Since the discovery of fire, humans have been thinking up new ways to cook a slab of meat. You can grill a steak over coals, fry it in oil, fry it in air, grill it upside down under a broiler, or smoke it—the opportunities are endless. But don’t let decision paralysis get you down. If you start with great steak like Wagyu beef, it’s basically impossible to make the wrong choice. There are pros and cons to every method of cooking steak—your choice will depend on what you desire.
The oven is a great way to cook Wagyu, but it typically isn’t the first step in the process. To ensure that you don’t dry out the steak, it’s best to sear both sides of the meat in a pan on top of the stove first. This step helps retain the flavorful Wagyu juices once you pop it in the oven.
- Pros: easy to control; easy cleanup
- Cons: risk of drying out meat; no grill flavors
- Best cut: teres major
- Recipe: Petite Tender Steak with Roasted Garlic Aioli
Some would argue that the grill is the best method for cooking Wagyu. Especially if it’s a charcoal grill, it gives the meat a wonderful smoky flavor you can’t achieve indoors. And as long as you keep an eye on the steak and check the temperature regularly, you’re likely to get a tender, evenly cooked cut of meat.
- Pros: distinct charcoal flavor (unless using gas grill); makes cooking more of an experience
- Cons: less predictable; requires access to a grill and decent weather
- Best cuts: 1.25- to 1.5-inch-thick boneless ribeye or New York strip steak
- Recipe: Bulgogi with Pickled Vegetables
Cooking Wagyu using a skillet on top of the stove is another solid route, especially if you’re using a quality cast-iron skillet. As usual, you’re going to want to sear both sides of the steak, but then continue to cook the meat until it reaches temperature.
- Pros: simple; easy to watch and check progress; great for tossing with spices and vegetables
- Cons: inconsistent results; may lose some juices in the process
- Best cuts: ribeye; strip steak, at least 1.5 inches thick; teres major
- Recipe: Pan Seared Ribeye Steak with Ancho Chile Sauce Recipe
The broiler is a great indoor alternative to grilling outside. It will give your Wagyu a nice, caramelized coating while rapidly bringing it up to temperature. All you need for this method is an oven, a broiling pan, and maybe some aluminum foil. A broiler is essentially an upside-down grill, so you’re going to want to place the broiling pan in close proximity to the heat source and keep an eye on the Wagyu so you don’t overcook it.
- Pros: great alternative if you don’t have or can’t use a grill; creates a caramelized coating; fast cooking
- Cons: lacks the flavor of a grill; you’ll need to trim fat to prevent smoke; you’ll need to keep an eye on it because of the high heat
- Best cut: ribeye
- Recipe: Beef Sausage Links
A smoker will give you a more intense version of cooking over a grill. Not everyone has access to a smoker or five hours to wait as the meat cooks, but if you are that person, you might want to give it a go.
- Pros: distinct smoky flavor; meltingly tender
- Cons: time-consuming; requires access to a smoker
- Best cuts: brisket; beef cheeks
- Recipe: Smoked BBQ Wagyu Beef Cheeks Recipe
Sous vide is the nerdy, yet refined, kid on the block. This method involves cooking vacuum-sealed meat in water that has been brought to a precise temperature. When done correctly, this process promises evenly cooked meat at restaurant-quality levels. Because the meat is vacuum-sealed as it cooks, the Wagyu will retain its juiciness and flavor. The only downside is that the meat won’t have any of the additional flavors that grilling and smoking would provide. In order to achieve that sought-after Maillard reaction, we recommend searing the steak on a skillet after the sous vide process.
- Pros: precise and consistent results; steak retains juices for flavor
- Cons: will need to invest in equipment; won’t have characteristic grill or skillet flavors
- Best cuts: sirloin steak; filet mignon
- Recipes: Sous Vide: Top Sirloin Steaks; Sous Vide: Filet Mignon Steaks
Hopefully, this detailed pro/con list has helped you get through the life-altering decision of how to prepare your Wagyu beef. But if you’re still trapped in decision paralysis, check out our recipe page for endless inspiration.