“How Do I Make the Perfect Steak?”
The Searing Question Gets Answered.
Updated July 2021
Perfect isn’t always possible when it comes to grilling steaks, particularly on a pellet grill, but when you’re cooking on a Grilla, you’re on your way. Sick of eating dried up meat, missing the sear, or charring? Get a Grilla Grills and reach (near) perfection.
The secret to cooking the perfect steaks on a pellet grill is a clear-cut technique that’s easy to replicate. Below, we’ll look at two ways to get a great sear.
Searing a Steak: Grilled Outside, Juicy Inside
Most pitmasters follow a simple formula when grilling steaks the traditional way, which is called searing. The secret to a mouthwatering steak is in this step. Below are the steps you’ll want to follow:
- Let your steaks rest for an hour at room temperature. Dab them with a paper towel to make sure they’re not moist at all.
- While your steaks are resting, heat up your pellet grill to at least 350 degrees.
- Season your steaks as desired. Some pitmasters like to add very little to their steaks. Others rub seasonings into the meat before searing.
- Bump up the heat to 500 degrees.
- Place your prepared, rested steaks on the hottest part of your pellet grill. The hottest part is generally going to be at the back of the smoker. When searing on a pellet grill, you want to hear that sizzle of the steak making contact with the heat of the grill.
- Sear each side of the steak for about three minutes.
- Reduce your pellet grill heat to around 350 degrees. Let the steaks cook until they reach your desired internal temperature.
- Remove the steaks from the pellet grill, slather them with about a tablespoon of butter, place them under a foil tent and wait 10 minutes.
What could be more straightforward? Of course, if you want to get fancy, you could also try what’s called a reverse sear.
How to Reverse Sear Steaks on the Grill
Once you’re confident with traditional searing, why not move on to reverse searing your next steaks? Reverse searing is exactly like it sounds — you cook the inside of the meat first and sear the outside last.
You’ll still go through all the general steps of searing, although with the reverse sear method, you can get away with a shorter time for the steaks to come to room temperature since they will be exposed to a lower heat before the sear. However, instead of bumping up your pellet grill to 500 degrees at the beginning, you’ll bump it up at the end. In other words, you’ll prepare your steaks, pop them onto the grill, let them get to your desired level of doneness and then give them each a three-minute searing job.
Here’s a low-down on the general rules to follow:
- Step one: Once your grill is idling at 180 degrees you can place your steaks on the grill. Place them in the path of the most smoke flow and away from the direct heat. The top racks work great for this purpose.
- Step two: Depending on the thickness of your steaks you will smoke them for 15-30min. Be sure to check the internal temperature starting at 15min and every 5-10min thereafter. Flip your steaks at the 15min mark to ensure even heating.
- Step three: When your steaks hit 100-110 degrees pull them off the grill and increase the temperature of the grill to 500 degrees. This is when you can use a grill grate but be sure they have plenty of time to get really hot. Coat both sides of your steak with your searing rub.
- Step four: From here forward everything moves pretty quickly, so have everything standing by. Place your steaks on the Grill Grates at a slight angle, cook for 1 minute, and then rotate the steak 45 degrees and cook for 1 min. Now flip and repeat.
- Step five: This is where the thickness of your steak plays a huge role. A solid medium rare will register between 130-135 degrees, medium 145 degrees, medium well 155 degrees. Anything above 160 degrees is considered well done and considered punishable by law in some states. We won’t tell though if you do prefer your steaks a bit more on the well done side.
Here’s a tip — removing any excess fat helps with reverse searing along the outside of the steak. This practice also prevents burning parts of your steak as fat covers outer skin. Luckily, fat is easier to eliminate prior to grilling and searing, so this is a good initial step in the process.
Should You Traditionally Sear or Reverse Sear When Grilling Steak on a Pellet Grill?
Which type of searing will net you the best results? Honestly, there’s no clear-cut winner between traditional and reverse searing — except for you and your hungry guests.
Now that you know how to cook steak on a pellet grill, you have no excuse not to pick up some ribeyes, T-bones or sirloins for dinner tonight. Perfect isn’t always possible when it comes to grilling steaks, particularly on a pellet grill. But when you’re cooking on a Grilla, you’re on your way.
Myths About Searing Steaks
Many people believe searing a steak is done to seal juices inside a piece of meat. This makes sense in theory, but this belief is actually a myth when grilling. Searing dries out the outer surface of a steak, and this method takes some of your juices with it.
Searing is a popular practice within backyard grilling, but it is to be performed with proper instruction and guidance.
What Gear Do I Need to Sear a Steak on a Pellet Grill?
Before we get too far down the how-to path, let’s cover some basic gear you need to sear a steak on a pellet grill. You’ll need a fast and accurate thermometer. I use the Thermoworks Thermapen, which is fantastic in reading the meat’s internal temperature.
You should also invest in a set of Grill Grates. They make searing on pellet grills much easier and help achieve pro results. Don’t worry, there is a set that is made specifically for whichever Grilla Grill you have. The grate is able to amplify 500 degrees to about 700 degrees on average, which is a great temp for searing steaks.
Getting the Meat
Now that you have the gear, you need the meat. It’s important to get high quality meat. There are 8 primal cuts of beef. Most folks think of steak in a nice marbled ribeye, t-bone, or perhaps sirloin or strip steak. Personally, ribeye is king and that is usually what I opt for.
No matter which cut you choose, take a minute to consider how rare or well done you like your steaks. If you like ’em rare, you’ll want to find a steak that is at least 1 in thick. Opting for steaks that are thinner than an inch makes it very hard to that nice red center and exterior crust. I look for steaks that are about 1.5-2in thick and go for medium rare center.
Next take the time to touch the steak though the packaging. You just want to see if there is some give to the meat and to look for solid marbling.
All About the Flavor
You can marinate to just throw salt and pepper on. There are merits to both, but if you want the proper sear, you have to have a steak with a dry surface. About two hours before your cook, lightly salt both sides of your steaks with kosher salt and place them back in the refrigerator. Then, use equal parts kosher salt and black pepper and make a great crust for the steak. If you’re looking to do it the Shane way, combine 2 tbsp kosher salt, 2 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper, 2 tsp ground dark roast coffee, and 1 tsp granulated garlic for a great steak rub.
When it comes to flavor or pellets, use a stronger flavored pellet such as mesquite, hickory, or oak.
Tips and Tricks for Heat Searing on a Pellet Grill
When you are preheating your pellet grill, make sure you set your grill to the smoke setting. Keep the lid open and monitor the flame. Once smoke forms, you can shut the lid, wait about 10 minutes and you are ready for searing.
Under this method, it is recommended that cast iron is used against steak for even cooking and searing. Poke into your steak to see the center. This method results in rare centers, but make sure the meat is cooked the entire way through.
Seasoning and Searing
Depending on your preference, adding sea salt or cracked black pepper can help with the searing process. When you rub seasoning on a steak prior to searing, an outer crust is formed when the meat hits the grill. This is ideal for capturing flavor from the outside in.
Never Rush the Searing Process
You should only have to flip a steak once. Flipping the steak too often can run the risk of leaving the center raw or letting the juice run out. It’s easy to grow impatient with grilling, but patience leads to great taste.
When it is time to pull the steaks off the grill, you can simply move them to the indirect heating side of your grill first. In the world of grilling, temperature and thermometers are your best friends. Do yourself a favor if you are new to the grilling and searing game and get a set of thermometers.
No one wants to eat a steak that is too raw, so this is an excellent way to ensure proper taste. Even with searing at high temperatures, it is a crucial step in the process to let your steaks sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving. You want the juices to settle properly throughout each strip, so cover a plate with foil to keep the heat inside.
Once you hit the desired level of done, pull the steaks and serve, enjoying the fruits of your labor. Cooking a proper steak isn’t hard, but there are some tricks of the trade. With a little gear, some know how, and some practice you will be the king of your backyard grilling jungle.