Red Angus Beef Vs Black Angus: What's The Difference?

Black Angus is a term you probably hear thrown around a lot when it comes to beef. Along with Wagyu, it's a label that many people associate with quality, almost like a luxury brand name for the perfect steak. Similarly, a label commonly seen on beef products is Angus. In reality, Angus simply refers to another type of beef that meets specific requirements, such as a fat thickness of 1 inch or less (per U.S. Department of Agriculture). Still, the idea of Angus beef you might have is not totally wrong — it is known for characteristics chefs appreciate, like excellent marbling, which has made it the most popular type of beef cattle in the U.S (via AG Daily).

The cattle world is full of variety, with more than 70 breeds recognized in the United States alone. Each one of those breeds has distinct characteristics that often come from decades — if not centuries — of selective breeding. That is hard enough for a real rancher to keep track of, let alone the average consumer who is browsing at the supermarket, but it gets even harder when examining specific breeds. You might not have even heard of Red Angus, but according to Cattle.com, its numbers are growing as it becomes a more profitable breed. What differences can you expect from Red Angus beef?

Black angus and red angus are are nearly identical breeds

The reality is that the color of Black Angus cows is mostly an accident of history and does not have much effect on the beef itself. Black Angus cows are from a line called Aberdeen-Angus, and a Scottish farmer named Hugh Watson was trying to improve his herd. According to Oklahoma State University, Watson's favored breeding bull was black, even though his other Angus cows were a variety of colors — he simply decided he would try and breed for a black coat. After Black Angus cows crossed the Atlantic, the American Angus Association formed and originally forbade the registering of Red Angus cows within the organization, hurting their popularity (via Western Livestock Journal).

Red Angus cattle have survived because, as the Red Angus Association notes, the red coat is a recessive gene. Outside the U.S., most countries register Red and Black Angus cows as the same breed. Outside of their coat, the breeds truly are the same, and that extends to the meat. Karpeten Meat says Red Angus beef is identical to Black Angus, and AG Daily adds that Red Angus has the same valuable mix of well-marbled meat and flavor. When you are looking to make a great steak, looking out for Angus is a good choice, but neither Red nor Black should steer you wrong.