Can you get grill marks with a Traeger?
One of the biggest selling points of a Traeger pellet grill is the ability to cook low-and-slow barbecue without having to tend a fire for 14 hours to get a wood-flavored brisket smoked to perfection. However, that is not all a Traeger can do.
If you want steaks, you can do steaks.
However, one of the hallmarks of a grilled steak is getting grill marks perfectly criss-crossing the meat. Can you do that on a Traeger?
Is searing your steak even the best usage of your Traeger? Are there any add-ons you can get to help improve your grill’s ability to sear?
How do you get grill marks using a Traeger?
Grill marks are a badge of honor to some, drool-worthy to others, and you can replicate that on your Traeger with high heat.
In order to get those marks, you need your grill grates to be as close to 500 degrees as possible.
Preheat your Traeger to its maximum temperature. Older models may max out around 450 degrees while the newest models can hit 500 degrees.
You need to decide whether you want simple lines or the fancier criss-crossed diamonds.
If you are going for the diamond grill marks, you have to nail the rotation of the steak.
Give the steak enough time to sit on the grates to get the first set of marks, then rotate the steak 90 degrees and let it cook for another minute or so.
Then flip to the other side and repeat the same process, making sure you are cooking the steak to your desired doneness.
Should you be trying to sear meat on a Traeger?
Searing gives meat that beautiful mahogany brown color that develops a savory flavor, and you can sear on your Traeger.
The famous Maillard reaction that results from searing meat occurs rapidly when meat reaches 350 degrees. The higher the temperature, the faster the process occurs.
You can sear meat directly on your grill grates or by using a cast iron skillet. Set your Traeger to maximum temperature and let it preheat fully. If you are using a cast iron skillet, you also want your it plenty hot and oiled.
The Maillard reaction occurs best on dry meat, so pat your steaks dry and hit them with salt and pepper just before you put them on the skillet. Sear them for about three to four minutes a side depending on your preference for doneness.
If you are searing on your cooking grates, you still want to make sure your steaks are dry and follow the same timing for your desired doneness. You will want to put your steaks on the hottest part of your grill as well.
What makes grill marks so important?
Unless you are conducting a blind taste test, you see your food before you eat it, and seeing grill marks makes us think about steaks cooked over fire.
Fast food restaurants and frozen meat try to play on that feeling by putting fake grill marks on food. We truly do eat with our eyes first, and grill marks look tasty.
You see grill marks on a steak and it conjures memories of steaks on a grill with fire. The memories are so vivid you can almost hear the sizzling. In fact, advertising plays on this all the time, showing meat with perfect grill marks to be the epitome of seared meat.
Using a Traeger Searing Kit
If you are looking for the ultimate in seared grill marks, GrillGrate has made their name in providing the best grill grates that professionals use on the competition circuit.
The grates are made of hard anodized aluminum and are designed to catch dripping juices close to the meat. Instead of burning, the juices steam and add further flavor.
Also, on pellet grills, GrillGrates are typically 100 degrees or so hotter than on normal grates, further adding to the ability to sear. They have a number of options for Traeger grills on their website.
When it comes to meats like steak, grill marks are a thing of beauty. If you see a steak with perfect grill marks, you can tell that the person who cooked it has skill and took the time to deliver a beautiful piece of meat.
Your Traeger grill can give you that experience when you crank the heat up to maximum and prepare your steak properly by making sure it is dry when it hits the grill. You can invest in GrillGrates to further enhance your steak cooking experience.