Best Pellet Grills for Searing – Our Top Choices and Buyer’s Guide

best pellet grill for searing

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Nothing comes close to firing up the grill on a warm summer night to treat yourself and the family to a great meal. No matter what you decide to cook up, what you use to cook it can have a very large impact on the ease of cooking and taste you end up with.

When hunting through the market to find a grill style that you will love, not many options stand out quite as much in terms of effectiveness and general pleasure as the pellet grill. Finding a pellet grill that has the right features and requirements for you ensures you are searing your meat the way you want every time.

It can get overwhelming and hard to decide just which grill is going to be best for you. After some research and prying into the market, we feel that we have found the best options so you can spend more time grilling and less time doing research.

We want to show you our top 5 picks for pellet grills for searing that we are sure you will love. Additionally, we also want to make sure you know some more about the pellet grill market so you can go into your purchase with an idea of what to look for. Let’s start out by first addressing if you really need a pellet grill for searing in the first place.

In a Hurry?  Here Are Our Top Picks

  1. Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 – Top Overall Choice
  2. Pit Boss Navigator 850
  3. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX – Great Budget Choice
  4. Z Grills 550B Pellet Grill
  5. Pit Boss 71820FB
  6. Big Horn Pellet Grill and Smoker

A Quick Note on Pellet Grills

The way a wood pellet grill works is by using small, wood pellets to keep food cooking consistently on the grill.

Where gas and charcoal grills simply burn with much less control over your temperature, a pellet grill can regulate itself and stay at a desired temperature as long as you need it to.  Pellet grills are incredibly easy to use in this regard.

The pellets are stored in a hopper that releases more pellets when the temperature starts to fall so there is always the perfect amount of heat to cook your food.

Here’s the thing though – the way pellet grills actually cook your food is almost like how a convection oven works with indirect heat.  The wood pellets are ignited in a firepot, then a fan circulates the hot air and smoke up into the cooking chamber – cooking your food evenly and with plenty of flavor.

Do You Really Need a Pellet Grill for Searing?

In order to get a proper sear and grill marks on your food, you typically need to be cooking over a direct flame and on high temperatures.  Due to the nature of how pellet grills cook your food indirectly, it can actually be quite challenging to sear a steak on some particular grill models.

Nowadays though, there are plenty of pellet grills that have been designed specifically to address this minor searing gripe.  Specifically, some pellet grills are now designed to be able to sear by:

  • Being able to achieve very very high temperatures where your food actually sears a little bit when it comes to contact with the grill’s grates
  • Featuring a sliding plate that will actually expose the flames in the firepot to your food for a traditional direct heat grilling experience, or
  • Including a sear box side burner that is powered by propane

Pellet grills essentially combine all the best elements of the other grill varieties and smokers into one package that is cost-effective and easy to use. To give some more clarification, let’s see what differentiates a pellet grill from a sear box.

Pellet Grill vs Sear Box

A very common thing that grillers wonder is what is the difference between a pellet grill and a sear box? If you already have a good grill and don’t want to go out and buy a new one, a sear box can be just what you need to get that seared look and taste on your food.

A pellet grill is going to generally be a larger grill that is designed to take care of cooking whatever you want. From meats to even baking, a pellet grill is going to cook whatever you want in any way that you want it. With a sear box, that is simply a smaller attachment that acts as a mini pellet grill to give your food that final sear and sizzle it needs before getting plated.

If you are new to grilling and want the whole package, getting a pellet grill will allow you to get all the sears you want and much more. If you have already invested in a grill you really like and just want the power to sear better, getting a small sear box will be a great companion.

Temperature Control

One of if not the most common reasons people choose a pellet grill for searing and any other form of cooking is due to the fact that pellet grills are simply the easiest to control the temperature of. When you have the power to control the temperature of your grill, you have the power to cook a wider variety of foods to perfection.

Traditional grills rely on either gas or coal to get a fire started that stays hot enough to get food cooked. However, the nature of these burning materials makes it very hard to adjust or keep a temperature in these grills for more precise cooking, With a wood pellet grill, it uses electronics and sensors to make sure your food is cooking exactly how you want it to and will always maintain a set temperature.

The 6 Best Pellet Grills for Searing

Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi

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The overall best pellet grill for searing in our opinion is the Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi pellet grill – and by a pretty wide margin.  The design of this grill incorporates all of the features we already touched on, plus some more.

For your searing, the Woodwind comes with an option to include a gas powered sear box that can really crank up the heat.  The cast aluminum burner is also strong and durable enough to hold large pots, cast iron skillets, and even small outdoor pizza ovens.

On top of that, the Woodwind series from Camp Chef has a built in sliding heat diffusor plate that you can adjust to expose your fire pot if you want to sear.  This allows for you to decide if you want to sear your meat over direct heat flames or cook with indirect heat.

This thing also has a great temperature range of 180-500°F, affording you a ton of versatility, and also comes in a larger model – the Woodwind WiFi 36, if you want the extra cooking space.

This grill also comes able to connect to Camp Chef’s mobile app where you can control all aspects of your cook wirelessly.  Everything from turning your grill on, to monitoring your food’s temperature, to setting your smoke levels can be done right there on the app.

(Read our full Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi review here)

Pros

  • Sliding diffusor plate allows you to sear over direct heat on the main cooking grate
  • Also comes with a propane fueled side sear box
  • WiFi connectivity to a phone app that lets you manage your cook from the app
  • Patented Ash Can Clean out system for easy cleaning
  • Lots of cooking surface area across two full sized grate levels

Cons

  • Price point is a little more expensive than some others on this list

Pit Boss Navigator 850

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The Navigator 850 is the latest and greatest from Pit Boss when it comes to technology.  Specifically in the searing conversation, they’ve added a feature similar to Camp Chef’s sliding diffusor plate.  On the Navigator, you can easily slide a plate to expose flame to your grates for that direct heat grilling experience.

The navigator advertises a temperature range of 180°F to 500°F but by many accounts that temperature can go even higher while the grill is in direct heat mode.  Needless to say, this is without a doubt one of the best pellet grills for searing out there.

On top of that, this grill has a really nice capacity and is offered at an affordable price.  With 879 square inches of cooking surface area, you can easily smoke lots of meats at once – enough for a small army!

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX

 

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This great grill offered by Camp Chef is a true gem in the grilling scene with a number of innovations and features that show how far the industry has come. You have all the space and tech you need to get the perfectly cooked (or seared!) food you want any time you fire up the grill.

The Camp Chef temperature control system makes regulating and setting your grill temperature easier than ever before.

Take advantage of the grease collector and ash tray that makes cleaning the entire unit very easy. For the perfect searing experience, you can get the add-on searing grill to make getting that perfect sizzle just a bit easier.

Pros

  •         Included controller for smart settings
  •         Patented Ash Can Clean out system for easy cleaning
  •         Less smoke emission than the competition
  •         Regulates the propane usage itself
  •         Large amount of cooking space

Cons

  •         On the heavier side of grills

Z GRILLS 550B Pellet Grill

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This compelling package from Z GRILLS offers you the cooking power you need in a package that is appealing to any griller. The easy to assemble design combined with the lighter weight makes this grill easy to move around and enjoy anywhere.

The LED display gives you a temperature reading to use for cooking and the searing abilities of this grill are excellent. The added fan and grease drip bucket mean that your fire will stay strong and your cleanup will be easy anytime you start cooking.

The electric feed system for the pellets makes sure your food is always cooking at the right temperature to get rid of any guesswork. For the tech-focused griller, this unit is the iPhone of the grill industry.

Pros

  • Excellent built-in temperature gauge for easy reading
  • Very easy to move around
  • Advanced pellet feeding system
  • Exterior coating for weather protection
  • Induction fan to control fire

Cons

  • Can have some temperature reading issues

Pit Boss BBQ Pellet Grill and Smoker

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Pit Boss is a big name in the grilling world, so their classic pellet grill was sure to make a splash when it entered the market. The staple of this grill is its very large interior space that allows you to make a wide array of foods at once with ease.

Ideal for searing, this grill has an open flame design that allows you to grill your meat the way you like it. Combined with the ability to adjust the temperature using a smart gauge, this grill allows you to cook whatever you want in a wide variety of ways. The cast iron construction and smart design mean you’ll be grilling with this unit for many years.

Pros

  • Multiple racks for cooking lots of food
  • Cast iron construction for heat retention
  • Wide range of temperatures for cooking
  • Flame broiler for searing on an open flame

Cons

  • The wheels are rather delicate

BIG HORN Pellet Grill and Smoker

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With its classic looks and build quality meant to last for years, this BIG HORN grill is a great option for those looking for a large cooking surface with comfort features too. The wheels make it easy enough to move around and the sturdy legs make sure it stays wherever you put it.

Digital thermometer controls make this unit great for newer grillers who are looking for some help getting their food just right. However, it is to be noted that you will need to monitor this grill as it cooks because it can let out a higher amount of heat than some other units. Overall, this unit does the job and is built to last.

Pros

  • Stable feet for a sturdy experience
  • Large 700 square inch cooking area
  • Easy to use and manage design
  • Allows versatility to cook variety of foods

Cons

  • Doesn’t have the best seal for heat retention

Traeger Grills Ranger Grill

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When you need to leave the big grill at home, the compact and effective Ranger Portable Grill by Traeger will be ready to grill wherever you need it to. This self-contained unit has everything you need to get the benefits of a wood pellet grill and searing features away from home.

Despite its smaller size, this grill is able to take care of all the cooking and searing that a larger unit could take on. It’s decently sized wood storage and smart controller allow this unit to get food hot and keep it hot as long as you need it to.

If you’re concerned about safety, the cooking timer and latch locks make sure the grill stops when your food is done to prevent any issues.

Pros

  • Small size for easy portability and on the go pellet grilling
  • Self-contained unit to always have what you need
  • Keep warm mode for cooler environments
  • Digital controller to make grilling easier

Cons

  • Rather heavy for the small size

A Few More Ideas to Help Find the Right Grill

With these options, we feel that we have covered the whole spectrum of options and exposed you to the best of what the market has to offer. Each one is unique in its own way and offers you a different experience then the next. With that in mind, we have created a buyer’s guide to help further guide your buying decision.

With this buyer’s guide, you will have all of the necessary components to understand what you need to be looking for in a grill. Once you are able to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each category, the choice of grill that is best for you will hopefully become clear.

Grill Size

Depending on your specific wants or needs, the size of your pellet grill could easily be the most important factor you need to choose from when picking a grill. The size of a grill can refer to both the literal size of the unit itself as well as the cooking area inside the grill. To make sure you are aware of both elements, we will look into each one individually for greater detail.

Starting with total size, the total size of a unit determines where you can use it and what it is designed for. Larger pellet grills used for searing are going to be on some sort of fixed base. This taller base will likely have wheels as the unit is designed to be used in a yard or loaded into a truck to be brought somewhere else. The larger the entire size of the grill, the more stationary it will be with the benefit of added stability.

For the cooking size offered by a grill, this usually correlates with the overall size of the grill. A grill that is large and designed to stay mostly stationary is going to have a much larger cooking area size than one you can walk around with and place anywhere. The larger pellet grill is going to be ideal for someone looking for a traditional grilling surface that has the space to cook whatever you need with ease. Alternatively, smaller units are going to be more portable with smaller cooking surfaces. This will be fine for things like a burger or two, but you won’t have the space to cook for the whole family at once.

Temperature Range

The temperature range of a grill directly affects how well it will be able to cook your food and what kind of flavors it will be able to extract. While common grills like charcoal and gas can have drastically varying temperatures every time they are used, a pellet grill used for searing will be able to light up and stay at one temperature for as long as it has pellets.

The reason temperature range is so important when it comes to searing is that you need a very high temperature to actually get a good sear on your food. Most of these pellet grills are going to get up to around 500 degrees Fahrenheit which will be able to cook any food you want. However, getting an easy sear often requires a temperature of around 900 degrees. This means you may want to look into getting a sear box accessory if getting sears easier is something that you want to invest in.

Grill Material

Considering the heat and conditions inside a grill, you don’t want just any material inside the grill that is cooking your food. Some cheaper grills may have stainless steel to save money, but cast iron is going to be your best bet. Cast iron not only has superior heat retention to stainless steel, but it also heats up food faster. Cast iron is what allows you to sear your foods and will be your best friend whenever you go to grill.

As far as the external material of the grill are concerned, they are also something to keep in mind. The majority of grills are going to be made of something like steel so that they can retain heat better and keep the grill protected from the elements, While these materials are good for keeping the heat in and the food cooking, you may want to look for a cover if you live in a rainy area as not all options may be treated to deal with water.

Cleaning

While we all may not like to talk about it, cleaning the grill is something we all have to do once the food is finished cooking. Since you have to clean the grill every time you want to cook with it, you want to get a grill that is as easy to clean as it is to use in every other aspect.

Every grill is a little different, but most will have some way to capture and store the grease. With the pellet grills we looked at, the most common method for cleaning grease was a drip method that let the grease flow into a bucket on the side. Not only does this make cleaning up the grease much easier, but you now have a bucket of grease you can use for gravy or other cooking applications.

When it comes to the cooking area itself, you will want to look for a grill with removable grill components so that you can take them out and scrub them down individually. The easier it is to clean your grill and put it away, the more likely you are to want to use it in the first place.

Portability

Depending on how and where you use your grill, the portability of a grill may be an important consideration. Having the ability to bring a pellet grill camping without breaking your back getting it into the car is a nice convenience.

Most models will weigh somewhere around 100 pounds, so they are going to be rather heavy. These grills are not designed to be moved around very often, but a few people could easily lift them around if you want to take them somewhere else. There are however very small and portable units that you could much easier carry around and bring nearly anywhere if you value portability above all else.

Additional Features

Main features aside, there are some comfort features you can get with a pellet grill for searing that make them very nice. Form all the options we have seen, these are some of our favorite features that make the cooking experience just a little bit better:

  • Smart temperature control
  • Temperature screen
  • Built in probe thermometers
  • Side shelves
  • Accessory attachments

None of these features are going to radically change the grilling experience, but they are definitely nice to have. We found the temperature screen and controls that are more advanced often make for a much easier cooking experience as you can see exactly how hot the grill is and can keep it at that temperature.

Final Winner

Despite every grill having something great for every type of griller, we think that one of them stands out as the best. The Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi is easily our top winner with its impressive host of features and raw ability to be a great grill and smoker all in one. The size is right where it needs to be and the design has all the features you could want.

Despite being a little more expensive than some of the other options, you are getting one serious grill for the money. The smoke control settings and smart temperature adjustments make cooking on the grill a breeze for anyone.

Wrap Up

No matter which grill you choose, you can be rest assured you are getting a great deal. This guide is a culmination of our research and searching to help you find the best pellet grill for searing possible. For the home cook looking for an advanced grill to the camper looking for something to take in their car, there is a pellet grill for searing that will get the job done for everybody.