Years ago, when I was learning to drive, my driving instructor told me he used to be a butcher, first in a traditional butchers’ shop and then in a supermarket. As we drove along, he used to tell me all sorts of things about quality meat, from sourcing to packing.
Being a food geek, I listened avidly and learned a lot about why butchers are so often better than supermarkets. The meat is often fresher, it’s not got anything added, and usually it’s fully traceable.
Here are ten good quality butchers who operate online in the UK, who will post your meat order to you in special cold-packed boxes for home delivery. Some specialise in different areas (such as organic or grass-fed meat) and these have been highlighted where applicable.
Online butchers are ideal if you don’t have a local high street butcher, as is sadly so often the case these days. It’s also more convenient to have meat delivered if you’re too busy to go to different places to source good meat. Meat direct from a butcher is often much better quality than you’d find elsewhere, and it’s cheaper than you might think.
1. Donald Russell
Best for: Huge range of frozen meat (and fish) products
Known as “Scotland’s Finest Butcher”, Donald Russell hold the Royal Warrant for supplying the Queen with meat and poultry. They were one of the first butchers to sell online, and are well-established in the home delivery market. All of their beef is grass-fed, and everything is cut by hand.
Unlike some other online butchers who ship meat fresh, Donald Russell ship their items frozen in ‘chill boxes’. This means that they can offer a much wider range of products than an average online butcher such as stuffed and boned roasts, pies, casseroles and many more items made in-house alongside their traditional cuts of meat. They use Feefo for reviews on each item available so you can check for yourself if other people have enjoyed that particular product.
Since they’re Scottish, it’s unsurprising that they have a good selection of Scotch beef such as Aberdeen Angus, available in many steak cuts and as ready-made burgers. If you want to buy fish at the same time, you can. They also offer a variety of seafood, including many items sourced in Scotland, such as crab claws from the Hebrides or Scallops from Shetland.
Their delivery policy offers a wider scope than many other online butchers. They cover the UK mainland, but do also cover further afield such as the Highlands, Ireland and the Channel Islands. Delivery to the UK mainland is free with a minimum spend. Visit the Donald Russell website here.
Best for: Cheap and bulk deals on meat
Musclefood originally started out focusing on sports supplements and high-protein snacks, but then expanded into the online butcher market. For per-unit costs, they are probably the cheapest online butcher in the UK.
If you want to buy meat online in bulk then they are well-known for their multibuy and bulk meat offers. You can buy meat by the kilo – for example, you can opt for 5kg of chicken breasts packaged into pairs for convenience and choose whether you want small, standard or large sized chicken breasts in the order.
Musclefood also stock other popular meat such as mince, steaks and sausages. Those who are watching their fat intake can take advantage of their ‘super lean’ versions of almost anything, from mince to bacon. They specialise in “hampers” where you can mix several meats in bulk at a very competitive price. They sometimes go all-out and offer a buy two, get one free on entire hampers.
They also stock fish, both fresh and frozen, and other snacks, drinks and supplements aimed at those slimming, bodybuilding, or just trying to eat a healthier diet. Every product is individually reviewed by customers so you can see how others have rated everything for taste, value and so on.
Delivery covers most of the UK, except some remote islands – check their site for details. Most products are delivered within 24 hours and you can get SMS confirmations on when to expect it, too. Visit the Musclefood site here.
3. Riverford Organic
Best for: Organic meat and veg boxes in one
Riverford Organic are a popular, well-known brand for their organic vegetable box scheme. However, many people aren’t aware that Riverford also sell organic meat boxes online, too. If you want a ‘catch all’ solution on getting organic food products delivered that are almost recipe-ready without a trip to the shops, then a combo of their veg and meat boxes may be a convenient option.
Riverford only stock 100% organic, free-range meat, all reared in Britain. One option I like is their “quick cook” selection that they offer in both their meat and veg boxes. These are items such as beef fajita strips, quick-fry steaks or chicken mini fillets that are designed to be cooked and ready in under 30 minutes – ideal for busy people who still want to cook from fresh, but not spend ages doing it.
There are many different sizes of box, for single diners up to bulk buys for the family. You can also select items that are in season in the UK if you want to cook seasonal dishes.
Delivery is free for all boxes, though check if they cover your part of the UK first, as they use local people to carry out delivery from various hubs, rather than national couriers. Visit Riverford’s Meat section of their site here.
4. Rendalls Online Butcher
Best for: Scottish meat and pies
Many people are unaware that Scotch beef and Scotch lamb both carry a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), a scheme designed to protect quality agricultural products. It’s the same protection given to other top-notch regional foods such as Parmesan cheese or Melton Mowbray pork pies. I lived in Glasgow for a while and can vouch for Scots meat being of a very high standard.
Rendalls are based in Stirling and is run by two brothers from Orkney. Besides the usual steak, chicken, pork and other products, they also stock their award-winning pies. Instead of steak and ale, they’ve perfected steak and Buckfast – it shouldn’t work, but it does!
Rendalls also stock many exotic meats (obviously not from Scotland), such as zebra and llama if you’re feeling very adventurous. If you’re not, then their offers on popular products are very good – at the time of writing they are running a “fill the freezer for £70” deal containing many different cuts of chicken, pork and beef.
Unlike many other online butchers, they honour their island heritage by delivering to all the Highlands and Islands – it may take a day or two longer, but if you live somewhere in the remotest part of Scotland it’s good to know that you have a native butcher who will serve your area. Visit Rendalls Butcher here.
5. Abel & Cole
Best for: Organic meat, veg and other produce
Abel & Cole started out delivering organic vegetables but have expanded dramatically in the last couple of decades. They still deliver organic veg, but they also now specialise in organic meat and fish, too.
Like Riverford Organics (listed above), this is a good way to get a one-stop shop online for more than one type of product. Their choice of meat boxes can be made by dietary requirements or by how adventurous a cook you are. You can also get a meat and fish combination, or a meat and veg combination. There are no contracts, so you can try a box for just one week, or as many as you like, as a trial.
Besides standard beef, pork and chicken cuts, you can also get wild game such as muntjac and venison, or opt for pre-marinated meats such as chili and garlic beef stir fry strips. They also stock mutton, which is sometimes harder to find.
Combining Abel & Cole’s meat, veg and fish boxes with their pantry and bakery makes for a one-stop organic online shopping experience that is far easier than looking for multiple types of organic goods in high-street supermarkets. Reviews are very good across the board.
Delivery depends on if they have a driver in your area. You can check delivery areas on their site – most of the mainland UK is covered. They have a minimum order threshold, and a small delivery charge, so check their site beforehand.
Best for: High quality meat boxes including accompaniments
Farmison & Co have won ‘Online butcher of the year’ more than once, plus a host of other awards. Their motto is “Eat Better Meat”. All their meat is sourced from heritage breeds raised in the UK, (mostly Northern England) and is cut and butchered to order. They’ll even do a bit of bespoke butchery if you were planning a dinner party or similar, to ensure all portions are the same size.
Farmison’s meat boxes are unlike any other online butcher in that they contain more things than just the cut of meat you’ve ordered. In many cases they’ve teamed up with the high-end wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd to provide the meat, drink and accompaniment all in one, which is great for special occasions. For example, at Easter you can buy a premium lamb rack that comes with artisan mint sauce, Himalayan black salt, and a bottle of fine claret.
For those who want a more standard offering they have a ‘three Sunday roast’ box or a ‘breakfast in bed’ box containing everything you need for such mealtimes. Alternatively, you can order standard meat cuts on their own such as steak, chops, mince, sausages and roasts.
My favourite thing about their site is that you can choose which native breed meat you’d like. For example, if you choose fillet steaks, you can then select whether you’d like a Hereford, Dexter, Aberdeen Angus and so on, including the part of Britain it’s sourced from. I’ve never seen this before in an online butcher and I think it’s great.
Their delivery spend threshold is quite low compared to other butchers and their chilled packaging means it keeps cool for up to 72 hours during delivery. For a supplementary delivery fee they will deliver to the Highlands, Ireland and even further abroad to the continent on request.
Cuisine Seeker Offer: Get £15 off your first order via this link
7. Primal Meats
Best for: Ethical meat eaters, Paleo
Primal Meats are a little different. Based in the Lake District, they offer “nutrient dense” meats for “eco-omnivore” diets. This means that their meat is sourced from very high welfare farms, and the animals are 100% pasture raised. They are a good option for anyone who wants a more ethical way of eating meat.
Every cut of meat has its own QR code where you can trace everything about the animal, right back to the farm – with pictures and details of the farm’s management practises. Most of the products stocked by Primal Meats are certified both organic and ‘Pasture for Life’ standards.
Alongside common cuts of beef, pork and chicken I was delighted to see bone broth, goose and one of my favourite meats – hogget – offered too. Those who can’t decide what to eat, or who like surprises, will appreciate their meat box deliveries as these have been well thought out and use many parts of the animal to avoid waste. There are some for couples, some for feeding families and some that are “surprise”, allowing you to try new ideas and different cuts.
Deliveries are roughly weekly, at a flat rate – check their site for details. They are a small business sourcing from a small number of high-quality farms, so many of their products are prepared to order, and this sometimes take a little longer. If you don’t mind waiting for sustainable, more nutritious meat, then Primal Meats are well worth considering.
Best for: Buying locally produced meat online
Cuisine Seeker Offer: Get 20% off your first order via this link
Heartier is an unconventional website since they’re not just one butcher offering deliveries from one warehouse – their meat is sourced from a number of hand-picked quality producers across the country instead. They call themselves “everyone’s local farm shop”.
Due to Heartier’s network of local producers, their range is broader than the average online butcher. For example, you can order a whole animal, separated into recommended cuts and joints should you wish (and if you have the freezer room!)
You can buy individual cuts as you would at a butcher’s shop, or you can opt for one of their selection boxes or hampers instead. They frequently run discount offers on different types of meat, making it a good way to stock up for a competitive price. Every product page tells you the breed, the producer and the origin of the meat.
Delivery covers most of the UK mainland but not the Highlands and Islands, and is free over a certain amount. Note that deliveries aren’t made on Mondays or Sundays.
Cuisine Seeker Offer: Get 20% off your first order via this link.
9. The Great British Meat Company
Best for: all round popular cuts of meat and bulk buys
The Great British Meat Company call themselves “Britain’s favourite online butcher” and it’s not hard to see why. They have consistently good reviews across the board for their meat, service and prices. All their meat is British, and their selection centres around the products you’d usually look for in a butcher: steaks, burgers, sausages and popular joints and roasts.
The Great British Meat Company are particularly good if you want to get cheap bulk deals; ideal if you can freeze or store a lot of meat at home in your freezer. They also have a ‘lean’ section for those buying meat for a high-protein diet.
Unlike some other online butchers on this list, they don’t delve into many specialist areas such as game, charcuterie or associated products like pies. However, if you’re just looking for a simple, affordable meat source for common purchases then they are a good option.
Delivery is free over a certain amount and they deliver UK-wide with the exception of some Highland and Island postcodes – check their site for details.
10. Grid Iron Meat
Best for: Quality steak, hard to find cuts and great service
If you’re into steak, Grid Iron Meat should be one of your first points of call. There’s steak, and then there’s grass-fed native breed steak aged for 28 days in a Himalayan salt chamber. This means a superb flavour and texture. Their prices are very competitive compared to any ‘ordinary’ steak you’re likely to find in a supermarket. They also stock many traditional cuts of chicken (all free range), lamb, pork, smoked products and charcuterie.
Grid Iron Meat have a variety of cuts available that are sometimes hard to find, for example, whole beef briskets, or pork trotters. I was really happy to see these cuts as usually you have to ‘order them in’, even from a high street butcher. If you’re a keen chef or home-smoker you’ll also appreciate that they cater to this market by offering pork shoulders and other cuts ideal for smoking and curing.
All their products come locally sourced from North Yorkshire, are native breeds, and are prepped the day before dispatch so that they are delivered to you freshly butchered. They pride themselves on emulating the local butcher experience via the internet, so you can order special items or indeed, ask them anything!
Delivery is free within a certain radius in North Yorkshire and is otherwise free in the UK if you spend over a certain amount. Check beforehand if you’re in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland as some postcodes are restricted due to the perishable nature of the products.