The Great Debate: Wet Aging or Dry Aging

Raw filet, new york, and ribeye on a cutting board surrounded by vegetables

Why age steak? Beef, among other things (like wine and cheese), gets even better when aged….but not the kind of aging where you just leave it in your refrigerator for months. That’s just plain gross.

Aging beef allows for the enzymes in the meat to break down the hard connective tissues and for water to evaporate, resulting in meat that is far more flavorful and tender. 

If you’re a fan of steak, you’re a fan of aged steak.

But who cares about dry aging and wet aging beef and why would you want to read about these strange processes?

Well, if you’re considering investing in some good steak, like the BEST steak, then you should know the differences between the two. 

Dry Aging Beef - What is it?

Dry aging is the older method of aging meat of the two. It consists of letting the meat hang in a controlled refrigerated environment kept at barely above freezing. The meat is left to hang there for weeks, allowing water to evaporate. 

Yes, it sounds...odd.

The reason for this though is that it condenses the meat and greatly enhances the flavors. 

A pro of this type of aged beef is that it is considered to be the “blue cheese” of beef because of the concentrated flavor, resulting in roasted and nutty flavors. 

A con of this type of aged beef is that it is more expensive because when the meat loses the moisture it shrinks, resulting in a higher cost per pound. Also, they have to “face” each cut, which essentially means that they have to slicer the outer crust off the sides. 


Keep in Mind: 

Dry aged steak = more intense flavors. Yes, dry aged is more expensive, but if you are in it for some intense flavor and not just the texture of a savory steak, this may be what you’re looking for. 

Wet Aging - What is it?

Wet aging is the newest method, and is far more popular these days, as it is less expensive. In this process, the steak is vacuum-sealed in plastic and aged for 4-10 days, or sometimes longer. The enzymes are trapped and they breakdown the tissues and increase tenderness. 

This is different from dry aging because moisture does not get lost in this process. It’s a less concentrated flavor, but it’s more affordable and juicier. This can result in a fresh and slightly metallic taste, but it’s what most people are used to these days as it is the lesser expensive of the two. Unless the label specifies otherwise, the meat that you get from the store is probably wet aged. 

Keep in Mind: 

Wet aged steak = more affordable and juicer. Although there might be a slight metallic taste, you might be used to it and not even notice it.

Be bold. Eat outside of the box. 

Experiment with dry and wet aged steaks, and then experiment with the different cuts.

What really tantalizes those tastebuds of your when it comes to picking out the perfect steak?


READ NEXT: How to Choose the Best Cut of Steak