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Beef tenderloin from Costco?

I am cooking beef tenderloin for my family Christmas dinner and I have found the price for tenderloin at my local butcher nearly twice the price at Costco. Is this a case of "you get what you pay for"? I know I will have some waste and have to do some trimming to get similar sized filets if I buy from Costco, but what about the quality? Does anyone have any feedback on the whole beef tenderloins purchased from Costco?


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  1. I've bought the whole tenderloins from Costco a couple times and been very happy.
    The quality is superior to Safeway/Albertsons/generic grocer

    1. One of the things Costco prides itself on is it's quality of products and their ability to save their customers money. If they can find a source for any product to save and increase their profit margin....quality will not be sacrificed.

      Unless you are purchasing from a butcher who offers hanging beef only for his customers.... most butchers purchase cry-o-vac beef, the same that is supplied to other markets and commercial restaurants. Just the mere fact of purchasing from a butcher per se, does not guarantee quality beef. It all comes down to grades.

      Costco sells only USDA Choice. Prime Grade is the best. Select Grade is below Choice. Standard is ungraded meat.

      The grading system is used by Meat Packers and only if they pay the government for the service. The grading system has to do with the marbling(Fat) content which determines grade. Kobe beef for example is believed to be the best steaks due to their high fat content which results in a tastier steak if cooked properly.

      Buying from Costco is recommended.

      9 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        The USDA grade doesn't matter too much with tenderloin because the tenderloin has very little fat and basically no marbling.

        1. re: fourunder

          Aging also matters, as does breed, diet, and even the individual cow.

          1. re: xanadude

            Aging tenderloin is not realy necessary since it's tender already....

            1. re: Pollo

              Aging meats does tenderize, but it is also done to intensify the flavor.

              Note that for the tenderloin , this would only be done in most cases when it is part of the short loin still attached to the bone with the fat layer protecting it from direct air contact.

              1. re: fourunder

                Yes, but in case of the tenderloin it's like tenderizing butter....

            2. re: fourunder

              One clarification: Costco's contracts with their suppliers specify "USDA Choice or better", meaning that if the supplier runs out of Choice, they may have to provide Costco with Prime to meet the order. Every now and then, you'll find a sub-primal with a 'Prime' stamp on it. Not very often, but when I'm in Costco and have a little time to spare, I'll troll the meatcase, hunting for the 'Prime' meat. Buying USDA Prime at Costco's USDA Choice prices is the best of all possible worlds!

              1. re: ricepad

                Ricepad, that is a good datum to know. Thanks!

                1. re: ricepad

                  The Costco's in E. MA generally have prime.

              2. We find Costco meat to be very good. Their quality is as good or better than groceries. We have bought the tenderloins and cut filets, cooked the whole tenderloins. We have never had a problem with Costco meat.

                1. Cook's Illustrated did a piece on whole beef tenderloin a couple of years ago (Feb 2005 issue). They gave several beef tenderloins the full test-kitchen treatment. The Costco tenderloin was the winner. For flavor, texture and price it can't be beat. You do have to trim it yourself, but at least you get to keep the chain to use for another dish.

                  1. I'll echo the other posters here to say that I've had very positive experiences with Costco's whole tenderloins. During the summer I love to cut one up into thick cubes and marinate for some of the most indulgent shish kebabs you will ever taste.

                    Alton Brown did an episode of "Good Eats" about where to buy them [Costco natch], how to trim them, and how to cook the various parts. You can likely find it on YouTube.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: grishnackh

                      I was at a dinner party with well-to-do friends in Chicago, who buy all their meat for parties at Costco. Even though I am a strong believer in supporting local merchants, the meal tasted delicious. So I would say, go ahead.

                    2. I like Costco, but I have only purchased meat from them once or twice, it was ok, but not as good as what I can purchase at a local butcher.

                      I prefer to support my local family owned butcher. They have prime beef, as well as dry aged beef, so I have no need to go elsewhere. Also the money I spend stays local, and keeps a mom & pop meat market open, one less swallowed up by a corporate behemoth.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: swsidejim

                        I know we're talking about beef, but here's something about pork. Although Costco pork is good, you really can't beat the prices and freshness of pork sold in Chinatown or the Asian supermarkets. They will typically sell pork chops for $1.89 a pound and it's the lean boneless ones, not the fatty lower-grade cuts that Safeway advertises for the same price.

                        1. re: baron45

                          But is there anything more tasteless than a lean, boneless pork chop? I'm usually looking for the opposite: pork with at least some marbling (the more the better). Not to say that supermarket pork is good -- it isn't, and most of it these days is injected with salt solution so they can guarantee it as moist and tender. If I want brined pork, I'd rather do it myself.

                      2. I may get a lot of different opinons on my reply. None of the previous posters have answered the real question: how does Costco tenderloin and rib roasts compare to Andronico, Draeger's, Whole Foods, Piedomont Grocery, local butchers, and Costco price per lb is much cheaper? I find Costco's is just as good as the higher priced ones. I have even tried the "aged" prime rib from Whole Foods (San Mateo) and find very little diffference. So, save some money and buy at Costco since tenderloin is always tender. Anyone differ??

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: diner101

                          In studying Tenderloin I have found that most opinions including mine find that there is almost no difference in prime or choice Tenderloin because there is very little marbeling. Now rib eye steaks there can be a big difference in taste/tenderness because of the fat content and distribution through the steak, the more marbeling the more likelihood that it will be graded prime. Most caterers like to serve Tenderloin because they make the most profit on it, they dont need to buy prime. By itself Tenderloin has very little taste that is why when you go to a restaurant they almost always serve it with some kind of sauce to liven it up. That said I wouldn't waste my money buying from Bristol Farms, Whole Paycheck, or the like, you'll just throw your money away - buy it from Costco.

                          1. re: diner101

                            Read the Cooks Illustrated article. They compare Costco tenderloin against several specific purveyors including local butchers, mail order and supermarket. They break down the price per pound comparison and relative quality. I think it was the Feb 2005 issue and you can find it on their website. It's the most rational answer to your question that you'll find.

                            BTW diner101: the OP's queation wasn't about Andronico's, Draegers and Whole Foods, so that's why nobody is answering that question.

                          2. We have served the tenderloin from Costco with pride at our dinner parties. It is good quality at a reasonable price. If we did not purchase the meat at Costco, we would not be able to afford to offer our guests tenderloin. (Makes us look good to the in-laws!)

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: oaktowngirl

                              I have a good friend who works for a large agribusiness. he sells meat to Costco. when I told him I love their flank steak (london broil yum) and their tenderloin he told me "Costco only buys choice or better and they sell it for pennies /pound over their purchase price. If you buy your meat anywhere but Costco, you are probably getting screwed" I believe him, and I buy all my meat and poultry there. try their rotiserie chicken, best 5 bucks you'll ever spend! I pick up 1 a week at least!

                              1. re: mark48

                                Mark, does your friend know if Costco stipulates that their meat not come from "downer" or sick cows?

                                1. re: coney with everything

                                  It's hard to imagine that a downer would grade at choice or better.

                                  1. re: coney with everything

                                    I'm under the impression that downers are not fit for human consumption in the US (post BSE). While I have no doubt that awful things are done to circumvent this rule (google Hallmark/Westland, for example), no stipulation would be necessary, as it's required by law.

                                    I could be wrong, though.

                                    1. re: xanadude

                                      check out the food media and news board for a discussion of why to be picky about where to buy your beef

                              2. I can't imagine you'd be dissapointed w/ Costco loins. Personally i've found Costco's beef to be a slight bit better then that of most local butchers i've tried. Saving twice the cash and most likely ending up with a cut of meat thats as good or better than your butcher sounds like a no-brainer. Go w/ Costco!

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Ranger05

                                  Cooks Illustrated's Test Kitchen did a review of tenderloins a couple of years ago and Costco won out against some other very reputable butchers and more expensive options.

                                  1. re: Ranger05

                                    My local groceries ("No Frills" and "Price Chopper" both sell vacuum-packed strip loins for $3.99/lb - which is a lot less than Costco charges! I find them very tasty, and I don't put anything on except for a grill mix (which is mostly salt and pepper). I have nothing against Costco, but the groceries sell the loins in 2-5 lb portions, instead of the 10-20 loins at Costco, and as a single guy, I can only eat steak so often.

                                    1. re: KevinB

                                      Those are USDA select strips, Costco is choice or AAA.
                                      Another option is Angus AAA rib eyes, last day sale, at A&P/Dominion.

                                      1. re: KevinB

                                        I don't find the meat at Price Chopper that appetizing, or Food Basic for that matter. We do buy striploins from No Frills and I find them to be very good. But no where near the Costco tenderloin we serve at dinner parties.

                                        The pieces at Costco are quite big but we usually cut into smaller portions and freeze.

                                        1. re: KevinB

                                          The whole strip loins and tenderloins at those stores is USDA Select, which is really low quality meat. What's somewhat shocking to me is that the high priced kin of No Frills (Loblaw's) and Price Chopper (Sobey's) also sell this stuff.

                                          No mainstream supermarket in the US routinely sells such poorly graded meat. Since meat grading is based on a visual inspection of what are, essentially, clues, and inspection/grading do not guarantee eating quality, it is possible to get a good slab of select (or a poor slab of prime for that matter). But the odds are against you.

                                          The meat at Costco is more likely to be graded USDA Choice or Canada AA or AAA.

                                          1. re: embee

                                            >>No mainstream supermarket in the US routinely sells such poorly graded meat.<<

                                            I have seen it in various Safeway (Dominicks), SuperValu (Jewel), Krogers and WalMart stores, the four largest supermarkets in the US. How much more mainstream can you get?

                                            1. re: jlawrence01

                                              I'll need to defer to you on that. It marks a major change from when I lived in the US, and (later) when I spent a lot of time there :-(

                                              Stores such as Safeway, SuperValu, and Kroger advertised from the rooftops that they never sold anything below Choice. I wasn't aware that things had changed. (There were no Wal-Mart food stores at the time.)

                                              Our first Wal-Mart Supercentres in Toronto seem to be selling mainly Canada AA.

                                              My other comment regarding Canada still holds. Loblaw's and Sobey's are positioned as high end stores selling only Canada AA and AAA beef (and the Certified Angus brand at some Loblaw stores). Selling Select graded meat borders on scandalous. It is labeled honestly, but customers don't understand the meaning and think they are getting a bargain.

                                      2. Hi, I found Costco tenderloin to be great but with one problem for me. It gives me restless legs. I am very sensitive to MSG so that tells me they are putting something on their meat that does not belong there. Anyone else have this problem? Thanks

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: guurtje

                                          It just meat nothing added, I'd check what else you ate.

                                          1. re: cstr

                                            I agree with cstr, according to all of the labeling (and how it tastes) Costco tenderloin is just tenderloin.

                                          2. re: guurtje

                                            MSG gives you restless leg syndrome??

                                            1. re: guurtje

                                              Beef tenderloin is naturally high in uric acid/purines. If you have hyperuricemia or a similar disorder, proceed carefully.

                                            2. Most people don't know, but Costco sells genuine USDA Prime Beef (the brand is 1855 which I think is part of Swift). They only sell it via the costco.com website. Search for 1855. I know people say there isn't a difference, but their Prime tenderloins can go toe to toe (when cooked properly) with anything they serve at Mortons or Smith and Wolenskys.

                                              Prices are the best I can find for delivered USDA Prime. Especially when you buy the larger "family packs"

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: mchinsky

                                                Just got back from Costco. Prime Beef Tenderloin for $10.99/lb. Partially trimmed Choice was $12.99.

                                                FWIW - Julia Child always bought beef from Costco. As to the Prime v. Choice argument about filet mignon, most major steak chains, Mortons, Ruth's Chris, Capital Grille use Prime meat (some dry aged, some wet aged) but almost all use Choice for filet mignon.

                                                1. re: sjsjets

                                                  I have studied this subject Prime vs. Choice Filet Mignon and IMHO there is very little difference since Filet Mignon has very little fat (read flavor) to begin with, that is why most restaurants serve it with some kind of sauce. You do notice a fairly big difference in Rib Eyes Prime vs Choice.

                                                  1. re: malibumike

                                                    for the past 9 months Costco has been buying meat from 4 different suppliers. I am only speaking on behalf of the USDA Prime Rib Steak. Sadly Costco has taken the route of big business and sacrifice quality for profits. Their Prime Rib Steaks and now lean and very little marble, small package and thin cap. I would rate is choice + but not prime by any standards. I have been looking for local butchers in the Salt Lake area that have the beef Costco use to carry but they do not. I am still looking. It would be nice if Costco would carry quality meat again.

                                                  2. re: sjsjets

                                                    Interesting thread, useful now as well as when it was originally posted. I didn't know that sjsjets. I finally signed up for Costco almost a year ago and am still discovering the wonders therein. If I get a whole tenderloin for the grill should I cook it whole or slice it into individual cutlets? Any ideas for flavoring the filet(s)? Getting too hot and sticky in these parts for heavy sauces.

                                                    1. re: givemecarbs

                                                      If I get a whole tenderloin for the grill should I cook it whole or slice it into individual cutlets?
                                                      For a larger group, definitely a grilled roast filet of beef. Never cutlets, but steaks for smaller numbers.

                                                      Any ideas for flavoring the filet(s)?
                                                      Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper on the roast filet of beef.......Melted Bleu Cheese on steaks.

                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                        I agree, you don't need to spend the extra $$ for a prime tenderloin but, you should for ribeye or NY strip loin.

                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                            You could also try stuffing the the roast filet of beef with any combination of:

                                                            Cheeses...Bleu, Gorgonzola, Provolone or Goat
                                                            Broccoli Rabe, Spinach or Asparagus
                                                            Sausage or Bacon
                                                            Crabmeat or Crawfish
                                                            Tomatoes or Mushrooms

                                                            Slice like pinwheel steaks.




                                                    2. re: mchinsky

                                                      UPDATE - Costco is now selling Prime beef in select stores. I personally have seen unbutchered strips and ribeyes. Slightly pricier, but FAR less than you could find elsewhere..

                                                    3. I can't stand Costco.

                                                      I suppose the store itself is good and I like the products, but the people who shop there walk far too slowly. If they moved more slowly they'd be going backwards!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: AmaroneMan

                                                        Go when they first open, amaroneman. If you get there before they start offering free samples, I find it's a lot easier to get around. But once the samples are out there, forget about it.

                                                      2. I purchased whole tenderloin from Costco, and it was fabulous. I trimmed it and cut it in to steaks, and a small roast. It was excellent.