Steak Marbling, Grading and Score Guide

Feb 18 2021, by Tom Hixson

When it comes to quality steak, marbling is key for unrivalled flavour and succulent texture. In our latest guide, we talk you through the importance of good marbling and the grading systems used to score different levels of marbling within meat.

What Is Marbling?

Marbling is the visible fat that runs through a piece of meat, often referred to as the intramuscular fat and found between the muscle fibres. When the produce is cold, the marbling is white. When cooked, it melts into the rest of the cut, taking on a more brown, slightly translucent appearance. 

Marbling is slightly different from the regular fat (Subcutaneous fat) that is often found on most meat. Subcutaneous fat is the layer found on the outer edge of the meat which usually runs along one side. 

Good marbling often signals higher quality and more flavour. Wagyu steak tends to have more marbling than most other types of beef, which is why it is world-renowned for being one of the best types of steak on the market. 

What Are The Benefits? 

During the cooking process, the marbling on a piece of steak will melt into the meat, adding moisture and flavour, making it more tender and easier to break down. This quick break down speeds up the release of flavours, resulting in greater taste for a more enjoyable dining experience. 

Marbling Score Guide

When buying marbled beef, you will notice that it is scored with a number or a grade. These scores signal the amount of marbling within the steak. There are three different types of grading systems for different types of Wagyu and beef. 

Beef Marble Score

The beef marble score, or the BMS, is the grading system used to determine the amount of marbling in a cut of beef. It starts at 3 and goes up to 12. Steaks scored at the lower end will have less marbling, while a cut with a score of 12 will contain a lot of visible marbling. The higher graded Wagyu is a more tender piece of meat due to the high levels of marbling. 

Beef Marble Scores

  • BMS 3
  • BMS 4
  • BMS 5
  • BMS 6
  • BMS 7
  • BMS 8
  • BMS 9
  • BMS 10
  • BMS 11
  • BMS 12

Wagyu Beef

Some types of Japanese Wagyu beef follow a different grading system. Specific breeds which are raised to stricter standards will follow a grading system that combines the Yield grade (which goes from A to C) and the meat quality grade (which goes from 1 to 5). For example, A5, which is the highest grade in the system. This is determined, not only by the marbling but the brightness of the meat and fat as well as the texture. 

Yield Grades:

  • A
  • B
  • C

Meat Quality Grades:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Australian Marbling Score

The Australian Marbling Score starts at 0 and goes up to 9. A score of 0 means there is no marbling, while a steak graded 9 would tend to have a high amount of marbling within it. 

Australian Marbling Scores

  • MS0
  • MS1
  • MS2
  • MS3
  • MS4
  • MS5
  • MS6
  • MS7
  • MS8
  • MS9

USDA Grading System

For USDA beef, there are just three scores within the grading system. These include Choice, Prime and Select. A Select graded steak would generally have low amounts of marbling, while the Prime contains extensive amounts of marbling. 

USDA Grades 

  • Select 
  • Choice
  • Prime 

So now you know what grades to look out for, why not try our range of gourmet produce? We feature many highly graded beef with superb marbling. From Japanese A5 Wagyu to Prime USDA steaks and succulent Australian beef. At Tom Hixson, we provide the finest array of meats for your fine dining recipes.