The Reason You May Not Find Dry-Aged Steak At The Grocery Store

If headed to a high-end steakhouse, you'll likely notice signature, pricey dishes described as "dry-aged beef." Go to the grocery store, however, and there won't be many dry aged steaks available at the butcher counter. This may feel like a bit of a mystery, since so many steak connoisseurs sing the praises of this meat preparation style. If it is so delicious, why doesn't every meat supplier have it available for home consumption?

The reason is a complex one. Dry-aged beef is, as the name suggests, aged, meaning it takes a long time to prepare. As the meat dry ages, it forms a hard outer crust, with natural enzymes beginning to break down the inner muscle tissue, rendering the steak extra tender and more richly flavorful. 

According to meat refrigeration company Steak Locker, the ideal amount of time to dry age beef is between 21 and 45 days under specific, controlled conditions; this is a process most grocery stores may not want to be bothered with, as it takes up valuable refrigerator space. Carnivore Style notes that as beef dry-ages, it loses some of its weight in moisture, so even though it can be priced higher for its quality, there is less to charge for per pound. Another strike against dry-aged steak in grocery stores is that people typically aren't willing to pay the premium price such an extravagantly-prepped meat would cost.

Dry-aged beef at home

So, where can you get a dry-aged steak if you're looking to recreate a steakhouse quality dish at home? Carnivore Style explains that, while you might not be able to walk into your typical Kroger or Safeway store and buy a dry-age steak at the counter, some higher end grocery stores, like select Whole Foods locations, do offer these types of beef, and others will take special orders. Additionally, there are many wholesale butcher shops which take online orders and can deliver frozen, dry-aged steaks right to your door.

If you're feeling more creative, you could try to dry-age your own steak at home using basic kitchen supplies. Poor Man's Gourmet Kitchen explains that any store-bought steaks can be dry-aged in a home refrigerator as long as they are dry, protected from other contaminants in the fridge, and have even exposure to cool air. This means you can wrap up your own roast in plastic and leave it in the crisper on a pan and wire rack to ensure equal air exposure; within a few weeks, you'll be able to carve up and pan sear your own dry-aged steaks.