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Is Bison worth it?

Hey, I noticed on my near daily trip to the store some ground bison meat in the meat section of the store. I was interested in trying the stuff since it was in a nice small package but then I noticed that was like ten bucks for half a pound and it wasn't even pasture-fed. Yeah, I didn't buy it.

That said, is the stuff worth the price?

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  1. Not worth it. You pay up for the higher costs of a small scale operation, plus a premium for the novelty factor. Yes, it's lean, but you can buy 90-10 lean beef for 1/4 the price.

    1. I bought some a year or two ago and used it for burgers. I didn't care for the flavor so have never bought it again.

      1. I had Bison short ribs recently and it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. This was at a very good restaurant so I expected it to be good.

        $20/lb does seem out of reason to me. I might buy enough for a couple of burgers just for the heck of it though.

        1. It's worth it if you want bison.

          It's not if you want it to be a substitute for beef.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Exactly. Same thing I've said about frozen yogurt.

            1. re: mwhitmore

              If you want bison, you eat frozen yogurt?

              Mr Taster

          2. Bought some once... couldn't have been THAT much $$ uz I'd never have spent that. Was super lean... probably made meatballs or meatloaf out of it... don't really recall. Couldn't have tasted THAT much different from beef, or I'd surely have remembered.

            1. That's very expensive. I usually see it for around $9 lb or less in supermarkets.

              1. That price is too much, but whenever I drive through Chamberlain, SD, I stop for a bison burger.

                1. Worth it or not worth it? Hmm. I agree with Veggo that from a health point of view it is not worth it. However, I think there is something to be said for trying for the first time. Go spend ten and try it. If you like it, great. If you don't like it, then at least you know what it tastes like.

                  I bought it once from store and I believe I ate a couple Bison dishes when dining out. I honestly do not remember much. I don't think it is particularly good or bad.

                  1. We do buy bison once in a while. This weekend was one of those! Tonight we had bison tartare for an app and grilled tenderloin for the main. It is not cheap by any means but it is from a local supplier and a nice treat. I don't see it as a sub for beef but a different animal altogether. (pun intended) We really enjoy the meaty flavor. For the price, for us, it is a wonderful splurge and still cheaper than eating out. Dinner was rounded out with a salad dressed with a creamy balsmic garlic dressing and mashed califlower.

                    1. I prefer it to beef, for flavor and for health, but I don't buy it from a grocery store. It is much less expensive from a private source if you buy in bulk. I almost put some bison in my back pasture a few years ago. They are all pasture fed with no antibiotics, etc. bison are not feedlot animals, they don't behave like cattle. I don't think they have a bison feedlot anywhere, so the price will reflect the difficulty in raising it. The farm I buy from makes buff dogs, sausages and jerkey too. Really lean and clean meat.

                      1. I quite enjoy bison but do not purchase it from supermarkets. Where I live bison are not uncommon.

                        1. My wife and I are huge fans of bison burgers. We find it around here (Publix, Whole Foods, Costco if we're lucky) for about $10 per pound, and it's usually grass-fed and organic.

                          I'll usually season it with a bit of kosher salt, make small patties and cook them rare to medium rare, and serve them like sliders on King's Hawaiian rolls. They don't need any condiments aside for a bit of onion cooked in the pan juices -- bison has a stronger, gamier flavor than ground beef, but we love it for that. It somehow tastes FRESHER to us, like the beefiest beef possible, having just walked out of the pasture and into our kitchen.

                          1. I once made a beef stew (with inexpensive chuck) and on a lark I picked up some bison from a small grass-fed operation at the Hollywood farmer's market and threw it in with the chuck. fully expected to not be able to tell the difference, and I was completely wrong. The texture of the bison cubes remained outstandingly tender when compared to the chuck (mind you, this was a slow and low stew, 3 hours in a 300 degree oven). Knowing the texture was such an essential part of the experience, I can't imagine grinding up that beautiful stuff and eating it in a burger. It's like the Kobe burger phenomenon... the real prize of Kobe is the tenderness of the meat, so grinding it up makes you lose 90% of why the stuff is so spectacular (and so expensive).

                            So, my opinion is an emphatic YES to bison-- YES, pay more, particularly for local grass-fed product, but please don't waste it in burgers.

                            Mr Taster

                            1. Slow and low is the way to go with Bison. We just roasted a 3kg tritip tonight. After a sear on the stove top, 325F for 1hr 45min. Beautifully tender and moist.

                              I can't get bison in my local grocery(small town) but I can get it from a smaller butcher nearby. There is more bison than beef on our table these days...admittedly it's not all tritip-but YES, bison is worth it.

                              1. I agree with the sentiment that it is not worth it if you want it to taste like beef...just buy beef, it is cheaper.

                                We love bison burgers in my house. It is very lean, so we watch the temp and pull it so it is medium rare. They are delicious. I can get grass fed bison for $7.99/lb. so I don't consider it a budget buster.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: mels

                                  Aren't grass-fed animals in general leaner? I know pigs get big but they naturally eat grains so they're different.

                                  1. re: mels

                                    I probably should have mentioned that I'm in maryland and the stuff was isn't in the store's packaging like the beef was.

                                    1. re: mels

                                      Thanks guys, I think I'll pick up a stew cut of bison whenever I bump into some pasture-fed bison provider. Probably will be great sous vide.

                                    2. I've used ground bison before, but it was on sale and the same price as ground beef. The flavor was good, but there's no way I'd pay ten bucks for half a pound.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: raytamsgv

                                        $10/lb? Ouch. I get upset when we pay more than $8/lb. Maybe there are just more producers up here.

                                        1. re: maplesugar

                                          More like $20/lb (since it was mentioned as $10/half pound). On the other hand, I remember high quality beef are often sold for >$15/lb.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            Sorry, was thinking of both raytamsgv & KaimukiMan's posts when I replied. I always assumed it'd be cheaper south of the Cdn/US border. Ground bison went from $7/lb to $8-9/lb here a few years ago-I guess I shouldn't complain about the price when you folks are paying (in some cases) double.

                                            1. re: maplesugar


                                              Don't be. I just want to say that the price is even higher than you thought.

                                              <Ground bison went from $7/lb to $8-9/lb here a few years ago>

                                              You are probably right because that is about the price I remember. On the other hand, shezmu (original poster) may have some special bison meat.

                                      2. The only bison I've seen in the market is ground, in the same meat section as ground beef. It's usually about $10-$12 per pound, so twice what they sell the organic grass fed beef for, three times the lean ground beef. I've had it as burgers and as meat loaf. Both were similar to ground beef, but had a nice depth of flavor. I'm not sure I would notice as much difference if it were compared to grass fed/grass finished beef. Some people claim it is much healthier, probably true. Worth it? Very much up to the individual consumer, but worth looking into. I'm guessing i would be pretty upset if I saw someone using wic coupons to pay for it.

                                        1. I really like Bison but the price is a little crazy where I live. The only viable store for meat other than Bison burger ($8 a pound here) is WF and the prices are over $20 a pound for steak.
                                          We have a lot of Buffalo ranchs in the northern part of the state. When I head North I always try to buy some.
                                          To me Bison resembles Venison more than Beef.
                                          I think I've seen some Bison burger @ Costco as well.

                                          1. A friend of mine just shot one... it was huge!
                                            That price seems kind of high. I wouldn't buy it.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: wyogal

                                              My brother lives in Cody and has had the chance to get a couple over the years. He said he was going to send some but I'm still waiting.

                                              Just saw this article, going to serve Bison for the inauguration lunch.

                                              1. re: kengk

                                                Please write for the intended audience! "Cody" means nothing to anyone who doesn't know who you are. (i.e. virtually everyone on Chowhound!)


                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  Cody, Wy

                                                  (It was in a response to me, Wyogal, Cody--Wyogal)


                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    My apologies. Cody, WY. Are there any other Codys?

                                                    I live a short drive from Manchester, Turin, Athens, Rome, Cairo, Dublin, Bremen, Vienna, and probably some more I can't think of.

                                              2. hmm, wonder where you're shopping ...

                                                demand has driven the price up ... i think i'm paying 8.99/lb now. still worth it to me sometimes, but i buy it less now. fantastic flavor, very liitle fat, good nutritional profile.

                                                i used to cook with it exclusively, and found the taste of beef, even grass-fed, disappointing when price convinced me to buy it again.

                                                1. Our local (Southern Oregon)Bison, for those who are interested.
                                                  Looks like about $13.00 a lb. for ground round.
                                                  This is really tasty meat-I've had it before,(served in Restaurants 'round here) but it isn't for everyone, as several above have stated.

                                                  1. I wish it was worth the price. 3 Years ago i was paying 7 dollars a pound. Now it is 16 Dollars a pound. Bison is sooo healthy, i'm very disappointed. Last article i have read the farmers can't keep up with the demand for Bison so that is why the price is so hight.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: jppavv

                                                      Yes, good point. Bison is terrrrible, so stop buying it already!!! Right now I believe it's running $9.99/lb here ... quite a lot for ground meat. I still buy it sometimes of course ...

                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                          what you said makes sense, but the only bison in the market here is ground bison. and like you, i have never understood the purpose of ground kobe beef.

                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                            Now that's truly a shame. I'd use this opportunity to speak with the meat manager and express your opinion. Do they grind it at your market, or somewhere off-site? Bison isn't such a common meat-- I'd be surprised to find out that it's been industrialized the way ground beef or ground turkey has been.

                                                            Mr Taster

                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                              Like 75% of our food here it is packaged on the mainland and shipped here. I don't believe the markets here (except for costco or whole foods) grind much of anything themselves.

                                                            2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              I enjoyed the only bison steak I ever had. But I have often bought ground bison and made rare burgers with it. They have more taste than beefburgers, and are quite tender despite the low percentage of fat. I like them better than the cole Kobe burger I have had (which was my sole experience with Kobe beef). I see less point in making meatloaf with high-price beef or bison. Meatloaf gets a lot of flavor from the add-ins (mine, anyway) and needs fat to prevent dryness.

                                                        1. I rarely buy it, since only a couple of stores in my area carry it and if they have any "fresh", it never looks fresh at all. Who knows how old that is and how far it traveled to get here.

                                                          I know it's healthier and all, but I really don't like paying a premium price for something that looks that old.

                                                          Flavor wise, I don't mind it. I don't love it either, but if it were more readily available, I could overlook the game-y taste and eat it more often.

                                                          1. Ground Bison was $10 a lb today at Union square farmers market. Might give it a shot next week

                                                            1. I used to eat bison burgers from a kosher deli in Philadelphia. It was delicious! And the price was not bad. I have never prepared it myself but I have liked it when prepared by others.

                                                              1. I enjoy bison and will buy it when it pops up at my local store. I've had ground bison which is great for burgers, but I really enjoy bison ribeye and bison sirloin.