Meat has no season, really; it's braised, slow cooked and roasted to comforting perfection in the colder months, and seared over open flames on grills across America all summer. If you're fortunate, you have access to prime cuts of juicy steak, organic chickens that actually have a flavor, and tender, high-quality pork ribs and chops wherever you live.
But if you don't have a reliable butcher (or good grocery store meat department), or if you're just constantly pressed for time and have trouble getting errands done, meat delivery services are here to help make your life easier and more delicious.
As with meal kit subscriptions and grocery delivery services, companies providing meat delivery and butcher subscriptions have proliferated in the past several years. Whether you're looking for a great value, specifically seeking out humanely raised and eco-friendly meat, or hungry to try the latest and greatest cuts (hello, American Wagyu), there is a best meat delivery service out there to fit your needs.
We started with a little nibble and looked at five of the most popular meat delivery services to help you choose.
These products and services are independently chosen by our editors. Disclosure: CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
ButcherBox is a subscription service that offers three types of meat, but puts an emphasis on its 100% grass-fed and grass-finished, pasture-raised beef from cows that are free to roam (grass-fed beef is said to be higher in antioxidants, vitamins and healthy fatty acids, is often more environmentally friendly since it's pastured and not raised on feedlots, and has a purer beefy taste). The company also offers heritage breed pork from pigs with plentiful outdoor access and an all-vegetarian diet from forage and feed, and free-range, organic chicken that's humanely raised, with no antibiotics or added hormones. It makes a point of mentioning that it works with "the best possible meat processing facilities" and believe in fair labor practices too.
When you sign up, you can choose from all beef, beef and chicken, beef and pork, a mixed box or create a custom box. In any case, you select from two different box sizes depending on how many people you're feeding (or how big your freezer is). Prices vary, but plans start at $129 per month. If you like complete control, the Custom Box is $149 per month (or $4.97 per meal), and allows you to take your pick of over 20 different cuts like ground beef, top sirloin steaks, chuck roast, pork tenderloin, boneless pork chops, chicken breasts and drumsticks. All of the meat ships vacuum-packed and frozen, and shipping is free. As a bonus, the company is usually running some sort of promotion, like free bacon for the life of your subscription or 2 pounds of sockeye salmon -- right now, for grilling season, you can sign up and get a free BBQ Box with baby back ribs, 2 pounds of ground beef, and two NY strip steaks.
Snake River FarmsSnake River Farms
Snake River Farms (and its partner, Double R Ranch) offer something truly special: not only dry-aged, USDA Prime beef, but American Wagyu (Kobe-style) beef, known for its rich marbling, tender texture and fantastic flavor. All of its cows are raised sustainably and humanely in the Northwes, and it offers heritage breed Kurobuta Berkshire pork from pigs raised on small family farms in Idaho and the Midwest. In addition to its exclusive (and accordingly expensive), chef-approved cuts of rare steak, it touts several sustainable ranching practices, from rotational grazing that promotes healthy rangelands to composting cattle waste and using beef tallow for fuel. Even the shipping foam in its boxes can be dissolved and used as plant food, composted or used as a fire starter. In addition, the company is a founding member of Beef Counts, which helps provide food to families in need.
But you're here for the Wagyu. While the company doesn't offer recurring subscriptions, you can buy all sorts of individual cuts like American Wagyu tomahawk steaks ($50 per pound), filet mignon, porterhouse and ribeye, not to mention Wagyu burgers and hot dogs (and don't forget about its Kurobuta bacon and baby back ribs). When it comes to Snake River Farms Wagyu, most products are offered in both Gold Grade (the highest quality -- and price -- available), and Black Grade (still special but slightly less devastating to the wallet). You can also purchase variety-pack gift boxes, some curated by chefs like Thomas Keller and Naomi Pomeroy. Order by May 19 with code BBQPREP15 and you'll get 15% off your order. As with most other meat delivery services, your cuts will come vacuum-sealed and frozen. Shipping cost varies, depending on how quickly you'd like to chow down.
Porter RoadPorter Road
Based in Nashville, Porter Road offers a variety of cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken, sourced from Kentucky and Tennessee. Its beef is pasture-raised, grass-fed and grain-finished, but the company uses no added hormones or antibiotics and the animals are free to roam and graze. Like Snake River Farms, it uses corn-based foam insulation in its boxes, so you can use it to fire up your grill and cook the St. Louis pork steak that came in the same package. Most of the company's meat is shipped fresh, but depending on the cut, some pieces will be frozen. You can order a la carte (from more traditional options like NY strip steaks, ribeye and ground beef, to less common cuts like Denver steak, lamb T-bones and andouille sausage), or choose from several box options, including all beef, pork and beef, or a "best of" assortment that arrives every two, four or eight weeks. You can add items onto your subscription too ("put a bird on it" if you're feeling like chicken next week).
The basic box is $50 (or $4.69 per serving), but specialty selections like the Breakfast Box are also available -- and to kick off summer, there's a "Grill Master Box" with dry-aged steaks, dry-aged burger patties and brats for $70 (six pounds of meat total, or $6.56 per serving), with free shipping. Whatever tempts you, get 10% off your first purchase when you sign up for the company's newsletter. Its pledge? "Once you taste the difference, you'll never go back." Only one way to find out...
Omaha SteaksOmaha Steaks
Omaha Steaks bills itself as "America's Original Butcher" and has certainly been in the meat delivery business for a long time. Keeping up with the growing preference for grass-fed beef, both grain- and grass-fed are now offered (and both options start with grass-fed but their signature beef is grain-finished); read more about how each option compares. The company doesn't advertise organic meat like many others do, nor provide much specific information about how and where the animals are raised, but does stand behind "a nearly 100 year tradition of providing customers premium, aged, and hand-trimmed beef with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee." There's also a lot more on offer besides the namesake product.
Truly, the range of items on the site is somewhat staggering. From various cuts of beef (steak galore, of course, including "king cuts" you would probably struggle to finish even if you hadn't eaten for a week), bison, veal, pork, chicken and seafood, to charcuterie, full meal kits, a la carte side dishes and desserts, wines and even dog treats, this could be a one-stop web shop. While it doesn't offer subscriptions by name, there are plenty of gift boxes (like an $80 per month Steak Box or a Monthly Grilling Box for the same price) that you could certainly order for yourself. Another interesting thing it offers: butcher services where you can consult one-on-one with a butcher to custom order precisely what you want. Shipping prices vary based on order total and how fast you want your stuff, but you can find some "free shipping" deals and combos on the site. There's also a Steaklover Reward Points program for committed carnivores.
Thrive MarketThrive Market
Online grocery provider Thrive Market is also a one-stop shop, in a somewhat more traditional sense: It sells all manner of organic, 100% non-GMO, fair-trade products at wholesale prices, so you can buy various brands of things like paper towels, marinades and snacks -- and bundled boxes of meat and seafood. To shop from the site, you must pay a $60 annual membership fee (which nets you guaranteed savings and free gifts, plus sponsors a free membership for a low-income family), but you can sign up for a 30-day free trial to test it out first. The company guarantees you'll make back your membership in savings every year, but if not, will give you store credit for the difference.
The company's meat delivery options include several boxes (a la carte cuts are not available), which feature 100% grass-fed, free-range beef from small and midsize, family-run ranches in Chile that don't use antibiotics or hormones; certified free-range and organic chicken from family-owned farms in Virginia; antibiotic- and hormone-free, pasture-raised pork from a family-owned farm in Georgia; and both wild-caught and sustainably farmed seafood like fish, shrimp and scallops. You can choose from single-protein boxes or mixed packs like the Thrive Market Meat Sampler (11.75 pounds of chicken, beef and pork for $110, or $3.51 per serving), and can also curate your own meat and seafood box if you like to pick and choose (average cost $5.95 per serving). Shipping is free on all orders over $49.