Costco Prime Beef

Everyone wants the best, right? You want to drive the best car, live in the best neighborhood, get your child into the best college, etc. So naturally if you are a steak lover you want to eat the best steaks – so you want Prime beef. It is suppose to be the best quality beef that your money can buy. It’s what you find in all the top dollar steakhouses. But prime beef can be hard to find in the grocery store. In fact most stores only carry choice beef with maybe some select. Costco is one of the few major chain stores that does carry a selection of prime beef. But before we dive into selection and price, I first want to give you a little lesson on what prime beef is.

What does USDA Prime mean?
Beef in America is graded by the USDA. The first thing you need to look for is a symbol on the package that says USDA Prime. For the defintion of Prime Beef, we turn to what the USDA says : “USDA Prime is the superior grade with amazing tenderness, juiciness, flavor and fine texture. It has the highest degree of fat marbling and is derived from the younger beef.” It’s all about the how much fat is running through the meat and how old the animal was. Younger beef is more tender. If you can develop good marbling in a short time, then you will have prime beef. This isn’t easy to, it requires perfect timing, which is why most beef isn’t prime.

Where Costco’s Prime Beef come from?
Unfortunately I could not find this information. I heard they get beef from U.S., Canada, and Australia but nothing more specific than that. The downside with a company the size of Costco is that it is hard to track the sources of their meat. I wish there were as good as Whole Foods Market is about sources, as you can easily trace their meat back to the source.

What Prime Beef Does Costco Sell

Below you will find a table of prices that I found during my April 2015 visit to Costco. Prices and selection may vary in your region, check stores for exact pricing.

Cut price
Ribeye $14.99/lb
New York Strip $14.99/lb
Top Sirloin $9.99/lb
Whole Top Sirloin $7.69/lb

Not a giant selection by any means but enough to get a good steak. If you buy the entire Top Sirloin and slice it yourself your getting a prime steak for $7.69 per pound, which is 10 cents less per pound that a choice sirloin steak (according to my April 2015 visit to Costco), so it’s a great deal but only if you really have the money to spend on a big chunk of meat at once.

If you want to spend the big bucks and get a truly great steak, I would opt for the Ribeye over the NY Strip. In my opinion it Ribeyes are more flavorful and since their the same price might as well go with the more flavorful cut.

Have you ever bought Prime Beef at Costco? Please share your experience in the comment section below. Was it worth the extra money?


What Prime Beef Does Costco Sell

Americans love their beef. Americans also love warehouse store like Costco. A place where you can get a big pack of steaks or a whole cut of beef for a cheaper price per pound some other stores. Are those deals as good as they use to be? I originally wrote my guide to buying beef at Costco two years ago. I decided it was way overdue to update the prices on that list, I did that last week. How has the prices of beef changed in two years. Look at my handy dandy table below. I list the price back in February 2013 first, then the price in April 2015.

Beef Type Feb 2013 Price -> Apr 2015 Price
Flat Cut Brisket $5.99/lb -> $6.99/lb
Ribeye Steaks $15.99/lb -> $9.99/lb
Ribeye Roast $7.99/lb -> $9.99/lb
Tenderloin Steaks $12.99/lb -> $13.99/lb
Whole Tenderloin $10.19/lb -> $11.99/lb
Prime New York Strip Steak $15.99/lb -> $14.99/lb
Whole New York Strip $5.49/lb -> $8.29/lb
Prime Top Sirloin $7.99/lb -> $9.99/lb
Choice Top Sirloin $4.99/lb -> $7.79/lb
Flank Steak $6.49/lb -> $8.19/lb
Top Round $4.19/lb -> $5.79/lb
Short Ribs $6.99/lb -> $6.99/lb
Eye of Round Roast $3.99/lb -> $4.99/lb
Round Tip Roast $3.89/lb -> $3.89/lb
Chuck Roast $3.99/lb -> $4.89/lb

Has the Price of Beef at Costco Gone Up?
As you can see from the numbers above, yes the price of beef at Costco has risen and not just a little bit. Almost every cut on there has gone up by at least a dollar if not more. The two things are actually the same price – short ribs and round tip roast. Two cuts actually went down, the ribeye steaks and the Prime New York Strip steak. The rest all rose in price. They had a really good deal on Choice Top Sirloin at $4.99/lb but that went up almost $3 per pound!

Why is the Beef More Expensive?
Is Costco just trying to get more money out of you or is there another reason behind this increase. Rest assured it’s not Costco alone. Beef prices are up across the board, no matter what store you are in. A report in the USA Today from February 28, 2015, said that beef prices were up 19% in January 2015 when compared to the previous January. Forecasters expect prices to climb 5-6% more this year. What is the reason for this increase. The article goes on to talk about how droughts in Oklahoma and Texas has led to smaller herds which equals less supplies and higher prices. Herd sizes were the smallest they have been in 2014 since 1951! A USDA report say that cattle producers are holding on to their cattle longer to try to maximize their weight. We think of drought effecting fruits and vegetables, but we also have to take into account livestock who also need water for their survival.

Has the increased price of beef effected your family’s spending habits. I know in our family we only have beef on special occasions, not even necessarily once a month. It has become a luxury item not an everyday purchase.

Here are a couple YouTube videos to watch about that talk further about the price increases.

This one is from “Beef, It’s What For Dinner?”, seems to be directed at retailers.

That one video was probably a bit on the positive side. Here is another report featured on Bloomberg, featuring Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.


Top Sirloin Filet Steaks

In my quest to master the world of steaks and all the different cuts, I am always keep my eyes peeled for cuts that I have not talked about on this blog before. A last night journey into my local Meijer store, I spotted the Top Sirloin Filet steak. The package came with two steaks on sale for $4.99/pound. I snatched those puppies up and toss them in the freezer until I was ready to use them. In our house I like to save the steaks dinner for later in the evening when the kids are in bed and my wife and I can just enjoy without interruption. Trying to perfectly cook a steak with screaming kids all around you is one of life’s greatest challenges!

What is a Top Sirloin Filet Steak?

Most people are familiar with the Top Sirloin – a long, tasty steak, that can be found at most steakhouses. It’s one of my favorite steaks to toss under the broiler. It comes from the Short Loin of the cow, which is located toward the middle of the cow’s back. It’s the part of the cow where we get tenderloins, ribeyes, porterhouses, and t-bones. The Top Sirloin Filet steak is a cut of the leanest, most tender part of the top sirloin. It is bonelness and similar in appearance to a filet mignon without the hefty price tag. It has the flavor you would expect from a top sirloin.

How to Choose a Top Sirloin Filet Steak

The key thing to picking a good steak is look for good streaks of fat in the middle. This is a leaner cut but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of all fat. Choose steaks with nice steaks in the middle. If they come in a package of two, try to pick ones that are the same size for even cooking. Watch out for sales on top sirloin as you might be able to find the top sirloin filet on sale at the same time too as I did.

Searing Top Sirloin Filet Steaks

How to Cook Top Sirloin Filet Steaks

The best way to cook this steak is to take a two cooking method approach. You want to get a great sear on the steak but you don’t want to burn it before the inside is cooked. Top Sirloin filet steaks are on the thick side. What I recommend doing is performing a quick sear in a cast iron pan or any heavy bottom pan that is oven safe, then finishing it in the oven. I first saw this method performed by Robert Irvine on Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible. By finishing it in a hot oven you can finish the inside without burning the outside.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Seared Top Sirloin Filet Steaks
A two cooking method way to perfectly cook top sirloin filet steak.
  • 2 Top Sirloin Filet steaks
  • high heat cooking oil (I like sunflower or grape seed)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Place your steaks on a plate and liberally season with kosher salt. Allow them to come up to room temperature before cooking, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Coat a cast iron skillet or oven safe pan with a coat of oil. Place over high heat. When hot, place the steaks on leaving room between them.
  4. Sear for 2 minutes, then flip and sear for another minute.
  5. Immediately place into the oven. Allow 3 to 5 minutes for the steak to finish or until they an internal temperature of 5 degrees below your final temperature (120 for rare, 130 for medium rare, 140 for medium, 150 for medium well and 160 for well done).
  6. Allow the steak to rest on a plate for 5 minutes before cutting.



I like sirloin. It’s a good steak with a good flavor. When you find it on sale you can find for a reasonable price. I cooked up one last night. I choose to try the Alton Brown method. This involves using one of the most neglected things in your kitchen – the broiler. Most people probably never set their ovens to broil except on accident. But the broiler can be a powerful tool. It’s great for cooking a steak when you don’t have a grill or you don’t fell like grilling. Below you will find my notes from this recipe. For the full recipe, visit Food Network’s website.

1. This steak is directly cooked on your oven rack. You just place your two racks at the two lowest positions. The steak goes on the first rack, and you can make an aluminum foil pan to catch the drippings.

2. Your goal is to slowly cook the steak and then hit it with higher heat at the end. So it’s 5 minutes and flip and another 5 minutes. Then you raise both racks up one level and cook another 3 minutes, then flip and another 3 minutes.

3. I found that the cook time made a steak that was starting to pass medium. Next time I am going to reduce the times. I think it’s a manner of trial and error, each oven is different. You also have to look at the size of the steak. Alton’s recipe calls for a 1 1/2 pound steak that is 1 to 1 1/4 inch thick. Mine was pretty close to that.

4. All a good steak needs is salt and pepper. But I might try using the pan drippings sometime to make a sauce.

This is an easy to make steak using something you might have been neglecting – your broiler. While the steak was bit overdone for my taste, I will try adjusting the times next time for a better result.


In this episode, Robert is headed to Tupelo, Mississippi to help out at Woody’s. This place was once a happening joint serving the likes of Elvis Presley. Now they are losing thousands of dollars a month and they haven’t figure out how to stop the bleeding. That is why Robert is here.

Woody’s Tupelo Steakhouse | Click here for the restaurant’s website
This restaurant has problems on all levels – food, management, decor, and service. Robert really had his work cut out for him. Compliance seem to fill the entire restaurant. It seems they starting to go down hill, and no one could figure out how to stop the slide, so compliance set in. Basic problems like no staff schedule, no assigned sections for servers, and general bad organization, made the service slow and the server tired and confused. The servers didn’t have the right attitude but as often it does, it starts with the management. You train people to give good service, then good service is more likely to happen.

Fixing the decor ending up being a major headache, all because of the table tops. They were using table clothes to cover a padded table top. This was costing them $1,000 a month in cleaning the table clothes. Robert wanted then to go. So they orded a material that was part concrete. The problem was this material wasn’t food safe. Robert got black marks on his hands by just touching them. So they had to seal the tops before using them. They ran into a lot of problems trying to cut the tables, but their design team was able to figure out the problem but it was too late.

The restaurant owner was proud for using a high quality steak. Robert showed them in a side by side taste test that the choice he purchased was just as good and cheaper than what she was buying. This goes to show that you don’t need the top of the line steak, you just need the knowledge on how to season and prepare that steak well. I have no problem buying a choice cut from any grocery store, because I know if I prepare it right, it will be delicious.

The Recipe

Catfish Sandwich with Remoulade | Click here for the recipe
Robert only shows them one recipe in this show and it is for a catfish sandwich. Catfish is a cheap fish that they can make it good and lower the restaurant’s food cost. The catfish is covered in corn meal and deep fried. The sandwich has a remoulade spread on it. The remoulade is a spread that contains ketchup, mayo, vinegar, capers, horseradish, celery, onion, anchioves, and spices.

The reviews I read online since Robert’s visit were mixed. Still some complains about some of the same problems – bland food and slow service, but there were enough positive reviews that I think this place has done a good job at turning things around. I think a positive sign is that their facebook page has over 2,500 fans. While it doesn’t appear Robert had much time to work on improving the food, it seems he gave the restaurant new life and better organization. Overall it seems this restaurant has benefited a lot from the good kick in the pants, Robert provided.

If anyone has been here since the show aired, let me know what you thought of the place.

If you want more Robert Irvine recipes, here are some of his available cookbooks:

This cookbook contains 111 recipes many with complete timelimes and several that are gluten free. An example of the kind of recipes you will find are Lime-Cured Shrimp and Roasted Corn Chowder, Porcini-Dusted Pork Chops with Cremini Mushrooms and Golden Raisins over Horseradish-Scented Potatoes.

In this book Robert shares his personal stories (including cooking for First Lady Laura Bush) and cooking philosophy. There are also recipes to be had like Black Angus Beef Tartare with Toasted Brioche and Fried Quail Egg, Roasted Duck with White Bean Ragout.


When it comes to selecting a steak, the grocery store can be a confusing place. There are so many different names. My goal is to teach you what these steaks are and how to prepare them. Today I will look at the ranch steak, also known as the more complicated boneless chuck shoulder center cut steak (grocery stores saved a lot of money in ink by just calling it a ranch steak!)

Where Does a Ranch Steak Come From (What Part of the Cow)?
Whenever selecting a steak it’s important to know where on the cow that steak was cut from. This will tell you how tough or how tender the steak is. The ranch steak comes from the chuck primal. This is the section of the cow closet to the head. Steaks cut from this section can be tough if overcooked. But there is good flavor to be had and enough fat to keep the meat from drying out. Excess fast is normally removed by the butcher. Ranch steaks are typically no bigger than 10 ounces and are about 1 inch thick.

How to Prepare a Ranch Steak
Braising is a good option, but I choose to grill mine so that is what I will talk about here. You can marinade this steak, but it isn’t required. It has enough flavor on it’s own to be good with just kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you like your steak well done, then this isn’t a good choice for you. If this steak is cooked past medium it becomes quite tough.

To grill, bring the steak to room temperature, by leaving it out for 30 minutes (don’t worry it won’t spoil on you in that time). This will allow the steak to cook faster and more evenly. I sprinkle the steak with kosher salt when I take it out. This will draw moisture and protein out of the steak that will help in the searing process. I grilled my steak on a Lodge Cast Iron 12-Inch Square Grill Pan. This is the next best option to outdoor grilling. When it comes to grilling time, there are a lot of things to factor in. So I think that is best uses through trial and error as well as learning what a perfectly cooked steak feels like. My particularly experience on my grill pan, took about 3-4 minutes per side to cook. I was going for a medium steak. When a steak is medium, it should be slightly firm but with some give when press down on it. A steak that doesn’t give much when you press on it, is most likely beyond medium.

Is a Ranch Steak Worth Your Money
At $4.99/lb a ranch steak is a good bargain. It has a good flavor and is good for those on a budget. While I don’t think it tastes as good as a sirloin or ribeye, it’s a nice alternative that is worth checking out. I do have to point out one downside is that there is a small, silver colored streak in the steak that will not melt or soften up. So you will just have to eat the meat around it and cut that section out. At least in mine, it was only a small fraction of the steak.


cow_clipart Question: What is Angus beef?

Answer: You may seen a restaurant advertising they have burgers or steaks made from Angus or Black Angus beef. So what does this exactly mean? Angus is a breed of cattle. Just like there are breeds of dogs, there are breeds of cows. Some people feel that the meat of these cows produce better beef products. Black Angus is a black Angus cow. There are also Red Angus cows, but the black is seen as the better cow for beef.

What is Certified Angus Beef (CAB)?
Certified Angus Beef is beef that has gone through a certification process. It has to meet certain qualifications that are determined by a certification board. The qualifications have to do with their marbling and maturity of the meat, the size of the meat, and quality control. Beef that meets all the requirements is then labeled “Certified Angus Beef” or CAB. Is this truly better beef? That is up to the taste buds of the consumer. I can tell you that this certification process is not free. So if something isn’t labeled CAB, it doesn’t mean that the beef can’t come from an Angus cow it just wasn’t certified. Some farms choose to skip this to save money,


Steak_Clipart There are a lot of words to describe the meat you find in your local grocery store. You may see words like choice, select, all-natural, grass-fed, angus, etc. In this post we are going to look at what the grades: prime, choice, select, and certified premium mean. Knowing what these grades mean will help you on your next grocery trip.

First off, you have to know that grading is not required. The USDA requires inspection of the entire meat process but they do not require the farm to grade their meat. Niman Ranch known for some of the best meat in the country does not grade their meat, but meat that is graded will have value based upon that grade.

Factors that go int grading beef are: the color, it’s weight, meat-to-bone ratio, fat-to-body ratio, age of the cow, and other physical characteristics. Here is the explanation of each grade with a little analogy.

This is the top of the line stuff. This beef comes from a young steer. The meat is nicely formed with a great deal of marbling in it and there isn’t a great deal of fat around the outer portion of the meat. The color of the beef is a nice light red with no dark spots. There is also a high meat to bone ratio. Prime beef is hard to find in the grocery store, as most of it goes to restaurants. The name “Prime rib” is usually applied to any rib cut roast, but unless it is made from prime beef it is really not prime rib.

Analogy: This beef is like the tuxedo that you rent for a wedding you are in.

This is still good meat but has one or more flaws in it, keeping it from being prime beef. Those flaws include less marbling, but still some. It has more fat around the outside. It still has a good meat to bone ratio. Even though is less marbled it is leaner. This is the best beef for your buck. It’s cheaper than prime, but still of good quality. Choice beef is easy to find in the grocery store. Alton Brown, from the show Good Eats, says he prefers choice beef for the price and he thinks it has a more beefy taste.

Analogy: This beef is like the suit you wear to a wedding when you are not in the wedding party. You still look nice, but you don’t outshine the groom.

This meat has a poor meat to bone ratio. It does not have much in the way of marbling, so while it might be leaner, it can be too lean. Also you may find a lot of connective tissue. Select beef is typically only used for stew meat where connective tissue can be broken down through a slow cooking process. Most butchers only carry select beef for this purpose.

Analogy: This beef is like the outfit you picked out at the last minute because you didn’t have anything better to wear. With the right knowledge you can still make it work, but if done poorly people will turn up their nose at you.

Certified Premium
This is also choice beef but it is the best of the choice beef. It’s a grading program where choice beef is examined and the cuts considered the best are given the certified premium label. Different organizations grade the beef to be certified premium, based on their requirements. One example of this is beef that is labeled “Chairman’s Reserve® Certified Premium Beef”. In this case the organization, Chairman’s Reserve has determine that this beef meets their guidelines for certified premium beef. Chairman’s Reserve is a brand of Tyson foods.


Charcoal Steak What is a Charcoal Steak?
Whenever you visit your local mega mart’s beef case you are confronted with a wide array of choices. Steaks have so many different names. It can be hard to keep them apart. My mission is to help sort out some of these names, one steak at a time. Up today is the charcoal steak. What is a charcoal steak? Why is it called such? A lot of steak names can be based on the region in which they are sold. The best I can do is tell you what a charcoal steak sold in Saline, Michigan is. My research online did not provide any concrete answers, so I have to turn to my past history with beef. The cut is likely from the chuck primal. The chuck is the area of the cow located closed to it’s head. This area produces some of the best finger licking good cuts, like chuck eye which is great for pot roast. This area is also home to the flat iron steak, which is growing in popularity. The flat iron steak lead me to my conclusion as the charcoal steak I purchased looked much like the flat iron. In fact, I could have been easily fooled into thinking what I was getting is a flat iron steak. However upon eating it I can tell you that this steak is tougher than a flat iron. I cooked it close to the medium rare – medium threshold and I had to do a little more chewing than I liked. The flavor was still good though. So learning from this experience here is how I would cook it next time.

How to Cook a Charcoal Steak
I still think you can grill this steak, but I would use a marinade first. The marinade must contain an acid. Why is this important? Well acids cause our tongue to produce saliva. Saliva contains enzymes. Enzymes will help to tenderize the meat as we eat it, thus making the meat easier to chew. The most commons acidic ingredients to use in marinade are citrus (lemon or lime juice), wine, or vinegar. But you don’t need a lot. In fact it should only take up a small part of your marinade, say 1 part acidic solution and 3-4 parts other liquids (soy sauce and olive oil are good choices). The marinade can also contain things like peppercorns, red pepper flakes, cumin, fresh garlic, shallots, etc.

How long to soak the meat in the marinade? Charcoal steak isn’t that thick so you won’t need long. Hour is the minimum and I won’t go beyond two hours. When it comes time to cook, you can cook it on your grill or sear it in a nice hot cast iron pan (this is what I did). I cooked my steak for 3 1/2 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other and it was perfectly done for me. But that might be different in your setting. Using a thermometer and learning to know how the meat “feels” when cooked to your desired temperature is how to learn to cook your perfect steak. I would not recommend cooking this cut of beef past medium, it will be too tough.


good_eats_logo Whenever one is feeling sick, usually some intense TV viewing is a part of the experience. So myself being sick today, thought it make for a good time to review a Good Eats episode I had on my DVR involving one of my favorite subject: steak. Alton has done shows on several different cuts of beef. This show he is focusing on one of the more expensive cuts – the Porterhouse. There is a lot to learn from this episode and I will share some of what I learned below:

The Porterhouse comes from the short loin of area of the cow and contains a piece of strip steak and tenderloin. But it all depends on how those muscles are cut up. Alton explained that the government has determined what is considered a porterhouse and what isn’t. If the amount of tenderloin is less than 1/2 inch across than it is a bone-in strip steak. If you have at least 1/2 inch, then you have a T-bone. If you have 1 1/4 inches, now you got your porterhouse. The reason for the difference in size is that the tenderloin isn’t the same size, it tapers at one end. So at one end you have the bone-in strip and at the other larger end you have the porterhouse. So you would think you would want the steak at the largest end, right? Well the problem with that is that there is a vein of connective tissue in the strip steak portion at that end. This would make that part of the steak hard to chew. So you are best off with finding something in the middle. So when shopping for a porterhouse, make sure you don’t see a white line shaped like a “L”. Or you could pick one that has a tenderloin piece closest to 1 1/4 inches.

Alton also spoke of the dry age process. Meat is made up of a good deal of water and if we can get rid of some of that water, the meat flavor will be stronger. He was able to dry age this steak in the fridge by using a disposable pie tin, some wood skewers, and a paper towel. We changed the paper towel after 24 hours, then let the steak sit in his fridge for 3 more days. This is a technique I would like to try out. In typical Alton style he cooked the steak using a cinder block, chimney starter, charcoal, metal mixing bowl and a grill grate. Of course you can grill, pan-sear, or broil your porterhouse any you want.

Lastly, Alton explains the reason for the name – porterhouse. The steak was first thought to be served at a place that served porter, a dark strong beef. Those places were called porterhouse, hence where the name came from.

Overall, this is one of the best episodes in a while. I learned how to shop for a good porterhouse. As well as how to dry age a steak. I would recommend looking this one up on YouTube or checking Food Network’s website to see when it will air again.

Eric Profile Transparent Background


I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.

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