Skip to Content

Angus vs Prime: 3+ Key Differences You Should Know

Angus vs Prime: 3+ Key Differences You Should Know

Short version – Angus beef is from the Angus breed of cattle, while prime beef is a grade of beef awarded by the USDA.

Beef is the second highest consumed meat in the United States. Coming in second after chicken, Americans eat a lot of beef! The United States is the largest beef producer in the world, followed by China and Brazil. This beef-loving country produces 21% of the world’s beef production.

Beef is easy to come by in the United States, but it does get trickier when you get picky about your beef. Restaurateurs want the best beef on the market. Knowing what breed of cattle produces the best beef and understanding the grading scale allows barbecuers and restaurateurs to get the best beef on the market.


Angus Cow

Angus beef is meat from the Angus cattle breed. Angus cattle are known for their quality meat with intramuscular marbling. This marbling develops a delicious flavor when the beef is roasted, grilled, or baked.

Angus cattle draws its origins from Scotland. Kincardine, Angus, Banff, and Aberdeen counties have favorable climates for growing good crops and pastures. Green grass and high grain production are the ideal temperaments for quality cattle.

The Angus breed came from this northeastern region of Scotland in 1873 by George Grant. Grant transported four Angus bulls from Scotland to the middle of Kansas prairies, where the Scotsman became a wealthy stockman.

There are two kinds of Angus: black Angus and red Angus. Black Angus beef has dominated the beef scene in the United States for years.

Cattle sell for a premium when they have a black coat because of black Angus. In reality, red Angus is identical to black Angus, outside of their coat color. Red Angus beef has the same marbling and flavor that black Angus has. 

Other breeds of cattle that produce high-quality steak are Wagyu and Kobe. One ounce of Kobe beef sells for $50 in the United States. The reason Kobe beef is so expensive is that it is rare to find. Kobe beef is raised in a specific area of Japan, whereas Japanese Wagyu is more widely produced.


Angus is a breed of cattle, while Prime is a grading of beef by the USDA. The USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA provides leadership for agriculture, food, natural resources, nutrition, rural development, and related issues based on the best available science and effective management.

The United States Department of Agriculture grades the quality of beef on two different criteria. The degree of intramuscular fat (or marbling) of the beef, and the age or maturity of the cattle at the time of slaughter. Both of these things determine the flavor and quality of the beef.

The USDA has three levels of grading beef. USDA Select, USDA Choice, and USDA Prime are the three categories for beef. USDA Select beef is the lowest grade of beef. It has low marbling and lacks the texture and flavor of higher-quality beef.

USDA Choice beef is the middle-grade beef in the United States. There are large variations in USDA Choice beef, with some cuts more like USDA Select and some more like USDA Prime beef. It is the most common classification for beef.

USDA Prime beef is the highest rating for beef by the USDA. Prime beef has the highest degree of marbling. Less than 2% of the beef in the United States is labeled Prime beef. It is served at high-end restaurants and steakhouses. The high level of marbling delivers the best flavor. 

Prime Rib vs. Angus

Some people get confused between prime rib, prime beef, and Angus beef. These three things are all classifying something different. Prime rib is a cut of beef that can come from any breed of cattle and can have any USDA beef grading.

Prime beef is the grade level awarded by the USDA. Angus is a breed of cattle that produces high-quality beef. It is hard to compare these three things because they all talk about something different.

It is possible to have a cut of prime rib from an Angus cow that is rated prime beef! This would be a very expensive cut of meat. Prime rib is one of the most expensive cuts of beef on the market. Filet mignon is the most expensive cut of beef, with the ribeye steak and prime rib close behind.

Prime rib is cut from the primal rib section between ribs 6 and 12. The section of meat is known for its tender texture and high marbling. Be aware that not all prime ribs will score in the USDA prime beef section. It is important to keep these terms straight. 

Is Angus Choice better than Prime?

No, Angus choice is not better than Prime beef. USDA Choice beef is high-quality meat, but USDA Choice beef is lower grade than USDA Prime beef. Angus cattle produce high-quality meat, but not all of it will make the cut as USDA Prime beef. 

Is certified Angus beef the same as prime beef?

No, certified Angus beef is not the same as Prime. The term Angus beef refers to the breed of cattle the beef came from. It is high-quality beef, but scores in the USDA Select and USDA Choice categories, as well as USDA Prime. It is possible to have certified Angus beef which is USDA prime beef.

Which is better, prime rib or Angus beef?

You cannot compare prime rib and Angus beef. Prime rib is a cut of beef while Angus beef is beef from the Angus breed of cattle. Angus beef is high-quality beef. The prime rib cut from Angus cattle will be very high quality.

Is Angus brisket better than prime?

Brisket is a cut of beef from the breast area of the cow. Brisket is one of the best cuts of meat to cook slowly at a low temperature. When cooked correctly, brisket is unbeatable in tenderness and flavor. A brisket can be graded as USDA Select, USDA Choice, or USDA Prime.