDA Select, unless you’re splurging. You’re on the right track. Shop savvy, and enjoy your brisket for less!