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Simple Steps For Cooking Grass-fed Beef

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February 19, 2015

From Home On The Pasture by Kim Hitzfield 

There is a misconception that grass-fed beef is always lean, tough, dry meat, but this is not entirely true.  There are many factors that go into the tenderness of the meat. If the beef is raised to be lean the meat will be tougher. When raising our 100% grass-fed beef we strive to get as much fat on them as we can. Why is this? Besides the fat making the meat more tender and juicy, unlike the fat on grain-fed beef the fat on 100% grass finished beef is full of healthy omega 3 fatty acid and other nutrients that our bodies need. (For more on the health benefits of grass-fed beef click here). But in spite of our efforts to make our grass-fed beef less on the lean side and more on the fatty side it will never have as much fat as conventionally raised grain-fed beef which is why you must follow a few simple rules when cooking grass-fed beef. 


So, here are the rules...

#1- Never use the microwave to thaw frozen meat! The best way to thaw frozen meat is in the refrigerator. If you need to thaw the meat more quickly you can place it in a bowl of warm (not hot) water turning it occasionally until thawed. It is best if the meat thaws out slowly.


#2- Lower the cooking temperature. Because grass-fed beef is leaner you need to cook it at a slightly lower temperature for less time. You should lower the temperature by about 50 degrees and shorten the cooking time by about 30%. Grass-fed beef is best when cooked rare to medium rare. It’s a good idea to use a meat thermometer, especially if you are new to cooking grass-fed beef. The desired internal temperatures are:

Rare                  120 - 125 degrees

Medium-rare     130 - 135 degrees

Medium             140 - 145 degrees

Medium-well     150 - 155 degrees (Not recommended for grass-fed beef)

Well done         160 degrees and above (definitely not recommended for grass-fed beef)


#3- Don’t poke your meat! Do not use a fork to turn your steaks, instead gently turn them with a set of tongs. Piercing the meat will cause the precious juices and fat to run out resulting in dryness. Also, do not pat your burgers down with the spatula. It’s best to just just leave the meat alone, turn it gently only when needed and then don’t touch it again until you are ready to check for doneness. The more you poke, flip or squeeze the meat, the more of those precious juices you will lose.


#4- Give it a rest! When the meat is done remove it from heat, cover it and let rest for at least 10 minutes, if it’s a larger piece of meat such as a roast I recommend letting it rest for about 20 minutes. This time of rest will allow the juices to be absorbed back into the meat rather than run out all over your plate. The meat will continue to cook as it rests. The internal temperature will rise by about 10 degrees so remember to take that into account when checking for doneness. 

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