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How To Cook Wagyu Steak

Wagyu beef is honestly unlike any other beef you’re going to find in the world. It has unparalleled marbling that ensures a one-of-a-kind taste and tenderness. However, it also costs a pretty penny or three, so you want to make sure you know how to cook Wagyu beef properly. Do you need to cook Wagyu steaks differently …

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How To Cook Wagyu Steak
Wagyu Ribeyes on the Right. AAA Sirloin on the Left. Finishing a reverse sear.

Wagyu beef is honestly unlike any other beef you’re going to find in the world. It has unparalleled marbling that ensures a one-of-a-kind taste and tenderness. However, it also costs a pretty penny or three, so you want to make sure you know how to cook Wagyu beef properly. Do you need to cook Wagyu steaks differently than your normal grocery store steaks? Can you buy Wagyu beef other than steaks? If so, do you have to cook that special? We will answer all those general Waygu questions.

One of the most notable features of Wagyu beef is its taste. The amount of fat, whether you’ve got genuine Japanese Wagyu, cross-bred American Wagyu, or Australian Wagyu, gives Wagyu beef a rich taste that most people compare to butter. When we reviewed The Meatery’s Wagyu ribeyes, we joked that we here at Angry BBQ were going to become the wine snobs of beef. It’s a truly life-changing experience if you’re a fan of steak. 

So you want to capitalize on the amount of money you’ve spent on Wagyu beef as well as the flavor that makes it so unique. Let’s take a look at how you should season Wagyu beef, the different cuts of Wagyu, and how to cook Wagyu steaks and the other cuts. 

How To Season Wagyu Beef To Maximize The Flavor

There are plenty of types of meat that don’t bring a whole lot to the flavor party. Chicken, turkey, and even some pork are fairly mild in flavor, so you want to maximize flavor through rubs, sauces, and injections. There are other meats, mostly beef, that you want to let the flavor of the meat shine through with minimal seasonings.

Then there’s Wagyu beef. You want that buttery flavor to shine through. It’s not as strong a flavor as, say, Angus beef, but it’s so incredibly distinctive you want to maximize it. 

The best way to do that is by seasoning your Wagyu beef with kosher salt and black pepper. However, unlike a traditional brisket or beef rib, you do not want to go incredibly heavy with the black pepper on most cuts of Wagyu beef. The meat is absolutely the star when it comes to Wagyu, but the flavor isn’t strong enough to hold up to the copious amounts of black pepper we associate with Texas-style barbecue on most cuts.

Raw Picanha aka Top Sirloin Cap
Mike seasoning AAA Top Sirloin Cap Steaks with Kosher Salt. Add the pepper after the cook so it doesn’t burn.

There are some exceptions, however. American Wagyu beef, due to being predominantly cross-bred with Angus beef, does have a bit more of a beefy flavor than Japanese Wagyu beef. That means the American Wagyu brisket and short ribs available on The Meatery’s website can hold up to more seasonings. 

Regardless of whether you’re going for minimum or maximum seasonings, stick with the old standby of coarse salt and coarse ground black pepper. It’s going to deliver whether you’re using a little to just give your Wagyu steaks a pop or a lot for Texas-style Wagyu brisket.

Pro Tip When Seasoning Steak

Black Pepper burns very quickly. It is best to only salt the steak before the cook, then add pepper after the cook is done. Pan searing steak will surely burn the pepper and it is quite possible on a grill as well.

Wait, There’s More Than Wagyu Steaks?

It’s hard to believe, but yes, there is more to Wagyu beef than just steaks. We’ve talked a bit about Wagyu steaks here at Angry BBQ, but we’d be neglecting some amazing options if we just limited ourselves to steaks. 

You can find briskets, short ribs, ground beef, sausage, beef cheeks, Korean-style chuck short ribs (also known as flanken ribs,) Tri Tips, prime rib roasts, and chuck roasts on The Meatery’s website to just give an overview of some of the non-steak cuts of Wagyu beef.

There’s also a wide variety of Wagyu steaks available. As we stated earlier, we had the pleasure of trying some Wagyu ribeye steaks. You can find New York strips, filet mignon, Monsterhawks (what we typically call Tomahawks,) Denver steaks, flat iron, sirloin, skirt steaks, hanger steaks, and picanha, all in Wagyu form. While Wagyu steaks (and likely Wagyu  ribeye steaks) are iconic, don’t limit yourself to only one version. 

So now that we know there are a lot of different options, how do you cook Wagyu beef? Let’s start off with steaks.

How To Cook Wagyu Steaks

When it comes to Wagyu steaks, there are essentially two ways to cook them, and it’s based largely on how thick the steaks are. Before we dive into those methods, we need to consider what level of doneness we should be looking for in Wagyu steaks.

How Done Should We Cook Wagyu Steaks?

Usually here at Angry BBQ, we’re big fans of personal preferences. Do you want a rare steak? Go for it. A well-done steak? We’ll look at you with a side-eye but we’ll mostly bite our tongues. However, Wagyu is a different animal unto itself (literally and figuratively.) You want to fully appreciate the tenderness and the flavor. That means you want to cook Wagyu steaks to medium-rare or medium so all that fat content that makes Wagyu iconic can render. That’s between 130-135°F for medium-rare and 135-145°F for medium.

Steak Doneness Chart

Sure, you can cook them rare, but the fat won’t render enough to get the full experience. If you go well done, you’re going to lose out on that incredible tenderness. 

One way to help improve your Wagyu steak-cooking experience is by letting your steaks come up to room temperature after seasoning. It will help your steak cook more evenly whether it’s a thicker or thinner steak.

How To Cook Thinner Wagyu Steaks

Now that we’ve talked about the doneness level, back to the actual cooking processes. If you’re cooking Wagyu steaks that are less than an inch thick, you’ll want to go with a hot and fast method by pan-searing your steaks. This ensures that you’ll get a great sear on the exterior and you’ll cook the center of the steak just enough. You can do this with a hot cast iron skillet or a flat-top griddle like the Camp Chef Flat Top 600.

You don’t need to cover the skillet or griddle with butter or oil as you might with a normal steak. The amount of fat in a Wagyu steak will give it plenty of fat during the searing  process. This means there’s no need to stand over your steak and spoon butter with  garlic,  thyme, and rosemary over your steak as it cooks. Want more tips? Check out our grilling the perfect steak guide.

How To Cook Thicker Wagyu Steaks

If you’re cooking a thicker Wagyu steak, like a 16oz ribeye or a Monsterhawk, you need to ensure that both the interior and exterior are cooked properly. On a thinner steak, that’s not a problem. On a thicker steak, you could potentially leave the middle raw or rare while getting a great sear on the exterior. You also could burn up the exterior while trying to reach the proper internal temperature.

So how do you manage that? By reverse searing your steak. It’s how I cooked my Wagyu  ribeyes, and it’s a great way to ensure proper levels of doneness. You start by cooking the steak low and slow. That can be done in an oven, but using a smoker for reverse searing adds a beautiful note of wood smoke to your meat. 

Reverse Searing Steaks
Starting the reverse sear with some smoke at low temps, bringing the steaks up to

You need to keep an eye on the internal temperature throughout this process. I used my INKBIRD IBT-26S digital meat thermometer to remotely monitor the temperature, but you could periodically check with an instant-read thermometer. You’ll want to ideally pull your steaks out of the oven or off the smoker about 20-25 degrees before your target temperature.

Then you want to make sure you’ve got your cast iron pan, flat top griddle, or grill preheated  over medium-high heat. You don’t want to scorch the exterior of the steak, you want to sear  it. Let your steaks rest for about 5-10 minutes during the preheating process. Once your preferred cooking surface is hot and ready, add your steaks. You’ll want to sear them for around a minute a side and make sure you sear the edges as well. 

Once you’ve got a beautifully browned crust, remove your steaks from the heat and take them to the cutting board to slice and serve. There’s no need to rest since you’re only cooking the exterior during the searing step and you rested the steaks after the low-and-slow cooking portion which allows the juices to redistribute back throughout the steak.

Finished cooking wagyu ribeye steak.

Can You Grill Wagyu Steaks?

When we discussed the hot and fast method for cooking Wagyu steaks, we mentioned that a cast iron skillet or a griddle are your best options. We did mention that you can finish a reverse-seared Wagyu steak on a grill. In fact, that’s how Michael Haas finished his Wagyu  ribeye steaks. 

So why didn’t we discuss a charcoal grill or gas grill for just searing a thinner Wagyu steak? While you absolutely can do that, the sheer amount of marbling on one of these steaks can complicate matters. The potential for flare-ups is greater than normal steaks, even a well-marbled Angus ribeye. 

We’re big fans of safety, whether that’s ensuring your food is safe to eat or you and your loved ones are safe during the cooking process. If you’re confident that you know your gas or charcoal grill well and can handle flare-ups well, then by all means, grill your Wagyu steaks. I love the taste of meat over a charcoal fire, and a Wagyu steak cooked perfectly over  charcoal will have another layer of great flavor.

How To Cook Wagyu Beef That Isn’t Steak

While we all think of steaks when we think of Wagyu, there are still plenty of other cuts of Wagyu beef to explore. For the most part, these cuts will behave like their more-standard beef counterparts. 

How To Cook Wagyu Brisket (And Wagyu Chuck Roast)

If you get your hands on an American Wagyu brisket (or Australian Wagyu chuck roast,) you’ll want to treat them much like you would the briskets or chuck roasts you would purchase at your local grocery store or supermarket. We are big fans of Texas-Style brisket, so check out our recipe that you can easily use for Wagyu brisket.

Check out Meatery’s brisket below.

If you’re wondering why we lumped in Wagyu chuck roast with the brisket then chances are you haven’t heard of poor man’s brisket. While chuck roast is typically more expensive per pound than brisket, the sheer difference in size between a chuck roast and a packer brisket means you’ll save money purchasing chuck roasts. 

Thankfully chuck roasts have a similar flavor and marbling profile to the point of brisket. We’ve even got a recipe for smoked chuck roast that will taste pretty darn close to a brisket that you could use for Wagyu chuck roasts. You can also cook your chuck roast in a slow cooker with liquid for more of a traditional pot roast. 

As for cooking Wagyu burgers, hot and fast on a skillet or griddle is best, much like Wagyu steaks. 

Wrapping It Up

When it comes to cooking Wagyu beef, don’t let it intimidate you. The price tag is hefty, but it’s not hard to cook. You can take all the knowledge you’ve accumulated about cooking steaks or brisket and apply it to their Wagyu counterparts. 

You just need to remember two important things when it comes to cooking Wagyu beef and especially Wagyu steaks. You do not want to over season the meat because you really want the unique flavor of Wagyu to shine. You also want to make sure you cook Wagyu steaks to the proper temperature, medium-rare to medium, so you can experience the proper  tenderness and flavor from the rendered fat.

Have you cooked Wagyu beef before? What’s your go-to for cooking Wagyu steaks? Smoked a Wagyu brisket? Let us know in the comments! 

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