does grass fed beef smell different

Does grass-fed beef smell different? You may be wondering about it, especially after “grass-fed beef” became the latest buzzword.

Recently, many new terms have been added to the lexicon of steak buyers: corn-finished beef, wet-aged beef, dry-aged beef, grain-fed cattle, grass-fed beef, wagyu, etc.

It is not always easy for a casual meat eater to identify grass-fed meat.

And that is why they often ask, “Does grass fed beef smell different than regular beef?”

Yes, grass-fed beef smell and taste different as compared to the standard kind, and usually has a distinctive smell, more like gamey, leathery, or fish-like.

Does Grass Fed Beef Smell Different or Not?

does beef smelled different or not

Yes, you will notice a different smell and taste when switching to grass-fed beef from regular meat.

The high Omega-3 fatty acids in grass-fed meats give them a gamy, grassy, and somewhat fishy flavor.

Most Americans are not used to eating meals with trace amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, so the taste is probably unfamiliar.

Fact: Know that you are eating grass-fed beef if it has an aftertaste of swamp water and is leathery in texture.

Why Does Grass Fed Beef Taste Different?

why grass fed beef taste different

Mental conditioning has a significant role in shaping your sense of taste.

Many people in the United States have developed a taste for grain and other dishes primarily or entirely made from grain.

As a result, most Americans’ health has been wrecked owing to a lack of the lipids, minerals, vitamins, and other elements that are naturally present in the grain.

And that is why chronic disease accounts for 70% of all fatalities in the United States.  

Fact: Grain-fed beef is widely available because the animal grows faster on grain, and it is extremely difficult to fatten an animal on grass.

What Makes Grass Fed Beef Smell and Taste Different?

reason why beef smells different

The presence of omega-3 fatty acids is certainly a factor, but the taste of any meat also depends on its fat content.

Unlike muscle, fat may be easily dissolved in water. Flavors from the fat seep into the muscles as it melts.

If the cattle have been eating grass, the beef will have a meatier flavor since the muscles will have less fat.

The high content of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins are some other factors.

Because of these nutrients, grass-fed beef has a distinct smell.

Why does Grass Fed Beef Smell and Taste Bad?

It does not taste or smell “bad,” but it is about personal preferences.

Also, it depends on what you have been conditioned to believe is the best meat to eat.

Despite a vocal minority, most Americans agree that corn-fed beef has a superior flavor.

But that is mainly because they do not know what sort of “grass-fed” meat they should choose.

What Should You Remember When Switching to Grass-Fed Beef?

what to remember when switching

So many people switch to grass-fed beef only to realize the smell and taste are too strong for them.

It could be because they do not consider the beef-to-fat ratio when purchasing.

Ideally, you should go with ground beef with an 80:20 beef-to-fat ratio if you want tender, juicy meat.

The 90/10 beef-to-fat ratio seems to be the goal for many. What a waste of time and money!

That is too lean to cook properly and lacks any real beef flavor.


It may taste gamey if the animal was not cared for correctly or fed low-quality grasses or hay.

You will notice a gamey flavor if the animal does not have a comfortable place to sleep, is constantly competing for food, or is stressed out. 

Why Does Grass Fed Beef Smell Different from Grain-Fed Beef?

why does smell different

The main difference between both types of meats is the farming process.

Cattle raised on grass are not confined in crates and fed to them by hand, while grain-fed cattle are.

Due to this inhumane agricultural method, cattle have increased stress, waste accumulation, and sickness levels.

And that is why the smell and flavor are different from grass-fed beef.

Is Grass-Fed Beef Healthier than Regular Beef?

There is a growing trend toward eating steaks that are healthier for us. And some studies suggest that grass-fed beef may be a better option than grain-fed beef.

In fact, it has a reasonable ratio of good Omega 3 fatty acids to unhealthy Omega 6 fatty acids.

It has up to 400% more CLA and contains other antioxidants and vitamins like Vitamins A and E, carotenoids, and others.

In addition to boosting immunity, these nutrients also have anti-inflammatory effects, which is why grass-fed beef is almost always superior to grain-fed beef.

Moreover, it is common knowledge that grass-fed beef is better for the environment than conventionally raised cattle because fewer resources are used in its production.

What to Consider?

what should consider

However, just because something is labeled as “grass-fed” does not guarantee that it was fed organically.

To ensure you are getting beef from cows grown without hormones or antibiotics, search for the USDA’s organic designation and the phrase “grass-fed.”

Fact: The fat percentage is directly related to the juiciness of that cut of beef and is responsible for making a satisfying chew.

How Do You Confirm It is Grass Fed Beef?

The grass-fed beef will undoubtedly have a different smell and taste, but it is healthier too.

But, it is naturally going to be difficult to identify grass-fed beef.

Here is how you can make a good choice.

Check Its Color

check the color

The color difference is striking when comparing grain-fed and grass-fed beef side by side.

Grass-fed beef has a deeper red color than grain-fed meat with the same amount of marbling.

Beef raised on grain should have a creamy or white color to the marbling. On the other hand, grass-fed beef is yellow.

Notice the Smell

Meat with an off-putting odor has likely been sitting out for some time and is not fresh.

A resounding No!

But, if it feels slightly fishy, it could be because it is grass-fed beef.


Steaks just out of the fridge should smell slightly meaty but never off.

Take it back to the store immediately if you get home and notice the odor is off.

How Do You Buy the Best Grass-Fed Beef?

how buy best grassfed beef

The quality of grass-fed meat can differ from farm to farm.

Grass-fed animals probably were not fed or exposed to synthetic things. But not all herds of grass-fed cattle are fed grass year-round.

If you do not like the taste, it could be because the meat is grass-fed but unfinished.

Do not quit up; if you can track down the perfect beef, amazing things are in store for you.  

When purchasing beef, it is important to keep an eye out for the following:

Check the Grass Fed Label

Remember that certain stickers are more legitimate than others just by their design.

To get the best quality meat, you must thoroughly investigate your provider.

When possible, buy grass-fed beef labeled as coming from a nearby farm.  This way, you can research a bit more to decide.

Check the “Organic” Label

Beef must not contain any synthetic hormones to be labeled as organic. It is also claimed that cattle are fed a diet low in antibiotics and other chemicals.

It is well-known that certain businesses engage in unethical and low-quality procedures when producing cattle, so you should always go “organic.”

Go with the “Pasture-Raised” Label

go for pasture raised label

Just because something is labeled, grass-fed does not mean it was reared on grass.

Generally, free-range cattle are the best to have on a pasturing plot. If a cow has to wait too long for food, it can become very anxious.

The lack of a comfortable resting area is another major problem for the cows.

Eventually, it can affect the meat quality and leave with beef that is not tender and smells bad.

Fact: Grass-fed beef may smell and taste different, but it is never too "fishy", as it indicates that the meat is not of high quality or has already gone bad.


Does grass-fed beef smell different? It certainly does, but it is never a bad thing.

In fact, the smell is due to the presence of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and many other nutrients.

Even if it feels a bit challenging, you should still consider making a switch to grass-fed beef.

It offers many health benefits and is also good for the animal and the environment.