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So you’ve acquired a pellet grill and now it’s time to satisfy your craving for a meaty, mouthwatering steak. No matter what your favorite cut of beef is, the pellet grill is a perfect cooker to prepare a delicious steak dinner.
In this article, we’ll go everything you need to know for how to make incredible pellet grill steaks. By the end, you’ll be a bona fide grill master and ready to grill up some delicious wood fired beef.
So read on if you’re ready to fire up your Traeger, Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Green Mountain, Req Teq, or other pellet grill brand of choice!
The Pellet Grill – A Quick Overview
How Your Cooker Works
Many people do not realize that pellet grills are actually convection cookers. The firepot where pellets are ignited is covered by a deflector plate. A fan then distributes air and heat around the cooking chamber in a convection-style manner.
Because of this, you might logically think that a pellet grill can’t sear since direct heat grilling isn’t used. While that’s somewhat true, it’s certainly possible to get a sear and beautiful grill marks on a pellet grill steak.
Getting That Perfect Sear
Searing happens when food comes into direct contact with heat. If you were to cook a steak on a griddle, for example, the entire side of the steak comes into contact with the cooking surface – so an entire seared crust builds up on the outside of each steak.
A pellet grill steak can achieve seared grill marks where the steak comes into contact with the scorching hot grill grates. The key is to really crank the grill’s heat up when it’s time to sear – ideally up to 475 or 500°F if your grill supports it. Searing will occur on the portion of the steak that directly contacts the grate, forming beautiful grill marks.
The Best Way To Cook Steaks On A Traeger or Pit Boss
When it comes to preparing steak on the pellet grill, there are really two main methods to get the job done.
Method 1 – The Reverse Sear
If I had to choose the best way to prepare a pellet grill steak, I’d definitely have to say the reverse sear. Reverse searing is a process in which your steak is smokes on a lower temperature for a period of time. During this time, your steak not only cooks evenly, but it picks up some delicious wood fired smoky flavor off of your pellet grill’s ignited wood pellets.
After your steak smokes on the grill low and slow, you remove it from the grill grates and crank up the heat. Once your grill has heated all the way, the steaks go back on the grill – but this time for a relatively quick sear to finish it off.
With the reverse sear you get the best of both worlds in the sense that you can get a solid sear along with complex, tasty smoky flavor in your steak. The “catch” is that the reverse sear method takes a little bit longer than cooking steak with a more traditional sear.
The Reverse Sear – Step By Step
Here’s a step by step guide for reverse searing steak on a pellet grill. Note you’ll need a probe meat thermometer to best cook your steaks!
- Preheat your pellet grill to 225°F. If your pellet grill has a high smoke setting, turn it on for this part.
- Season steaks generously with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. My personal opinion is that if you buy a good cut of steak, that’s all the seasoning you need – but certainly feel free to substitute your own seasoning mixture or favorite steak rub!
- Smoke your steaks on the pellet grill until they reach an internal temperature of 110°F. Then remove them from the grill and set on a plate or cutting board to rest.
- Crank up your grill’s temperature to 500°F if it’s supported. Anything 450°F or above is great though.
- Once grill temperature is up, place steaks back on the grill. Sear for about 4 minutes per side, so 8 minutes total. Flip only once halfway through.
- Measure your steak’s internal temperature and remove from the grill once they reach your desired doneness. I like my steak medium rare and typically pull it off the grill at 128°F. Pull at 135°F for medium and 145°F for medium well.
- Let your steak rest. Your steak will continue to cook and get a few degrees warmer while it rests, and this will also allow the juices to redistribute to the entire steak.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!
*Note* the USDA recommends steak be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F but the above temperatures are the standard doneness preferences for experienced and professional chefs.
Method 2 – The Traditional Sear
If you’re a little bit short on time or just prefer a more “traditional” method of cooking a steak, here’s what you need to do:
Step By Step For The “Traditional” Sear
- Preheat your pellet grill to 450°F.
- Season your steaks generously with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Once grill has preheated, place steaks on the cooking grate. Cook for about 5-6 minutes per side, so 10-12 minutes total. Flip halfway through and try to resist the temptation to open the lid and peek except for when you’re flipping.
- After 10 minutes total on the grill, measure your steak’s internal temperature with a probe meat thermometer. Remove from the grill once the beef reaches your desired doneness.
Which Wood Pellets are Best for Steaks?
When I cook steak, I typically stick to either Hickory, Mesquite, or Pecan. Hickory and Mesquite (Mesquite especially) are on the stronger end in terms of smokiness. Steaks are very beefy and strong cuts of meat though and hold up very nicely to strong smoke flavor.
If I’m looking to mix things up I’ll go with pecan. Pecan is an under-appreciated wood type for grilling and smoking in my opinion. It’s just a tiny bit less strong on the smoke flavor compared to hickory but has a vanilla and nutty finish that adds some fantastic layering and complexity to steak’s flavor profile.
I know many people who also use Oak wood pellets for steak and rave about the results. Oak is also a great choice, I just personally don’t use it for steak.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Pellet Grills Good for Steaks?
Yes, pellet grills are good for cooking steaks. In fact, pellet grills are perfect for cooking steaks. A good steak is juicy and mouth-watering, and seared on both sides, and you can achieve this perfection with a pellet grill.
Pellet grills are packed with wonderful features that make them excellent, from efficiency to less mess, and the fact that they do not run on charcoal. All of these features that make pellet grills excellent, also explain why they are so good for cooking steak.
For example, the last thing that you want is to be eating a steak that stinks (and even tastes) of charcoal. With a pellet grill, this will never happen.
So, yes, pellet grills are good for steaks. This is mainly because a pellet grill will showcase the natural flavor of the steak, instead of masking it with the scent of charcoal. So, if you have a pellet grill, you definitely can cook your steak on it.
Do You Need to Flip Meat on a Pellet Grill?
We discussed earlier how pellet grills are akin to convection ovens in many ways. Because of this, it’s not 100% necessary to flip your steaks (in other words, you could conceivably not flip your steak and still have it cook through all the way), but flipping is highly recommended.
The reason is because you’ll want to have an equal sear and grill marks on each side of the steak. Presentation and the eating experience would be a little goofy if you had a significantly stronger caramelization on one side of your beef vs the other.
What Temperature Do You Cook Steak on a Pellet Grill?
One of the most difficult things when it comes to cooking is knowing what temperature to cook meat at.
The ideal temperature varies based on how thick your cut is, and subsequently how long you’re cooking your steak. Generally speaking, we like to sear at or above 425ºF then let it finish closer to 300-325ºF.
Your cook will be much more consistent if you preheat your grill. So, around 15 minutes before you want to cook, set your grill to this heat and close the lid.
After the grill has preheated, it is ready to use to cook your steak. You should then keep your steak on the grill until the internal temperature of the meat matches your desired doneness (rare/medium rare/well done/etc.).
How Long Does It Take to Cook a Steak on a Pellet Grill?
The amount of time that it will take to cook your steak depends heavily on how well done you like your steak. If you like your steak served rare, then it will take significantly less time to cook than a steak that needs to be well done.
Generally speaking, it will take around 12-15 minutes to cook a steak on a pellet grill. This is based on the assumption that your grill is set to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you choose to cook at a lower temperature, then it will take longer for your steak to cook.
As long as your grill was preheated, and you keep the lid down on the grill, then your steak should cook in no time. But remember to keep an eye on the temperature throughout.
Pellet Grill Steaks – Final Thoughts
I hope this guide to pellet grill steaks has you excited to go pick up some beef from the store! Steak is a classic grilled food and the pellet grill is a perfect cooker to prepare it on.
We’ve dedicated an entire article to picking out the best pellet grills for searing that you can check out if you want to make sure your cooker is capable of delivering beautiful sear marks.
Did you try out the reverse sear? How did it go? What’s your favorite type of wood pellets for grilling steaks? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below.