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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 cooking at the right temperature on a pellet grill
Steaks for the win. Even better when done right on a pellet grill.

 

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.

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.

If you would like to purchase a pellet grill, we highly recommend ZGrills.com.

They have a wide range of high-quality wood pellet grills to suit a variety of budgets. Here are two that may be of interest to you from both ends of the price spectrum:

 

Z Grills 550B

a pellet grill for cooking steak
Click image to check pricing on Zgrills.com

 

Z Grills 1000E

a pellet grill from zgrills.com for cooking steak
Click image to check pricing on Zgrills.com

 

How to Cook Your 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.

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 should ideally reach a temperature between 500℉- 650℉, depending on the pellet grill you own. 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.

Some pellet grills only reach up to 450 deg F but this is still plenty high enough to accomplish what you are looking for.

 

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 they are ready to be cooked.

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.

If you are looking to purchase top quality, fresh steaks, we highly recommend the Holy Grail Steak Company. They deliver fresh steaks to your doorstep.

Here are a few steaks that we would highly recommend trying:

 

Akaushi American Wagyu Ribeye – 16oz

ribeye steak to cook on a pellet grill
Click image for details.


Upper Prime Black Angus Tenderloin Medallions

filet mignon needs to be cooked the right temperature on a pellet grill
Click image for details.

 

Step Three – Grill Temperature Check

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 high direct heat on the lower grates 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 cookied to your satisfaction, usually 2-3 minutes per side.

At this point, turn the pellet grill temperature down to about 300 deg F.

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.

Either way, you want your grill to reach around 500℉- 650℉ while it is preheating, it should get as hot as possible to create that initial sear on your steaks.

 

Step Four – Cooking Your Steaks

Once the grill is up to temperature, 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.

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.  Follow the instructions in Step 3 depending on the types of steaks you are cooking.

 

Step Five – For Thick Steaks, do the REVERSE SEAR

pellet grill steak being reverse seared

An alternative option to searing thick steaks BEFORE smoking them at 300°F as described above is to sear them AFTER you have partially cooked them through.

This is known as REVERSE SEARING a steak.

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.

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?

 

How to Reverse Sear a Steak on a Pellet Grill

In this instance you are going to smoke/cook the steak at that medium 300°F temperature until you are about 20-25°F shy of your target doneness temp.  (see below).

Then, you are going to CRANK your burners 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 your pellet grill does ot get up high enough to achieve these hot searing results, 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 raise 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 heat sear 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 aninternal temp..

 

Check out this video for step-by-step instructions

 

Step Five – 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.

KULUNER Waterproof Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer

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, your grill needs to provide a temperature of at least 450℉, preferably between 500-650 deg F.

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 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

Looking for some inspiration?

Check out some of our favorite recipes below that can easily be done on a pellet grill.

Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a pellet grill 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
  • 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 500° F.
  • Place steaks on the grill 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 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 500°F.
  • Once the grill has increased in temperature 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

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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