A Quick Review: Costco Burnt Ends

August 3, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton
Edited by John Smits 

As a Costco member, I’ve known about their burnt ends for a while. Every time I made a Costco run, I hoped that an employee would be giving them out as free samples. A little nugget of a burnt end skewered with a toothpick. Alas! They’ve never had them as a sample at my local Costco.

I finally couldn’t help myself, and I bagged a box. So I took the plunge, and I’m sharing my verdict with you.  I know quite a bit about good BBQ. When done well, burnt ends are one of the greatest treats in BBQ land. 

Is BBQ glory a Costco runaway? Stay tuned to find out.

Costco Burnt Ends

What are Costco’s Burnt Ends?

OK, I know that everyone refers to them as Costco’s burnt ends, but there is something that I want to clear up real quick. This refrigerated item is actually a product from Mission Hill Bistro. This product is simply sold at the chain store Costco.

Each package here consists of a smoked brisket burnt ends (in a meat pouch) and a barbecue sauce packet.

In case you aren’t familiar with burnt ends, they are flavorful, tender meat that is taken from the point half of a smoked beef brisket. They are cubed and slathered in sticky sweet BBQ sauce, and they’re some people’s idea of BBQ nirvana.

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Unpacking the Mission Hill Brisket Burnt Ends

The packaging is cool – a tower of beefy nuggets and flames. Bonus points to Mission Hill for a nice-looking label.

The box says it serves four people (the weight varies, around 1 ½ pounds), which seems about right. Figure on providing plenty of side dishes to complete the meal if you’ve got four hungry people. The good news is that you do get plenty of BBQ sauce to go along with the brisket burnt ends.

How to Make Mission Hill Burnt Ends?

Contrary to popular belief, Costco’s burnt ends aren’t frozen. To store Costco’s burnt ends, simply keep them refrigerated.

Since they’re refrigerated, there’s no need to thaw Costco burnt ends – you can simply reheat them right out of the package. They’re already cooked, so you’re just heating them up. The heating instructions on the box go something like this:

Microwaving Instructions

Once you have removed the cardboard packaging, pierce the plastic covering. Place in the microwave and heat on high heat for two and a half minutes. Take it out, separate the burnt ends with your fingers, return to the microwave, and then heat for another two and a half minutes.

Plate the burnt ends, and then add the barbecue sauce.

The words “microwave” and “brisket” don’t belong in the same sentence in my opinion. Warm the product on the stove for better results.

Sautée Instructions (Preferred)

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until the burnt ends are hot. Add the sauce when they’re done warming.

Caramelized Pieces of Tender Smoked Beef Brisket

What Do Mission Hill Burnt Ends Taste Like?

I was pumped to try out the burnt ends – not only does smoked brisket take a day to make, but you can usually only get authentic burnt ends in proper barbecue joints or from experienced home pitmasters. The idea of being able to enjoy delicious brisket anywhere that I liked was quite appealing.

Alas, I wasn’t super impressed with the burnt ends.

What I liked: There’s a smokey flavor there. It won’t win KCBS, but it’s not unpleasant. You also get a nice punch of beefy flavor. And the color of the burnt ends is dark, like authentic ‘que.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the sauce, too. Typically, these are an overly sweet affair and tend to have a weird aftertaste. This wasn’t the case with this sauce, though.

Instead, there was a good balance of sweetness, acid, and even a little heat. The overall tanginess was a nice touch.

What I didn’t like: These appear to be made from the flat part instead of the point. The flat is the leaner muscle on the brisket, and burnt ends are typically made from the point.

The texture of the meat is a bit chewy, and it’s worse when microwaved.

Are Burnt Ends Healthy?

No, these burnt ends aren’t exactly healthy. The high-fat levels aren’t surprising – brisket is a fatty cut of beef. If you want healthy, get a salad. 

I was pretty surprised at the sodium content here (980mg per 1 cup serving). That’s a lot, about half the amount you’re supposed to consume in a day. Not only is this not too good for you, but the excess salt limits how much of the brisket you can actually eat. 

The sugar, at a whopping 25g/serving, is also very high. Use less of the sauce if you want to reduce your sugar intake.

How Much Are Burnt Ends?

These burnt ends cost $11.99 a pound at the time of writing. This isn’t exactly cheap, especially since a lot of that weight is inexpensive BBQ sauce.

How Much Does a Pound of Burnt Ends Feed?

Well, one of these packages weighs around 1.5 lbs (including the barbecue sauce). It should feed four, particularly if you grab some sides to serve it with.

Person Slicing Hot Smoked Beef Brisket

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My Final Verdict

Look, I’ll be honest: I’m a BBQ snob. Prepackaged brisket that comes in a box will never hold a candle to the real deal. I can’t say I’d go out of my way to repurchase these. If you crave ‘que, and you don’t have a great BBQ joint nearby, maybe this will scratch that itch for you. Maybe. 

If you do want to buy some Costco burnt ends, heat the meat up on the stovetop, not the microwave. Smothering them in the sauce may also make up for what these burnt ends lack!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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