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.
The Pellet Grill – A Quick Overview
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.
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.
How to Cook Pellet Grill Steaks
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 longer than cooking steak with a more traditional sear.
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:
- 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 Steak on the Pellet Grill?
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.
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.