How To Cook Steaks On A Pellet Grill - A Pitmaster's Guide

November 29, 2022

Cooking steaks on a pellet grill is a no brainer; the trick is to cook your steak at high heat whilst moderating your cook time based on the temperature and doneness you're looking for.

Having picked up a number of tips and tricks as a chef, I've got all the right tools to guide you in choosing the right cut and preparing and presenting a banger pellet grill steak!

Want to know how to discern between medium rare and medium well? How do you get those oh-so-satisfying grill marks? What's the best method for searing steak? Say no more, I've got you covered!

How To Cook Steaks On A Pellet Grill

How To Cook Steaks On A Pellet Grill?

You've probably already got your own pellet grill locked and loaded to cook some lip-smacking beef, but in case you happen to still be on the search for one, I would personally recommend a quality pellet grill from Pit Boss, such as the Austin XL Wood Pellet Grill or Traeger- the 885Peller Grill in their Ironwood Series is a good choice.

Steak Tomahawk Grilled Food

What Is The Best Steak To Cook On A Pellet Grill?

Your next step is going to be prepping the right cut of steak. While the pellet grill does all the hard work in creating that lovely smoke flavor, you've got to use high-quality meat too. I would suggest:

  • Rib eye steak
  • T bone steak
  • Flank steak
  • Sirloin steak

What Thickness Should You Go For?

Ideally, you should be buying a thick slice of meat; 2 inches is the recommended thickness. A thinner piece would have less flavor, which is why you should be quite picky about the type of meat you're going for.

How Do You Prep Your Steak?

Once you've got the right cut, it's important to prep your steak before you get started. Make sure to trim the excess fat off so that your meat cooks evenly.

Let's not forget that part of the art of cooking steaks is the flavor and seasoning, and you need to have all the right ingredients on hand.

It's important to prepare and have all the right tools, so having a meat thermometer would be massively helpful. This will help you gauge the exact internal temperature without having to cut your meat open mid-cook. Doing so, will disrupt your grilling process and cause the steak to lose its juices.

What's The Best Seasoning For Pellet Grill Steaks?

Here are a couple of simple ingredients for a quick and easy steak rub:

  • Salt and pepper (Kosher salt is best for grilling steaks, as it permeates the meat's surface better)
  • Garlic powder

There are also a ton of pre-made rubs out there, so if you find an easier option, go for it! Remember though, that the steak itself is king, so don't overpower the natural flavor by throwing on too much seasoning.

How Do You Season Your Steak?

Before you begin to season your steak, it's a good practice to use a paper towel to soak up any excess moisture from the meat, as any moisture may prevent you from achieving an even sear.

Be sure to coat both sides of your steak with your seasoning, including the edges as well. It's best to not get too heavy-handed with it, as you may kill the natural flavor of your steak. A light to medium coat (depending on what you prefer) would be ideal.

Beef Flesh Seasoning

What Temperature Do You Cook Steak On A Pellet Grill?

What Temperature Should Your Grill Grates Be At?

The ideal temperature to preheat your grill at is anywhere between 450 to 485 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the temperature on your grates should be up to about 600.

Before you place steaks on the grates, you should also spray the grates down with some non-stick cooking spray so that the rub stays adhered to your steak whilst still giving you those sear marks.

How Do You Cook Steak To Your Desired Doneness?

You're probably wondering how to master the art of getting your steak's internal temperature just right. Read on to familiarise yourself with the cooking process:

Rare:

The desired temperature for this steak is anywhere between 120 to 130F. This leaves you with a light sear on the outside of the entire steak and a nice redness in the middle.

If this is the cook you want to choose, your grill's temperature should be up to 400 degrees, and you should cook your meat for about 2 and a half minutes per side.

Medium Rare:

Medium rare is often considered the ideal temperature for a juicy, tender cut of steak. If you're more inclined to the perfect amount of pinkness offered here, your meat's internal temperature needs to be between 130 and 135 F.

Just like the former, you will need to grill your steak at 400 degrees, but you need to crank up the cook time to 3 and a half minutes per flip.

Your steak will have a more obvious sear than that of a rare steak and will be slightly warmer to the touch too (room temperature), as rares are usually quite cool in the middle.

Quick tip!

However, this temperature may not be everyone's cup of tea. A mid steak (cooked at 400 degrees for 4 and a half minutes per side) may be more up your alley if you feel like mid-rare is just a bit too pink for you. Medium steaks have an internal temperature of 135 to 145F.

Medium Well

If you're a novice at cooking steak, you may have used the three variations of medium interchangeably, as the difference between the three might've been a bit confusing.

Now That We've Cleared Up The Difference Between Mid-Rare and Medium, Let's Explore How You Might Want To Grill A Mid-Well Steak

We've established that the standard for searing steak is to have your grill on high heat- 400 degrees, irrespective of the cook you're going for. The difference often lies in the cook time and of course, is evident in the taste once you're done.

For these steaks, I would recommend cooking your meat at 5 and a half minutes per side. You will notice a darker sear on your steak, and even the center will be browner than the preceding preparations we've discussed.

Well Done

Here's my personal favorite - a deliciously seasoned, thoroughly cooked steak, gorgeously seared on the outside with a satisfying brown on the inside. Of course, it does boil down to preference, and if you share my tastes, then you have to cook your steak for 6 and a half minutes per side.

You can consider your beef to be grilled enough if it has an internal temperature of 155 to 165F, and once cut open, it will be quite hot to the touch.

Steak on the grill

What is The Reverse Sear Method?

Congratulations, you've gotten the hang of searing your steaks, so why don't we take a look at another trick in the book? If you feel you're confident enough as a pitmaster, you can try your luck at reverse searing, which is fairly self explanatory.

A reverse sear is where you first cook the inside of the steak and then focus on nailing the sear on the exterior, contrary to how we traditionally do things.

You start cooking with a low temperature on the grill (about 180 degrees), as opposed to the higher heat that we usually start with.

How Do You Reverse Sear Steaks On A Pellet Grill?

Your priority here would be getting your steak up to the internal temp you want (we usually wait until it gets to 100 degrees) and then cranking the grill temp up (to about 500 degrees) towards the end, where you will sear your steak for 3 minutes.

Be sure to take your steaks off the grill before you turn up the heat, as the grill grates may take longer to get pretty hot too.

What's Next?

Once your steak is ready, ensure that you let it rest for a while. Take it off your pellet grill and leave it on a cutting board for about 5 minutes.

You're probably itching to dig into that luxurious piece of meat, but there are benefits to being patient; plus, you can work on your accompaniments and pretty up your serving platters in the meantime.

While steak alone is enough of a treat, some great sides may include garlic bread, mashed potatoes, french fries or mac and cheese, and perhaps a fresh garden salad to cut all those rich flavors.

What Happens If You Don't Rest Your Steak?

Going into the nitty gritty of why you shouldn't immediately cut into your steak is a whole other chemistry lesson, but to make things simpler, think of it as allowing all the juices and proteins in your meat to settle.

Jumping into the yummy parts of this whole process sooner than you should will only result in all your hard work going to waste, as your meat will be overcooked.

Another important point to remember is that there will be residual heat that continues to cook your steak once you've taken it off the grill, so you have to allow time for the heat to dissipate. For the best results, pour on some melted butter once you've taken it off.

Wrapping Up!

And there you have it. These are our favorite tips and tricks for a perfect steak! You've got the fundamentals to cooking a delicious steak. Once you've gotten comfortable enough, experiment with different cuts of meat and different seasonings; don't shy away from mixing it up a little!

Happy grilling!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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