How Hot Should a Pellet Grill Be for Searing Meat

seared steak

Every grill enthusiast wants to know the perfect temperature for searing meat on pellet grills. Five hundred degrees is an ideal temperature for searing steaks or other meats.

On most pellet grills the maximum temperature of four hundred degrees or higher will be your searing temperature. However, temperature alone is not the only criteria for a perfectly seared slab of meat that your taste buds will adore.

There are those rare occasions when even the best of us can mess up a perfect steak. Nobody wants the embarrassment of serving bad BBQ to friends and family.

You should know about the right techniques for searing meat on a pellet grill to avoid this scenario. In this article we are going to cover the two methods – the sear and the reverse sear.

Searing Meat

Old Fashioned Sear

Here is how you sear meat in a nutshell. The trick is to fire up your pellet grill from the get-go to the highest possible temperature. You cook the meat for a relatively short time so the outside chars and sears nicely.

Then leave the meat in the pellet smoker for a few minutes to add more smoke flavor. The inside will stay rare, moist, and juicy.

Reverse Sear

The reverse sear aims to get smoke within the seared exterior for a delicious smoky flavor. So first, you smoke the steaks, then sear it for that crispy and taste outside.

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How to Sear Meat on a Pellet Grill

Let the steak rest at room temperature for about thirty minutes. Before you begin searing, check to make sure that there is no moisture on the steak.

The presence of moisture will lead to steaming, which will interfere with the searing process. To get the crispiest and most scrumptious texture to ensure that the meat surface is moisture-free. Take a paper towel, fold it twice and pat your steak until completely dry.

Get a good start to searing by preheating your pellet grill to the maximum temperature. The steak should sizzle as soon as it hits the scorching hot grill surface. That’s music for every grill lover’s ears.

Often, the heat distribution is not even throughout the grill surface. Some parts will be hotter than the rest. You will soon discover which part of the pellet grill is the hottest area. This is an excellent spot to sear the steak, so place the steak in a close group on the hottest part of your pellet grill.

After searing your steaks on each side, put them aside in a sealed warm container and lower your grill to 200 degrees. Once the grill reaches that temperature, return your steaks to the pellet grill and smoke them until your internal temperature reaches 130 degrees or just under your desired doneness.

Tip: If you are having trouble figuring out where the hot spots are on your pellet grill, buy a container of premade biscuits in the refrigerator at your local store. Preheat your grill to the maximum temperature, then place your biscuits evenly across your grill grate. When a biscuit starts to burn or looks well done, then you know where the hot spots are on your grill by inspecting all the biscuits. Bring honey and butter with you to your pellet grill so you can have a snack.

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How to Reverse Searing Meat on a Pellet Grill

Pull out the raw steaks from your fridge and let them rest for about thirty minutes. This will allow them to reach room temperature. Use a paper towel to pat them dry and remove any moisture on the surface.

If you are in a rush, then you can get away with just a ten-minute rest for your steaks. Since reverse searing doesn’t call for scorching hot temperatures to start, you can afford to take this shortcut while still getting good results.

Preheat your pellet grill to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your grill attains this temperature, place the steak on the grill grates. Try to avoid your grill grate’s hot spots for this process because you want low heat and good smoke.

The smoking time depends on the thickness of your steak. Smoking time can extend from half an hour to an hour based on steak thickness.

At the 15-minute mark, flip over the steak to heat the other side. Check the steak’s internal temperature every 10 minutes after this, or insert your wired probe thermometer. 

When the internal temperature reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit, remove your steak from the pellet grill and place it in a sealed warm container.  Turn up the pellet grill to maximum heat and wait for it to come to temperature.

Put the steak back on the grill surface in the hottest spot when your grill has reached full temperature. Make sure that everything is ready since things will move relatively quickly henceforth.

Keeping the steak at a slight angle to the grill, heat it for a minute. Turn the steak through 45 degrees and sear for another minute. Flip the steak and repeat this process.

Ensure that the internal temperature remains under 130 degrees for best results; otherwise, it will be cooked medium to well done. Depending on your taste, the interior temperature could register between 125 to 155 degrees. The steak interior will have a rarer consistency towards the lower end of this temperature spectrum.

The reverse searing process is more involved, but the rich smoky flavor is worth the extra effort.

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Tips and Tricks for Searing

  • Set the pellet grill to smoke mode and leave the lid open while starting. It will begin spewing smoke. As soon as the smoke clears, close the lid and change to your desired temperature.
  • You can add crushed black pepper, sea salt, garlic, and smoked paprika for seasoning and flavor. The seasoning layer improves the taste of the crispy crust.
  • Don’t flip the steak too often. You only need to flip it once if you do it right.
  • Avoid excessively raw interiors that are just too rare for most people? Use reliable grill thermometers to keep up with internal steak temperatures.
  • When done, allow the steak to rest for a few minutes before cutting it up and serving it. Waiting will allow the juice to develop and distribute properly for better taste.
  • Oak, hickory, and mesquite wood pellets impart great rich and robust flavors to seared meat.

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Whether you sear or reverse sear, these techniques will help you prepare the perfect steak or meat every time. Just take care to check your temperature and never overcook a steak.

You now have a good idea of how to sear meat on a pellet grill.


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