Pellet Grill Steaks – How To Get Perfect Seared Steak On Pellet Grill?

Pellet Grill Steaks – Ultimate Guide for Cooking Steak On Pellet Grill

Pellet grills are a great way to cook delicious steaks. Pellets have been around for decades and have been used by professionals in the restaurant industry for years because they produce consistent results every time.

They offer direct heat and a good sear, but sometimes that doesn’t translate well to your meat.

Here’s how you can get perfect steak sears on a pellet grill. In this blog post, we’ll show you everything about pellet grill steaks, cooking steak on pellet grill and how to fire up a tasty steak on your pellet grill!

What is a pellet grill and how does it work?

Before we start cooking pellet grill steaks, let’s take a look at what this cooking method is all about.  

A pellet cooker works by using small “pellets” made of compressed sawdust that are fed into the heat source (usually an auger) and then burned.  

A pellet grill is an automatic with a digital control system, and they come in many different sizes.

The main difference between a pellet grill and a smoker is that the pellets are fed from above into a burning chamber where heat and smoke are created before being distributed to the food via a metal food distribution system.

Barbecuing using a pellet smoker is a simple process that requires very little effort.

pellet-grill-steaks-how-to-cook-steak-on-pellet-grill

Pellet grills are perfect for people who love to grill, smoke, or sear meat. They come in small and large varieties.

The best thing about these grills is you don’t have to worry about wood heat, smoke, or how much gas you have…it’s all done automatically with the push of a button! You can also save time because there are no hot coals, so it’s easy to re-fuel when needed without having to wait around.

A great way to get more use out of your pellet grill is by adding an extension table on top. This makes cooking anything from corn on the cob, bacon wrapped venison tenderloin, or even some fresh caught whole fish while camping possible.

You can even put a pizza stone or cast iron skillet on top like you would for an indoor oven.

They’re highly efficient and produce less ash than most other cooking methods. The best pellet grills can run anywhere from $500-$1000, depending on where you purchase them.  

This is great for anyone who loves to cook outdoors year-round because they can easily replace their outdoor kitchen with this device once warmer weather rolls around.  You can find some affordable pellet grills here .

Keep reading to find out more knowledge about how to cook steak on pellet grill.

How does pellet grill work?

Pellet grills are quite different from conventional charcoal, gas, or Propane smokers because they use a variety of wood pellets to produce smoke.  

I love using apple & cherry for most of my meat because it really brings out the flavor in your food. You can try this method on other types of pellets as well! On the way to research more method to cook a perfect pellet grill steaks, we need to know how it works.

Just be sure you’re using natural hardwood pellets and not manufactured ones that contain chemicals.  

Some popular pellet flavors are hickory, mesquite, pecan, maple, alder or oak.

How to set up for cooking Pellet Grill Steaks, including prepping meat and seasoning steak

Let’s get started. I’m going to show you how to set up your grill and cook a tasty steak, and share some of my favorite tips for getting perfect steak sears on a pellet grill!

STEP 1: PREP YOUR STEAK

The secret to cooking the best steaks is in the prep work before it even hits the grill. A good quality cut of meat is always important, but it starts with making sure you choose the right size and thickness based on how you like them cooked.

I prefer using ribeyes that are either bone-in or just over an inch thick, see this excellent article from AmazingRibs.com for more details on choosing a steak. Choosing quality steak will help you make sure a delicious pellet grill steaks.

prepping meat and seasoning steak

You can use other cuts of meat for this, like strip steaks and filets mignon, but I’m going to focus on ribeyes in this post.

Once you’ve got the steak ready, we’ll need to prep it before we cook using a couple of steps that improve the flavor and bring out the juices.  

First up is dry brining.  This process takes time (you can do it overnight or even days ahead), but I find it gives better results than wet brining because it allows more time for salt penetration which helps with flavors.

You can learn how to do dry-brine here on Serious Eats , or check out one of my favorite pellet grill steaks recipes here .

Next up is dry searing your steak by cooking at a high heat directly over the flame. This sears the outside and seals in all that flavor and juice, while leaving a nice crust on the steak. To do this:

Remove your steak from the fridge and pat it dry with some paper towels to get rid of any excess moisture.  

Be gentle with your meat when you’re handling it because you don’t want to poke holes in it or pull off any pieces of fat.

Once your steak is dry, salt both sides generously. I like using finishing salt because I think it gives better results for this step, but use whatever kind you have available. Let’s start heating things up!

STEP 2: SET UP YOUR PELLET GRILL FOR COOKING STEAK

Once you’ve got your steak prepared, let’s set up your pellet grill for cooking it.  I use the Big Green Egg grill to cook my steaks because it gets hot fast and I can control the temperature easily.  

Set your grill up using the high-heat setting (mine is 500 degrees Fahrenheit), with one of your zones set to direct heat.  

A lot of people like searing their steak over sear burners , but I like to do it right on the coals where all that flavor goes straight into the meat without burning the outside too much.

The next thing you’ll want to do is get a good sear on both sides of the meat so whatever method you’re using (sear burner or direct heat), make sure you can achieve a hot enough temperature.  

I like to use the 2-zone indirect method because I find it gives me better results, and doesn’t waste pellets by searing over low heat and having them burn in the fire box (which happens when you use a sear burner).

You can learn about using my 2-zone cooking method here , but basically once your grill is set up for high heat cooking, keep one side on direct heat and flip your steak when it gets a nice sear going after 1-2 minutes.

Let the other side get that really good color before flipping it back to finish off on direct heat.

That’s all there is it!  You’ll know your steak is done when you use the finger test to check for doneness (poke it and determine if its soft or hard, and learn how here ), but I usually go by internal temperature because I think it’s more accurate.  

For medium-rare cooking, shoot for one of these temperatures:

  • 500 degrees F – 120 degrees F
  • 500 degrees F – 130 degrees F

If you’re wondering why there aren’t any numbers listed in between those two, that’s because while a rare steak would be cool red in the middle with a good sear on the outside, a medium-rare steak wouldn’t have much color on the outside but would cook completely through to a warm red center.  

A medium steak would be warm red in the center with no pink on the outside.  You can find more information about this here .

The 2-zone indirect method I use for cooking steak on pellet grill over high heat won’t give you that toasty fire-kissed crust, but it will give you that gorgeous mahogany color and a really deep sear because it doesn’t waste any of your pellets trying to sear at low temperatures.

Now go enjoy some perfectly seared steaks off your pellet grill! If you have any questions about this post or need help with anything I didn’t cover, please feel free to leave me a comment down below!

Prep your steak by removing the outside membrane with a pair of pliers. Remove any excess fat, otherwise it will catch fire. Then rub the meat down with olive oil and sprinkle some seasoning on it. I like to use a homemade rib rub or Montreal Steak Spice for this process.

How to Cook Steak on Pellet Grill

The best way to get a great steak sear is to start with the right meat, and I typically use steaks that are about 1 inch thick. This allows the steak to cook through without getting overcooked on the outside.

Get yourself some quality beef (I prefer strip) and season them up before cooking…especially if it’s your first time! It’s also key to keep the meat cold until it goes onto the grill so they don’t lose valuable juices when searing.

Before you start grilling your steaks, preheat your pellet grill for at least 10 minutes with all burners set to high. After preheating, turn the outside burners back to medium and leave just one burner on high in the middle.

This will be used for searing. Once your grill is ready light a single flame and let it run for about 3 minutes.

After three minutes you can add your steak (or steaks) to the grill and close the lid for 4 minutes…for rare steaks, crease down; for medium-well – 6 minutes with the lid closed; or 8 minutes if well done..after four turns the meat 90 degrees to get those nice diamond sears!

Then open up and flip and cook another 5-9 minutes depending on how you like your steak cooked.

Tips on cooking a perfect steak sear on a pellet grill

  • Start with high heat.
  • Turn down the outside burners to medium after preheating your grill, and turn one burner on high in the center of the grill for searing.
  • Sear steaks 4 minutes per side (for rare), 6 minutes (medium), or 8 minutes (well done).
  • Flip 90 degrees after four minutes, then sear an additional 5 to 9 minutes depending on how you like them cooked.

If your steaks are over 1 inch thick you should cook them at least 10 minutes before closing the lid for any noticeable result. It’s important that you use a probe style thermometer so you can keep track of the internal temperature.

This will ensure perfect steak every time! Start by measuring the core temperature of your steak about 5 minutes into cooking.

If it’s lower than you want, turn the heat up to high while keeping an eye on it…if it’s higher than you want, turn down the heat a little bit.

The most important thing to remember is not to overcook them! That will ruin all that great flavor and juiciness.

You can always throw them back on if you do happen to overcook them, but they’re best when served right off the grill with some grilled veggies or a salad along side.

Pellets Grill Steaks – The Reverse Sear v.s The Sear Over Coals

Pellet grills are an amazing cooking tools. They come with many advantages over the traditional gas and charcoal grill, especially for people who love to cook steak. Let’s have a look why that is so.

First of all, pellet grills give you more control over various techniques that give perfect results when it comes to cooking steak.

We’re going to show you how to use 2 of the most effective ones: The Reverse Sear and The Sear Over Coals . One or both will yield excellent results in your steaks every time.

Let’s start with a bit of theory about the differences between traditional grilling and pellet grilling regarding steaks…

The Reverse Sear – When To Use It To Cook Steak On Pellet Grill

The Reverse Sear is a heat technique that’s often used in steak cooking. It’s simple and effective. You start with low temperature (around 150F) and then end the cook with high temperature (around 450F).

This way, you have a larger window of time to produce a perfectly medium-rare or medium result because the meat will not go above a certain internal temperature for a longer period of time.

In order to do so on a pellet grill, you can use 2 methods: One is with the sear burner turned off and the other one is by placing hot coals over it during the entire grilling process.

The latter method gives you more flexibility as it allows you to adjust the oven temp by adding more or less coals.

The sear over coals method – How To Use It On A Pellet Grill

For this technique you place hot coals or a burner on direct heat underneath one side of your meat and let it cook long enough to sizzle and brown the surface. Then you flip it, cover it and finish it off with high temperature.

The process is somewhat similar to searing a steak on a frying pan except that you don’t have to preheat the grill or wait until it’s hot enough.

This technique works very well on pellet grills because you get a much larger window of time before your meat reaches its target temperature due to their efficient heat retention properties.

Now let’s take a look at how these 2 techniques are applied to cooking steak on pellet grill

How To Do A Reverse Sear On A Pellet Grill

1) For this method you turn the burners down to 150F and place your food over indirect heat. Cover the grill and let it cook slowly.

2) After around 30 minutes you can start checking for doneness with your remote thermometer probe .

For 1″ thick steak, medium rare will be somewhere between 138F – 145F. Adjust the temp accordingly if you want to change that range.

You’ll know it’s done when the internal temperature of the meat reaches about 130F (medium), or 135F (medium-well).

3) When close to target temperature, place steaks over direct heat over high flame for about 90 seconds per side or until nicely charred on both sides. Flip them frequently to avoid flare-ups.

4) Remove steaks from grill, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

The sear over coals method

1) For this technique you turn all burners up to high and place your food over direct heat. Let it cook for about 90 seconds per side or until nicely charred on both sides. Flip them frequently to avoid flare-ups.

2) Remove steaks from grill, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes:

* Always start with steaks at least 1/2″ thick as they will be less likely to overcook and because they will retain their juiciness better than thinner cuts due to the thermal properties of food.

Also, the cooking time is largely based on how you like your steak done so we can’t give an exact time frame here. Use our guidelines as a starting point and adjust accordingly.

* Preheat your grill with all burners on high for 15 minutes or until it reaches about 500F.

* For the sear over coals method, you can use either a side burner or a regular burner to heat up your pan. Whichever one is available to you is fine, just make sure it’s big enough to accommodate your steaks.

You can also use this technique with charcoal but we recommend using a little bit more coals than usual so they don’t cool down too quickly when you place meat on them.

Also, if possible, try to flip your steak half way through the cook time so that both sides have equal chance of acquiring nice char marks which also add flavor.

Why are pellet grills so popular?

People are attracted to pellet grills because they combine the convenience of gas or propane grills with the great smoky flavor of charcoal or wood grills.

As a result, you get low and slow cooking without worrying about flare-ups and smoking in your kitchen all day long.

Pellets work well for any type of meat but we find that grilled steak is particularly delicious when prepared on this type of grill due to their ability to maintain a more even temperature than other types.

Pros and Cons of Pellet Grills

PROS

  • Fast to preheat and easy to use.
  • Efficient heat retention properties make it possible to sear meat without overcooking it.

CONS:

  • Lack of smoke flavor.

For best results, you need to purchase pellets specially made for pellet grills if you don’t want your food tasting like an ash tray.

After reading this article, you should feel more confident about trying these two techniques on your next steak cookout.

Just remember that the key factor behind all this is temperature control so be sure not to rush things while cooking and let the grill do its job!

Next time we’ll show how steaks look when they’re done according to each temperature range so stay tuned!

Recipes for grilled steaks with different flavors

-Grilled Steak Oriental

Ingredients

  • 4 New York strip steaks, cut 1 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional)

Cooking Instructions:

  • Combine steak with the marinade of your choice in a shallow dish.
  • Cover dish and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Grill steaks over hot fire for 5 minutes on each side; baste frequently with remaining marinade. R
  • emove from grill when they reach desired doneness (about 145 degrees fahrenheit, medium rare).
  • Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and fresh parsley if desired. Serve immediately.

-Grilled Salisbury Steak using A-MAZE-N pellet smoker

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey 1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs, depending on how dry your meat is. I usually add a little bit more because the meat tends to be drier when cooking Salisbury Steaks.
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with your hands until evenly combined.
  • Shape into patties in whatever size you like (I prefer 6 ounce burgers).
  • Smoke grill steaks at 160 degrees for 25-30 minutes using A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker with Hickory flavored pellets.
  • You can get thinner burgers by pressing them down on the grate.

-Grilled Steak with Bourbon and Mustard Glaze

Ingredients

  • 4 strip steaks 1/2 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar Cooking

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients except for steak in a saucepan and boil until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes.
  • Grill steaks over high heat to desired doneness (about 145 degrees fahrenheit for medium rare) brushing generously with glaze during last few minutes of cooking.
  • Garnish as desired and serve immediately.

What Temperature Do You Cook Steak On A Pellet Grill?

You can use a temperature gauge of your choice on pellet grill.

Recommendations For Cooking Steak On A Pellet Grill:

We recommend cooking steak over high heat at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit with plenty of smoke for about 5-7 minutes, then reduce heat and continue cooking until desired doneness is reached.

You should cook steaks for 7-9 minutes per side to achieve medium rare doneness when cooking on a gas or charcoal grill.

You should add 2-3 minutes when using a pellet grill. Make sure you flip the steaks carefully and slowly in order to prevent injury.

When using a pellet grill, you should always use a digital probe thermometer in order to check if the meat has reached the desired doneness.

We recommend cooking steak to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare or 160 degrees Fahrenheit for medium.

You can also use a touch test to determine when your steak is ready. To perform the touch test, lightly press on the center part of the steak with your index finger and thumb.

If it feels soft, it’s not done yet. If there is no resistance when pressing down then it’s ready! This method works great when cooking thicker cuts of steak such as porterhouse or ribeye steaks.

Tips on grilling steak on a pellet grill, including timing and temperature 

You’re outside enjoying a beautiful day and want nothing more than to throw some steaks on your pellet grill because you know how good it will taste, but then disaster strikes: Your steak flippers actually manage to get that perfect color and sear on each side, but when you go to serve your steaks they’re still raw in the middle! That’s no good…

Well don’t worry friends; we’ve all been there (or at least I hope we have).  I’m not talking about overcooking or burning your steak (that comes later), but rather ruining perfectly good steaks by having them come out medium well when you wanted them to be medium rare.

I’ll be honest, since becoming a pellet grill owner my ability to cook steaks on the stovetop has gone down… A lot.  

Because every time I try to cook something with even slightly more color than an unseasoned chicken breast, my family just yells at me for ruining dinner and wasting food.  

So instead I rely heavily on my Pellet Grill to give me that perfect sear without overcooking the center of the steak (and you too can also learn how to cook amazing steak in your pellet grill).

The problem is that you’ve got this perfectly seared outside of your meat, but when you cut into it all you get is raw meet  

How upsetting! But don’t fear, I’ve got just the solution for you.

1) Let your steaks come to room temperature

This will help them cook more evenly throughout.  I know because I’m impatient and always want to start cooking ASAP, but having cold steak straight out of the fridge means they’ll take much longer to cook all the way through. If you want even cooking AND a good sear, this is THE KEY .

2) Preheat your grill

I set mine up for 2-zone cooking which means setting it up so that one side is on high heat (around 500 degrees F in my case), while the other side has no heat directly underneath it (above it would be indirect or low heat).    

This way you get a nice crust on your steaks without overcooking them in the process.  Then when you flip, you can finish it off on indirect heat to cook all the way through.

3) Don’t press down on your meat!

Stop smashing your food with a spatula or steak flipper… That just pushes out all the juice and flavor leaving an unsavory dry mess behind.  

Don’t be that person ruining their beautiful steak dinner by turning it into a pan of dry mulch because they wanted to hurry up and eat without waiting for everyone else to finish cooking.

4) Give yourself some time

If you’re cooking a thick cut of meat like a T-Bone, ribeye, porterhouse or New York Strip… It’s going to need some time on the grill.  

But what many people fail to realize is that a steak’s temperature NOT only depends on how long it’s been on the grill, but also how hot your grill is and how often you flip.

2-3 minutes per side for a 1″ thick cut of meat should be good enough for a nice color, but it will obviously depend on the thickness so if you’re unsure just use a thermometer .

5) Flip regularly

If you’re constantly flipping every 2 minutes then there’s no way for either side to get that great color or sear.  I try to flip just once every 5 minutes or so at most, but I will say that having a quality steak flipper makes things MUCH easier.

If you’re using something like a spatula or grill tongs , it can be difficult to get under the meat without pressing down on it and losing all the juice.  A solid steak flipper is thin, has some give, and can slide right underneath your food without any struggle.

Now for the juiciest part!

Well now that you’ve got yourself some nicely seared steaks with an even cook throughout, it’s time to put them to their final test… Slice into them! If your meat comes out purple then there are good chances that they are undercooked or more likely not properly rested.

When making this mistake it is usually the thickness of your steak that is to blame, not the grilling method itself.

So when in doubt cook thicker! If instead your steaks are coming out overcooked or with a solid brown color throughout then most likely they were cooked too quickly on high heat and/or you didn’t allow them to rest properly after removing from the grill.  

If this happens bring them inside immediately, cover tightly with foil and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving so all that yummy juice doesn’t end up getting soaked into the plate below.

And there you have it friends.  5 easy steps to cooking perfectly seared steak every time!  Just remember to give yourself enough time by starting early, preheating your grill, letting your meat come to room temperature, giving yourself some time between each flip and using a good steak flipper!  That’s really all there is to it.

Now what are you waiting for?  Fire up those grills and get cookin’!!!

The best cuts of meat to cook on your pellet grill

Steak from the strip loin is a great cut of meat to cook on a pellet grill. The whole strip loin can be harvested from a cow, and it includes part of the back bone, which means that steaks cut from this area have great marbling.

The entire top loin section also provides many different types of steaks for you to enjoy. The most popular types of steaks include porterhouse, T-Bone and New York Strip Steaks.

These types of steak are leaner than other cuts such as ribeye or tenderloin, but they still have excellent flavor when cooked right!

To get the best taste possible when cooking your strip loin steak on a pellet grill we recommend cooking your steak to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare or 160 degrees Fahrenheit for medium.

You can also use a touch test to determine when your steak is ready. To perform the touch test, lightly press on the center part of the steak with your index finger and thumb. If it feels soft, it’s not done yet.

If there is no resistance when pressing down then it’s ready! This method works great when cooking thicker cuts of steak such as porterhouse or ribeye steaks.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pellets Grill Steaks & Cooking Steak on Pellet Grill

Do you flip steaks on a pellet grill?

Yes, we recommend flipping your steaks every 2-3 minutes in order to achieve even cooking pellet grill steaks. You can use a pair of tongs or flip with a spatula if you have one available.

Can I put marinade on my steak when cooking on a pellet grill?

Traditionally, marinades contain oils and other liquids which may cause flareups when using a pellet smoker. If you do decide to use a sauce or spray it on the meat before placing it into the grill then make sure that all your sauces are sugar free and runny.

We recommend slowing basting your meat during the last few minutes of cooking time if you want to add moisture back into your steak.

How long do you grill steak at 400 degrees?

Searing steak at a high temperature for several minutes is a great way to create a nice crust on your meat, especially in cooking pellet grill steaks. We recommend searing for 4-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your cut and heat you are using.

Is it okay to cook frozen steak on a pellet grill?

We recommend thawing your steak before placing it onto a hot grill in order for proper cooking. However, you can place your steak into the grill from its frozen state if needed or desired.

You should expect lower quality results when cooking from frozen, as compared to fresh steaks.

Can you cook burgers on a pellet grill?

Yes, you can cook just about anything on a pellet grill. However, if cooking burgers on your pellet grill we recommend cooking the patties for around 3 minutes per side in order to prevent any burning or overcooking.

You can also use two burger patties instead of one large patty in order reduce grilling time even more!

What temperature is steak medium rare?

Pellet grills and other pellet smokers do not fluctuate in temperature like traditional charcoal or wood fired offset smokers.

To get the best medium rare steak we recommend cooking your steak to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do you put sauce on a steak when barbecuing?

Traditionally, marinades contain oils and other liquids which may cause flareups when using a pellet smoker. If you do decide to use a sauce or spray it on the meat before placing it into the grill then make sure that all your sauces are sugar free and runny.

We recommend slowing basting your meat during the last few minutes of cooking time if you want to add moisture back into your steak.

How long do you cook 2 inch steaks on the grill?

When cooking 2 inch thick steaks on a pellet grill, we recommend cooking the steak for around 12-15 minutes depending on your desired temperature. You can use a pair of tongs or flip with a spatula if you have one available.

Final words about pellet grill steaks 

The perfect steak sear is the mark of a grill master. We hope these tips help you get your best grilling results so that all of your guests will be impressed with what’s on their plate and not just how it tastes!

We has provided an in-depth guide to how you can grill perfect steaks on your pellet grill. You now have the information needed so that next time, you’ll be able to cook up a sensational steak for yourself and any guests who may stop by!

If you find yourself struggling to maintain an even temperature, try cooking at lower temperatures for longer periods of time. This should work well in most cases!

Read more: What Part Of The Cow Is Brisket?