Wagyu Brisket - Worth the Hype? - Smoked BBQ Source (2023)

John McCloy

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The number one challenge when you cook a brisket is keeping the meat from drying out.

Moisture comes from the intramuscular fat or marbling which breaks down over a long cook.

Wagyu brisket is popular on the competition bbq circuit where pitmasters are looking for any edge they can get.

In this article, we’ll be breaking down what Wagyu means, how it differs from your standard brisket, where to get it, and how best to cook it.

What is Wagyu brisket?

The marbling found in Wagyu brisket helps to keep the leaner flat of the Brisket from drying out, adds to the melt-in-the-mouth texture, and renders down into delicious liquefied collagen.

(Video) Watch this Before Smoking a Wagyu Brisket

But what exactly is Wagyu?

Wagyu, at its most basic, is just a combination of two Japanese words meaning “Japanese Cow.” In Japan, it is used to refer to one of four Japanese breeds of cattle.

Outside of Japan, the term almost exclusively refers to beef taken from the Kuroge Washu, or Japanese Black, breed of cattle.

The Kuroge Washu is prized across the globe for the intense marbling of its meat, which gives it a rich umami flavor and smooth buttery texture.

Most of the wagyu brisket you see for sale is actually American or domestic Wagyu.

If you want to try cooking Wagyu brisket we recommend the American Wagyu from Snake River Farms.

Snake River Farms Wagyu Brisket


(Video) Wagyu Brisket

  • Welled marbled American Wagyu makes for super juicy, tender brisket
  • Choose from 9-20+lbs
  • Excellent consistency


  • Expensive

CHeck priceRead Our Review

Get 15% off orders over $99

We’ve worked out a deal for Smoked BBQ Source readers to get 15% off all orders over $99 at Snake River Farms with code SMOKED15.

Excludes gift cards and dry-aged products.

Japanese Wagyu vs. American Wagyu

One of the first things to understand about Wagyu beef is that there is a significant difference between Japanese and America Wagyu.

Japanese Wagyu only comes from 100% pure strains of Japanese cattle which are so carefully bred to maintain that purity that 99.9% of all Japanese Wagyu breeding cows can trace their lineage to just one bull.

Wagyu Brisket - Worth the Hype? - Smoked BBQ Source (3)

Domestic or America Wagyu traces its lineage back to full blood Kuroge Washu cattle exported from Japan during the 1980s. These cattle ended up in Canada, Australia, and the US where they were interbred with Angus strains to increase the yield.

The USDA does certify American Wagyu beef but, unlike Japanese Wagyu, the meat only has to contain 46.875% pure Kuroge Washu blood to qualify.

Generally, Japanese Wagyu is the more premium product. It’s better quality but difficult to source and very expensive.

American Wagyu is still excellent quality beef, almost always graded as Prime on the USDA grading scale, but it is most likely going to be a mix of Kuroge Washu and another breed.

(Video) How to smoke Wagyu Brisket Point | Hank's True BBQ™

Is Wagyu brisket, “worth it?”

Asking if any piece of meat is “worth it” is always a subjective question.

Wagyu brisket has the double advantage of being fantastic quality beef and having that extra marbling to counteract some of the drying issues commonly encountered when cooking brisket.

Wagyu Brisket - Worth the Hype? - Smoked BBQ Source (4)

Wagyu brisket has also been trotted out as a secret weapon by 4-time World Barbecue Champion, Myron Mixon.

While Myron swears by it, not every famous pitmaster uses Wagyu brisket. Aaron Franklin prefers to use prime brisket and claims Wagyu has a less “beefy” flavor.

In our opinion, you should stick with cheaper brisket when you are learning and then splurge on Wagyu for special occasions.

What’s the difference between Wagyu and Prime Brisket?

There’s a common misconception that Wagyu is a higher grade of beef.

One of the main differences between Wagyu Brisket and USDA Prime Brisket is the grading system used to certify them.

The USDA grades less than 2% of all beef produced in the US as Prime. That certification comes from an examination of two factors: the age of the carcass at the time of slaughter, and intramuscular fat content.

These factors are determined by examining the meat of the ribeye taken from between the 12th and 13th ribs.

Wagyu beef is most commonly graded using the Japanese beef grading system. This more complicated certifications system uses three separate grades:

  • Yield Grade is a letter grade that indicates how much meat can be taken from the most sought-after parts of the carcass. A means above average, B is average, and C indicates below average.
  • Quality Grade examines the beef’s marbling, as the USDA grading system does, but also looks at the color and texture of the meat and the quality of the fat. Based on those four factors, the meat is scored between 1 (lowest quality) and 5 (best quality).
  • Beef Marbling Score (BMS) looks at the meat’s marbling in more detail, giving it a number grade that runs from 1 (little or no marbling) to 12 (extreme marbling).

The best Japanese Wagyu is graded A1 9-12. This means the meat is of the best quality, the yield from the most popular sections of the carcass is above average, and the marbling is “extreme.”

We have a full guide where you can read more about how beef is graded around the world.

Generally, Wagyu beef providers will use the full Japanese beef grading system for imported Wagyu brisket and a combination of the USDA grading system and a BMS score for American Wagyu Brisket.

Wagyu vs. Prime

In many ways, a Wagyu Brisket with a BMS of 9 and above is a step up from a standard USDA Prime Brisket.

The meat might be of similar quality, but the Wagyu brisket will have a much greater abundance of marbling and a better quality of intramuscular fat, which adds to its flavor and texture.

(Video) Angus vs Wagyu Brisket: Which is Better?

A5 graded authentic Japanese Wagyu Brisket is some of the best beef in the world, but with a price of around $1440 for a 32lbs chunk, it’s a little pricey for anything other than competition cooking.

Where to buy Wagyu Brisket

Snake River Farms

First founded in 1968, this family-owned business has transformed from a ranching and feeding operation into a premier supplier of top-quality beef and pork to both Michelin-star restaurants and everyday pitmasters.

Snake River takes its meat very seriously, carefully managing the life-cycle of their cattle and using traditional Japanese feeding methods to get their cross-bred Angus/Wagyu cattle as close to their Japanese ancestors as possible.

Wagyu Brisket - Worth the Hype? - Smoked BBQ Source (5)

Snake River Farms offers two grades of Wagyu Brisket: Black Grade, which we had the pleasure of reviewing, and the premium Gold Grade, which has a BMS of 9+.

The meat is shipped frozen, rather than fresh, but that doesn’t seem to affect the taste. If you make your order by 1 pm EST, you’ll have it shipped to you via courier the very same day.


DeBragga offers a wide range of Wagyu beef, from ground beef and burgers to ultra-rare, Japanese culinary Olympics winning, Miyazaki-Gyu beef.

Their range of American Wagyu comes from Imperial Wagyu Beef and is a mix of Wagyu and Angus breeds.

DeBragga offers a two-pack of American Wagyu Brisket, at around 5-6 lbs each, for the very reasonable price of $225.

If you live in the Northwest, you can get these delicious Wagyu Briskets delivered fresh using overnight delivery. The only downside is that, if you don’t live in the Northwest, DeBragga commitment to shipping fresh meat can make delivery a little pricey.

How to cook a Wagyu Brisket

If you’ve smoked a regular brisket low and slow there’s no major difference when smoking a Wagyu brisket.

Here are a few suggestions to get the most out of the it:

  • Leave a little extra time – The selling point of a Wagyu Brisket is the sheer amount of fat fleck marbling in the meat. This does mean, however, that it is going to take a little longer to render all that fat down. You might also need to boost the finishing temperatures up to as high as 213 to 217°F in order to really get that fat rendered down.
  • Do a little extra trimming – Because of the extreme amount of intramuscular fat found in Wagyu beef, you can afford to be a bit more aggressive when you’re trimming your brisket. Anything over 1/4″ of fat and you run the risk of your Brisket becoming too fatty.
  • Use a medium coating of rub – Wagyu is famous for its rich umami flavor. Using a medium coating of rub means you’ll still be able to appreciate those flavors, instead of hiding them under a blanket of herbs and spices.
  • Use a meat probe – Cooking an expensive Wagyu brisket can be a nerve wracking experience, so your meat thermometer is going to be your best friend. Keep your temperature stable, remember to check both ends of your Brisket and, if this is your first time cooking a brisket don’t be afraid of the temperature stall.

Wrapping it up

Wagyu brisket is a little divisive.

Some, including people who have won the World Barbecue Championship several times, think its the best brisket you can buy

Others prefer to stick to their tried and tested USDA Prime.

The best way to build your own opinion is to try it for yourself and, now you know how it’s graded, where to buy it from, and how best to cook it, you’ve got all the tools you need to cook up your own beautifully marbled Wagyu brisket.

(Video) How to Smoke Wagyu Brisket

After all, the proof is in the eating!


Is Wagyu good for smoking? ›

My Smoked Wagyu Steak Recipe is one of the best ways to cook wagyu steak! This incredible wagyu ribeye recipe is ready in under an hour, cooked to perfection in the smoker and a cast iron skillet. Simple salt seasoning is all you need!

What type of brisket is best for smoker? ›

When looking for a brisket for your smoker you want an untrimmed or “packer” cut. This cut has the point and the flat part together. These briskets should have a nice even fat cap with no gouge marks exposing the meat. The fat should be a nice white color.

Does wagyu brisket cook faster than regular brisket? ›

The one thing I've heard and read in a few of the various online BBQ forums is that Wagyu briskets tend to cook a little bit longer than their less marbled counterparts, as you want to be sure and get the extra fat rendered. Some have reported finishing temperatures as high as 213 to 217 F!

Is it worth smoking a wagyu brisket? ›

Is Wagyu brisket, “worth it?” Asking if any piece of meat is “worth it” is always a subjective question. Wagyu brisket has the double advantage of being fantastic quality beef and having that extra marbling to counteract some of the drying issues commonly encountered when cooking brisket.

What is the best wood to smoke a wagyu brisket? ›

The hardwood you use also plays an important role in the overall taste profile. In my opinion, the best woods for smoking brisket are post oak, pecan, or hickory. If you're someone who doesn't like lots of smoke, using a fruitwood like cherry or apple are also great options.

What is the toughest meat to smoke? ›

What is the hardest meat to smoke? Brisket is the holy grail of smoking. Everyone from competitive cooks to dedicated pit masters and barbecue enthusiasts agree that beef brisket is the hardest meat to get right.

What is the most popular wood for smoking brisket? ›

Hickory wood is the most commonly used for smoking brisket but, in my opinion, there is no single wood species preferred for smoking over another. Different woods provide different flavors and, depending on your ingredients, some work better than others.

How do professionals smoke brisket? ›

Slow-smoke at a temperature of 250˚F, allowing about one hour of cooking time per pound of meat. So, if you have a 10-pound brisket, expect to smoke it for about 10 hours. Keep the fat side up so the juices can drip through the meat. Wrap in foil.

What is the best quality of brisket? ›

Prime brisket is the highest grade and is given only to young cows that have exceptional marbling. Prime is the grade that is sold to restaurants and hotels, though you occasionally will find it in your local grocery store. Prime grade beef tends to cost more than other grades.

Should you wrap a wagyu brisket? ›

Close the lid and cook over very low, indirect heat (in that 225°–250°F range), keeping the lid closed as much as possible until a good bark has developed on the surface. You'll know it's time to wrap your brisket when its internal temperature hits 165°F or when the bark has darkened.

Why is wagyu brisket so expensive? ›

Japanese wagyu beef is so expensive primarily because of the costs associated with raising wagyu cows. High grade wagyu is also imported, which makes the beef rare compared to domestic breeds, making it pricier than usual.

What is the obsession with wagyu beef? ›

Wagyu beef is popular around the world because of its superior eating quality compared with other breeds of cattle. Not only does wagyu beef have higher levels of intra-muscular fat, or marbling, but the meat texture is finer, resulting in a more flavoursome eating experience.

Do you put wagyu brisket fat side up or down? ›

Always smoke brisket with the fat side facing down. Fat-side down helps keep the seasoning on the brisket and makes it look better. Cooking brisket fat side up does not add moisture to the meat.

What wood do Texans use to smoke brisket? ›

Mesquite. A mainstay of Texas-style BBQ, mesquite is a popular choice when it comes to smoking brisket. This imparts a robust and characteristic flavor to the meat. Mesquite is a quick-burning wood that produces intense smoke and a powerful, unique flavor.

What wood does Aaron Franklin use for brisket? ›

Franklin prefers to use Post Oak that's been cured for 9-12 months. This particular type of wood creates very little soot when it burns and imparts a mild smoky flavor to the meat.

What is the best temp for Wagyu brisket? ›

Trying to maintain the delicate fat while bringing the meat into the range to break down collagen into gelatin is the name of the game here. Ideal cooking method should be keeping the internal temp of the brisket between 160 and 205F.

What is the best meat to smoke for a crowd? ›

The sweet spot for meat choices is the American barbecue trifecta: ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket. These meats are the best place to start, and whole chickens can be great for beginners too. Read on for all the best pieces of meat, cooking methods, and tips for making the most of your smoker.

What meat absorbs smoke the best? ›

Beef cuts that come from the chuck, back ribs, and brisket are excellent choices for the smoker. Beef cuts do well over the heat and absorb the smoky flavor really well.

What is the most tender beef to smoke? ›

Prime Rib. The prime rib cut is a tender portion of the animal and is basically the entire primal rib cut. You might find it as a bone-in section of meat that tastes delicious smoked. Make sure to plan ahead, as it can take 24 hours or more to prepare and cook this massive piece of beef.

What wood gives the most smoke flavor? ›

Which wood gives the strongest smoky flavor? Hickory gives meat the strongest smoky flavor of all cooking woods. It's great to use when smoking beef and pork low and slow. Also, very strong, mesquite gives you a good flavor quickly, but mesquite can become bitter fast too.

What gives brisket that dark bark? ›

Essentially, bark comes from the evaporation of the moisture in and on the meat from the low temperature, diffused heat fire. As water evaporates and the fats of the meat liquefy and bubble throughout, smaller molecules like salt penetrate into the meat (assisting in the production of your smoke ring).

Should I spray brisket while smoking? ›

Spritzing the brisket will help the surface of the meat continue to attract smoke, as humidity in the smoker helps the smoke cling to the meat, providing better smoke flavor to the final brisket.

Do you flip a brisket on the smoker? ›

Flipping the brisket does even out the exposure of the meat to heat. Airflow inside any smoker is uneven and letting the brisket sit there in one position the whole time will cause part of it to dry out simply because of this unevenness. Ideally, flip and rotate your brisket at least once during the cooking.

What does Aaron Franklin spritz brisket with? ›

After 3hrs on the smoker starts spritzing the brisket with Apple Cider Vinegar every hour to avoid it drying out, once you hit the stall in the brisket internal temp of around 160-165 degrees, wrap the brisket in pink butcher paper.

What cut of brisket is most flavorful? ›

Beef brisket comes in two cuts separated by a layer of fat. The first cut, also called the flat cut, is one muscle and is sliced with little fat — which often means it's more expensive. The second cut, or the point cut, is sliced with deckle, or the fat, and is therefore more flavorful.

Which brisket is better Costco Prime or Choice? ›

Costco Briskets are Prime Grade

If you are unfamiliar with the different grades of beef then “Select” is the lowest grade, “Choice” is in the middle and “Prime” is the best. These ratings are made by the USDA and reflect how much marbling is in the meat. The amount of marbling impacts tenderness and flavor.

Is Wagyu brisket expensive? ›

Wagyu beef is widely regarded as the best in the world, and it's certainly up there with the most expensive! Epic marbling and flavor, it's a luxury and a treat.

What to serve with Wagyu brisket? ›

Sautéed mushrooms are a classic and pair beautifully with any beef. Consider a veggie accompaniment of roasted broccoli, sprouts or asparagus and keep it lightly seasoned - salt, pepper, olive oil and a bit of herbs and parmesan for finishing. For your starch element, go for a simple baked or smashed potato.

Can you overcook brisket in a smoker? ›

Yes, you can overcook brisket. Overcooking your brisket at too high a temperature will result in dry, chewy, sinewy meat. To ensure the perfect texture and taste, the internal temperature of the meat should be monitored closely. The ideal internal temperature for brisket is between 195°F and 205°F.

Which is better Kobe or Wagyu? ›

As we mentioned, Wagyu beef is just another term for Japanese beef from Japanese-raised cattle. Kobe beef is a special type of Wagyu beef that's famous for its marbling. In fact, some say that it has the most intricate marbling of any beef in the world.

What cost more Kobe beef or Wagyu? ›

Kobe beef is considered the most expensive and sought after beef in the world, with single portions often selling for more than $200. In Japan, the cost of Kobe beef starts at about $300 per pound. In the States, it can be $50 per ounce—whereas other non-Kobe Wagyu can be half of that cost. Why is that?

What is the average weight of a Wagyu brisket? ›

Description. Whole Wagyu Beef Brisket. Average weight 12-14 lbs.

Is Costco Wagyu beef real? ›

Costco has a supply of A5 wagyu that is imported from the Kagoshima prefecture of Japan by Authentic Wagyu, LLC. The breed of cattle is Kuroge, also known as Japanese Black, which is the same breed raised for the majority of Wagyu in Japan including that from the Kobe prefecture.

Which is better Angus or Wagyu? ›

Wagyu beef is often regarded as superior to Angus beef in flavor and texture. It has a luxurious richness and delicate, buttery smooth texture that the Angus breed can't compare to. This is because Wagyu beef has a high amount of marbling, contributing to its tenderness and flavor.

Is Arby's Wagyu real? ›

The 6.4-ounce burger, which is 50% larger than McDonald's Quarter Pounder, uses a blend of 51% American Wagyu and 48% ground beef to deliver a premium steakhouse burger.

How long to smoke a brisket at 225? ›

Put brisket on the grill at 225 °F. Smoke for 6 hours until internal temperature is 160 °F. Wrap brisket in butcher paper or foil and return to the grill. Place the brisket back on the grill until the internal temperate reaches 200 °F.

How often should I spritz my brisket? ›

After the first 2-3 hours start spritzing your brisket with water, apple juice, hot sauce or apple cider vinegar every 30 minutes to an hour. This helps keep it moist and stops it from burning.

How do you prepare Wagyu brisket? ›

Season the brisket the night before (8-12 hours) – Wagyu has a higher fat content than standard brisket so it needs more time to be seasoned or else it might taste a bit bland. Wrap and smoke until 185 ºF – Do not smoke until 203 ºF as too much good fat will melt away. I took it out at 185 ºF to rest.

What beef is best for smoking? ›

9 Best Cuts of Beef for Smoking
  • Beef brisket.
  • Beef ribs (bone-in, country style, short ribs)
  • Tri-tip.
  • Chuck roast.
  • Top sirloin steak.
  • Flank steak.
  • Top round.
  • Coulotte.
May 13, 2022

What is the best quality meat to smoke? ›

The best meats to smoke are meats with a high amount of collagen and fats such as pork shoulder, beef briskets, beef cheeks and rib. The connective tissues and fats breakdown during the cooking process which will keep the meat moist and tender.

What meat is best for smokers? ›

The best meats to smoke are fatty cuts like beef brisket, pork shoulder and ribs. Although the smoking process can dry out some types of meat, the high fat content of brisket and pork shoulder help keep them moist, tender and delicious.

Can you get wagyu brisket? ›


Perfect for the competitive barbecue or any first-class backyard feast, Snake River Farms American Wagyu briskets are rich with spectacular marbling and unbeatable tenderness. Like a traditional beef brisket, these premium cuts are ideal for braising, smoking or any long and slow cooking method.

What are the top 3 meats to smoke? ›

The sweet spot for meat choices is the American barbecue trifecta: ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket. These meats are the best place to start, and whole chickens can be great for beginners too. Read on for all the best pieces of meat, cooking methods, and tips for making the most of your smoker.

What is the easiest piece of beef to smoke? ›

Beef short ribs.

Beef ribs are among the easiest cuts of beef to smoke and you can get away with seasoning short ribs with just salt and pepper and still get a great flavor.

What meat is best for a 6 hour smoke? ›

Chuck Roast

With its great marbling, this is another top choice for slow smoking. Because it is smaller, it does have the advantage of smoking in far less time compared to a larger brisket. Instead of over 10 hours of cooking time, a good chuck roast can be smoked in just 5 - 6 hours.

What meat does not take too long to smoke? ›

Chicken wings are one of the easiest meats to smoke for beginners as it is also the quickest to prepare and cook. Smoked wings have all the flavor of other meats like ribs or pork butt except in a smaller package. Smoking chicken wings can add a whole new dimension to the flavor and aromas of this classic finger food.

Does meat get more tender the longer you smoke it? ›

Nowadays smoking—as it relates to barbecue—is about taste and texture, not so much making food last longer. Smoking adds flavor, it tenderizes, and it turns some of the worst cuts of meat into a wonderful meal.

What is a good meat to smoke for Christmas dinner? ›

Simple Smoked Pulled Pork Butt (AKA Smoked Pork Shoulder) is a go-to any time you are looking to feed a hungry crowd. Most smoked pork butt recipes call for a bone-in pork shoulder, sometimes also labeled a Boston butt roast or a pork butt.

Do I need to flip meat when smoking? ›

A good food smoker will also save you the hassle of rotating the meat, as the heat source is well-positioned for an even distribution of heat. We also advise not rushing when it comes to flipping your cut of meat. Allow it time to smoke for a while, after which you can flip your meat if need be.

Is smoking meat a healthy option? ›

Smoked, processed meats and red meats have been associated with a higher risk of a variety of health conditions, including: Stroke. Heart disease. Type 2 diabetes.

Is wagyu brisket expensive? ›

Wagyu beef is widely regarded as the best in the world, and it's certainly up there with the most expensive! Epic marbling and flavor, it's a luxury and a treat.

What is Wagyu beef called in America? ›

The Terms Wagyu and Angus Refer to the Breed of Cattle

The Angus breed originated from Scotland and was brought to the U.S. in the 1870s. They have a rich heritage and are now the most popular breed in the country. Wagyu cattle originated in Japan and were first brought to the U.S. in 1975.


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