What Grade of Beef Does Omaha Steaks Use? Demystifying Their Signature Midwestern Beef

As one of America’s most iconic mail-order steak brands, Omaha Steaks has been delivering premium cuts nationwide since 1917. With their focus on quality Midwestern beef, they’ve earned a reputation for providing exceptionally flavorful and tender steaks. But as a discerning beef lover, you likely wonder – what is the grade of beef in those flashy Omaha Steaks packages that arrive at your doorstep?

In this in-depth guide we’ll cover everything you need to know about Omaha Steaks beef grading including how their system works, how it compares to USDA standards, and why their Midwestern sourcing makes a difference. You’ll gain insight into ensuring you select the highest quality steaks for your budget from this heritage Nebraska company.

Omaha Steaks Does Not Use USDA Grading

Here is the first key fact to understand about Omaha Steaks beef

  • They do not employ USDA grading criteria of Prime, Choice, Select, etc.

  • Instead, they adhere to their own proprietary quality grading system

This means you won’t see familiar USDA grade stamps on Omaha Steaks meat. But that doesn’t necessarily mean lower standards.

Omaha Steaks Uses a 5-Point Internal Grading Scale

In lieu of USDA designations, Omaha Steaks utilizes a 5-point rating scale to grade their beef based on:

  • Marbling – The small flecks of fat distributed through the meat
  • Maturity – The age of the cattle when harvested
  • Firmness – The density and texture of the raw meat
  • Color – The redness and hue of the uncooked beef

Only beef achieving the top levels across these criteria will be approved for the Omaha Steaks name and sold to customers.

Grading Categories for Omaha Steaks Beef

Omaha Steaks sorts their beef into 3 tiers using this grading system:

1. Private Reserve – The highest grade reserved for select premium cuts like filet mignon and ribeye. Denotes the most flecked marbling and youngest cattle. Comparable to Prime.

2. Butcher’s Cut – The broad middle tier Omaha Steaks says mimics upper Choice beef. Used for popular cuts like NY strip and sirloin.

3. Gourmet Beef – Entry everyday value cuts like stew meat and ground beef. Leaner with less marbling. Equates to Select.

So while the terminology differs, Omaha Steaks quality tiers approximate USDA grades.

Why Go It Alone? The Motivations Behind Omaha Steaks’ Grading

As a heritage company, Omaha Steaks takes pride in adhering to their own Midwestern standards. Some motivations for their unique grading system:

  • Maintain control over entire process from farm to table
  • Not reliant on USDA graders who may vary in skill and taste
  • Flexibility to adapt criteria based on breed, diet, and aging
  • Less overhead than paying for USDA inspection and grading
  • Distinction in the market as adhering to “Omaha Steaks Grade”

The bottom line is their system provides latitude to fine-tune grading for their Nebraska-sourced beef.

How Omaha Steaks’ Grading Compares to USDA Beef Grades

How do these Omaha Steaks ratings stack up against the official USDA quality grades most shoppers are familiar with?

Omaha Steaks Grade USDA Equivalent Characteristics
Private Reserve Prime High marbling, young cattle
Butcher’s Cut Upper Choice Moderate marbling, firm texture
Gourmet Beef Select Leaner, average marbling

So while the terminology varies, Omaha Steaks’ top two tiers approximate Prime and Choice beef. Their baseline Gourmet grade is akin to grocery store Select.

Why Such Secrecy? The Case for More Grading Transparency

While this grading system has benefits, the lack of public specifics and USDA oversight has drawbacks:

  • Consumers must take their word that it’s equivalent to Prime or Choice
  • No objective third-party verification of quality claims
  • Difficult for customers to identify the best cuts for their budget

More transparency would help ensure their claims of “aged to perfection” stand up. Publishing detailed grading criteria could enhance public trust.

Omaha Steaks’ Midwestern Roots Define Their Beef

However, one undeniable virtue of Omaha Steaks is their heritage of sourcing beef from the Midwest:

  • Long-standing partnerships with Nebraska cattle farms
  • Beef bred and raised in the heartland their system is designed for
  • Flash freezing shortly after processed to lock in freshness

This regional focus results in well-marbled, tender beef tailored to their specifications.

How Omaha Steaks Beef Compares to Other Mail Order Steaks

When it comes to finding Prime steaks delivered to your home, how does Omaha Steaks compare to specialty competitors?

  • Snake River Farms – This supplier of American Wagyu Kobe beef advertises that all their cattle achieve Prime grade. They also dry age cuts longer than Omaha Steaks.

  • Kansas City Steaks – Similarly family owned company but not as many farm partnerships claiming localized sourcing.

  • Crowd Cow – Sources from small ranches across the U.S. but less consistency cut-to-cut than Omaha’s centralized Midwest supply.

  • Porter Road – Grass-fed beef and heritage pork with stricter protocols for humanely raised animals. However, supply is more limited.

For customers focused just on deliciousness and tenderness, Omaha Steaks remains a solid choice for mail order steaks based on their heritage and loyal following.

Can Omaha Steaks Ship Their Best Cuts Nationwide?

Providing the signature Omaha Steaks flavor and texture to customers across all 50 states poses challenges. Here are some of their shipping methods and handling processes:

  • Flash freeze beef within hours at -10°F to lock in freshness and quality
  • Vacuum seal packages to prevent freezer burn
  • Ship in insulated containers with frozen gel packs to maintain frozen state in transit
  • Overnight expedited shipping available to deliver frozen or partially thawed based on customer preference
  • 100% refund if any shipping issues result in compromised quality

Their expertise in direct-to-consumer fulfillment makes enjoying these Midwestern steaks possible anywhere in the country.

Are Omaha Steaks’ Practices Ethical and Sustainable?

In recent years, Omaha Steaks has worked to promote more transparency and sustainable practices:

  • Source verified to confirm meat is raised in the Midwest with no imports
  • Eliminated use of hormones or routine antibiotics
  • Allow cattle to graze on pasture for majority of lives
  • Publish sustainability initiatives focused on water conservation and waste reduction
  • Humane slaughter audits conducted by third parties

They still have room for improvement but are moving in a positive direction amid increasing consumer focus on these issues.

The Takeaway – Midwestern Roots Define Omaha Steaks Beef

For your next special occasion or holiday meal, Omaha Steaks remains a tasty choice to have premium steaks from heritage Nebraska cattle ranches delivered right to your kitchen. Their Midwestern focus and decades of expertise result in tender, richly marbled cuts comparable to upper Choice grading. While less transparency exists compared to niche competitors, their beef lives up to its billing as a satisfying steakhouse splurge.

Omaha Steaks vs Butcher Box Comparison WITH PRICES! #NotSponsored


What kind of beef do Omaha Steaks use?

We’re steak lovers, too. That’s why Omaha Steaks are carved from the best in grass-fed, grain-finished beef. Raising cattle on grasses and finishing them with highly nutritive grains creates the signature rich flavor of our beef and is well known for richness, exceptional marbling, and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.

Is omaha steak high quality?

Until you get into the larger packages or the choicest cuts of meat (Filet mignon will always be pricy), ordering food from Omaha Steaks isn’t all that much more expensive than getting it from the grocery store. Plus, the primarily a la carte selection and quality are better than what most supermarkets offer.

What is the best grade of steak to buy?

Prime. Prime grade beef is the highest quality you can get. It features beautiful red meat laced with thin striations of white fat. This meat is well suited for a multitude of cooking conditions.

Are Omaha Steaks wet aged?

Omaha Steaks are wet-aged for a minimum of 28 days for maximum tenderness. We also offer dry aged steaks – a traditional butcher’s technique that is rarely done these days. It’s a long process – a full 60 days of aging – in very controlled conditions that gives beef rich, earthy flavors.

What makes Omaha steak a great choice for a steak?

Omaha Steaks are a great choice due to their wet-aging for a minimum of 28 days for maximum tenderness. Fantastic marbling offers a great steak experience. Aging beef means letting it sit, in controlled conditions, after it’s been cut. As it ages, the toughness of the tissue naturally starts to break down, creating more tenderness.

Does Omaha Steaks have a basic grade?

At Omaha Steaks, you won’t find a basic grade for our steaks. We consider at least 5 different variables (of which marbling is one) when determining if an Omaha Steak becomes a Gourmet, Butcher’s Cut™ or a Private Reserve® steak.

What kind of steak does Omaha Steaks have?

Omaha Steaks sent us a sample box of some of its featured offerings: chicken breasts, salmon filets, butcher’s cut tenderloin steaks, beef meatballs, jumbo franks, pork loin chops, scalloped potatoes, caramel apple tartlets, applewood bacon, and a thoughtfully included shaker of steak seasoning.

Is Omaha Steaks a good meat company?

Omaha Steaks is considered one of the predominant mail-delivery meat companies in the United States and is known for providing quality Midwestern beef. They offer a wide selection of other meat products, snacks, and even wines.

Leave a Comment