Choice Vs Prime Brisket – What’s The Difference?

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Fans of slow-cooking methods will tell you that beef brisket is one of the finest cuts of meat in the world, and we would certainly agree!

This succulent and marbled cut of beef is delightfully tender and full of flavor, making every bite a taste sensation!

But when it comes to choice vs prime brisket, what is the difference? Prime brisket is considered to be a superior cut of beef to choice brisket and has more marbling of the flesh. However, both cuts are of good quality and will yield amazing results when cooked slowly for a long period of time.

When it comes to choosing a cut of beef, the selection available can be very confusing. Let’s take a look at choice and prime brisket and find out all about these versatile cuts of meat.

What Is Brisket?

Brisket is a cut of beef that many of us will be familiar with. Whether you have a traditional family recipe for slow-cooked brisket, or always choose a brisket dish in your local restaurant, this beef joint has been a firm favorite for many years.

Beef brisket comes from the pectoral muscles of a cow. This is the lower breast, or chest, area. As you can imagine, this area of muscle gets a lot of exercise, meaning that it is quite a tough piece of meat!

A hardworking muscle like brisket is full of connective tissue, which can be very tough and chewy unless cooked properly. This is why most recipes for beef brisket involve a long, slow, cooking process.

A whole brisket is a very large cut of meat, that can weigh anywhere between 10-14 pounds. It consists of two overlapped layers of muscle and can be cut in different ways according to the butchering technique used.

The most common smaller cuts of brisket are called the flat and the point. The point is the smaller of the two at 5-7 pounds and is well-marbled with fat. The flat is the leaner of the two cuts and weighs 6-10 pounds.

The best thing about brisket is that it is normally extremely good value for money.

Whilst prime cuts of beef such as sirloin and ribeye can be quite expensive, beef brisket is an economy joint of meat, perfect for anyone on a tight budget.

However, just because it is cheaper doesn’t mean it is not as good! When cooked correctly, beef brisket has a rich, melt-in-the-mouth texture, and is packed full of rich, beefy flavor.

When buying a beef brisket, you may see cuts of meat labeled as choice or prime. These are grading terms awarded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The grading criteria are based on the flavor, juiciness, and tenderness of the meat.

These labels also relate to other factors, such as the proportion of useable meat available on the butchered cow. Let’s find out what the difference between prime and choice brisket is!

What Is Prime Brisket?

Beef labeled as prime is regarded to be of the highest quality, and only 3% of beef brisket joints are awarded this mark! This means that a prime cut of beef brisket can be hard to find, but it is well worth trying to search one out.

Prime brisket is cut from a younger beef cow that was fattened up properly, in order to create the perfect amount of marbling. This should be clearly visible in the meat, in the form of thin layers of fat in and around the lean muscle meat.

In cuts of meat that are slow-cooked, such as brisket, a good amount of marbling is essential.

The fatty marbled layers will melt during cooking, rendering into the lean flesh meat. This makes the meat ultra flavorful and juicy, as well as incredibly tender.

What Is Choice Brisket?

Choice brisket is a high-quality cut of beef, but with less marbling than prime brisket. However, it should still have some marbling, making it perfect for slow cooking methods.

Beef of this quality is much more widely available than prime brisket, and 57% of all brisket joints are labeled as USDA Choice.

The remaining 40% of brisket joints are classed as USDA Select, and these have very little fat or marbling at all.

Choice is much better value than prime brisket, making it a more affordable cut of meat for many families.

And, as it still contains some marbling, it can be used to create the succulent melt-in-the-mouth texture and flavor that we all adore.

When it comes to a cut of meat such as brisket, buying a cheaper cut can be a false economy.

A lean brisket with no marbling will dry out during the cooking process, no matter what tricks you have up your sleeve. So, stick to a nicely marbled choice or prime cut and you will be greatly rewarded!

Choice Vs Prime Brisket – What’s The Difference?

Yes, choice and prime are both types of brisket, but saying they were the same would be like saying all types of cheese are the same! There are many differences between choice and prime brisket, so let’s find out all about them.


Prime beef is undoubtedly the higher quality of these two cuts of beef brisket.

If you buy a prime brisket joint, you are already onto a winner and almost guaranteed to be serving a succulent and flavorsome family dinner (provided nothing terrible goes wrong in the cooking process!).

However, don’t rule out choice brisket based on quality. This cut of beef is still very good in terms of quality and will be far superior to select beef brisket.

Just make sure to inspect the meat carefully and select the joint with the most marbling.


There is very little difference in the flavor of these two types of brisket, but prime brisket will probably come out on top in a taste test.

This is because prime brisket contains a higher proportion of fatty marbling, which will melt into the meat as it cooks.

Fat is essential to add flavor and moisture to beef, and you cannot fail to impress your family when you serve a beautiful slow-roasted prime brisket joint for dinner.


Choice brisket undoubtedly gives the best value for money and is generally a lot less expensive than a cut of prime brisket.

So, if you’re buying a large brisket for a big family celebration, a choice cut will be more affordable and still give great results.

Choice Vs Prime Brisket – Which Is Better?

Well, this is an almost impossible question to answer! Which type of beef brisket you prefer will come down to your own personal taste, as well as how you intend on cooking it.

Both cuts of brisket are high quality, although prime cuts are guaranteed to have a greater proportion of marbling. However, if you find a good butcher they should be able to give you a choice brisket joint which is packed full of marbled fat.

Prime brisket is much more expensive and is normally a treat saved for a celebration or special meal. Choice brisket is more affordable, especially if you are catering to a large group of people.

Best Way To Cook Beef Brisket

The great thing is that no matter which type of brisket you prefer, they are both cooked in the same way!

Both prime and choice brisket cuts respond well to slow-cooking methods, which allows the fat to permeate and tenderize the meat.

This means this joint of meat is delicious when braised, roasted, or simmered. Whichever method you use, ensure the meat is well seasoned and add plenty of liquid to the cooking pot to prevent it from drying out.

If you are feeling adventurous, brisket is also a great joint of meat for slowly smoking on an outdoor grill. This technique can be quite difficult to master, but you will be rewarded with an intensely flavored and very tender beef dinner.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over the differences between choice and prime brisket, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

What are the best sides to serve with beef brisket?

The rich and succulent flavor of beef brisket deserves to be served with a side dish that stands up to the punchy taste of this delectable joint.

If you are looking for vegetable dishes to serve with braised beef brisket, then you can’t go wrong with sauteed cabbage or pureed spinach.

If you’re looking for a fresher summery flavor, opt for zingy coleslaw or steamed asparagus.

When it comes to potatoes, pretty much any potato dish will work well with beef brisket! We particularly love herby roasters or a buttery mash. Cheesy potato skins are also a great accompaniment to succulent beef brisket.

Where can I buy prime and choice beef brisket?

Now we have completely tantalized your tastebuds with these wonderful brisket suggestions, where do you need to go to buy a good quality beef joint?

It is unlikely that you’ll find prime beef brisket in your local grocery store, but you may be able to lay your hands on a choice cut.

If you are lucky enough to have a good quality butcher in your neighborhood then they may be able to supply you with a joint of prime brisket.

If you don’t have any luck locally, then many good butchers also sell online. Look for a company that sells locally sourced beef joints, from a reputable supplier.

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