If you’re looking for a Snake River Farms review because you’ve been on the fence about digging deep in your pockets for American Wagyu beef, then this post is for you. Get my honest opinion on the meat, and see if I would order it again.
Not to brag, but we’ve eaten some of the best steaks from some of the best restaurants all over the world, from Toronto to Chicago to Las Vegas (which is home to 3 of only 8 U.S. restaurants certified to sell authentic Kobe beef). And while a steak dinner at a fancy restaurant is nice, it’s sometimes hard to stomach the bill. That’s the reason that we prefer to cook our own steaks at home using premium quality beef.
We usually opt for USDA Choice ribeye steaks from our favorite grocery store, because their Choice grade steaks are very close to Prime grade beef for half the price. And since we buy them on sale, we get quality ribeyes for around $7.99 per pound. Even chain restaurants average $25 – $28 for a 1 lb. ribeye, so that’s a huge savings. But occasionally we like to go all out and try something new.
So, of course, trying the Snake River Farms American Wagyu steaks has been on my bucket list for a while. Did the SNF Black and Gold Grade Wagyu ribeyes live up to my expectations? Read on to find out.
*Note – We purchased our Snake River Farms Wagyu ribeyes on our own and did not receive any special discounts or compensation.
This is not a sponsored post, but it does include affiliate links, which means if you click a link and make a purchase, I earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
What is American Wagyu beef?
Snake River Farms dubs themselves “The Pioneers of American Wagyu”, but that begs the question… what exactly is American Wagyu beef?
Well, first you have to understand Japanese Wagyu…
“Wagyu” refers to Japanese cattle, and it literally translates to “Japanese cow”. There are 3 major Japanese Wagyu brands, but the one you’re probably most familiar with is “Kobe”. Pretty much all 3 brands are commonly referred to as “Kobe” beef, just like most tissue is referred to as Kleenex, whether it’s actually Kleenex brand or not.
So is Wagyu beef and Kobe beef the same thing?
No. Kobe beef is a brand of Wagyu beef, but not all Wagyu beef is Kobe. The three major Japanese Wagyu beef brands are Kobe Beef, Matsusaka Ushi Beef, and Ohmi Beef. Each comes from a different region in Japan.
What makes Wagyu beef so special?
Japanese Wagyu is famous for its intense marbling, or intramuscular fat, and is considered a delicacy. Because it has such a high concentration of fat, it is incredibly tender, and it is often served sliced thin in very small portions of only 3-4 ounces.
So how does that compare to American Wagyu?
According to the Snake River Farms website, the company first developed American Waygu when they created a brand new breed of cattle, cross-breeding the purebred Japanese Wagyu cattle with high quality American cattle in the 1980s. This new breed of cow yields beef that has superior marbling similar to Japanese Wagyu AND the robust beef flavor that American cattle are known for.
Even celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck says,
“It has the richness of Japanese beef with lots of marbling, but the flavor is more akin to what we’re used to in America. You can give me a pound of the best Wagyu from Japan, or a pound of this, and I’ll choose the [steak] from Snake River Farms every time.”
And if it’s good enough for Wolfgang, it’s good enough for me!
Snake River Farms Black Grade vs. Gold Grade – What’s the difference?
But which American Wagyu should you order? Snake River Farms sells two different grades of American Wagyu beef, just like you can buy different USDA grades of beef (Select, Choice, Prime). The American Wagyu is actually graded using the Japanese Beef Marbling Score (BMS) on a scale of 1 to 12. Here’s how they compare:
The Snake River Farms Black Grade steaks have a rating of 6 or above on the Japanese BMS scale, so while it’s not the best of the best, it still grades much higher than the best USDA Prime beef. A Black Grade ribeye from Snake River Farms has an average weight of 15 ounces, is cut 1.5″ thick, and will set you back about $75.
The Gold Grade beef is the cream of the crop and the highest grade American Wagyu beef that you can buy, with a Japanese Beef Marbling Score (BMS) between 9 to 12. A 1.5″ thick cut Gold Grade American Wagyu ribeye will run you about $99.
Black vs. Gold – Which should you choose?
The choice is up to you, but if you’re going to spend a bunch of money on quality beef, why not spend a bit more and get the top of the line? The Gold Grade ribeyes will run you about 25% more than the Black Grade, but that’s still less than one steak dinner at a fancy restaurant (which could easily top $350 for two people). And if you don’t order the Gold Grade just to save a couple bucks, then you’ll probably be left wondering about the best of the best.
I ordered one Black Grade ribeye and one Gold Grade ribeye to see if I could tell the difference, and the Gold Grade was slightly more tender than the Black Grade in my opinion. Both steaks were excellent and a noticeable step up from USDA Prime, but if I had not tasted the two different grades side by side, I probably would not have noticed any difference.
Here is a photo of the two American Wagyu ribeyes from Snake River Farms after cooking. The one on the right is the Gold Grade and does have a noticeably higher amount of fat:
Initial Impression – Packaging, Delivery, Etc
The shipping costs associated with getting American Waygu beef delivered right to your doorstep may be a hindrance for you, but you know what they say… “You get what you pay for.”
Our Snake River Farms order arrived on time and perfectly frozen. Each of the items were individually vacuum sealed, and placed in a nice reusable insulated bag with the Snake River Farms logo.
It was packaged in two different insulated boxes with dry ice (we ordered 2 ribeyes that we kept for ourselves, and a Porterhouse and American Wagyu hot dogs that we gifted to my Dad). And even the boxes looked expensive. The glossy black box didn’t even look like cardboard.
Our order also included a high-quality personalized gift letter (Son of the Year right here!) and a brochure with cooking tips, perfect for gifting:
How I Cooked the Snake River Farms American Wagyu Ribeyes
I did NOT want to experiment on a $100 steak, so I stuck with what I like best in terms of seasoning and cooking method. Some people argue that this high quality of beef doesn’t need anything more than salt and pepper, but my homemade steak seasoning is my go-to so that’s what I used.
I seasoned my steaks liberally, because I had already decided to stay true to my own cooking methods.
After I seasoned the beef, I set my Weber charcoal grill up like a smoker and reverse seared the steaks. If you’re not familiar with reverse searing on a charcoal grill, it’s essentially smoking the meat first at a lower temperature and then finishing it off by searing at a high temperature. This cooking method makes it easier to get your steak to the desired doneness with maximum flavor and the perfect crust while limiting the risk of overcooking.
You’re only cooking the steak at a grill temp of around 250 degrees, so the meat won’t cook as quickly giving you time to dial it in to the perfect temperature for you.
A Snake River Farms Wagyu review wouldn’t be complete without telling you about the actual TASTE of the beef…
Cutting in to the Wagyu ribeyes, I immediately noticed the lines of fat running through the beef, and if you’ve seen my YouTube videos you know that I always say “Fat equals flavor.”
And these ribeyes were dang flavorful. The extra marbling that you get with this American Wagyu makes the steaks incredibly tender, juicy, and delicious. Even after letting my steaks rest for a full ten minutes after pulling them off the grill, the juices were running all over the cutting board.
The taste of the meat was buttery and robust, and with each bite I was more and more impressed.
If you appreciate a fine steak and don’t mind paying for quality, then try these American Wagyu ribeyes.
Where to buy Snake River Farms meat?
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that has grocery stores that sell Snake River Farms meat, then you won’t have to fork out for shipping. If not, you can purchase a wide range of quality meat products on the Snake River Farms website here.
Final Thoughts – Is Snake River Farms Waygu Worth It?
Snake River Farms Wagyu is the cream of the crop, and while the price tag is steep, the quality is unmatched. I’ve eaten a $100 ribeye at a fancy steakhouse in Chicago, and the Snake River Farms American Wagyu ribeye that came off of my Weber charcoal grill was better than that.
From the prompt delivery, superb packaging, and superior marbling and taste, you can’t go wrong with Snake River Farms meats. Would we order it monthly or even quarterly? No. At a higher price point, it just isn’t in our budget. But would we gift it to my Dad on Father’s Day or Christmas, or celebrate an anniversary with a quality steak cooked at home? You bet!
Want to watch me cook my Snake River Farms Wagyu ribeyes? Check out my YouTube channel below!