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What do prime, choice, and select mean in beef

written by

Cassandra Row

posted on

November 13, 2023

One of the things we strive to help you understand the labels on what you are buying when you purchase your food. 

Beef is sold as graded and grades of beef sold can be so confusing! Here’s a quick breakdown of the grading scale to help you understand the differences in beef grades.

Beef is graded on a scale with 8 different names. Grade is determined primarily on the marbling, or fat flakes in the meat (NOT on the outside) the intermuscular fat not intramuscular fat.

The lower 5 grades you won’t see in stores. Most roasts sold in stores will be Choice, but occasionally you’ll see Prime or Select as well.

Prime, as the name suggests, is the highest grade. This is like the A+ in school. Prime cuts will be abundant in marbling, juicy and tender. Most beef graded prime will actually be cut into steaks for sale.

Choice is like the A-B range in school. Choice cuts are still tender and juicy, but lack the marbling of prime. It is also the biggest category range further divided into choice+ (high choice) and choice- (low choice).

This is by far the most common grade sold due to supply and demand. Most cattle grade choice to upper choice and the choice grade meets most customers' desires.

Select is like the B- in school. These grades are leaner and therefore less tender. They can still make a delicious roast, just make sure you slow cook it, at a low temperature and add extra juice.

The other grades you don’t usually find in the steaks and roasts section are standard, commercial, utility, cutter and canner. These grades are usually ground up and sold as ground beef or hamburger patties, or used in other processed meat products.

Where does our beef all on the grading scale? Our beef is in the choice range, many times in the upper choice category (like an A- grade in school).

You can buy some of that delicious beef on our store for delicious beef straight to you.

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