American Wagyu vs. Japanese Wagyu: What’s The Difference?

American and japanese wagyu

American wagyu vs. Japanese wagyu: What’s the difference between the two highly sought-after cattle? American wagyu is produced by crossbreeding Japanese wagyu with an Angus, while Japanese wagyu originated in Japan. Unlike American wagyu, Japanese wagyu is raised using strict raising techniques required to produce the highest quality wagyu beef. It has more marbling hence more flavor and a much smoother texture. It costs quite a bit more as well.

This article will comprehensively explain each breed and how the two cattle breeds differ. Let’s start with the most significant differences:

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Japanese vs. American Wagyu Beef: The Main Differences

Japanese vs. American Wagyu Beef The Main Differences


Japanese wagyu cattle is so much more flavorful than American wagyu beef. Because of cattle raising techniques and grading standards, Japan produces one of the best-tasting beef in the world. American wagyu has less marbling; overall, meat quality is not as good.


American wagyu cannot compare to authentic wagyu beef in terms of texture. It has more marbling and a much more tender and succulent texture.

Beef Raising Techniques

Authentic Japanese wagyu beef is raised in a relatively low-stress environment, fed with high-grade wheat hay and rice plants. The living environment is clean with an excess to the open space. It’s fed for over 650 days on a diet that makes them well-marbled. Between 1975 and 1997, Americans imported wagyu from Japan (primarily the Japanese Black breed). Up to this day, it’s raised to high standards; however, unlike Japanese, American wagyu is only fed on a strict diet for about 400 days, and since it’s a crossbreed, it doesn’t go through a strictly regulated governments regulation where only well-established genotypes are retained for breeding.

Wagyu Grading Standards

American wagyu association is there to maintain the highest grades. However, the Japanese meat grading association is on the next level. The grading standards precisely account for meat’s marbling, color, texture, and firmness. The grades in Japan are as follows: through letters A-C and numbers through 1-5. The highest grades are A4 and A5 accordingly.

What is American Wagyu Beef?

American Wagyu

How is American wagyu beef produced? American wagyu beef is produced by crossbreeding a full-blood Japanese beef cattle with Angus. Cattle are fed a special vegetarian diet for over 400 days to produce well-marbled beef. American wagyu beef’s diet consists mainly of corn and wheat.

What is the flavor of American wagyu? American wagyu has a pleasant meaty taste. It’s packed with intense marbling, giving the meat a nice buttery flavor.

What is the texture of American wagyu? American wagyu has a tender texture. Marbling makes the meat succulent and melt-in-your-mouth soft. Texture and tenderness depend on a cut. Steaks from the loin and rib section tend to be much more tender than those from the chuck or other cow parts.

How to cook American wagyu? The best way to cook American wagyu is on a grill or oven, finishing in a scorching hot pan. Bring steak to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking. It’ll allow steak to cook more evenly. Season it with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Prepare the grill or preheat the oven, depending on the cooking method. The oven should be 275° Fahrenheit, while the grill should have two cooking zones – the direct heat side of the grill and the indirect heat side of the grill. Cook wagyu steak at low temperature until the internal temperature is 20° Fahrenheit below the desired level of doneness. Finish cooking the steak on a scorching cast-iron skillet or direct heat side of the grill for 1 minute on each side. Leave the steak to rest. It’ll allow steak juices to redistribute throughout the meat’s exterior, making it juicy.

Where can you buy American wagyu? Unfortunately, wagyu steak is not readily available. You’ll have to look for it at specialized butcher shops or online. Crowd cow is one of the places to look for wagyu beef.

What is Japanese Wagyu Beef?

Japanese Wagyu

How is Japanese wagyu beef produced? Wagyu in Japan refers to all Japanese cattle breeds. However, there are four breeds: Japanese Black (Kurogewashu), Japanese Brown (Akagewashu), Japanese Polled (Nihon Tankakushu), and Japanese Shorthorn (Mukaku Washu). Japanese wagyu beef is fed on a strict diet for over 650 days. The diet includes wheat bran, rice bran, corn, barley, and other high-quality ingredients. The Japanese government strictly controls the production, so only well-established genotypes are retained for breeding.

What is the flavor of Japanese wagyu? Japanese wagyu has a rich buttery flavor. It’s packed with marbling, making the meat incredibly juicy and flavorful, unlike any other beef.

What is the texture of Japanese wagyu? Japanese wagyu has an extraordinarily soft and tender texture. Because it has a highly marbled texture, the meat is juicy and mouth-watering tender. Wagyu a5 and Kobe beef are among the most delicate kinds of beef in the world.

How to cook Japanese wagyu? The best way to cook Japanese wagyu is on a grill or cast-iron skillet. Unlike cooking a regular steak – the wagyu cooking process is slightly different. First, you’ll need to cook it low and slow and finish it on high heat with a quick sear. Bring steak to room temperature at least 30 minutes before cooking. It’ll allow the steak to cook evenly. Season generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Preheat the oven or the grill. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, while the grill should have a direct and indirect heat side of the grill. Cook steak at low temperature until it’s 20° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. Remove excess moisture from the steak’s exterior and place it on a scorching cast-iron skillet or direct heat side of the grill. Sear for a minute on each side until brown crust forms. Cooking wagyu beef past medium (145° F) is not recommended. Leave the steak to rest as it continues to cook for another 2-5° Fahrenheit and becomes juicier simultaneously.

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Where can you buy Japanese wagyu? Unfortunately, this sought-after beef is hard to find. The best place to look for it is online.

Which is Better, American or Japanese Wagyu?

Both American and Japanese wagyu are tasty and tender. However, without a doubt, Japan produces one of the best wagyu beef in the world. Starting with raising techniques, premium wagyu beef from Japan is hard to match. It’s much more flavorful and tender; however, at the same time, it’s much more expensive (read this article on how much is wagyu steak).


Is American Wagyu as good as Japanese?

American wagyu cattle is not as good as Japanese. Japanese cattle are raised using a better diet and much better living conditions; therefore, it produces a better meat quality.

Is American Wagyu the same as Kobe?

Kobe is a type of wagyu, while American wagyu is a crossbreed between Angus and Japanese cow. Kobe is not the same as American wagyu – it’s much better and more expensive.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
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