I’ve previously produced my main article on the best methods for how to cook steaks on a pellet grill/smoker. This article is going to be more specific about cooking steaks on a Camp Chef pellet grill/smoker and their recommended methods. We’ll discuss searing and reverse searing (smoking then searing). We’ll also discuss why you might not want to follow Camp Chef’s methods to get the best sear possible on your steaks. Right, let’s get into this!
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Table of Contents
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- Cooking Time Searing: Typically 3 to 5 minutes
- Cooking Time Reverse Sear: Typically 30 to 60 minutes
- Camp Chef Temp: Reverse sear (225 F), Searing (Max Temp)
- Steak Internal Temp When Done: 130 to 135 F (we’ll discuss this)
- Best Pellets For Steaks: Mesquite, Hickory, Oak, Pecan
I’m no BBQ expert, my expertise is how pellet grills/smokers work and the range of makes/models on the market. When it comes to how to cook on a pellet grill/smoker, I’ll be referring to the professionals.
Below we’re going to look at two methods of cooking steaks with a Camp Chef. First, straight searing with direct heat, and then we’ll look at reverse searing steaks.
There are other methods to cook steaks. However, I’ll explain why reverse searing (smoking then searing) your steaks is the best approach for pellet grill/smoker owners.
Searing/Grilling Steaks On A Camp Chef
Ok, the first method we’re going to discuss is simply searing steaks on your Camp Chef pellet grill, no smoking involved.
To sear, you’re going to want the grate surface temperature to be around 600 degrees. Now, for some Camp Chef SmokePro owners, that might be a bit of a problem.
If your Camp Chef pellet grill has a maximum temperature setting of 500 degrees and no direct flame access, then I would highly recommend a set of GrillGrates to provide a hotter searing surface.
Alternatively, if you are a Camp Chef Apex owner, for purely searing steaks, I would just use the gas burners. When it comes to searing alone, you won’t be getting flavour from the pellets.
For a medium rare steak, for instance, you want to be monitoring the internal temperature of the steak, and after searing both sides equally, remove the steak from the grill at around 130 degrees F.
The end result will be a nice steak with a brown crust due to proper activation of the Maillard reaction, and the intermuscular fat will have rendered to produce a great flavor.
However, if you have the time, you can do better. Namely, you’ll want to first smoke your steaks before searing them. This is called reverse searing.
Reverse Searing Steaks On A Camp Chef
Now, when it comes to reverse searing steaks, the general process is pretty simple. You’ll be smoking the steaks up to an internal temperature of around 120 degrees and then searing (for a medium rare steak).
In terms of the temperature for the smoking, that would typically be 225 to 250 degrees. You also have the option of cooking on your chosen Smoke setting for additional flavor.
There have been a couple of videos over the years that Camp Chef has produced on reverse searing steaks that I could reference. However, its their most recent video that interests me the most.
The video below was produced by Camp Chef’s ‘not a Chef’ with the help of Gustavo Tosta, who is well known for cooking steaks, and sometimes by very unconventional methods.
Now, whether you choose to follow the advice of the video above in dressing the finished steak in parmesan cheese is up to you. I’ll guess that quite a few people won’t go for it.
Anyway, what I would encourage you to explore is the melted bone marrow, its genuinely excellent mixed with a little butter as a final dressing for your steaks.
When it comes to searing steaks, you can also choose to use a cast-iron pan and butter baste at the same time as searing. As opposed to just searing your steaks dry over direct flame.
If you own a Camp Chef vertical smoker, that is the method that would best suit you for preparing steaks, as you obviously don’t have the ability to sear at high temps.
We have discussed the methods to cook your steaks with a Camp Chef. I now want to discuss the steak itself, its preparation and, importantly, the pellets you choose to use.
1: Ideally, Avoid USDA Select Steaks
Ok, to cook a great steak, you have to start with a great steak. Hence, if you can afford it, ideally stay away from the cheapest steaks (USDA Select) and move up to a USDA Choice steak at least.
If you can only afford the cheapest USDA Select steaks, I would very much encourage you to butter-baste your steaks or follow the video above on using cooked bone marrow as a dressing.
Above USDA Choice steaks, you have USDA Prime steaks, but what do these USDA grades actually refer to? Well, its fat content, but not fat around the steaks, its fat between the muscle fibres of the steak.
Commonly referred to as ‘fat marbling’ within the meat, much of the flavour of a good steak comes from this intermuscular fat rendering down to keep the meat moist and provide flavour.
However, if you can afford it, there is a step up above a USDA Prime steak, and that’s a Wagyu steak.
Whether you want to cook a Ribeye, Strip, Tenderloin, T-Bone, Porterhouse, Hanger, Skirt, Short Ribs, Flap, Flank, Tri-tip, Rump, Top-Sirloin, Tomahawk or Denver, a Wagyu grade steak is where its at.
Wagyu is a cattle breed from Japan internationally known for its excellent flavour due to the extent of fat marbling. Snake River Farms are a US-based ranch that breeds its own Wagyu beef.
From personal experience, I can tell you a Wagyu-grade steak is the best steak I’ve ever eaten. I can also tell you its by far the most expensive steak I’ve ever purchased.
Therefore I’m not implying you should only buy Wagyu steaks. I’m suggesting if you have the funds that, for special occasions/treats, a Wagyu steak is worth considering.
For the rest of the time, your typical weeknight/weekend, try and step up from a USDA Select steak to a Choice grade steak at least for a much better flavour.
2: Preparing Your Steaks For The Camp Chef & Seasoning
There are those that believe a steak should not be seasoned and just cooked as is directly over flames. However, most people are of the opinion some seasoning is required.
Now, you don’t have to apply lots of different rubs to cook a great steak. In fact, if I’m cooking a Prime or Wagyu brisket, I’d stick with just sea salt, black pepper and a touch of garlic powder.
To some people, that may seem a bit boring. If that’s you, by all means, play around with a selection of rubs to find a flavour combination that suits your taste buds.
Also, when it comes to rubs, think about what you are going to be serving the steak with and will that flavour go with the accompanying foods etc.
Right, its now time to talk pellets and for you to consider your best option when it comes to cooking steaks.
3. The Best Camp Chef Pellets For Cooking Steaks
Camp Chef also has a couple of Charcoal pellet options, which they brand as ‘Charwood’, which is a blend of a specific hardwood and charcoal.
If you want to find the best value pellets per lb, my linked article is currently the most comprehensive resource on the internet. It took me many, many hours to produce.
4. Steak Internal Temperature Monitoring
To cook the perfect steak based on tenderness and how it feels, you have to cook a lot of steaks. Its, therefore, not practical advice to follow, so cook your steaks based on temperature.
A rare steak will be between 125 to 130 F, medium rare 130 to 135 F, and medium 140 to 150 F. Going above those temperatures to medium well (155 F) and well (160 F), you will have a tough/dry steak.
With a medium rare steak, the fat within the steak has started to render, and you are getting its great flavour, but the meat itself is still juicy, and you have not started to dry out the steak.
Anyway, however you want to cook your steak, you need to know its internal temperature, and you want to use a temperature probe.
Your Camp Chef will have its own temperature probe, and I would encourage you to use it during the cook. You may be able to monitor its temperature through the Camp Chef Connect App.
However, I would also recommend you get a standalone instant-read thermometer to compare/check the meat probe result that your Camp Chef is displaying.
As I discuss in my article on Camp Chef error codes, meat probes can fail occasionally. If you’re cooking an expensive Prime/Wagyu steak, you don’t want its cook put to chance.
Therefore, if you have a separate quality instant read thermometer such as a Thermapen, you can double check the internal temperature of the steak as it cooks to get the perfect end result.
Final Thoughts About Cooking Steaks On A Camp Chef…
Many Camp Chef owners reading this article will own a pellet/gas combo grill. Therefore, you have many different options for searing/reverse searing your steaks.
You can sear on the pellet grill or sear with gas. For instance, in my main article on how to cook steaks on a pellet grill, I show a video of a Camp Chef with a propane SideKick and a cast-iron pan ready to sear.
The advantage of that method is you can sear the steak in the cast-iron pan as you are butter-basting at the same time. This is a personal preference of mine for cooking steaks.
However, if you have the option of direct flame searing your steaks, this has its own appeal and can also produce an excellent crusty steak as the end result.
Where possible, with available time permitting, I would always encourage you to reverse sear your steaks though to get the best taste/texture possible with your steaks.
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