Wagyu vs. Angus: How Do They Compare?

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 | 0 Comments
wagyu vs. Angus
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When discussing the best beef, it often comes down to wagyu vs. Angus. Both are high-quality, but there is a vast difference in how the cattle are bred and raised, and that can affect the taste of the cut of meat on your plate. Both have rich flavors and an incredible texture that makes both wagyu and Angus a pleasant experience to eat. However, the differences between these two types of beef can affect how suitable they are for dishes and the preparation of those meals.

Which type of beef is more luxurious? How much should you expect to pay for either? In this guide, we’ll compare wagyu vs. Angus beef in terms of origin, marbling and price, so you have a comprehensive buying guide to beef.


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Wagyu vs. Angus: The Cattle and Their Origins

Cattle Breeds and Origin

When it comes to wagyu beef vs. Angus, the differences start with the cattle and their origins. Wagyu beef originated in Japan at the start of the 17th century (the name wagyu literally translates to “Japanese cow”), while Angus beef is native to northeastern Scotland. 

Wagyu and Angus are also different breeds of cow. Wagyu beef comes from one of four Japanese cattle breeds: Black, Brown, Polled and Shorthorn. While Japanese wagyu ancestry is heavily documented and is thought to originate in a specific location — Hyogo Prefecture on the island of Honshu — the Angus ancestry is a little less clear, though it's believed they came from local black cattle.

Both of these breeds also migrated to other countries, which created new variants. Among the most popular are Australian wagyu, American wagyu and American Angus. Despite these breeds’ shared ancestry with wagyu and Angus, there are variations due to location that can be noticed in marbling, texture and taste.

There is more marbling in wagyu vs. Angus.
via Canva


Another difference between wagyu and Angus beef comes down to the cattle’s diet. Wagyu cows are fed high-protein diets to help develop their iconic marbling. These cows typically eat a diet of grains, okra, soybeans and legumes, along with grass and hay. The guidelines on what wagyu cows can eat are famously strict to maintain their high quality standard.

Angus cows are fed for optimal growth. Their diets can include grains, grass and legumes, as well as supplements of vitamins and minerals. There are also Angus cows that are grass-fed. There are guidelines and recommendations in regards to the animals’ diet, but they aren’t as strict as those of wagyu.

a grazing wagyu cow
via Canva


There are also major differences in how a wagyu cow vs. an Angus cow is treated and raised. Wagyu cows are often restricted from vigorous activity as too much exercise can toughen the meat. Wagyu beef is prized for its tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture, so it’s important to maintain this quality. 

Farmers also create an environment with low stress as stress can create tough meat as well. They may rub the cows with a stiff brush to help the animals relax. This removes tension and increases blood circulation. Angus beef ranchers do not go to such lengths to maintain the cow’s tenderness.

black Angus
via Canva

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Rating System for Wagyu vs. Angus Beef

How Japanese Wagyu Is Graded

Japanese wagyu has a strict grading system that’s based on Yield and Grade. Yield is the ratio of meat the carcass yields in relation to its weight. Grade deals with the meat’s marbling, color, fat standard, firmness and texture. The system ranges from 1, the lowest, to 5, the highest. Japanese A5 wagyu is the highest quality wagyu, excelling in all these areas, and many consider it the best grade of beef in the world.

How Angus Beef Is Graded

Angus beef is graded according to the USDA quality scale, judging tenderness, marbling and juiciness. The official grades are Prime, Choice and Select, with Prime being the highest and Select being the lowest. However, this scale is not exclusively used to only grade Angus beef but rather all kinds of beef.

raw prime Black Angus beef
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Nutritional Qualities of Wagyu vs. Angus

Fat Content

While wagyu beef is known for the trademark marbling that makes for very tender, flavorful cuts of steak, it actually has a lower fat content than Angus beef. A four-ounce serving of wagyu has about 14 grams of fat, while Angus has 18.7 grams of fat. Wagyu notably also contains monounsaturated fats, one of the “good fats,” making it a heart-healthier choice.

Calorie Content

Calorie content also differs in wagyu vs. Angus beef. In general, wagyu has fewer calories, with a four ounce serving coming in at about 218 calories compared to Angus beef, which has about 293 calories

Flavor and Texture of Wagyu vs. Angus


One of the biggest differences between wagyu beef vs. Angus beef is the quantity and pattern of marbling found in the meat. Wagyu is famous for the rich veins of marbling throughout the cut (clearly visible in the image below), while you’ll find that Angus has less marbling. The fat content on Angus cuts rests more on the outer edges.

marbled wagyu beef
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Marbling leads to the biggest difference between wagyu and Angus: the texture. Because of the heavy marbling in wagyu, the cut of meat is more tender and buttery. And while Angus is still a tender cut, the lack of intramuscular fat marbling creates a cut that won’t melt in your mouth the way wagyu does.

cut wagyu steak
via Canva

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Angus beef tends to have the signature beefy flavor that many associate with steak. Wagyu still has a beefy taste, but it has a much richer flavor due to the amount of marbling. This isn’t to say that Angus beef isn’t flavorful or rich — just that it’s easier to eat more Angus in one sitting than it is wagyu, which many can only enjoy in smaller serving sizes due to its richness. 

For this reason, wagyu is often served as small steaks or strips because of the rich marbling, while Angus makes great larger steaks and burgers. Either make fantastic gifts for steak lovers; it's just a matter of whether the recipient would enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime richness of wagyu or the full, beefy flavor of Angus.

Angus burger patty
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Wagyu vs. Angus: Price and Availability


Overall, wagyu beef is more expensive, though both can be priced high per pound. Because wagyu is so rare, it can range between $120 and $300 per pound if it’s pure Japanese wagyu. Angus beef is much more affordable, ranging from $2 to $4 per pound.

a steak dinner
via Canva

Availability in the United States

Overall, any type of Angus beef is much easier to find in the U.S. than Japanese wagyu. Similarly, American wagyu is much easier to find than Japanese wagyu. Pure Japanese wagyu is exclusive to many high-end restaurants and luxury butchers, so it’s not typically a brand of beef you can find on your everyday grocery run. 

Wagyu beef is available online for purchase, though. At Holy Grail Steaks, you can choose from a wide variety of Japanese A5 wagyu steaks of all types and have these luxury cuts shipped straight to your doorstep. Australian and American wagyu are available as well, so if you're looking to toss some American Tajima or Akaushi wagyu beef on the grill next weekend, Holy Grail Steaks has you covered.    

Because wagyu is so pricey and hard to find, we recommend you get comfortable cooking beef in general so that when you do get your hands on a wagyu steak, you feel much more confident adapting your technique to this particular type of beef. You may even be able to learn the best ways to prepare wagyu through cooking classes near you taught by world-class chefs. Whether it’s cooking classes in Denver or cooking classes in Orlando, be sure to check out the offerings in your area for more ways to prepare beef. There are even interactive live online cooking classes for when you want something more low-key.  

Cooking classes can teach you the difference between wagyu vs. Angus.
via Cozymeal

For beef, the breed can make all the difference. Quality, marbling and overall flavor all come down to the differences between the breeds’ genes as well as how they’re raised. Both wagyu and Angus beef are seen as high-quality meats, but when it comes to wagyu vs. Angus, wagyu is by far a rarer and more luxurious meat — a true top-tier item frequently on foodie bucket lists. However, know that regardless of which of these quality meats you’re eating, you’re in for a flavorful meal. 

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