Buffalo Meat is No Bull

By , SparkPeople Blogger
One of the primary meat sources of many Plains Indians was the buffalo also known as the Plains bison. Native Americans did not just eat the meat as a rich protein source. They also used every part of the animal to meet their day-to-day needs such as the fat to make candles and soap or the bones to make shovels and other farming equipment. Unfortunately, the Plains bison nearly faced extinction in the late 1890's when European settlers were killing many for their hides to be shipped to the eastern U.S. and Europe for leather processing.

Today, bison are making a comeback and there are almost 400,000 throughout North America. Yellowstone Park is home to the largest free-roaming bison population with about 3,500 for visitors to observe and enjoy. In addition to public federally protected free-range bison, private ranchers raise bison and their farm-raised meat is showing up in supermarkets around the country. Is it something we should be including in our diets?

Several years ago, I was in Atlanta attending a conference. When it was time to head out for dinner, many of us wanted to find a local favorite instead of a nationwide chain restaurant. Someone recommended Ted's Montana Grill for a bison burger. We were all intrigued and set out for a great meal. My bison burger was lean and delicious and one of the best tasting burgers I have ever had. I was surprised to find that the restaurant first started in my home state of Ohio and today is now in over 19 states in the U.S. (I think I will have to include them in our Diet Friendly Dining review in the future!).

Recently I have noticed ground bison meat in the organic section of the meat department in my neighborhood Kroger grocery store next to the Laura's Lean Beef I typically purchase. I wondered how my teenagers would feel about trying something new and waited a couple weeks before picking up a pound for the family to try. Last week I brought home a pound of ground bison to see what my family would think. I made a family favorite and didn't let anyone know there was anything different about the recipe until everyone was finished eating. I asked my family if they noticed anything different about the dish and some words used to describe a slight difference were – "sweeter", "smoother", and "more flavor."

My family was rather insightful because bison meat is typically described as tasting similar to beef but sweeter and richer in flavor. So how does bison meat measure up to other animal protein sources? Bison is typically lower in cholesterol, fat, and calories than beef, pork, or skinless chicken. At the same time, it provides slightly more iron and B-12. Much of this is because they are typically grass-fed but compared to other animals that are more typically raised. When compared to grass-fed beef, they are similar in nutrients but with distinctively different textures and flavors. When purchasing bison, you will want to look for the "Certified American Buffalo" marketing label which certifies the meat to be USDA source verified according to the The National Bison Association. This certifies that the meat is not only source verified (ie: comes from bison/buffalo) but also, that it is raised without growth hormones, antibiotics, or animal byproducts. I found that the price of the organic bison was in line with the organic beef I typically purchase but that can vary by region and supermarket.

If you get tired of having chicken all the time and are interested in trying a new variation on red meat, bison might be worth giving a try.

Have you ever tried bison meat and if you did, how would you describe it? Have you seen it in your super market? Is it something you will try?

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KATHYJO56 1/6/2021
I tried this and it really is good Report
CURIOUS2020 11/13/2020
Just moved to Montana and plan to indulge regurlarly Report
ELRIDDICK 11/10/2020
Thanks for sharing Report
PATRICIAAK 5/26/2020
:) Report
CECELW 4/4/2020
I don't care for bison, beef, pork..I can tolerate chicken, breast, thats about it Report
Bison tastes great - thanks Report
Thank you for the "skinny" on bison!! Report
Buffalo burgers are delicious, and so are bison steaks. I prefer bison over regular beef. Report
I have had bison & beefalo (a hybrid animal whereby cattle are crossed w/ buffalo) & appreciate the low fat meat. I also eat ostrich when I can get it, rabbit, elk, & venison (the last can be gamey but the seasoned sausage is good.) Anything healthier is fine w/ me. I'd eat horse if it were legal in the US. Bison sloppy joe's are terrific esp served w/ fry bread or on masa tortillas. Report
The first time I had bison, I ordered a prime rib. It tasted terrific but it did not agree with my digestive system. Since then, I have become a devotee of Ted's and enjoy their bison burgers. I have steered away from their bison steaks but the burgers and chili are excellent! Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Thanks for sharing Report
I used to love bison! SO much tastier than beef, and there was a farm close by where I could buy it directly from the grower. Unfortunately, I developed an allergy to red meat about 16 years ago, so no more bison -- along with venison and other wild game I used to enjoy. Report
Interesting! Report
I fell in love with bison many years ago, as WHOLE AND REAL animals! I couldn't intentionally kill a bison, much as I couldn't kill my own dog. Sorry. Report
I like it and I also eat other red meats, like venison and elk. Buffalo Jack's is another restaurant in Ohio where one can find all kinds of critters on the menu and beautiful American Indian art on the walls. Report
I had never seen this article come up before in all my years on SparkPeople, and I was thinking "She's only NOW "discovering" bison meat?" - but I looked at the dateline and see it was written in 2009. Even so, in Kansas we've had access to bison meat since oh I think it was in the 1980's that I first tasted it and I'm sure there were people who have been eating it for years before me. My husband and I dated many years before we married and one of our favorite restaurants was a burger and sandwich place that served bison burgers. It closed before we ever married (which was 1995). Ted's Montana Grill came to Wichita some 5-8 years ago and both locations have long since closed (the food was fabulous, including their bison, but they had serious management and server issues). The one location became a doctor's office and the other location became a Chiascura (sp? Latin American food style, awesome!) place and has since closed and reopened under a new owner and brewery/burger concept (I haven't had a chance to go check it out and see if they also carry bison burgers). A lot of the upscale burger places in town DO carry bison burgers, so they definitely have their foothold in town. In addition, it is in nearly all the grocery stores where I have thought to look and my family loves it. Still a bit pricey, I guess, but I probably need to stop thinking about it costing more than ground sirloin and start thinking of it being cheaper than a hospital bill!! And like others have mentioned, it is SUPER lean so you need to cook it on lower heat and it helps to keep the lid on there to trap what little moisture is cooking from it. So yea... it's yummy! Thanks for the reminder!! Report
We have discovered a local Water Buffalo farmer in our area and have fallen in love with the meat! I have a very easy recipe if you would like to "transition" your family to the idea of eating Buffalo - Oven baked meatballs.

Step 1: Mix the following together
1 pound of Italian spiced turkey sausage
1 pound of ground Buffalo
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped spinach
1 egg
1/4 cup Bread crumbs

Step 2: Shape meatballs, roll into breadcrumbs and place each one in a muffin tin (helps with the browning!)

Step 3: Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Delicious! Report
I have been buying bison as my red meat for years. My 6 yo has only known that for at-home cooking. A restaurant here called ,"Roadhouse Grill" has bison ribs, meatloaf, and probably burgers too. :)

Cooking tip:
Bison is lower in fat so you will want to cook it more slowly than beef. When I cook it I always put a lid over it and do not turn it as often.

(FYI, it is against federal regulations to use hormones on bison.) Report
Yes, we (my family) tried bison burgers. They were rich and quite good. It was a "vacation" treat! No- I would not buy it in the market. I'm a bit more frugal and won't spend that much. We get good farm-raised beef and know where it comes from and how they are raised. I'm quite satisfied with that! Report
I have tried it and I like it. I would eat it more often if it was more readily available where I live. Report
I tried it and I really liked it I had never seen the nutrition before so I am pleased to have read the article Thanks. Report
The meat is exceptional when compared to beef!

As for the cost, it is dependent on your location. When we lived in Alberta we could purchase it a fair price, at or near the price of beef.
Here in Ontario - the price is much higher - but still worth it :) Report
We are big fans of the show, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmer and have been looking out for interesting foods to try eating out or at home to prepare. So, if we could find buffalo or bison meat at the grocery store we'd buy some to try. We keep looking for alligator meat which my son really wants us to try. Report
One of our local Walmart stores carries Bison--it is reasonably priced and very tasty. It comes as ground meat, chuck roast and steak. I use it quite often. The roast does require cooking in a slow cooker, usually overnight to get tender. I use the ground meat just like ground beef in any recipe for a lower calorie and fat content than beef. Report
I absolutely LOVE bison meat and serve it at all my cook-outs so others have a chance to try! Been a fan for years. I agree with the description that Bison tastes a bit better than beef in all areas, but isn't so strong that a non-game eater should be turned off by it. The Stop&Shop near me has had ground bison at about $5/lb for almost a year (but they don't keep much in stock), so don't think you can only find it at higher end supermarkets.
I'm so lucky to have a Bison farm near my home which has been in business for about 40 years. I like to buy from that source most often as you can see the appearance and movement of the animals in the field right behind the store. The best part is that they have lots of meat cuts to choose from. It's great the internet is now bringing these resources to folks all over the country. Report
I am not affilliated with this site in any way, shape, or form (other than just being a happy customer), but www.GrassLandBeef.com offers $7 flat-rate overnight Fed Ex shipping, and is less than half the price of grass-fed beef at Whole Foods (which is jokingly referred to by staff at my local Trader Joe's as 'Whole Paycheck') (lol)

The best part is, they sell organic grass-fed bison in addition to poultry, pork and even sustainable shrimp. Report
I would love to try it, I like the fact that it has more iron than ground beef (I am anemic so I still do red meat). Have heard that it tastes good. Report
There's a chain resturant here in NC called Hamm's and one of the things they do is offer bison as an alternative to their normal hamburgers and every time I go I have to do the bison burger. It's like sweet, savory hamburger without all the guilt since it's so healthy and so yummy! Report
A friend has me try all kinds of things and game meat is one. We can get Bison at whole foods and kroger. Found it tastes better than beef and satisfies longer, and I lose more weight when I eat it then even fish or chicken. It is leaner, higher in protein, has CLA and digests better! Love it! In Washington cost about 6.50 a pound, but because it's so lean get more edible meat out of 1 pound than the same amount of hamburger so I think it's really a better buy. Report
Spent our 25th anniversary in the Black Hills where we spent our honeymoon. Ate at the Sylvan Lake Lodge where I ate the best stew I've ever had!! Made with buffalo or bison meat. I mostly noticed how much leaner and more tender it was, and also that it was a "sweeter" tasting meat. I would buy it if it was offered locally here in western Nebraska but I've never seen it here. Wish the Fish and Game Department here had deer auctions like they did in Montana, too, but that's a completely separate story. Report
Love Bison and buffalo. Had ostrich, wasn't as thrilled but find a few chains, i.e. Ruby Tuesday, Fuddruckers, Wegmans, Safeway are beginning to carry either or, really happy to see that change. Report
I tried Bison or maybe it was buffaloe in a restaurant that actually owned the herd. To me it was very gamey tasting but maybe I should try another source since the responses here are so positive that maybe I just got a bad batch.

thanks for the feedback and I'm going to try it again!

I LOVE bison meat. My work's cafeteria has hamburgers every Wednesday, and when they can get buffalo/bison, they will serve these kind of burgers as an alternative to the beef. They are sooooooooo good, maybe even better than the beef :) I just wish my local grocery store carried it. Report
Hubby and Me, We love Bison Meat, eat it all the time. Report
Wow I have to give that a try! Report
We get pre-made bison burgers from Whole Foods quite often and they are very good. Report
I've had bison once and it was very good, but my all-time favorite red meat is elk! I've only been lucky enough to have it a couple of times, but boy I wish I could have some more often! Report
I've never really liked to try different meats besides the basic turkey, pork, chicken, and beef I grew up on. Had bear meat once that I didn't like. Wasn't wild about rabbit either. But so many people are saying how good it is if I get a chance I may try the bison. I can't get it in my small town but maybe if I get out of town somewhere I will. Report
I make burgers with ground bison or buffalo, green onions, whole wheat bread crumbs and cheddar cheese. They are more flavorful and less greasy than beef burgers. I've also used ground buffalo in taco salads and pasta sauce. I highly recommend it. My local Safeway doesn't carry it, but I can always find it at Whole Foods. Report
Our family doesn't eat much red meat, but when we do, we prefer bison. Try it in spaghetti sauce or in a lasagna----yum! Report
MMMMMM good. It's kind of tough to find a bison burger around here (although there are many bison farms about 10mi south of here) but sometimes its Mommy's call -- and all for the burger. ;-p Report
My son has been given the opportunity to shoot a buffalo this year down on the reservation. I am so excited about having buffalo burger!
Living in South Dakota and having relatives owning ranches, beef is an absolute definate staple for us. I'm looking forward to a different kind of burger. Report
We ate at Ted's in Columbus, Ohio about 5 years ago, also by suggestion. We were waiting for the Nationwide Arena to open and an employee pointed us across the street toTed's,. I have been buying the ground bison since. Our local supermarket here in Maine carries it. We had bison burgers a few nights ago. While at Ted's, I had the burger and DH had the roast. We were sold! DH said it was the best roast he ever had. Report
Native Americans have always known that buffalo is healthier. Before the coming of the europeans ,our diets consisted of a much healthier menu such as buffalo, wild rice ,fruit ,nuts,legumes and other vegetables. It wasn't till after they were introduced to refined and processed foods that our health declined. Buffalo ,if you choose to eat meat is A much better choice and even has better flavor than beef and minus all the hormones and chemicals found in beef. It is my opinion that the hormones they inject animals with to make them bigger are the very ones making us bigger! Report
I started buying and cooking with buffalo 10 years ago. It is my preferred meat now. Very lean, very rich tasting (due to it's iron content), very satisfying. Love it! Report
I've actually yet to try bison. I saw bison patties for sale at the health food store last week, but they were SO EXPENSIVE I couldn't justify buying them. This week I'll check my local supermarket, because low fat red meat sounds like just what I've been looking fo. Report
I tried a bison burger for the first time in western South Dakota, where it's a regular on most restaurant menus. I think I had it every day after that on my vacation. It was that good. The stuff in the supermarkets isn't quite as tender as the South Dakota version--probably because it's not as fresh--but I still love it. It IS expensive, though, so our family only has it as a treat now and then. Report
I've tried the bison steaks and ground. Loved both, but can no longer find it. My Kroger store carried it for a minute, and although I've asked, they still haven't brought it back. I live in Michigan, so if anyone knows where I can find it, it would be appreciated. As for price, it can be pricey, then again, look at the price of Angus beef.

If you're a meat eater, and especially beef, chances are you will love it. Report