Bison: An alternative to Beef

This meat can be leaner than beef—and it's also pricier

Consumer Reports magazine: August 2013

If, like us, you’re seeing bison meat in stores, you may be tempted to try grilling it this summer. To see how it compares with beef, our trained tasters tried strip steaks, medallions, and burgers made from each type of meat. The tests were blind: Tasters thought that all the samples were beef.

Differences were subtle, and the texture of beef and bison was similar. But in a few of the bison samples, tasters noticed a slight liver or organ taste or a slightly sour or metallic taste. And one bison medallion was somewhat chewy and tough. Beware of overcooking, says the National Bison Association.

Per pound, ground bison cost us far more than lean ground beef: about $13.50 compared with $6.25. And the bison strip steaks we bought online cost three times as much as beef steaks from a local store. Beef and bison tenderloins were about equally pricey.

The good news for anyone who wants to try bison: For the same cuts, bison tends to have less fat than beef. According to the Department of Agriculture, a 3-ounce patty of grass-fed bison has 152 calories and 7 grams of fat; a broiled 90-percent-lean beef burger, 184 calories and 10 grams of fat. All of the bison products we bought were labeled  “no added hormones” and  “no antibiotics” or  “raised without antibiotics.”

Did you know? Buffaloed by bison

The correct name for the largest terrestrial animal in North America is bison. (Although many are from the Dakotas, they’re raised in every state in the U.S., says the National Bison Association.) True buffalo, in the same family but a different species, include the water buffalo in Asia and the cape buffalo in Africa.

Bison was served at an inaugural luncheon for President Obama last January.

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