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Does Grass-Fed Beef Smell Different?

You are what you eat, and so are cows. So, yes, grass-fed beef may not smell similar to grain-fed beef.

Many cows have a grain-based diet as opposed to conventional grass-based diets.

Beef gotten from such cows smells different from grass-fed beef. The two beef variants even taste slightly different from each other.

Most beef eaters may not notice this difference in smell, but it does exist.

For the minority who can distinguish between both types of beef, they might notice that grass-fed beef may smell fatty while grain-fed beef may smell somewhat fleshy/meaty.

Let’s explore what exactly causes this difference in smell.

Does grass-fed beef smell different?

Yes, grass-fed beef smells different from grain-fed beef.

Grass-fed beef usually smells meaty, while grain-fed beef has a fatty smell.

This is because a high grain diet increases the cow’s fatty tissues and gives it a fatty smell, but with a grass-based diet, the cows have less fat and more flesh, hence, a meatier smell, which some may interpret as gamey.

What is grass-fed beef?

Grass-fed beef includes beef gotten from cows that were only raised on grass.

Grass-fed beef is usually less fatty than regular beef because grass-fed beef usually has leaner muscles than traditional beef.

Grass-fed beef is sometimes referred to as organic beef.

Grass-fed beef has a meatier or gamey flavor as well as smell. Even though its qualities may be off-putting to many, grass-fed beef makes a very vital part of an organic diet.

How to make grass-fed beef taste better

It is no news that grass-fed beef tastes gamey to some; well, we have a way out.

You can improve the flavor of grass-fed steak by using wine, Italian dressing, spirits, or alcohol to marinate it for about four to six hours.

Hamburgers or meatloaf with grass-fed beef will pair well with shredded vegetables like zucchini, olives, tomatoes, etc.

Spices and ingredients like garlic, black pepper, onions, cumin, cayenne, salt, and grated cheese make grass-fed beef taste better.

Alternatively, you can marinate the grass-fed beef in buttermilk overnight. Then, place the meat in a glass bowl with buttermilk till it tops the milk. Cover the bowl with a lid. The meat should taste less gamey when you cook it.

Health Benefits of grass-fed beef

Organic grass-fed beef is free of antibiotics and hormones

Cows are what they take in, and so are you. When cows are given antibiotics to prevent diseases or growth hormones, these substances can go into the body of whoever eats the beef.

With organic grass-fed beef, consumers are free from ingesting hormones and antibiotics that may be harmful to them.

Grass-fed beef is high in healthy fats

Meat from grass-fed cows has way more omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than grain-fed beef.

Decreased calories and fats

Grass-fed beef has less fat and calories than grain-fed beef, making it an excellent option for a weight loss diet.

Grass-fed beef has a rich nutrient profile

Grass-fed beef is densely packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamins B, D, E, and iron.

Reduces the risk of heart disease

Omega-3 fatty acids present in grass-fed beef are suitable for the heart.

People whose diets are high in omega-3 fatty acids are less prone to heart problems.

Grass-fed beef helps prevent cancer

Grass-fed beef contains more Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) than grain-fed beef. CLA is known as an excellent tool in warding off cancer.

What is pasture-raised beef?

Pasture-raised beef comes from cows that get most of their nutrition from managed pastures. The essential factor in pasture-raised beef is the practice of grazing. As a result, pasture-raised meat is often confused with grass-fed meat, although they are not the same.

Grass-fed beef is raised on a grass diet only, while pasture-raised beef gets most of its nutrition from grass and may often be fed grains from time to time.

Grass-fed beef vs Grain-fed beef: Similarities, differences, and which is better


  • Grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef start with a grass-based diet at the beginning of their lives.
  • Both types of beef contain vitamins B3, B6, and B12.


  • Grass-fed beef has less fat content than grain-fed beef. This also means lesser calories in grass-fed beef than in grain-fed beef.
  • Grass-fed beef has more nutritional content than grain-fed beef. In addition to vitamins B3, B6, and B12 that grass-fed meat has, it can also boast of vitamins A and E and antioxidants.
  • Grass-fed beef is more expensive than grain-fed beef.
  • Grass-fed beef is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).

Which is better?

Both are good in their own right. However, grass-fed beef is better if you are on a healthy diet.

Does Kobe beef smell different?

Kobe beef smells different from regular beef.

Kobe beef gives off a sweet aroma, somewhat peachy and coconut-like, while regular beef smells fatty. 

Also known as Wagyu beef, Kobe beef gets its sweet coconut and peachy aroma from:

  • A specially-selected grain diet.
  • Being kept alive for long (about 30 months).
  • Its unique genetic predisposition gives a distinctive fat composition.

Does ground beef have a smell?

At every stage of its freshness, ground beef has a unique smell.

Fresh ground beef has a barely noticeable mild iron and fleshy smell. Old ground beef may smell stale, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it has spoiled. Spoiled ground beef has a somewhat off-putting smell; it can be slightly sour or foul.

What do bad ground beef smell and taste like?

Bad ground beef will have a foul or rotten odor. The foul smell of bad ground beef is quite bold and impossible to miss. Taking a whiff of the meat is a quick way to know if it has done bad.

Ground beef that has gone bad will taste sour or bitter instead of the juicy and flavorful taste of good ground beef.

Read also: Ground Beef Four Days After The Sell-By Date? [Things To Expect]

What makes beef organic?

For beef to be regarded as organic, it needs to adhere to the following USDA standards:

  • The cows should have been reared in conditions that acclimate their normal behaviors, like grazing on pasture.
  • The cows must be raised on an organic diet.
  • The cows shouldn’t be given any hormones or antibiotics.

What is natural beef flavor?

The natural beef flavor is an ingredient that can come from the beef cooking process or be made to mimic the taste of beef or meat.

McDonald’s natural beef flavor is often unsuitable for a vegan/vegetarian diet because its constituent ingredient includes milk.

However, the natural beef flavor can also be vegan if made with vegan-friendly ingredients that carry flavors that closely mimic that of beef.

Best grass-fed beef brands

We know it can be hard to find quality antibiotics/hormone-free grass-fed and humanely-raised meat, so we outlined some trusted brands you can purchase from.

  • Farm foods market
  • ButcherBox
  • Good chop
  • Crowd cow
  • Thrive Market
  • U.S wellness meats
  • Porter road
  • Silver Fern Farms
  • White oak pastures
  • Fossil Farms

How to tell when steak has gone bad

Check the Use-by date

The use-by date tells you when your steak will expire. If your steak has passed the use-by date, you shouldn’t use it. You can often find the use-by date on the packaging.

Smell the steak

When the steak has gone bad, it’ll take on a rotten or pungent smell. This is usually the first indication that steak has started to spoil.

Inspect the texture of the steak

If the steak has a slimy feel or film on the surface, it has begun to go bad. It would help if you didn’t eat it because it can breed illness-causing bacteria.

Eyeball the steak carefully

Look at the steak carefully and look out for mold or signs of discoloration. If you notice any of these, your steak is no longer suitable to eat.

Has the steak been in the fridge for longer than three days?

If you stored your steak in the fridge for more than three days, there is a likelihood that it has begun to undergo spoilage. However, it would help check the steak for other signs of spoilage.

Read also: Why Is Skirt Steak So Expensive?

How many calories are in grass-fed ground beef?

One hundred grams of raw grass-fed ground beef would contain about 198 calories.

How long does it take to raise a cow for meat?

It should take about two years and six months for grass-fed beef to be ready for consumption and about a year and four months for grain-fed meat to be ready for consumption.

Is grass-fed beef better for the environment?

There is no scientific backing that grass-fed beef is better for the environment; that notion is merely a widespread opinion.