Best Meat Delivery Services

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for choosing the best meat delivery service

In today’s world, you can get just about anything you need delivered right to your door: groceries, furniture, electronics, even cars. And while local butchers remain institutions around the globe, meat delivery services have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years.

Why? Meat delivery services offer several advantages over local alternatives. You needn’t leave your house, for one, and they’ve further adapted to society’s changing needs by offering contact-free delivery. In addition, delivery services can bypass snags like local shortages and distribution errors.

The best meat delivery services offer the juiciest, tastiest, and most sought-after premium cuts on the market. Whether it’s grass-fed ground beef, dry-aged steaks, humanely raised chicken, or organic fish, the quality of these products has an incredible reputation that often surprasses that of the local butcher. These services can grant you access to premium meats from around the world, including those that may be difficult to get in your area.

With the best meat delivery services, juicy steaks and mouthwatering burgers are just a few clicks away. Before you place your order, peruse our comprehensive buying guide so you can make an informed and delicious choice.

Interested in where your food comes from? Several meat delivery services include this information with your order, providing data about the source farm, the owners, and even harvesting practices.

Key considerations

Meat variety

“What’s for dinner?”

This should be the first question you ask yourself when embarking on your search, as the type of cuts you desire will inform the rest of your decisions. Thankfully, with so many meat delivery services available, choices are plentiful.

Some companies provide all-encompassing menus with bountiful beef, chicken, and fish options, along with pre-prepped meals, a la carte choices, and fun add-ons like jerky. Others have a distinct niche, offering organic meats, premium cuts, and hard-to-find exotic selections like venison and wild boar.

In addition to a variety of meat types, these companies often prepare a wide selection of cuts, such as rib eyes, sirloins, flank steaks, and ribs, for your enjoyment. So, whether it hails from Nebraska or Japan, we’re confident there’s a brand out there with selections perfect for your table.

Packaging and delivery

In order to keep your order fresh and tasty, the majority of meat delivery services flash-freeze and vacuum-seal their products for shipping. Orders are generally packed in insulated coolers with freezer packs or dry ice, allowing the meat to stay fresh for hours, even on your doorstep. Organic brands generally use organic packaging, as orders arrive in recyclable and compostable materials. Remember that practices vary from company to company, however, so seek out the specifics before you buy.

In terms of delivery frequency, some services operate on an order-to-order basis, while others provide recurring subscriptions that adapt to your schedule.

Price

Meat delivery services can get expensive, but there are several products available across brands for less than $10. Examples include smaller orders of chicken, sausage, bacon, ground beef, and similar meats. The price can skyrocket from there, however, as premium cuts like Wagyu and filet mignon can cost hundreds of dollars depending on order size. Add-ons, pre-packaged meals, and organic meats can further inflate the cost.

Expert Tip
The word “organic” gets thrown around a lot in the food industry, and it can be difficult to discern whether something is 100% organic. To dig deeper, find the organic certification or quality mark on the company’s website, and confirm if it’s been approved by the USDA.
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Researching meat delivery services

Grass fed vs. grain fed

Grass-fed meat is typically seen as superior to grain-fed meat for several reasons. Grass-fed cows, lambs, and goats have healthier diets, for starters, but they’re also allowed to graze on open fields as opposed to being cooped up in pens. It’s simply more humane, but grass-fed products are also leaner and boast higher levels of good omega-3 fats compared to the alternatives.

Cage-free, free-range, and pasture-raised meat

You may have seen the terms “cage-free,” “pasture-raised,” and “free-range” when shopping for meat or eggs. Let’s look at what these terms actually mean.

Cage-free is a USDA-regulated term that denotes eggs from uncaged hens. This doesn’t necessarily mean they were free to roam outside, as cage-free hens can still live in an enclosed area.

Free-range is another USDA term that signifies the animals have at least some access to the outdoors.

Pasture-raised is not a term regulated by the USDA, so its applications can vary. It is similar to free-range in that it signifies the hens or cows in question have access to healthy pastures. It doesn’t necessarily mean they get all their nutrition from the pasture, though. In the case of cows, they may feed on a mixture of organic grass and supplementary grain.

Antibiotics and growth hormones

There are many reasons why you wouldn’t want antibiotics in your food, but thankfully, due to current government regulations, it’s not much of a concern. It’s rare that antibiotics or growth hormones would make it into your food supply, particularly when using a premium meat delivery service. 

Subscription models

Just as you can do with groceries, grooming supplies, reading materials, and clothes, you can subscribe to myriad meat delivery services. Depending on the brand, you can have the same cuts delivered at a frequency of your choice — every two weeks, every month, every quarter, and so on — or you can switch it up with a customized selection or pre-made packages. The frequencies offered will vary based on supply.

You can often pick the delivery day as well, allowing you to choose a subscription model that fits your schedule.

"If animal rights are high on your priority list, keep your eye out for products with “Certified Humane” and “Animal Welfare Approved” stamps. They come from third-party groups and promote family farmers with the highest welfare standards. "
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Common mistakes to avoid

Mistake #1: Ignoring the competition

Often, we’re tempted to settle on the first decent solution we land on. Why? It’s convenient and saves time.

You’ll be more pleased with the results if you shop around because each meat delivery service offers something distinct. Perhaps it’s unique cuts of meat, standout quality, or organic certifications on the products. Maybe the sustainable methods of the farm draw your attention, or even just the price. If you don’t shop around, you could miss out on something special.

Mistake #2: Letting food go to waste

Food this delicious shouldn’t be wasted, so a little preparation goes a long way. Before placing a bulk order, confirm that you’ve gone through the old stock in your freezer so you have room for a new shipment. If you plan on using meat delivery services for a long while, consider purchasing a separate freezer. Doing so could actually save you money in the long run.

Mistake #3: Avoiding new things

Have you ever had Coulotte steak? What about outside skirt? Japanese Wagyu? Wild boar? Now’s your chance! There’s a staggering variety of meat cuts out there, and delivery services offer the best ways to try them.

Did you know?
For eggs to be labeled “local,” there must be less than 400 miles between the processing facility and the hens themselves. In some cases, they can be farther apart than that, but only if they’re in the same state.
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Tips

  • Unless you’re confident in your culinary skills, follow the preparation directions provided by your meat supplier. Otherwise, you may not get your money’s worth.
  • Rather than let it go to waste, freeze leftover or excess cuts until you're ready to enjoy them. Frozen meat should be consumed within one year of the processing date, and once it’s defrosted, it should be eaten within three to five days.
  • As you click through a meat delivery service’s website, check the a la carte pricing along with pre-packaged pricing. If you’re only after a specific cut or style, doing so could save you money.
Do you love grilling, barbecuing, and savory flavors, but you don’t eat meat? Good news! Several meat delivery services offer plant-based options and samplers in addition to animal products.

FAQ

Q. I see terms like “sustainably farmed” and “sustainably harvested” when researching meat delivery services. What do these terms mean?
A.
As our tastes, technologies, and concerns have evolved, farmers have adapted to produce crops and livestock in healthier ways. Certain brands put sustainability on the forefront, detailing their farming and harvesting with impressive transparency.

In general, the idea is to farm without stripping the ground of nutrients. This involves using safer, gentler pesticides and fertilizers alongside science-based monitoring techniques. This way, you can track the health of the soil you farm on and adjust as necessary. Other examples include crop diversification, biodiversity, reduced tillage, and cover crop protection. These practices significantly cut down on damage to the soil, water, and air around the farm. In some cases, they may even improve the local climate.


Q. Is grass-fed meat automatically pasture-raised?
A.
No, and this raises an important point about food certifications. There are a headache-inducing number of them, and in some cases, they overlap, while in others, they do not.

Our advice is to take the terms as literally as you can. If you buy cage-free eggs, that means the hens did not live in a cage. It does not mean they were free to roam outside, that they ate organic food, or that they had a designated amount of open space. Cows that graze on organic grass do not necessarily produce organic meat, as they could be contaminated by antibiotics, the harvesting process, or even the distribution process. In terms of grass-fed beef vs. pasture-raised beef, the animal may be fed organic grass its entire life while being stationed in a barn.

For clarity, look for USDA-approved certifications and quality marks.


Q. Is it safe to ship fresh meat by mail?
A.
While food safety is always a valid concern, modern technology permits a staggering shelf life during shipping. Insulated, multi-layered boxes are common in meat delivery services, as are flash-frozen meats, vacuum seals, and even dry ice. Your chosen brand’s numbers may vary, but some providers guarantee their boxes will keep your food at a safe temperature for 72 hours or more.

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