The Fat is Where It’s At! USDA Beef Grades Explained

USDA Beef Grades

The USDA has designated eight beef grades, but only the top five are typically sold to consumers. For processing and using in canned goods, lower grades are most frequently used. The various beef grades can be found in particular cuts of meat; each has a special use and suggested cooking techniques.

U.S. Prime

This beef is of the highest quality and has the most fat marbling. This meat only makes up about 2 ounces and is very tender. 9 percent of all graded beef. U. S. Prime is usually reserved for high-end dining establishments. This grade of beef is excellent for dry-heat cooking techniques because it has such a high level of fat marbling. These include roasting, grilling, frying, broiling, and baking.

U.S. Choice

Customers can easily find choice beef in supermarkets and dining establishments. Although less than U.S. beef, this one has a good amount of fat marbling. S. Prime. U. S. Choice accounts for roughly 50 percent of all graded beef. Normally, it can be cooked using either dry or moist heat techniques without becoming overly dry. U. S. Choice is an excellent economic alternative to U. S. Prime. This beef can be stewed or braised in addition to being grilled, fried, roast, or baked.

U.S. Select

Select beef is also widely available in the retail market. It is much leaner than U. S. Choice and tends to be less tender or juicy. U. S. Select was formerly labeled as “Good. This meat should only be cooked with moist heat because it contains little fat, to prevent drying. Moist heat methods include braising, stewing, steaming, and poaching. Cooking in a slow cooker is one example. These techniques aid in reducing the meat’s typically present tough fibers.

U.S. Standard and U.S. Commercial

Standard and Commercial grades may be significantly less tender and contain very little fat. When offered for sale in the retail sector, they are frequently offered for sale at lower prices or without a grade. Consider using moist heat methods to cook this beef. They are appropriate for stews and slow-cooker recipes, which will soften them up; grilling or frying could lead to dry, chewy meat.

Utility, Cutter, and Canner Grades

These grades could be made from older animals or completely devoid of fat marbling. These three grades are typically used to produce canned goods and processed meat products. These are unlikely to be found in a supermarket, and even then, you probably won’t want to use them in your cooking.

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Beef Grades Explained – Select vs Choice vs Prime Steaks


What are the 7 grades of beef?

Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner are the eight total quality grades. They have been used by the beef industry since 1927. The USDA considers the first three quality grades, Prime, Choice, and Select, to be food-grade labels because they are the most widely recognized by consumers.

How do they determine grade of beef?

The amount of marbling—tiny flecks of fat within the beef muscle—is what primarily determines the grade. Marbling increases the overall palatability of beef by giving it flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. Age of the animal, as well as the muscle’s color and texture, are additional grading criteria.

What is the best quality grade for beef?

Prime. Prime grade beef is the highest quality you can get. It has gorgeous red meat with fine white fat striations throughout. This meat is suitable for a variety of cooking methods.

What are the 3 grades of beef?

The U. S. To ensure that consumers know what they are purchasing, the Department of Agriculture has established grade standards for meat and other products. There are only three meat grades available for consumer purchase: Prime, Choice, and Select.

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