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 Pit Boss pellet grill/smoker and their recommended methods. We’ll discuss searing, butter basting and reverse searing (smoking then searing). Depending on which Pit Boss model you own, you may have multiple options for how to cook 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
- Pit Boss 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 Pit Boss. 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 Pit Boss
Pit Boss, as a brand, has built its reputation on the fact that their pellet grills have good grilling/searing performance, and there are a couple of reasons for this.
First, most Pit Boss models feature porcelain-coated cast-iron grates, which can build in temperature to provide a high-temperature cooking surface for searing.
Furthermore, many Pit Boss pellet grills also feature direct-flame access to provide higher temperatures at the center of the cooking grate for searing meat, such as steaks.
The video above shows the searing of a Tomahawk steak. Now, that steak has been initially smoked, and we’ll discuss that more in the reverse searing section below.
You can purely sear your steaks if you’re short on time, though ideally, I would encourage you to reverse sear steaks on your Pit Boss to get the best flavour possible.
Anyway, when it comes to searing, you want a grate surface temperature of 600 degrees, maybe more. That’s hot enough to form a crust on the steak and activate the Maillard reaction.
For a medium rare steak, the most popular choice, you want the final internal temperature of the steak to be around 130 degrees. However, the steak will rise in temperature while resting.
Therefore, taking the steak of the Pit Boss at around 125 degrees once its rested, it will finish at medium rare. However, you may choose to cook to medium (140 F) or medium well (150 F).
With a rare steak (120 F), the fat within the steak will not have rendered, and you’re losing a lot of flavor. With a well-done steak (160 F), it will be dry and not very appealing to most people.
Reverse Searing Steaks On A Pit Boss
So instead of just searing your steaks, if you have time (around an hour), you can smoke your steaks first before searing them.
You may have seen some people sear and then try to smoke their steaks, but really, this is not an effective means to get smoke flavor into your steaks.
By searing the steak, you are sealing the outer surface. Therefore, the sear will inhibit smoke penetration into the meat. Therefore, smoking then searing (reverse searing) is by far the better method.
For an in-depth guide on the process of reverse searing steaks, along with what you can sear your steaks with, watch the video below. It’s a relatively long video (16 mins) but its well worth a watch.
In the video above, Shaun first smokes the steak and takes its internal temperature up to around 120 degrees. He then proceeds to sear the steak to provide the outer crust.
Shaun also discusses how its important to properly sear the outer fat on the sides of the steak. Its also important to properly rest your steak after searing to lock in the internal fatty juices.
In the video above, Shaun is using the Platinum Series KC Combo. He uses the pellet grill for smoking and then uses the cast-iron griddle on the propane side to complete the sear.
I know many people reading this article will own a Pit Boss pellet/gas combo grill, and using the propane side to sear the steaks can make a lot of sense as you can have it ready to sear straight after smoking.
Pan Seared Steaks & Butter Basting
If you own a Pit Boss vertical pellet smoker, then you can still cook great steaks. However, you’re obviously going to need another heat source/cast-iron pan to complete the searing process.
You could use your kitchen stove. However, if you check out my Pit Boss accessories article, you can pick up a handy little propane burner which would be perfect for the job.
If you are searing in a cast-iron pan/skillet, you can also carry out one of my favourite methods to cook steaks, and that’s butter basting.
I would particularly encourage you to try out butter-basting your steaks while searing them if you have purchased a USDA Select brisket. I’ll explain why below.
1: Your Choice Of Steak & Intermuscler Fat
So to get the best steak possible after smoking/searing, you really need to start with a good steak in the first place. Therefore, the quality/grade of your beef matters.
In terms of beef steak cuts, there are lots, maybe more than you realise. There are Ribeye, Strip, Tenderloin, T-Bone, Porterhouse, Hanger, Skirt, Short Ribs, Flap, Flank, Tri-tip, Rump, Top-Sirloin, Tomahawk or Denver,
There are various different grades of beef following the USDA grading system. Your cheapest steaks are graded as Select. Next up are Choice and then Prime. But what do these grades actually mean?
What is being measured/graded is the extent of fat marbling within the meat, also known as intermuscular fat, which is important to produce a tasty and tender piece of meat when cooked.
If you can only afford a Select steak with minimal fat marbling, I would very much encourage you to butter-baste your steaks to provide as much flavour as possible and to keep the meat moist.
With a higher quality Choice or Prime steak, you can still get a really nice juicy steak if you choose to flame broil or sear in a pan with just a little oil. Alternatively, you could splash out on a Wagyu steak.
Wagyu beef is from Japan, and its a type of beef cattle known internationally for its extensive fat marbling within the beef. But you don’t need to go to Japan to get Wagyu beef.
There are now several ranches, such as Snake River Farms, that breed their own Wagyu beef cattle within the US. If you have never tried Wagyu, I would very much encourage you to do so.
However, I would also tell you to be prepared for a hefty bill, Wagyu beef is expensive. Therefore, I would suggest most people view Wagyu as I do, its my ‘treat meat’.
In other words, I only ever buy Wagyu for special occasions. Sure, I would like to eat Wagyu more regularly, but the cost would not be affordable.
Though if you do have the means and you want to taste the best steak you have ever eaten, a Wagyu steak is the way to go.
2: Preparing Your Steaks For The Pit Boss & Seasoning
Before you place your steaks on the Pit Boss for searing or reverse searing, they are going to need a little seasoning to bring out the flavour of the meat or to add additional flavour.
If you are working with a high-quality Prime or Wagyu steak, then there is nothing wrong with just going with some sea salt, black pepper, just basic seasoning.
However, if you would like a wider range of flavours on your steaks or you are working with a cheap/lower quality Select steak, then by all means, consider adding a rub of some sort.
The Chophouse steak rub from Pit Boss in the images above adds garlic and onion powder to the rub along with the coarse salt, though there are lots of other rubs available.
Ideally, you’ll have enough time to season your steaks and to put them back into the fridge for several hours for the seasoning to properly penetrate into the steaks.
However, you’ll need enough time to get them out of the fridge and for them to get to room temperature before you place them on the Pit Boss.
3. The Best Pit Boss Pellets For Cooking Steaks
When it comes to choosing the best pellets, you first need to consider how you’re going to be cooking the steaks. Will they be just seared, or are you going to reverse-sear them?
Will you be searing on the pellet grill, or will you be using a griddle/cast iron pan to sear your steaks?
The reason is when purely searing on a pellet grill, you won’t be getting much, if any smoke flavour in the steaks as the pellets aren’t producing much smoke when the fire is at a high temperature.
However, if you are reverse searing, hence you may also be using the Smoke Setting on your Pit Boss to amplify the smoke flavour. Your choice of pellets needs to follow your flavour preference.
I would encourage you to check out my article on the best value smoking pellets to explore all your options.
4. Steak Internal Temperature Monitoring
Whether your Pit Boss has a meat probe that you can only monitor from the control panel or you have a SmokeIT compatible grill to monitor the steak from your phone, I encourage you to do so.
You may hear some people tell you that you can tell when a steak is ‘done’ based on how it feels as you touch it, referencing the feel of touching the muscle around your thumb.
This is just not practical advice for a couple of reasons. Firstly, when your steak is ‘done’, is obviously going to vary based on how you like your steaks cooked.
I’m going to encourage you to cook your steaks to medium rare, but I’m also going to tell you to do so based on the steaks’ internal temperature, not ‘how it feels’.
For a medium-rare steak, you are looking for an internal temperature of around 130 degrees. However, while resting, the steak will continue to cook a little bit further.
Therefore, you can end the searing of the steak when the internal temperature is between 125 and 130 degrees for the rested steak to be served at medium rare.
While I do encourage you to use the meat probe on your Pit Boss, I also encourage you to have a second thermometer to hand, a good quality instant-read thermometer.
This way, you are not trusting the cooking of your potentially very expensive steak to a single meat probe. As I discuss in my Pit Boss error codes article, meat probes can fail from time to time.
I personally own a Thermapen from Thermoworks, and I can confirm it gives a quick and accurate reading.
Final Thoughts About Cooking Steaks On A Pit Boss…
As a Pit Boss pellet grill owner, you have a solid setup for searing steaks with cast-iron grates and direct-flame access. On some other brands of pellet grills (Traeger) for steaks, I recommend GrillGrates.
However, while GrillGrates can provide some additional utility to Pit Boss owners, I do not think they are pretty much essential, which is the case for Traeger/Z Grills owners.
Though if you have the time, I would very much encourage you to reverse-sear your steaks instead of just grilling/searing them to get the best flavour possible.
Also, as I’ve noted above, if you are cooking cheaper Select grade steaks, I would also very much encourage you to sear them in a cast-iron pan/skillet with some butter and to baste the steaks.
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