Wagyu burgers are the ultimate indulgence. Made with highly marbled, beautifully tender wagyu beef, these burgers are juicy, rich and packed with flavor. Although wagyu burgers are often found in high-end restaurants, they are surprisingly easy to make at home. With a few simple steps, you can have gourmet wagyu burgers ready in less than 30 minutes.
What is Wagyu Beef?
Wagyu refers to four Japanese cattle breeds – Kuroge Washu, Tajima, Shimane, and Japanese Black. ‘Wa’ means Japanese and ‘gyu’ means cow. Wagyu cattle are prized for their heavy marbling, which gives the beef a buttery, velvety texture. The generous marbling also makes the beef more flavorful, tender and juicy.
True wagyu beef can only come from Japan. However, the term ‘wagyu’ has become a generic descriptor for highly marbled beef from cattle with some wagyu genetics. American Wagyu beef comes from crossbreeding wagyu cattle with Angus cattle. This produces beautifully marbled beef while still retaining the flavors of traditional wagyu.
How to Choose Wagyu Ground Beef
When buying wagyu beef for burgers, choose a ground wagyu blend with at least 30% fat content. The higher fat content will keep the burgers moist and tender during cooking. Look for meat that is bright red in color with plenty of fine white marbling throughout.
Many grocery stores now carry wagyu beef options. You can also order wagyu beef online from specialty meat purveyors. Be prepared to pay a premium price for quality wagyu beef. It’s worth it for the amazingly rich, decadent burgers you’ll be enjoying.
Seasoning the Beef
The rich flavor of wagyu beef really shines with simple seasonings. Limit yourself to just a few high-quality ingredients. Here are some tasty seasoning options:
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: This simple combo lets the flavor of the wagyu beef star. Use about 1 tsp kosher salt and 1⁄2 tsp pepper per pound of ground beef.
- Worcestershire sauce: The umami flavor amplifies the beefiness of wagyu. Add 1-2 tbsp per pound of meat.
- Fresh herbs: Finely chopped rosemary, thyme, parsley or chives add a pop of freshness. Use 2-3 tbsp per pound.
- Spices: A pinch of cayenne, paprika or garlic powder can add subtle heat and warm flavor.
- Umami boosters: A dash of fish sauce, soy sauce or miso paste enhances savory flavors.
Whatever you choose, handle the beef gently when seasoning to avoid compacting it too much.
Forming Wagyu Burger Patties
To form the beef into patties without overworking it, use a light touch. Here are some tips:
- Divide and shape: Separate the beef into evenly sized portions. Gently shape into patties about 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick.
- Don’t overwork: Handle the meat as little as possible when shaping patties. Overworking can toughen the burgers.
- Make a depression: Use your thumb to make a shallow indentation in the center of each patty. This prevents bulging as the burgers cook.
- For even cooking: Try to make the patties the same size and thickness. This allows them to cook evenly.
- Don’t compact too much: The patties should hold together while still having a loose, tender texture.
Cooking Methods for Wagyu Burgers
The cooking method you choose can make a big difference in the juiciness and flavor of wagyu burgers:
This is a great way to add smoky, charbroiled flavor. Cook over medium-high, 3-5 minutes per side. Avoid flare-ups.
Cook in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, 3-5 minutes per side. Use a minimal amount of oil to encourage browning.
Broil 4-6 inches from heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Keep a close eye to avoid overcooking.
Cook vacuum-sealed patties in 130°F water for 45-60 minutes. Then give them a quick sear.
No matter which cooking method you use, resist the urge to press down on the patties as they cook. This squeezes out the succulent juices.
Toasting the Buns
A quality bun is essential for keeping these juicy burgers neatly contained. When toasting the buns, there are a few options:
- On the grill: Place buns cut-side down on the grill during the last minute of cooking.
- Broiled: Arrange buns cut-side up under the broiler for 20-30 seconds until lightly browned.
- Pan-toasted: Melt a bit of butter in a skillet and lightly brown the cut sides of the buns.
- Oven: Wrap buns in foil and warm in a 300°F oven for 5-10 minutes.
Choose buns that will stand up to the juicy wagyu beef, like brioche, challah or sturdy potato buns. Avoid flimsy white burger buns.
While wagyu burgers certainly star on their own, you can customize them with an array of tasty toppings. Some delicious options include:
- Cheese (cheddar, Swiss, blue, etc.)
- Caramelized onions
- Crispy bacon
- Lettuce and tomato
- Sautéed peppers
- Fried egg
- Chimichurri sauce
- Aioli or flavored mayo
Keep the toppings in proportion to the burger patties so the flavor of the wagyu beef remains the focal point.
A few final serving tips for your gourmet wagyu burgers:
- Let the cooked patties rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to reabsorb.
- Don’t stack toppings sky-high or the buns won’t close. Keep things in proportion.
- Serve with classic burger sides like fries, potato salad or coleslaw.
- Supply plenty of napkins – these juicy burgers can get messy!
Now that you’re armed with all the tools to make incredible wagyu burgers at home, it’s time to fire up the grill! Just follow these simple steps for burgers that are perfectly charred on the outside, pink and juicy inside, and wickedly rich in beefy flavor.
FAQs About Making Wagyu Burgers
What’s the best cheese for wagyu burgers?
Blue cheese, cheddar, Swiss and Gruyere are all excellent choices. The bold flavor stands up well to the richness of wagyu.
Can you prepare wagyu burgers in advance?
It’s best to form the patties right before cooking. If needed, they can be formed then refrigerated an hour or two ahead.
What’s the best way to store leftover wagyu patties?
Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or seal in an airtight container. Use within 2-3 days.
Should you season wagyu patties before or after cooking?
For the most flavor infusion, season just before cooking. But a light sprinkle after works too.
What temperature should wagyu burgers be cooked to?
Aim for medium rare, about 125-135°F internally. This prevents overcooking the tender wagyu beef.
Can you re-heat leftover wagyu burgers?
Leftover cooked burgers can be gently re-heated in the oven or pan. Take care not to overcook the meat.
Tips for Grilling Perfect Wagyu Burgers
Grilling is a fantastic way to cook wagyu burgers. The smoky flavor and charred crust are a perfect match for rich wagyu beef. For the best results, keep these grilling tips in mind:
- Preheat properly: Let the grill heat for 15-20 minutes, or until hot enough to only take 4-5 minutes per side.
- Don’t move them: Resist the urge to move the patties after putting them on the grill. This helps get a lovely sear.
- Mind the temperature: Grill over direct medium-high heat. If flames flare up, move to a cooler area.
- Flip once: Only flip the burgers a single time during cooking for an evenly charred crust.
- Use a crusty bread: A crusty artisan loaf makes a better surface for searing versus a delicate burger bun.
- Add smoked salt: A sprinkle of smoked sea salt right before serving adds a lovely charred flavor.
- Let rest: Give the cooked patties 3-5 minutes to rest before serving. This locks in the juices.
- Melt the cheese: Add cheese slices on top during the last minute of grilling so it melts beautifully.
With these simple tricks, you’ll get outstanding grilled wagyu burgers with picture-perfect grill marks every time.
Food Safety Tips for Wagyu Burgers
When dealing with fresh ground beef, there are some important food safety steps to take:
- Purchase fresh: Ensure ground beef was freshly ground. Use within 2 days of purchase.
- Keep it cold: Store ground wagyu in the refrigerator at 40°F or below until ready to form patties.
- Wash up: Wash hands, cutting boards, knives, etc thoroughly before and after handling raw beef.
- Don’t cross-contaminate: Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw beef versus other ingredients.
- Cook thoroughly: Cook patties to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F to destroy harmful bacteria.
- Discard safely: Be sure to immediately refrigerate and safely discard any leftover ground beef.
Following basic food handling and cooking guidelines will keep your wagyu burgers safe to enjoy.
Tools for Making Wagyu Burgers
Having the right tools makes prepping and cooking wagyu burgers much easier:
- Digital instant-read thermometer – Ensures beef reaches food-safe temperatures
- Cast iron skillet or grill – Provides even, high-heat cooking surface
- Metal spatula – Helps flip burgers without tearing them
- Sharp knife & cutting board – For prepping toppings & slicing buns
- Kitchen scale – Useful for evenly portioning ground beef
- Mixing bowls – Makes seasoning and gently mixing beef easy
- Prep bowls – Keeps toppings organized before serving
- Basting brush – For spreading sauces and glazes on buns
With this simple toolkit, you’ll have everything needed for making incredible wagyu burgers from start to finish. The juicy, beefy results will make the small investment in equipment well worth it.
How to Make Wagyu Burgers
Follow these simple steps for mouthwatering wagyu burgers every time:
- Shape patties – Gently form ground beef into 4-inch wide, 1-inch thick patties.
- Season beef – Right before cooking, sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper and any other seasonings.
- Heat cooking surface – Get your grill, pan or broiler very hot before cooking burgers.
- Cook burgers – Grill, fry or broil patties to desired doneness, about 3-5 minutes per side for medium-rare.
- Melt cheese (optional) – Add slices of cheese during the last minute of cooking if using.
- Toast buns – Lightly toast buns on the grill, under broiler or in a pan.
- Build burgers – Add desired toppings to bottom bun. Place burger patty on top and finish with top bun.
- Serve immediately – Get these juicy wagyu burgers to the table right away while hot and freshly cooked.
How to Make Smashburgers with Wagyu Beef
Smashburgers are ultra crispy, crusty burgers made by smashing thin patties firmly onto a hot griddle. Here is how to make them with wagyu beef:
- Form ground beef into 2-ounce balls. Really press and smash balls firmly to flatten into very thin patties, about 1/4 inch thick. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Get a cast iron skillet very hot over high heat. Add a teaspoon of oil and swirl to coat pan.
- Add patties and immediately use a heavy spatula to press down hard and flatten until crispy, about 2 minutes. Don’t move them until ready to flip.
- Once the bottom is deeply crisped, flip patties and cook second side 1 minute only. Resist urge to press down again.
- Place cheese on patties during the last 30 seconds of cooking until melted. Serve on toasted buns with favorite toppings.
The firm smashing gives the patties an incredibly crispy crust while the wagyu beef inside stays juicy. It’s an awesome flavor contrast in a fun, craveable burger.
With premium wagyu beef and a little prep work, you can create amazing gourmet burgers at home. Always look for high quality, well-marbled wagyu and handle the meat gently when shaping. Opt for simple seasonings to let the beef shine. Grill, pan fry or broil the patties to juicy medium rare doneness. Pile the burgers high with fresh toppings on toasted buns. Then get ready to sink your teeth into tender, richly beefy wagyu burgers that rival any restaurant!