How to Cook Steaks on a Pellet Grill – A Pitmaster’s Guide

June 14, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton
Edited by John Smits 

Cooking steaks on a pellet grill is a no-brainer; the trick is to cook your steak over high heat (500°F) and pull them once the internal temperature hits the doneness you’re looking for.

I picked up a number of tips and tricks as a chef and I’ve got all the info to guide you – from choosing the right cut of steak to preparation and presentation. Your steak will rival any steakhouse when it’s cooked to juicy perfection on your pellet grill!

Want to know the difference between medium rare and medium well? How do you get those oh-so-satisfying grill marks? What’s the best method for searing steak? Say no more, I’ve got you covered!

How To Cook Steaks On A Pellet Grill

How to Cook Steaks on a Pellet Grill?

I’ll cover my favorite cooking method for steaks (reverse sear) in a bit, but for the traditional cook, you’ll need to crank the heat up on your pellet grill. Some pellet grills max out at 450°F, while others can reach 700°F. Shoot for 500°F if your pellet grill can get that hot.

Once your grill is fired up and ready, throw the steaks on there and press them down gently for nice sear marks. Flip them when they are around 80°F internal temperature and gently press them down again. Monitor the steaks until they hit your desired internal temperature, and serve. Presto! You’ve grilled delicious steaks to perfection on your pellet grill.

For beautiful sear lines, I use GrillGrates, which are available to fit almost any grill.

You’ve probably already got your own pellet grill locked and loaded to cook some lip-smacking beef. But if you’re looking to buy a new pellet grill, I would personally recommend a quality pellet grill from Pit Boss, such as this one.

What is the Best Cut of Steak to Cook on a Pellet Grill?

Your next step is going to be selecting the right cut of steak. While the pellet grill does all the hard work in creating that lovely smoke flavor, you’ve got to use high-quality meat too. My favorite cuts of steak, in order, are:

  • Rib-Eye
  • Strip steak
  • T-bone steak
  • Porterhouse
  • Tenderloin

What Thickness Should You Go For?

Ideally, you should be buying a thick slice of meat; 1 1/2 to 2 inches is my preferred thickness. A thinner piece will grill faster, but you won’t get as good of a sear.

How Do You Prep Your Steak?

Once you’ve got the right cut, it’s important to prep your steak before you get started. Make sure to trim the excess fat off so that your meat cooks evenly.

Also, having the right tools, like a meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer would be massively helpful. This will allow you to gauge the exact internal temperature without having to cut your meat open mid-cook. A thermometer will allow you to cook to exact doneness every time. Don’t use one, and you’re just guessing.

steaks on a pallet grill with fire underneath

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What’s the Best Seasoning for Pellet Grilled Steaks?

Good cuts of steak are supremely flavorful and don’t need a ton of extra seasoning. The smoke from your pellet grill also adds a flavor that you can’t sell in a bottle. When grilling steaks, I keep it simple with the following:

  • Kosher salt (about 1/2 teaspoon per pound)
  • Black pepper (freshly ground)

There are also a ton of pre-made rubs out there, so if you have a favorite, go for it! Remember though, that the steak itself is king, so don’t overpower the natural flavor by throwing on too much seasoning. Just stay away from any rubs with sugar as an ingredient – we’ll be cooking our steaks at high temps, and sugar will burn.

How to Season Your Steak?

Before you begin to season your steak, it’s a good practice to use a paper towel to soak up any excess moisture from the meat. This will help your seasonings stick to the meat better.

Be sure to coat both sides of your steak with your seasoning, including the edges as well. It’s best to not get too heavy-handed with the seasoning. You don’t want to mask the natural flavor of your steak – you want to enhance it. You can always add more seasoning once the steak is done cooking.

What Temperature Do You Cook Steak on a Pellet Grill?

To cook your steaks hot and fast, preheat your grill to 500°F. If your pellet grill only reaches 450°F, don’t worry, that’s still hot enough to grill up a sublimely tasty steak.

How to Prep Your Grill Grates?

Before you place steaks on the grates, you should also spray the grates down with some non-stick cooking spray so that the rub stays adhered to your steak while still giving you those handsome sear marks.

How Do You Cook Steak to Your Desired Doneness?

You’re probably wondering how to master the art of getting your steak’s internal temperature just right. I’ve got you. Read on to familiarize yourself with the cooking process.

Note: times are approximate for a 500°F grill and a 16 oz steak. Cook to temperature, not time, for best results.


The desired temperature for this steak is 115°F. This leaves you with a nice sear on the outside of the entire steak and a brilliant red center.

If this is the doneness you want, plan on cooking your meat for about 2 and a half minutes per side, flipping once.

Medium Rare

Medium rare is often considered the ideal temperature for a juicy, tender cut of steak. It’s what many in the BBQ world, myself included, cook their steaks to. If you’re more inclined to the perfect amount of pinkness achieved at medium-rare, cook your meat until the internal temperature reads 125°F.

You need to crank up the cooking time to about 3 and a half minutes per side.

Your steak will have a slightly more obvious sear than that of a rare steak and will be slightly warmer to the touch, too, as rare steaks are cool in the center.

close up of grilled steak


Medium steaks have an internal temperature of 135°F. Cook for around four minutes per side. Once steaks are cooked to medium, they will begin to lose their pink center.


For these steaks, I would recommend cooking your meat for around 5  minutes per side. You will notice a darker sear on your steak, and the center will be mostly brown. The temperature for medium rare is 145°F.


Some people prefer their steaks well-done. While most in the BBQ world look down on overcooked steaks, if you or your guests prefer their steaks cooked well-done, I’m not going to argue with you. It all boils down to preference. If you want well-done steak, cook your steak for about 6 minutes per side.

Well-done steaks have an internal temperature of 155°F.

What is the Reverse Sear Method?

If I’m making thick-cut steaks at home, this is my go-to method. A pellet grill is a terrific grill for reverse searing since you’re able to “set it and forget it” with temperatures. You should definitely give it a shot!

A reverse sear is where you first cook the steak on low, slow heat (225°F) and then blast the exterior of the steak with high heat (500°F) to sear it.

How Do You Reverse Sear Steaks on a Pellet Grill?

Preheat your pellet grill to 225°F. When it’s ready, put your steaks on there.

Your priority here would be getting your steak up to the internal temp you want (I wait until it gets to 110°F) and then removing the beef from the grill.

Now, crank your grill temp up (to about 500°F). Once your grill is hot enough, throw your steaks back on there and sear them on both sides briefly, pulling them off once their internal temperature hits your desired doneness level.

steaks grilling on a pallet grill with smoke

What’s Next?

Some grillmasters rest their steaks for 5 minutes after cooking, but I serve mine immediately.  Pitmasters have been arguing this for a while. Since you’re eating the steak from the outside in, carryover cooking still happens. And any juices that get spilled are mopped up by the steak. Try it both ways and see which method you prefer.

While steak alone is enough of a treat, some great sides may include garlic bread, mashed potatoes, french fries or mac and cheese, and perhaps a fresh garden salad to balance all those rich, beefy flavors.

Serving the Steaks

Arrange the steaks attractively on a platter and allow your guests to select theirs (keep track of varying doneness levels, if necessary).

For an eye-popping presentation employed by many high-end steakhouses, slice the steaks against the grain, then neatly reassemble the steaks. Sprinkle with flaked salt and serve them on your best platter or a wooden cutting block.

Adding a couple of tablespoons of butter to the top of each steak is another popular serving method. I elevate the butter by mixing in minced garlic, but you could use chives, diced herbs, or whatever sounds good to you.

Wrapping Up!

And there you have it. These are my favorite tips and tricks for a perfect steak! You’ve got the fundamentals to cooking a delicious steak. Once you’ve gotten comfortable enough, experiment with different cuts of steak, preparation methods, and different seasonings; don’t shy away from mixing it up a little!

Happy grilling!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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