Any beef connoisseur will tell you that few things taste as good as a well-prepared cut of beef. When it comes to choosing the best type of beef though, Wagyu and Angus are high on the comparison lists.
There are lots of people who have heard of A5 Wagyu, Kobe beef, and Matsuzaka, but there are still many who do not know exactly what Wagyu and Angus beef are.
Deciding which is better between the Wagyu and Angus cuts is not easy. There is no definitive answer here. In fact, most people actually can’t tell the difference. If you’re a beef aficionado though, choosing your favorite comes down to several factors, some of which include, personal taste, preferred levels of marbling, and type of cut you prefer.
Let’s look at what differentiates Wagyu and Angus, what similarities they share as well as which is better for smoking and cooking. We’ll also take a look at their key features which determines their grading.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Makes Wagyu Beef Taste so Different?
- 2 The Primary Differences Between Wagyu and Angus
- 3 Are There Any Similarities?
- 4 Which One is Healthier?
- 5 Which One Makes the Better Steak?
- 6 Which Cut is Best for Cooking?
- 7 American Wagyu—The Best of Both Worlds
- 8 Grading—Which is Higher?
- 9 A Final Thought
What Makes Wagyu Beef Taste so Different?
The simple reason Wagyu beef tastes so different to regular beef is quite simple. The cattle are fed an estimated four times more than other cattle. This excess feeding gives the beef its very different but more enhanced flavor. It also gives the meat a richer texture that is very different from other beef products.
When looking at the differences between Wagyu beef vs Angus beef there are some key features. To simplify, we’ve listed the key features in this nifty comparison table below. It should make it easier to compare the most noteworthy differences and similarities between the two kinds of beef.
|Country of Origin||Japan||Originally Scotland, but America has its own herds|
|Breed||Combination of four Japanese cow breeds (also referred to as Shorthorn, Poll, Brown and Black)||Angus is one American cattle breed|
|Monosaturated Fat Content||Omega 3 & 6||High in Zinc and Vitamin B12|
|Marbling content||More than USDA Prime – usually has a marbling score of up to 12||In general, the marbling score averages 5.|
|Cost to Produce||Expensive since it needs to be imported. Stringent regulations pertaining to the raising and slaughtering of these cattle add to the cost.||Affordable as it’s produced locally|
|General cost||Very exclusive, making it expensive||Branded as the most economical beef in the US|
|General preparation time||Takes longer to smoke and grill because of the higher fat content.||Prepared as regular beef|
|Primary Cuts||Can be used for brisket and steak due to its high marbling.||Commonly used for hamburgers and steaks|
The Primary Differences Between Wagyu and Angus
If you know anything about the beef you’ll know that Wagyu and Angus are both regarded as superior beef products. Both are easily renowned for their high quantities of marbling. But, what exactly makes them different? Let’s have a look at some of the key differences.
What is Wagyu?
The term Wagyu is quite simply translated as Japanese cow. There are four different breeds of cows native to Japan, and these various breeds make up the Wagyu category. Popularly the sirloin meat is the most sought after and is most commonly used to make Wagyu steak.
A tender layering of marbling surrounds the loin which gives the cut a characteristic taste that has become known worldwide as the characteristic taste of Japanese beef.
But, it doesn’t end with a deliciously unique taste. Wagyu beef has been proven to be healthy for you as well. Wagyu boasts a higher concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 which as you know are monounsaturated fats. Yes, the good fats!
Four different Japanese black cattle strains make up the Wagyu beef market. The best of these cattle herds are labeled as what is known as Kobe beef. These are the strains that will produce beef with the most marbling and highest quality standards.
Only about 3,000 cows per year make it to the Kobe beef list. This is part of the reason why Kobe beef is so sought after across the world.
What is Angus?
Black Angus, or Angus as it’s more famously called, is the name given to the breed of cattle most popular in the United States. In short, Angus is a single breed of cattle whereas Wagyu is made up of several different breeds. In general, Angus beef has more layers of marbling, but less fat.
Since the fat is more evenly distributed, the meat as a whole is tenderer and juicier than ordinary beef. Angus beef is also packed with iron and zinc, both very essential for healthy growth metabolism. Angus beef is also a good source of vitamin B12.
Angus beef is a popular choice for hamburgers. It’s well marbled and retains moisture for longer, giving it that juicy flavor you expect from good hamburger meat. Not to mention incredibly tasty!
When it comes to Angus beef vs regular beef, Angus wins hands down. The additional fat that’s distributed in the form of more marbling across the meat makes the cut juicer and more tender.
Are There Any Similarities?
The biggest similarity between Wagyu and Angus is the high marbling content. This makes both cuts of beef a good choice for any meal. The extra marbling adds to the flavor and tenderness that both types of beef are known for.
Which One is Healthier?
If you’re a beef connoisseur who prefers certain types of beef above others, the good news is that restaurants are starting to specify the type of beef they’re using in their menus. This means that you’ll be able to enjoy a burger made with your favorite cut of beef, just the way you like it.
However, deciding if you prefer Wagyu or Angus can be narrowed down to two simple factors. The first being how much stock you put into the healthy food option. The second is which taste and level of marbling you prefer.
When it Comes to Health
Healthwise, Wagyu beef is considerably healthier. With four times more monounsaturated fat, enjoying a Wagyu steak will give you a good boost of omega-3 and omega-6. In general, omega-3 maintains your heart health by managing blood pressure levels and cholesterol.
When it Comes to Taste
If it’s the taste you’re after, a beef cut with a lot of marbling adds additional flavor as the fat melts into the meat. Marbling also serves to keep the meat moist because fat is more tender than the muscle fiber found in steak. On this front, Wagyu trumps Angus again.
Angus beef usually has a marbling score of around five. In general, Wagyu boasts a marbling score of up to 12. It’s this high marbling score that gives Wagyu its exquisite taste and unsurpassed tenderness.
Which One Makes the Better Steak?
When comparing Wagyu and Kobe, you may be asking which one makes a better steak? Since Japanese Wagyu and Kobe cattle have a more unique genetic make-up, the meat contains more fatty acids than regular beef. To be classed as Kobe beef, Wagyu beef has to pass very stringent requirements during slaughter. These standards increase the quality of the meat.
So, when it comes to deciding between Wagyu and Kobe, Kobe would be the preferred favorite for many steak aficionados. This means the steak made from these cuts of beef from these cattle will generally produce a much more tender steak than that of the Angus.
Which Cut is Best for Cooking?
There is not a definitive answer to this question. Both Wagyu and Angus are famous for their amazingly tender, juicy, and flavorful cuts. Beef aficionados might argue that wagyu beef is by far a cut above the rest because of its marbling, thereby creating a very distinctive taste between the two.
However, it comes down to your personal choice and how you prefer the marbling of your steak.
Which Cuts Are Best for Putting in the Smoker?
Beef is without a doubt one of the best choices of meat to smoke. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that all beef is equal and can therefore be smoked the same. Let’s have a look at the different points to consider when smoking Wagyu and Angus beef.
Smoking Angus Beef
When it comes to Angus, the basic beef smoking rules apply. These include the following:
- Season selected beef cuts with a choice of herbs, spice, or marinade
- Refrigerate for 12 hours, turning occasionally to ensure the entire cut is saturated
- Preheat smoker to 225°F for at least 30 minutes
- Place beef cuts evenly on the smoker grate
- Smoke for roughly 6 – 8 hours, or until internal temperature is between 150 – 155°.
- Let the beef rest for about 20 minutes before serving. You can wrap it in foil to maintain the moisture.
Smoking Wagyu Beef
Smoking a Wagyu brisket is not much different from smoking a regular beef brisket. There is however a few key differences to ensure you get the most out of your Wagyu cut. Let’s look at them.
- With its higher fat content, Wagyu needs more time to marinate or absorb the seasoning. Smoking without proper seasoning time will result in a bland or even dry taste.
- The smoking temperature should be 185°F. Yes, that’s different from regular beef, but this is to make sure the extra fat doesn’t melt away without smoking the actual meat.
- In general, you’ll have to add a little extra smoking time because of the higher fat content. While it takes longer to reduce all that fat, the end result is well worth the wait!
- The general rule of thumb, with a Wagyu brisket, is to let it smoke for about 1.5 hours per pound. Don’t be tempted to up the smoker temperature, as this will deter the sinew from breaking down. If the sinew is still too tough, your meat won’t be tender and you’ll miss out on the taste that makes Wagyu so special.
American Wagyu—The Best of Both Worlds
There’s a way that you can enjoy the characteristics of both Wagyu and Angus with just one piece of meat on your plate. Ever heard of American Wagyu?
American Wagyu is a cross between purebred wagyu and traditional beef cattle breeds. This results in a unique blend of Wagyu and Angus. It merges the exquisite Japanese beef flavor with the robust beef flavor that defines American beef. It literally is the better of two worlds!
American Wagyu is not easy to find in every grocery store. If you decide to cook it at home, you have several online options. We recommend looking at the American Wagyu offering from Snake River Farms. Snake River Farms have been producing meat for decades and are the leaders when it comes to American Wagyu. You can find all the American Wagyu Cuts by clicking this link.
Grading—Which is Higher?
In general, only about five percent of U.S. beef is graded USDA Prime. When it comes to Wagyu or Prime, Wagyu beef, however, is 90% Prime grade. Steaks that have higher marbling will always get a higher Prime+ USDA rating.
This means the cuts of meat come from young cattle and is of a very high standard. In general, meat made from aged meat is tougher and tends to be dry. As a rule of thumb, Wagyu cattle are slaughtered at three years of age.
Young Wagyu cattle are bottle-fed by hand and are then later allowed to graze in open pastures.
This is a more natural, organic approach to the cattle feeding barns that are used for some cattle throughout the world. Wagyu beef is reputed to be the cleanest, most humanely raised, and organically grass-fed beef.
Wagyu and Kobe production is strongly regulated by the Japanese government to ensure these standards are maintained.
Angus beef also ranks as Choice or Prime beef on the USDA’s grading scale. This is the main reason why it’s the preferred meat cut on a lot of restaurant menus.
A Final Thought
Whether you enjoy a juicy Wagyu brisket or prefer an Angus beef burger, there’s no denying both cuts of beef are quite exceptional. With the high marbling content found in both of these beef choices, you’re sure to have a juicy, tender, and flavorsome piece of meat. When it comes to Wagyu or Angus, why choose one? Why not enjoy them both?