04 Sep

USDA Prime, Choice and Select: Why the USDA Seal Really Matters

By Kansas City Steak Company

Ever been browsing a selection of various steaks and found yourself scratching your head on what everything meant? What do the different seals and stickers mean? Why does one piece of beef cost more than the next, and what really justifies the additional expense? If you’re like most of us, you select the piece of meat that arbitrarily looks the most impressive and head towards checkout.  

It’s a bummer, though. You were looking for the most value but settled for questionable value instead.

Enter the USDA Seal of approval.   

We’re going to start this blog by covering the levels of Prime, Choice, and Select. Then, we’ll tell you what exactly each grade means. We’ll also link to a few of our Prime USDA beef offerings. But keep reading so you understand just how impressive a diverse selection of USDA Prime steak really is.

First off, you might wonder how USDA grades are attributed. The USDA label is granted by United States Department of Agriculture at the request of the meat packer. The USDA shield of authenticity guarantees that the applied rating has the meticulous inspection of the USDA meat inspectors.

Some companies will attempt to fool you with other labels, but USDA is the only real label worth paying attention to.

The grade criteria are straightforward: A higher rate of marbling and younger beef equals a higher grade. Fat marbling determines the tenderness, juiciness and flavor. Age, meanwhile, effects texture and flavor.  So, the highest grade of beef will be well marbled and from a younger steer.

There are only three USDA grades you would usually purchase at a restaurant, supermarket or KC-based online steak company 😉

  1. USDA Select Steak- This is the lowest grade of steak you can purchase in a supermarket or restaurant. It is a leaner meat with a coarse texture that is identified by its only slight marbling. This meat can be good grilled and better if marinated.


  1. USDA Choice Steak – This is the second highest grade of beef. It has more marbling than Select and is considered a quality steak. USDA Choice steaks from the loin and rib areas, such as a Ribeye or Filet Mignon, are juicy, tender and flavorful. Less tender choice-grade cuts like those from the round are best for braising, roasting or simmering on the stovetop with a little liquid.


  1. USDA Prime Steak – This is the best possible grade of beef and only about 5 percent of all beef receives the USDA Prime label. This grade has the most abundant marbling, juiciness, tenderness, texture, and flavor of all steaks. This is the grade of steak featured at most high-end steakhouses. There is also a healthy selection of USDA Prime carried by the Kansas City Steak Company – keep reading.


So, if you’re interested in experiencing USDA Prime beef…  Try our entire Private Stock® selection of USDA Prime Steaks. It includes our USDA Prime Beef Tenderloin, Prime Rib Roast, Steakburgers, Filet Mignon, Ribeye Steaks, Kansas City Strip Steaks and much more. 

Enjoy, steak lovers!