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Can You Sear On A Traeger Pellet Grill? (Explained)

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Can You Sear On A Traeger Pellet Grill?

The indirect heating method of a Traeger wood pellet grill makes traditional searing a little bit tricky. When you preheat a Traeger to 400 degrees or more for more than 30 minutes the grill grates will indeed get hot enough to leave grill marks on the meat.

Though a lot of grilling purists will argue that this isn’t traditional searing, as there is only a modest amount of the Maillard reaction occurring on the surface of the meat. This is what forms a densely flavorful crust.

However, there are ways to deeply sear meats like steaks, prime rib roasts, chops, and burgers with the addition of cast iron. Cast iron griddles can soak up enormous amounts of heat energy, and then transfers that to the surface of the meat

This invokes the Maillard reaction, to develop a classic flavorful crust on the meat. You could also reverse sear meats over an open flame or in a hot cast iron pan for a few minutes a side before finishing them in the Traeger grill at a lower temperature.

There are some models of Trager grills, like the Pro Series, that either come with porcelain-coated grill grates or have them available as an optional accessory. The heat absorbing properties of these grates will produce a richer sear than stainless steel.

Should You Try to Sear on a Traeger Grill?

A lot of backyard chefs, and the families they cook for, are completely satisfied with the grill marks created by a Traeger’s properly preheated grill grates. Though this does require a lot of wood pellets to produce enough heat to create a modest sear.

In the short term, a single searing session should have no effect on your Traeger grill. However, repeated high-temperature grilling can gradually start to affect the lid seal, while also leaving behind a lot more grease and ash.

One way around this is to use a reverse searing method for things like a thick-cut steak. You can sear it in a hot cast iron pan or the direct flame of a gas grill for a minute or two a side before placing it in a lower temperature Traeger to finish cooking.

What Meat Would Be Best Seared on a Traeger Grill

Steaks, chops, brats, burgers, and other meats that you normally would sear over the direct flame will take on a modest amount of sear when placed on a properly preheated Traeger grill grate.

What Temperature Do You Sear on a Traeger?

To sear on a Traeger grill, you’ll need to preheat it at 400 to 450 degrees or more for at least half an hour to get the grates ripping hot.

How Would You Sear on a Traeger Grill?

Searing on a Traeger grill starts with proper preheating and optimizing the conditions needed to maximize the Maillard reaction. You can do this with the following steps.

Step One: Preheat your Traeger grill to 450 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Step Two: Liberally salt the surface of the meat you want to sear and rewrap it in butcher paper to rest while the grill preheats. This will draw water-soluble proteins to the surface of the meat.

Step Three: Use a clean paper towel to pat any moisture off the surface of the meat. Then lightly salt.

Step Four: Give the meat a very light glaze of a neutral cooking oil right before setting it on the preheated grill grates.

Step Five: After two or three minutes rotate the meat 90 degrees to maximize the amount of surface area searing. This will also create visually appealing grill marks.

Step Six: Flip the meat and repeat step five.

Step Seven: Take the meat off the hot grill grates, and lightly tent it under heavy-duty aluminum foil to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Why Would You Need to Consider Searing on a Traeger?

Searing is something you normally only do with specific cuts of meat that respond well to high-heat cooking. This includes steaks, chops, burgers, and even brats.

Other cuts of meat and seafood that you wouldn’t typically sear over a direct flame to build a flavorful crust don’t necessarily need a sear on a Traeger. This includes a lot of bone-in cuts of meat, which will develop a caramelized, golden-brown exterior over the course of a longer smoking session.

Final Thoughts

The indirect heat of a Traeger grill might not be ideal for searing meats like steaks and chops. Yet you can still develop a flavorful crust by creating the best conditions for the Maillard reaction to occur.

This starts with preheating your Traeger grill at 400 to 450 degrees for half an hour. Salting your meat to draw out additional moisture before patting it dry and placing it on the grill will also help create a more flavorful sear.

A cast iron griddle with perforations or porcelain-coated grill grates will also help develop a rich, flavorful sear. Traeger sells these as accessories for some of their more popular models like the Pro Series.

If you’re concerned about frequently running your Traeger at high temperatures for a prolonged amount of time, you might want to try reverse searing. This involves searing the meat on a propane grill or in a cast iron pan on a range top before placing it in the Traeger grill at a lower temperature to finish cooking all the way through.