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What Temperature Do You Cook Steak On A Pellet Grill?

Pellet grills are great, but they work a little differently than their standard propane and charcoal counterparts.

You may be asking yourself “What temperature do you cook a steak on a pellet grill?”

Well, here is some much needed temperature guidance when cooking a steak on a pellet grill!

steaks seared on a pellet grill with grill grates

 

Steaks.  The king of the backyard grilling menu.

Ribeyes, t-bones, filets.  Nothing beats a perfectly cooked steak, cooked outdoors with fire, flame. and smoke.

And if you’ve ever cooked on pellet grill, you know how great it can be to combine the convenience and temperature control of a gas grill with the smokey flavor of a charcoal smoker.

Have you purchased a pellet grill for the first time and are now asking yourself “What temperature do you cook steak on a pellet grill?”

In this article, we will be discussing what a pellet grill is, how to cook a steak on one, and the perfect temperature you will need to cook them.

New to using pellet grills?  Check out our Ultimate Guide to Pellet Grills and How They Work.

Find out why they are one of the BEST ways to easily grill and smoke food at home, all in one easy to use appliance!

While you’re at it, check out this list of our FAVORITE Pellet Grills of 2021 available for under $500!

 

What Is A Pellet Grill?

A pellet grill combines all the best elements from smokers, grills, and ovens. The main fuel used is wood pellets, which cook and smoke the food.

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One reason they are a popular choice because no gas or charcoal is needed. All the heat and smoke comes directly from the pellets.

If you have some experience using a smoker, then a pellet grill will be fairly easy to figure out as it is designed for ease of use.

Pellet grills heat up quickly, cook the food consistently, and can still be used when it is windy and raining.

The wood pellets are placed in a hopper at the side of the grill and are fed into the cooking chamber where they are heated with electric heating elements to ignite the pellets thereby causing smoke, heat, and combustion.

 

How to Cook a Steak on a Pellet Grill

Cooking steaks on a pellet grill is fairly easy, although you do need to take some time out beforehand to prepare your grill and meat.

 

Step One – Heating The Pellet Grill

To begin, you will need to preheat your pellet grill. Place the pellets in the hopper, start the grill, and and set your temperature.

setting a high temperature on a traeger pellet grill for steak

Like an oven or gas grill, you want your grill to preheat for half an hour to an hour before you begin cooking your steaks.

Your grill for cooking steaks should ideally reach a temperature between 500℉- 650℉.

Steaks are usually best enjoyed when they cooking quickly on the outside, with a high heat sear or maillard reaction.

Cooking steak at lower temperatures such as 350 degrees will not give you that fast, crispy browning and sizzle, but rather leave your steak with the soft, mild gray color and texture of a roast beef.

Now, the problem is most of the even the top end pellet grills like Traegers only reach up to 450 deg F but this is still plenty high enough to accomplish what you are looking for, especially if you pair it with some Grill Grates which we will discuss later.

 

Step Two – Preparing Your Steak

While your grill is preheating, take your steaks out of the refrigerator to rest for around an hour. After they have rested, you can season them and now they are ready to be cooked.

putting seasoning rub on two steaks

You want to ensure that all of the meat is seasoned, do not forget about the sides of the steak too.

Pro Tip: Ensure that you have removed any excess moisture from the surface of the steaks before placing on the grill, this will help to sear the meat.

 

Step Three – Heat up the Grill Grates for Searing

Pellet Grills work great for smoking large cuts of meat like brisket, pork butt, and ribs, and maintaining a near perfect consistent air temperature, much like the best competition smokers promise to do.

The downside is their ability to sear at high heat like you would over direct coals or a propane gas burner.

In order to get the best of both worlds, we recommend coupling some Grill Grates with your pellet grill.

Grill Grates are specialty…well…grates that sit right over the existing grates on your pellet grill that help capture and direct all that ambient heat and give you a nice searing station in the corner of your pellet grill.

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They claim to get temperatures up to 200°F HIGHER than the temperature you set your pellet grill, meaning even if your nice Traeger only goes up to 400°F on the control panel, you can still sear some steaks, pork chops, or chicken at 600°F at the beginning or end of the cook to give them a nice sear.

flipping steaks on a pellet grill

Make sure to measure the size of your current grilling area.

While you absolutely CAN cover your entire pellet grill with Grill Grates, like if you were doing a batch of burgers for a big party, in our case we only want to cover PART of the pellet grill, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the cooking area for our pellet grill steaks.

That way you can move food back and forth as your are smoking or searing the steaks or burgers, etc.

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Step Four – Planning the Cook Depending on the Thickness of your Steaks

Depending on the thickness of your steaks, you are going to cook them a little differently.

If your steaks are thin, meaning less than an inch thick, you will be able to sear them hot and fast over that high direct heat until the inside comes up to your desired temperature.

If you are cooking thick steaks, like filet mignon, which many times can be 1.5-2 inches thick or more, you will want to first sear the outside over high direct heat until the outside is cooked to your satisfaction, usually 2-3 minutes per side.

The inside of the steak is likely still too underdone to enjoy so you will want to move them to a lower indirect area on a higher grill grate, or usually where they can continue to cook and gradually come up to temperature without the outsides of the steaks burning.

So you will want to make sure you have set up your grill to have a direct cooking area as well as an indirect cooking area before throwing the steaks on.

 

Step Five – Cooking Perfect Steaks on a Pellet Grill

steaks cooking on a pellet grill

 

Once the pellet grill is up to the highest temperature you can set it too, usually around 400-450°F, and the Grill Grate(s) are heated up as well, you can gently place your steaks on the Grill Grates.

Space them comfortably apart so that they cook individually with air circulation all around each one, rather than as one large meat mass.

Never apply cooking oil or spray directly to the grill grates. It will immediately smoke up and leave an acrid tasting residue or worse, ignite and pose a safety hazard.

Instead, oil the meat itself and then place it on the hot grill.

Once you have put your steaks on the grill, resist the temptation to flip them in the first 1-2 minutes.  Let the maillard reaction occur and each side fully cook.

If you want fancy looking cross hatch grill marks, turn them 90° after about 2 minutes. Then repeat when you do the other side.

Do not walk away during this crucial time, 1-2 minutes too long on any side can result in burning and carbonization which will destroy the taste of your meat.

You want crispy brown and sizzling rendered fat, not black ashy meat.

 

How to Reverse Sear a Steak on a Pellet Grill

Many pro and amatueur chefs alike swear by the reverse sear.

The idea is that by searing the steaks at the end, the fat is already partially rendered and the steak now has less excess moisture than when it was raw.

steaks seared on a pellet grill with grill grates

Therefore you will get a crispier, more crusty sear on the exterior.

You also get to serve them piping hot and sizzling right off the hot burners for a slightly more appetizing presentation.

After all, we eat with our eyes and ears as well right?

In this instance you are going to smoke/cook the steak at that medium 300°F temperature until you are about 30-35°F shy of your target doneness temp.  (see below).

Then, you are going to move the steaks to the Grill Grates and at the same time CRANK your pellet grill and the cook the steak as hot as you can on each side for about 2-3 minutes until they are a nice crispy and sizzling dark brown. Make sure to watch them closely so they don’t burn.

If don’t own Grill Grates, there is absolutely nothing wrong with finishing them on a propane grill or even in a blazing hot skillet or flat top grill with some butter and oil.

Searing the steaks raises the internal temperature about another 15°F, and then when they rest afterwards they will rise about another 5°F, hopefully finishing at the perfect temperature.

 

When to Start Reverse Searing your Smoked Pellet Grill Steak

As far as your target temperature to start searing the steaks, don’t be shy about moving them to the high searing heat of the Grill Grates too soon rather than too late.

It’s much better to be early than late.

You can always turn your pellet grill back down and finish cooking them in that lower temperature zone if they are still too underdone.

But, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle if you cooked them to too high an internal temperature.

 

Check out this video for step-by-step instructions

Step Six – Internal Steak Temperature

Before you start searing, or take the meat out of the pellet grill, it is vitally important to know the EXACT internal temperature of the meat to ensure that it will be cooked to your liking.

Always use a good instant read thermometer when cooking steaks on a pellet grill.

FINAL Target Temperatures of your Pellet Grill Steaks

Rare: 125℉ (very red center)
Medium Rare: 130 – 135℉ (red center)
Medium – 140 – 145℉ (pink center)
Medium Well Done – 150℉ (slight pink center)
Well Done – 160℉ (no pink, cooked throughout)

For the perfect steak, allow it to rest, UNCOVERED! for at least 5 minutes and understand it may rise another 5 degrees F internal temperature after you remove it from the grill.

 

Some Pro TIPS for Resting Steaks:

  • Do not stack your steaks on top of each other as the ones on the bottom will overcook from the ambient heat of the other steaks.
  • Do not cover or “tent” them with aluminum foil.
  • They will continue to overcook if you do.
  • Place them on a large platter, spread apart as much as possible, and allow them to rest.

 

What Temperature do you Cook Steak on a Pellet Grill: The Verdict

To make the perfect steaks on a pellet grill, you really will befeit form having an area to sear them such as on a Grill Grate.

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Check out Grill Grates on Amazon

This will ensure that the steaks are cooked at the best possible temperature resulting in a quality maillard reaction, and give you that sizzling crispy exterior you are looking for rather than a soft, pot roast like texture.

In regards to the internal temperatures, this will vary on how you like to eat your steaks.

Please see the list above to note the internal temperatures. The best tip we can give you when cooking steaks is to not rush the process.

Take your time and try not to overcook your steaks, this can make them tasteless and not as enjoyable to eat!

We hope this article helped you to discover what temperature you cook steak on a pellet grill.

 

Other Pellet Grill and Smoker Recipes

Smoked Beef

 

More Smoked Pork, Turkey, and Chicken

 

Smoked Seafood

 

Smoked Lamb

 

Other Odds and Ends

Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a pellet grill or smoker but one of the most fun ways there is to cook a Turkey…at over 700 degrees in only 2 hours! 

You’ve got to check it out!

pellet grill steak

Pellet Grill Steaks - Reverse Seared

Pellet grills work a little differently than their standard propane and charcoal counterparts. Here is some much needed guidance whether cooking both a thin steak on a pellet grill, or a thick steak that works best with a reverse sear.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Steaks
Calories 700 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Pellet Grill
  • Grill Grates
  • Wood Pellets
  • Instant Read Thermometer

Ingredients
  

  • 6 Steaks of your choice
  • Avocado Oil or Olive Oil regular, not extra virgin
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Remove streaks from refrigerator. Pat dry with a paper towel and season each side liberally with salt and pepper. Then rub each side with olive oil.

Thin Steaks (Less than 1 inch thick) - Sear

  • Place your wood pellets in the pellet grill hopper. Turn on the pellet grill and set the temperature as high as it will go, preferably up to 400° F.
  • Put your Grill Grates on the pellet grill to preheat as well.
  • Place steaks on the Grill Grates and cook with direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side until internal temperature reading says they are at your level of preferred doneness. (See doneness chart below)

Thick Steaks (Greater than 1 inch) - Reverse Sear

  • Place your wood pellets in the pellet grill hopper. Turn on the pellet grill and set the temperature to 300° F.
  • Place some Grill Grates on one side of the pellet grill, covering maybe 1/3- 1/2 of the cooking area.
  • Place the steaks on the grill until the internal temperature reaches about 85-95° F.
  • Now turn your pellet grill up AS HIGH as it will go, preferably to 400°F.
  • Once the grill has increased in temperature. move them to the Grill Grates to sear. Watch your steaks carefully and cook them 2-3 minutes each side, checking the internal temperature frequently until they are at your preferred doneness.
  • If they begin to be TOO cooked on the outside before the inside comes up to temperature, move them to the upper rack away from the high heat and turn the pellet grill back down to 300°F to finish cooking.
  • When they are about 5°F shy of your preferred target internal temperature doneness, remove them from the pellet grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes, UNCOVERED, before serving.

Video

Notes

Grill Grates for perfect pellet grill searing can be found on Amazon HERE.
Use the following internal temperature guide to determine when to pull your steaks from the grill.
Rare: 125℉ (very red center)
Medium Rare: 130 – 135℉ (red center)
Medium – 140 – 145℉ (pink center)
Medium Well Done – 150℉ (slight pink center)
Well Done – 160℉ (no pink, cooked throughout)
Video courtesy of HushLife
Keyword pellet grill, reverse sear, Steak

 

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