5 Best Pellet Grill for Searing: Perfect Your Traeger Technique

Perfect your Traeger technique with the 5 Best Pellet Grills for Searing, including the Traeger Timberline 850, to achieve a delicious sear on your steaks.

Searing Steak

Good barbecue requires meat, fire, and smoke, which can be combined to create food that is both delicious and addictive. It takes practice and a lot of knowledge to get consistently great results.

Fortunately, there is one product that can make this process easier: the Traeger Timberline 850 backyard cooker. The Timberline is an electric grill that heats wood. It adds incredible flavor to all the food it cooks. 

Unfortunately, many who own a pellet cooker like the Traeger can’t seem to get that much-desired sear most steak lovers expect. The good news is that you can get the sear you want with a Traeger. More on that later.  

A study titled Effects of Searing Cooking on Sensory and Physicochemical Properties of Beef Steak claims:

“Searing cooking did not affect juiciness, water content, and cooking loss of beef steaks, although it resulted in a distinct change in surface color and improved overall flavor and a roasted meat aroma.”

NIH National Library of Medicine

But the high-sounding title doesn’t change what the majority of average steak lovers who put down $1700.00 for a Traeger know to be a fact-a steak with just the right sear looks better, has a better aroma, and is just all-around better.   

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How to Sear Steak on a Traeger (i.e., the best pellet grill for searing)

Sear Steak

A ribeye steak needs to be properly grilled at a high temperature. I recommend a grill that is at least 450F (230C).

But is that possible with a Traeger Grill? Yes and no. Older Traeger models might not achieve even 400F. And many found that attempting a higher heat was more likely to burn their pit.

Here are some steps to take with the new generation of Traegers that will accomplish the sear you want without fear of ruining your prized investment. Prep

Do some minor trimming to remove excess fat and the silver skin at the edges of your steaks. Use your favorite secret seasoning if desired. Many pit masters say their secret is to buy the right cut of beef, apply salt liberally, and leave the flavor to the meat itself and the smoke.

The Wrong Way

Here’s what you SHOULDN’T do. We know this because we did it wrong the first time.

Our first test was slow cooking the ribeye in our Traeger Timberline 855 using indirect heat. We took the steak out of the pit at the halfway point, turned up the temperature to 500oF (260oC), and threw it back on the bottom rack.

That would seem to work, but it doesn’t! We got nothing after putting the steak back in the Traeger. There was no sizzling sound or grill marks, and the steak tasted almost like it had been cooked in a microwave.

The Right Way

Here’s how it should be done:

Before you fire your Traeger up, remove the heat shield from the bottom. We also placed grill grates in the places where the top rack was.

Then fire it up and let it reach 500F (260C). This time, we did it directly on the fire.

With our steak placed directly on the grill grates, we could hear it singing right away! Each side was cooked for 3 minutes 30 seconds, flipping it once every 45 seconds (ensuring that the grill marks were aligned).

This gave us a cooking time of 7 minutes. Then we took it off the heat and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes before going right to work.

Some Quick FAQs about the Traeger

What is a pellet grill?

Traeger grills use 100% pure hardwood pellets that are made from scratch. This means that each of the six wood-fired flavors is made only from 100% virgin hardwood. The combination of Hickory, Signature and Cherry hardwood pellets creates a versatile blend that can be used for almost any type of food. You can cook everything from classic BBQ meats to fish and vegetables.

How does a Traeger Pellet Grill Work?

An auger moves hardwood pellets from the hopper to the firepot, where they are ignited with the Hotrod to add wood-fired flavor and heat. A fan circulates heat, smoke, and keeps food from burning.

Why choose a pellet grill?

Wood Pellet grills produce consistent heat and smoke that can be easily adjusted. Because the flame is kept away from food, there are no flare-ups. A pellet grill does not require monitoring — it will stay at the right temperature for as long or as you like.

How long do the pellets last?

A Traeger grill’s smoker can burn between 1 and 3 pounds of pellets an hour. That means that each 20-pound bag of pellets can cook for between 6 and 20 hours (at high heat or low heat).

Do you need to turn steaks on a Traeger?

The answer to the question “Do you need to turn steaks on a Traeger?” is as follows: To cook steaks on a Traeger, preheat the grill to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes with the lid closed. Place the steaks on the grill and cook for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, flipping occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees (medium-rare).

How hot should grill be for searing?

The grill should be at a temperature of at least 500°F to 550°F in order to create sear marks on your steak, even though the temperature inside the grill can range from 300°F to 500°F while searing.

Can you cook on a Traeger like a grill?

The Traeger can be used for cooking like a grill, as it allows you to turn up the heat to 500 degrees for direct-heat grilling. Alternatively, you can utilize its smoking function to maintain a lower temperature and infuse your food with the delicious flavor of wood pellets. Unlike charcoal and gas grills, which are primarily designed for grilling, the Traeger excels at both grilling and smoking.

Can you grill like normal on a Traeger?

You can grill like normal on a Traeger, as there is no limit to what you can cook on it. From burgers, brownies, and brisket, to pizza, pulled pork and pies, the Traeger Grill’s famous 6-in-1 versatility allows you to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and BBQ.

How do you slow cook a steak on a Traeger?

To slow cook a steak on a Traeger, start by seasoning it with salt and pepper. Then, adjust the grill temperature to 225°F and carefully place the steak on the grill grate. Allow it to smoke for approximately 45 to 60 minutes. Once done, carefully remove the steak from the grill.

Should I use foil on my Traeger?

Using foil instead of a liner is an option for grilling on your Traeger when you don’t have a new drip tray liner available. However, it’s important to note that heavy-duty foil is not as durable as our liners, which may result in less effective grease drainage.

What temperature do you cook steak on a Traeger grill?

The temperature to cook steak on a Traeger grill is set to 425℉. Preheat the grill with the lid closed for 15 minutes before cooking. If applicable, insert the probe horizontally into the center of the steak, avoiding bones and large pockets of fat.

How long to sear steaks on grill?

The recommended time to sear steaks on a grill is 2 to 3 minutes on each side, placing them 3 to 5 inches from the flame to achieve a flavorful sear and retain the juices. To begin, preheat the grill to its maximum temperature and generously season both sides of the steaks with coarse kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

What temp should grill be for searing steak?

The ideal temperature for searing steak on the grill is between 450°F and 500°F. To achieve a perfect sear, place your steaks on the grill, close the lid, and set a timer for 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the time based on the thickness of your steak.

What temperature do you sear steak in a smoker?

The temperature at which you should sear steak in a smoker is 500°F, after smoking it between 200° and 250°F until the internal temperature is about 10 to 15 degrees below your desired doneness temperature.

What setting do you put Traeger on for steak?

The Traeger should be set to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and preheated for 15 minutes with the lid closed. The steaks should be placed on the grill and cooked for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, flipping occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees (medium-rare).

What temperature do you cook steak on a pellet grill?

The temperature to cook steak on a pellet grill is 500 degrees F. To cook the steak, preheat the pellet grill to 500°F, season the steak with salt and pepper, place it directly on the grate, and close the lid. Cook the steak for 5 minutes on each side or until it reaches an internal temperature of 120°F.

What temperature do you reverse sear steak on a pellet grill?

The temperature to reverse sear steak on a pellet grill varies depending on the model. It is recommended to set the temperature to either 225°F or the low temperature “smoke” setting. Once the desired temperature is reached, place the steak on the grill and wait patiently.

How long to reverse sear steak at 225?

The recommended time to reverse sear a steak at 225 degrees is approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on factors such as grill type, temperature, and airflow. To achieve this, set up your grill for indirect heat at 225 degrees and cook the steak on the cooler side of the grill until the internal temperature reaches around 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

What temperature is reverse sear?

The reverse sear temperature for a thick cut salted steak is achieved by placing it on an oven wire rack and cooking it in a preheated oven set to a temperature range of 200°F to 225°F (95°C to 108°C). This temperature range is considered ideal for reverse searing a steak. The cooking time in the oven will typically be around 45 to 50 minutes, depending on the specific oven being used.

How do you brown meat on a Traeger pellet grill?

To brown meat on a Traeger pellet grill, you should preheat the grill to a temperature of 450°F or higher. Once the grill is preheated, you can carefully place the meat on the grates. The duration of searing may differ based on the kind and thickness of the meat, but typically, it is recommended to sear each side for approximately 3-5 minutes without interruption.

Do you sear with the lid open or closed on a pellet grill?

You should sear with the lid closed on a pellet grill. To achieve the best sear, ensure that your grill temperature is at least 350° F, although we recommend 450° F. Start by opening the grill lid and swiftly placing the meat on the hot spot of your grill. Then, promptly close the lid and allow the meat to cook uninterrupted for 3 to 5 minutes.

What temperature should grill be to sear meat?

The grill should be heated to a temperature range of 300°F to 500°F in order to effectively sear meat. Searing at temperatures higher than 500°F can lead to overly dry and burnt food, resulting in a disappointing outcome.

What temperature should a sear pellet grill be?

The sear pellet grill should be preheated to a temperature of 450 to 500 degrees for a proper and efficient sear. It is recommended to allow the grill to warm up for approximately 10 to 15 minutes before starting. Make sure to scrape off any residue from the cooking grates and season your meat before beginning the searing process.

How do you sear a ribeye on a pellet grill?

To sear a ribeye on a pellet grill, start by removing the steaks from the grill and increasing the grill temperature to 450°F. Let the steaks rest while the grill preheats. Once the grill is ready, place the steaks back on the grill and sear them on both sides for approximately 3 minutes. After searing, take the steaks off the grill and add a dollop of butter on top. Lightly cover the steaks with foil, allowing the butter to melt and the steaks to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Can you cook on a Traeger with the lid open?

You can cook on a Traeger with the lid open by setting the grill to the SMOKE setting and ensuring all internal grill components are inside. The fan will run during this open-lid startup process.

Do you sear meat on high heat?

The answer to the question “Do you sear meat on high heat?” is that searing meat on high heat is a crucial step in achieving a delicious steak. By subjecting the meat’s surface to intense heat, searing not only eliminates water but also creates a desirable brown crust. This is typically accomplished by placing the steak in a very hot pan and allowing the surface to turn brown.

How do you sear with cast iron on a Traeger?

To sear with cast iron on a Traeger, start by heating your pan on maximum heat using the Traeger knob and positioning the cast iron cookware directly over the flame. It will take approximately 15 minutes for the pan to reach a stable temperature. Proceed to flip the steaks every 2 minutes, a total of 4 times (twice per side), using a timer if necessary. Finally, ensure the steaks are cooked to your desired level by checking their temperature with a quick read thermometer.

What temperature is good for searing cast iron?

The ideal temperature for searing cast iron is at least 400° F. To ensure a successful Maillard reaction, it is important to remove excess water from foods like steak, scallops, and chicken by patting them with a paper towel before placing them in the hot pan.

What temperature is the searing cooking method?

The searing cooking method involves starting the process at temperatures as low as 300°F, with the effective searing range being approximately 300°F to 500°F. However, it is important to avoid searing at temperatures exceeding 500°F as this can lead to excessive drying and disappointing, burnt food.

What temperature is searing in a smoker?

The temperature for searing in a smoker is typically around 500°F. To begin the process, smoke the meat at a lower temperature between 200° and 250°F until the internal temperature is about 10 to 15 degrees below the desired doneness temperature.

What temperature does the grill need to be at for a sear?

The grill needs to be preheated for 10 to 15 minutes, allowing it to warm up. To achieve a good, quick sear, the temperature should reach between 450 and 500 degrees.

Do you flip steaks on a Traeger?

The answer to the question “Do you flip steaks on a Traeger?” is that you should flip the steaks every 6 minutes while they are placed directly on the grill grate after seasoning both sides with Montreal Steak Seasoning and letting them stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Can you sear with cast iron on a grill?

Yes, you can sear with cast iron on a grill. To achieve the desired searing temperature of around 500-550°F for steak, I recommend firing up the grill and placing the cast iron skillet directly on the cooking grate over the hot coals. Once the grill is ready, you can season the steak with just Kosher Salt and Coarse Ground Black Pepper for a simple yet flavorful result.

What pellet grill can you sear on?

The Weber SmokeFire Ex 4 is the pellet grill that you can sear on. It stands out as my top choice because it can reach a perfect searing temperature of 600°F.

What is Reverse-Searing?

Reverse-searing involves the finishing of a piece with a high heat sear. While the low-and slow portion can be done in an oven, smoker, or cast iron pan, searing is usually done using a grill or cast-iron pan.

A Traeger pellet grill’s versatility allows you to do the entire process with just one piece of equipment. Your steak will be tender and flavorful.

Why Reverse?

You might think, “Why not sear first? Won’t that lock in the juices?” That seems logical, but those who have tested this theory have found that it doesn’t hold up.

Steps for a Reverse Sear

You’ll need a thermometer, along with your cooking pellets. A thermometer that can be kept in the meat during cooking is best, such as a ThermoPro. A thermometer that can be read instantly will also work, but you’ll need to open the grill frequently to verify the temperature.

Step 1: Low and Slow

Once you have everything you need, you can start cooking. You can set the temperature to 225°F or low heat “smoke”, depending on your grill’s model. Put on your steak and wait. You can check your steak’s temperature with an instant-read thermometer after 20 minutes. However, this step can be more time-consuming if you have a thick steak.

What is your internal temperature? It is recommended that you cook your steak between 10 and 15 degrees below the final temperature. You should aim for medium rare.

Step 2: Finish with a Sear

Once your steak has reached the desired internal temperature, remove it from the grill and cover it with foil. Then, turn up your pellet grill’s heat as high as you can. 

This is where patience is key. Wait 10 minutes for the grill to reach its maximum temperature. You can rest assured that your steak will cook perfectly while the temperature rises. Your grill should reach temperatures between 450-500 degrees.

After your grill has reached your desired temp, place your steak on the grill for another 90 seconds. To keep the grill warm, close the lid. To get crisscrossed marks on your steak, you can turn it halfway through each side. 

Instead, focus on the Maillard reaction‘s overall browning.

So what is the Maillard reaction? The Maillard reaction makes food more appealing to humans. It encourages us to eat a steak, drink coffee, or sip a beer. This is because we can recognize two signals when we encounter food.

  • The first signal is called “nutrition”. It tells us that the food will provide a large amount of easily digestible calories, vitamins, and minerals.
  • The second signal is called a “generally harmlessness”. It tells us that the food won’t cause us harm. Evolution’s Maillard reaction is a combination of these two signals to create a super-signal that is specific to cooked foods with brown or roasty flavors.

After searing, both sides, you’re done! You don’t need to rest the meat as it was heated slowly. However, it’s worth taking a few minutes to let it cool down.

Important Reminder –  Choose the Right Steak

The single most important step with any grilling method is the cut of steak you choose.

Thickness is the most important aspect of choosing a steak to be reverse-seared. While grade is important, the thickness of the steak is the most crucial factor in reverse-searing. The final sear will not allow the steak to cook through.

You should aim for a steak at least 1.5 inches thick. There is no upper limit. In fact, reverse-searing works well for a whole prime rib.

You will find three USDA grades at your grocery or butcher shop: Select, Choice, Prime. While we all know that Prime is the best, I believe Choice offers a great compromise in quality and price. This can result in outstanding results.

Ribeye is the best cut. No matter what cut you choose, make sure to select the steak with the highest intramuscular marbling. This fat will give every bite a wonderful flavor and texture.

The Bottom Line

Can you grill a ribeye steak on Traeger’s grill? Yes, you can. Mine was perfectly cooked and had a delicious crust. These steps will ensure that your Traeger can reach a good sear by achieving high temperatures.

CNET’s Brian Bennett said it best about the Traeger:

Even after listing all the Traeger Timberline 850’s issues, I still struggle with one thing. The barbecue I cooked in it was absolutely fabulous.

Can you learn how to sear on a Traeger? Yes, you can … and should.

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