Steak isn’t exactly everyday food. Aside from the expense, a high intake of red meat is known to adversely affect your health, and beef production has some dire environmental impacts. Reducing consumption and opting for pasture-raised beef can help.
That said, you might want to indulge in an occasional juicy rib-eye on special days. When you do, get your money’s worth because not all steaks are created equal. We found that some of the mail-order steaks we tried were worlds better than the typical supermarket steak. The steaks are all flash-frozen, arrive in the mail deeply frozen, and can be kept in the freezer for up to six months (for optimal quality).
A blind panel of eight tasters from Consumer Reports sampled popular filet mignon and ribeye cuts from Omaha Steaks, The Kansas City Steak Company and Snake River Farms.
“The companies didn’t know that we were testing these steaks. They didn’t send them to us, we bought them just as any consumer would,” said Perry Santanachote with Consumer Reports.
The panel looked at everything from the packaging to the steaks’ appearance, aroma, flavor and texture.
Snake River Farms was voted Editor’s Choice. The filet mignon was everyone’s favorite, and the cowboy steak was a stunner that would make any meat-lover happy. But Snake River Farms filets didn’t come cheap — at $8.50 an ounce — and the 40-ounce rib-eye cost $158, or $3.95 an ounce.
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Voted Best for a Crowd, the Kansas City Steak Company’s filet was $5.83 an ounce, and the 18-ounce rib-eye was about $70, or $3.96 an ounce. Most tasters liked the rib-eye the best even if it wasn’t the prettiest.
Omaha Steaks was voted Best Value. Neither the filet or the rib-eye was a favorite in the taste test, but testers appreciated how beautifully butchered and well-marbled the steaks were. Omaha was the least expensive of the three. Its filet was $4.76 an ounce and the rib-eye cost $3.54 an ounce. CR said many tasters compared Omaha’s steaks to a really good supermarket steak … a perfectly fine option and an especially good value.
CR said the steaks from all three companies come frozen and packed with dry ice — so there’s no pressure to eat them as soon as they’re delivered.
They’re pricier, too, but ordering your steak might offer a bit more control over where it’s coming from. If you’re eco- and health-conscious, you’ll want to know where the cattle were raised and what they ate. Some brands go so far as to disclose their farming methods and sustainability measures. We encourage consumers to work toward the goal of purchasing pasture-raised beef rather than the industrial variety, cut down on the amount of beef you eat and splurge on the good stuff when you do.
Note: Pricing comparisons throughout are based on what we paid in April 2023; prices may have changed.
Have you tried mail-ordered meats? How was your experience and which brands were your favorites? Let us know in the comments section below.
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