Wagyu beef isn’t your run-of-the-mill meat. Yes, you could cook it like any other beef, but why would you want to? You’ve invested time and money into the perfect steak, so you’ve got to get it right.
Don’t worry—it doesn’t take years of culinary school or hours of Food Network to master the art of cooking Wagyu beef. In fact, with just a little bit of extra time and care, you can maximize the flavor and texture of your Wagyu. Here are five pro tips for making sure you’re cooking Wagyu like the pros.
1. Pick the right cut.
Believe it or not, picking the right Wagyu steak is half the battle. You can opt for a standard cut like a filet or ribeye, or take the road less traveled with kebab, flank steak, teres major, English roast, patties, flat iron, or chuck steak. Don’t be intimidated—you, too, can master the art of cooking a unique cut at home.
2. Store your beef.
Next up, before you even think about throwing your Wagyu steak onto that sizzling cast-iron pan, you’ve got to know how to store your beef. Yes, your steak storage knowledge is just as important as your cooking skills.
If you’re ordering Wagyu online, your beef should arrive completely or partially frozen in vacuum-sealed packaging. Lest you end up with a hunk of freezer-burnt Wagyu, you’ll need to put your steaks in the freezer right away until you’re ready to enjoy them.
Why? Air exposure is what causes freezer burn, so the less time your meat spends outside of its freezer-friendly environment, the less exposure to air it has and the less likely you’ll end up with beef burn.
3. Thaw your beef.
If you just can’t wait to savor your steaks the moment they arrive, put them on a plate in the fridge in their original packaging. A good rule of thumb is to thaw your beef from frozen for six hours per pound of meat.
The moment your steaks are thawed, try to cook them right away so you can maximize their freshness and flavor. Pull the steaks out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook them so they can reach room temperature, too.
Why is having your Wagyu at room temperature important? For your meat to cook evenly from the center to the edge, you want your steak to get as close as possible to its final eating temp. When your steaks sit out of the fridge prior to cooking, the meat’s temperature will grow 20°F to 25°F closer to its final serving temp, which will guarantee a perfect, even cook.
4. Go light on the seasoning.
The highest-quality Wagyu beef is best with just a bit of salt and pepper, but feel free to use your favorite steak seasoning. Just be sure not to overwhelm the inherent flavor that Wagyu delivers on its own without sauces, marinades, and seasonings.
5. Cook your Wagyu well—not well-done.
Whether you opt to pan-fry your Wagyu in a well-seasoned cast iron or throw it on the grill to get those perfect char lines, don’t overcook it. Well-done Wagyu? Just say no. The best temperature to enjoy the luxurious texture and sweet, buttery flavor of Wagyu is medium-rare—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
For cooking Wagyu beef, we recommend starting with a well-seasoned cast iron and exploring other cooking methods—like grilling, sous vide, or braising—after you’ve mastered the art of the steak and the skillet. Follow these steps:
- Preheat your cast-iron skillet over high heat.
- Grease the pan lightly with butter, olive oil, or the pro move of using some of the fat cut from the edges of your Wagyu steak.
- For a rare finish, sear for three minutes per side. For a medium-rare sear, aim for four minutes per side.
- Check your Wagyu for doneness by using the magic of the touch test. Or, if you’re old school, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Whichever way you go, you’re looking for medium-rare or 130°F.
- Remove the steaks and let them rest for at least five minutes but as much as 10 minutes before enjoying.
If you’re looking at that last step and thinking, “Wait, you want me to wait?!” we feel your pain. But resting allows your meat’s fibers to relax, widen, and reabsorb those delicious juices. If you cut it right away, those juices will just end up all over your plate instead of in your mouth.
Now that you’re a master ...
Once you’ve got your Wagyu steak and skillet skills down, you can move on to master-level recipes for next-level dining. Here are a few to whet your appetite:
Remember: You don’t have to go to the fanciest, most expensive restaurant to enjoy well-cooked Wagyu beef. Cooking like a master also doesn’t mean complicated, elaborate recipes with dozens of ingredients and hours of prep.
You can master the art of cooking Wagyu beef at home with nothing more than a bit of time, thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and a respect for the best cuts of beef available.