Graded for Greatness - Canadian Beef | Canada Beef

Grading Matters

Pick a steak – sounds simple enough.
Which of these would you want to buy?
Grading can help you pick. Here are some simple definitions to get you started.


Canada has a comprehensive Meat Inspection System in place to help ensure Canadians have access to a safe, wholesome food supply. Inspection is not related to eating quality or Grading.
Inspection can take place at the federal, provincial and municipal government levels.


Beef quality grades are determined by several factors including marbling in the meat. Grading is a voluntary process for Canadian beef, but Inspection for safety is mandatory.
Canada’s top grades, ranging from most to least marbling are: Canada Prime (available mainly in restaurants), Canada AAA or Canada AA.
Beef can be sold ungraded, but eating quality can vary. Grading has nothing to do with Inspection.


Marbling can enhance the juiciness and flavour of beef. It refers to the amount of fine white flecks of fat that you see running through the lean meat.
The amount of marbling in the meat is a key factor in designating a Canada beef quality grade.


Aging can dramatically improve beef tenderness and flavour. In the aging process, beef is held at controlled temperatures and humidity for a period of time. During this time, enzymes naturally occurring in the meat break down some of the connective tissue that contributes to toughness.
For enhanced eating quality, look for beef that is aged at least 10 to 14 days. Check with your meat counter representative for details about the aging policy of the beef they sell.
Beef should not be aged in a home refrigerator.

Grading Q & A

How does grading help me buy beef?

Just as movie ratings can help you pick a movie that’s age-appropriate for your toddler, Canada beef grade designations can help you buy just what you want for your meal.

What do the Canada beef grades mean?

Canada beef grades are assigned based on several indicators. The amount of marbling visible in the meat is a primary factor in grade designation.

Is Canada beef grade designation reliable?

Canada beef grade designation is not arbitrary or random. At the meat-processing plant, trained experts in grading designate the grade based on multiple quality indicators. Marbling of the meat is one of the key indicators.

We challenge you!

With the 3 main quality grades of Canadian beef, and over 70 cuts to choose from, there’s always lots to explore with Canadian beef!
Watch the fun of the Taste Challenge experience and take the Challenge adventure in your kitchen.

How do I know the grade of the beef I am buying?

• Look for the amount of marbling in the meat.
• Check for the grade designation called out on the meat package, at the meat counter or in the flyer.
• Look for symbols similar to the icons shown here.
• Ask the person managing the meat or butcher counter. They will know just what beef grade they have to offer.

What’s the difference between the 3 Canada beef quality grades?

Canadian beef is quality beef, raised with expertise, pride and care, in every province across the country. The most marbled, Canada Prime has enhanced juiciness and flavour, while Canada AA is typically a leaner and more budget-conscious option. Want something in-between – it’s Canada AAA. There is a beef grade to fit just what you’re looking for.

How can I use Canada AA grade beef?

Canada AA beef is a flavourful option for those seeking leaner options in beef. With less marbling and typically priced less than Canada AAA and Canada Prime, marinate Canada AA steaks, roasts or stir-fry strips before cooking. Slow-roast oven roasts or simmer pot roasts or stewing beef that’s cut from Canada AA for best results.

Try these recipe ideas with Canada AA grade beef:

Oven Roast with Simple Wine Sauce

Slow Cooker Beef Goulash Stew

Three Tomato Braised

Spicy Cajun Beef Stir-Fry

What’s the best use for Canada AAA beef?

Canada AAA is the most popular grade available for home-cooks – and with good reason. It has a higher level of marbling, which means it can deliver on flavour and tenderness any way you want to make your meal. Canada AAA is more versatile than Canada AA grade – get started with these delicious recipes where the Canada AAA benefits shine:

Grilled Beef and Haloumi Skewers

Avocado Toast with Steak

Oven Roast with
Au Jus

Cashew and Peppered Grilled Steak Salad

Why would I buy Canada Prime grade beef?

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or want to make a special occasion, Canada Prime grade beef is just what you’re looking for! Ever marbled and juicy, Canada Prime provides robust flavour and the best in beef without the need for fussy seasoning or effort. Premium cuts like Strip Loin, Rib Steak and Prime Rib typically are super-stars with steak-house quality when in the Prime quality grade designation.

Grilled Steak with
Tahini Sauce

Oven Roast Beef with Berry Wine Sauce

Grilled Steak with Glazed Mushrooms

Grilled Asian Style Beef Kabobs with Eggplant

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