Wagyu vs Prime: The Ultimate Meat Showdown!

July 15, 2023 4 min read

Wagyu vs Prime: The Ultimate Meat Showdown!

Wagyu and Prime are the two most popular beef choices for steaks, briskets, and other exquisite dishes.

But is there any difference betweenWagyu vs Prime?

Wagyu beef stands out compared to Prime with its higher marbling score. It also contains more unsaturated fat than Prime beef. However, Wagyu is rarer, pricier, and more difficult to import versus Prime beef, which is readily available and certified based on its USDA Prime rating.

In the next sections, we will uncover the differences in detail.

Wagyu vs Prime: What Is The Difference?

Before we move on any further, let’s take a glance at their key differences.


Wagyu Beef

Prime Beef


Specific breed from Japan with special raising and feeding conditions

Any breed can yield Prime beef


Higher marbling

Less marbling

Fat Content

More unsaturated fat

More saturated fat


Delicate and subtle flavor

Robust and intense flavor


Rare,  limited number of cattle

Mostly common


Higher price range

More accessible price range

Now, we will dive deeper and explore more about them.

wagyu vs prime brisket

Source: Reddit


Wagyu beef is a specific breed from Japan, raised under specific conditions and fed a special diet. Prime beef can come from any breed of cattle that meets the USDA Prime standards.

Wagyu beef comes from specific breeds such as Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn, and Japanese Polled. Cattle are raised under strict conditions, including limited herd sizes and special feeding regimes. The result is meat with exceptionally high marbling, tenderness, and a unique flavor profile.

Prime beef, on the other hand, is not tied to a specific breed or origin. It is a grading standard used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to classify meat based on quality.


Wagyu beef has a higher marbling score compared to Prime beef. Best quality Wagyu beef can get a marbling score of 8-12. The prime beef has a BMS of 5.

Wagyu beef is renowned for its exceptional marbling, which refers to the intramuscular fat distributed throughout the meat. This marbling is often referred to as "white fat" and is known for its fine texture. 

The high marbling score in Wagyu beef translates to a luxurious buttery texture when cooked.

Prime beef also possesses marbling, but it generally has a lower marbling score compared to Wagyu beef.

Prime beef

Source: Kai Wagyu

Fat Content

Wagyu beef contains more unsaturated fat, while Prime beef has a more balanced fat profile with higher saturated fat content. Wagyu beef has 20% of fat content and Prime beef has 8-13%.

Wagyu beef is known for its higher unsaturated fat content, which includes monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. 

These fats are considered healthier as they can help improve cholesterol levels and provide essential fatty acids. Wagyu beef's buttery flavor, tenderness, and melt-in-your-mouth texture are due to its unsaturated fat content.

usda meat grades

Source: Steaks and Game

Prime beef, on the other hand, has a more balanced fat profile with a slightly higher proportion of saturated fat. 

While saturated fat has been associated with potential health risks, Prime beef still offers excellent flavor and tenderness. The balanced fat profile in Prime beef ensures a good combination of juiciness and richness.

With more fatty beef, you need to decide if you should cook fat side up or fat side down.


Wagyu beef is rarer and more expensive due to limited production. Prime beef is more readily available. 

Wagyu beef is produced in smaller quantities, with specific breeding and feeding practices to achieve high marbling scores. 

Also, Wagyu beef is imported beef from Japan which also contributes to its limited availability.

Various cattle breeds can meet the USDA Prime grading criteria, making Prime beef more widely available. 


Wagyu beef tends to come with a higher price tag, sometimes reaching $200 per pound. Prime beef costs $16-$25 per pound.

Due to its rarity, specialized breeding, and strict production standards, Wagyu beef commands a higher price point in the market. The limited supply and high demand contribute to its premium pricing. 

Additionally, importing Wagyu beef from its original sources, such as Japan, can be complex and costly.

On the other hand, USDA Prime beef is more readily available in local markets within the United States. It is sourced from various cattle breeds that meet the criteria for the Prime grade. 

As a result, Prime beef is generally more affordable compared to Wagyu beef and does not require extensive import processes.

Wagyu Vs Prime: What's The Better Choice? 

Wagyu beef, with its unparalleled marbling, tenderness, and delicate flavor, is a luxurious option for those seeking a truly exceptional dining experience. However, it comes with a higher price tag and may be harder to find. 

Prime beef, while still offering excellent flavor and tenderness, is more accessible and affordable. If you're looking for a balance between quality and cost, Prime beef is the better choice. 

However, if you're willing to indulge and splurge, Wagyu beef will deliver an unmatched level of decadence.

So, the choice between Wagyu and Prime Beef ultimately depends on personal preferences and budget. 

Now, no matter which beef you choose, you must know how to properly cook it. That’s why knowing when to pull brisket is crucial. Also, you need to get the Salt, Pepper, and Garlic ratio correct. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is Wagyu brisket better than prime? 

Yes, Wagyu brisket with a BMS of 9 and above can be considered better than a standard USDA Prime brisket. Increased marbling and higher quality intramuscular fat elevate Wagyu beef's flavor and texture.

Is Wagyu the highest quality meat? 

Yes, Wagyu is widely regarded as one of the highest-quality meats available. Its exceptional marbling, rich fat content, and resulting tender texture and buttery flavor contribute to its reputation as a premier choice for meat connoisseurs. 

Is Kobe beef A5 Wagyu? 

No, Kobe beef and A5 Wagyu are not the same, although Kobe beef can fall under the A5 rating. Kobe beef refers specifically to beef from Tajima-gyu cattle raised in the Kobe region of Japan.


In the ongoing debate ofWagyu vs Prime, it's evident that both options offer exceptional quality and flavor. 

Despite Wagyu's legendary marbling and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, Prime beef is equally delicious and well-marbled. 

The choice ultimately depends on personal preference and the desired dining experience.

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