How to Grill Bison Steaks

June 30, 2023

Warm weather is upon us.That means it’s time to start breaking out your grilling essentials. And no grilling session is complete without the perfect protein contender — bison! 

Here we’ll break down all things bison, from the history of bison in America to its massively long list of health benefits and even how to properly grill your next bison steak. So keep reading to be fully schooled on what you need to know to be ready for your next cookout. Your guests (and your stomach) will thank you.


Bison: A Native American Staple

Did you know that bison, a type of bovine, have been a coveted source of food, clothing, and shelter to the American people since the dawn of American civilization? 

While there were once estimated to be over 60 million bison; sadly, by the late 1800s there were only believed to be less than 300 bison remaining, leaving them nearing extinction. Thankfully, the bison population has been rapidly increasing since then! In fact, the American bison was declared the national mammal of the United States in 2016. 

Today, approximately 25% of the American bison population are found in North Dakota and South Dakota. 

One of our partners, Cheyenne River Buffalo Company, is tribally owned by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has developed one of the largest herds of bison in the nation. Respect, sustainability, and humane treatment of the buffalo are at the core of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s ethos. Bison have the freedom to roam and graze along the Native grasses, as well as the natural prairie, just like they have been for centuries.

Why is this important? It aids in maintaining the bison’s natural health and nutrition. This deep respect for both bison and their home makes our bison steaks the best in the nation. 

We've been partnering with Native and Indigenous ranchers to simplify the supply chain, making it easier for you to obtain bison. We focus on nurturing the relationship between local communities and Native producers. 

Many of ready-made Tocabe Harvest Meals™ feature bison.



How Bison is Becoming the Beef Alternative

Many people are not privy to bison, including its versatility and vast health benefits. So please allow us to drop some Bison 101 knowledge.

Do you love eating beef because of its pairing so well with red wine? Do you know what else pairs well with red wine? Yes, friend, you got it right – Bison is hearty and pairs excellently with red wine.

Are you often left feeling like you swallowed a lead weight after eating beef? Guess what? Bison is significantly leaner than beef so rather than dealing with that unwanted heaviness from eating beef, you will be left feeling light and satisfied!

The natural rich taste of bison can easily outshine a beef burger, filet, or New York Strip. Bison, the only bovine Native to North America, is an Indigenous food that you need to add to your kitchen must-haves.


Health Benefits of Bison

When it comes to choosing a protein, bison should be your top choice. Here’s why: 

  • Bison need more land to graze on than beef. Beef cattle eat the entire grass plant while Bison eat just the top of the grass, allowing it to continue to grow.
  • Bison contains approximately ¾ less fat than that of its beef counterparts. This makes its health benefits greater than that of beef. However, this could make it more challenging to cook unless you know how to properly cook it (which we will teach you later in this article). 
  • Bison is a wonderful choice if you are seeking a lot of nutrition without all the unwanted extra calories. 
  • Only a 3.5oz portion of bison contains 28g of protein which will fuel your body with all 20 essential amino acids that your body needs which also aids in your body’s natural ability to build and repair your muscles. So for any of you who love exercising and eating healthy, this can be your next go-to protein option.
  • If you are looking to build muscle, the natural source of creatine found in bison makes it a crucial component for your diet routine. 
  • Bison will even provide men with 40% of their daily iron intake and provide women with 20% of their daily iron intake. 
  • By eating one serving of bison per day, you will be fueling your body with the daily required amount of vitamin B12.
  • Some additional vitamins and minerals you will receive from eating bison include: vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamine, and selenium. 
  • As far as flavor is concerned, bison is both rich and sweet, which makes it a delicious addition to your next dinner menu!
  • Bison contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which possess anti-inflammatory properties you will not receive from other protein sources, such as fish, chicken, turkey, or pork. 
  • Compared to beef, bison meat is better for consumption because it reduces inflammation and helps to lower oxidative stress, making bison the better choice for promoting a healthy heart and healthy blood vessels. 


Choosing the Best Bison Meat for Your Meal

With all of the amazing health benefits from eating bison, it is no surprise that it is rapidly becoming so popular in Americans’ homes. 

Whether you are a bison-eating regular or you are completely new to the bison scene, it is important to know how to choose the best type of bison meat for your upcoming meals. 

Here is a list of the various cuts of bison meat you can buy directly from our Native American market and the key qualities of each: 

  • Bison Filet Medallions – These medallions are a family favorite as they are a winner in all of the following categories: tenderness, nutrition, and flavor! This is a great-quality meat to have in the dinner queue. . 
  • Bison Ribeye Steaks – The perfect big, juicy steak! This cut of meat will contain more marbling with some extra fat contributing to its flavor and tenderness. 
  • Bison New York Strip Steaks – These are smaller steaks than ribeyes with less marbling, leaving you with a tender and lean cut of meat. 
  • Bison Top Sirloin Medallions – A lean and hearty steak. Not quite as tender as the other cuts of steak offered, but what it lacks in tenderness is made up for in flavor. 

Our Tocabe Indigenous Market offers two different bundle options including these delicious cuts of bison steak: 

  1. Cooking for Two Bundle – Grass Fed Bison
  2. Feast Bundle – Grass Fed Bison


General Rules of Cooking with Bison

As aforementioned, bison has to be cooked carefully. Since it is a leaner source of protein, compared to other types of red meat, it is easier to overcook. 

The thinner cuts of bison can benefit from being broiled, pan fried, or grilled. Larger cuts of bison that are naturally leaner in fat content are often better cooked by being stewed or braised. 

Bison, in general, is a rather versatile protein as it can even be used as ground meat, which makes for excellent burgers. If you are craving pasta, ground bison is wonderful when used for meatballs or in other pasta sauces. It is also a magnificent component in stroganoff or atop your favorite nachos! 

Ground bison meat should generally be cooked within 2-3 days of purchase. Larger cuts of bison should generally be cooked within 3-5 days of purchase. It is best to stick to these time frames unless you choose to freeze your bison meat. Bison meat will usually last about a few months in the freezer but should be thawed and cooked within that time frame to remain fresh and safe. 


How to Grill Bison Steaks: In 10 Easy to Follow Steps!

Now, to get to the “meat” of this article… grilling with bison. Here are some important tips to reference during your next cookout:

  1. Remember that bison has a lower fat content than other red meats, and it will cook FASTER. 
  2. Bison meat is considered to be “at its best” when it is cooked between “rare” and “medium”. 
  3. If you are using a GRILL: it is best to cook your bison steak over medium-hot coals. Set your grill grate at a distance of four to six inches from the coals. Also, make sure that the grill grates are clean and oiled prior to grilling.
  4. It is necessary to cook your bison steaks to an internal temperature between 110 - 130 degrees fahrenheit to ensure it is cooked properly, so it is essential to keep a meat thermometer on hand when grilling. 


RARE = 110-120 degrees fahrenheit

MEDIUM-RARE = 121-125 degrees fahrenheit

MEDIUM = 126-130 degrees fahrenheit


  1. Season your bison steaks generously. Need a new dry rub for your bison? Add one of these dry rubs from our Indigenous Marketplace to your pantry staples: Tocabe House Dry Rub (OR) Tocabe Bison Rub. Either of these dry rub options is a win!
  2. DO NOT do the “knife test” (cutting a small hole in the center to see what color it is) on bison steaks. The flesh of a bison steak does not turn to a gray-brown color as fast as it would for a beef steak. When a bison steak reaches the “medium-rare” status, it will appear to still look “rare” in the center. When cooking bison, remember that less is more.. 
  3. When you place your seasoned bison steak on the grill, allow it to sit for 3 minutes. 
  4. Do not disturb the meat while it is grilling. When the 3 minutes have passed, flip the bison steak over to allow it to cook on the other side for 3 more minutes. 
  5. Remove the bison steak from the hot part of the grill and place it on a cooler part of the grill. From here, grill the bison steak for another 6-8 minutes to reach “medium-rare” status. The bison steaks are considered done when they have reached an internal temperature of 130 degrees fahrenheit in the center of the steak. 
  6.  Remove steaks from the grill and allow them to rest on a cutting board. Cover the steaks with loosely laid aluminum foil. Once they have rested on the cutting board for 10 minutes, slice the steaks against the grain and serve!

Try Tocabe Today – for Bison and Other Indigenous Sourced Food!

As we are sure you have noticed, bison meat is growing in popularity in the United States. You may have even seen it offered at one of your favorite restaurants, like Tocabe - An American Indian Eatery, conveniently located in North Denver, Colorado.

Next time you find yourself in Colorado, pop in and try a Tocabe favorite – Bison Ribs! Our bison ribs are braised in house-made bison stock, glazed, and grilled with Rotating Berry BBQ Sauce… Is your mouth watering yet? Come by and try our many Indigenous food staples. Our Indigenous restaurant also offers an array of other delicious Indigenous sourced foods, like Indian Tacos, Melting Pot Salad, Grilled Bannock and Medicine Wheel Nachos, to name a few!  

At Tocabe, we take time to select only the best ingredients for your meal. Our team is continually in search of the highest quality ingredients sourced from like-minded producers and vendors. We are excited about partnerships with Native and Indigenous producers, as well as vendors on a local level who share our values. To us, ingredients don’t just make the food, they tell the story behind it.

If you are not located in Colorado, you can still experience Tocabe in the convenience of your own home! In addition to offering grass-fed bison, our Tocabe Native American food store features some delicious options for making the absolute perfect sides to accompany your grilled bison.

If you're in the mood for beans, try our heirloom black, brown or white tepary beans, or try out our pinto beans. 

Our Indigenous Marketplace also offers some go-to grains, including Canadian Lake Harvest Wild Rice, Red Lake Nation Cultivated Wild Rice, Red Lake Nation Quick Cook Wild Rice, and White Sonoran Wheat Berry

If you’re looking for a lighter side dish, try some thinly sliced fresh cucumber soaked in our elderberry balsamic vinegar, freshly ground black pepper, and our cedar smoked sea salt. Allow it to soak in the cool air of your refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. This is an amazing side dish option for backyard barbeque get-togethers.

Keep this article handy for the next time you fire up your grill so you can cook those bison steaks to perfection! And don’t forget to stock up on your favorite Native American foods, beforehand, from our Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace.

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