Summer’s just around the corner, y’all, and you know what that means: it’s grilling season! And what better way to start summer off than to fire up that wood grill and grill up a bunch of nice, thick-cut steaks, wouldn’t you agree?
But if you’re like me, you know that not all wood pellet grills are created equal when it comes to producing that sought-after, char-grilled flavor. No siree. To give a mean sear to your steaks, a grill has to allow you to cook over direct, high heat — the kind of heat that yields a crispy, dark-brown crust to ameliorate the meat’s flavor.
The problem is, if you look on the market, you will see that there are so many options for pellet grills to choose from! How do you know which one’s right for you? Well, that’s where we come in. We’ve put together this roundup of the very best pellet grills for searing so you can do your due diligence and get cooking.
See our top picks below.
Best Pellet Grills for Searing
- Hardwood pellet grill and meat smoker
- Can reach cooking temperatures up to 500°F
- Heats quickly and maintains the temperature well
- Porcelain-enameled grates with 575 sq. in. cooking area
- Wi-Fi connected, comes with the Traeger App and a meat probe
- Easy to move with rugged, all-weather wheels
- 18 lbs pellet hopper that's easy to clean
Looking for a spacious and affordable wood pellet grill that won’t let you down? Look no further than our top pick, the Traeger Pro 575. Now, we all know and love Traeger. And this grill in particular is many a backyard cook’s trusty workhorse. So let’s about why it may become yours, too.
This here pellet grill is a champ when it comes to cooking up some juicy meats. With the ability to reach temperatures up to 500°F, you’ll be able to sear your meats to perfection. Now, it may not get as hot as a charcoal grill, but that ain’t no problem at all! Five hundred degrees is more than enough to give your meats that nice, crispy exterior. It’s also gentle enough to not burn the meat and leave it tasting like a lump of coal.
The Pro 575 features Traeger’s new D2 Direct Drive drivetrain, which means it heats faster and maintains a consistent cooking chamber temperature better than older generations of Traeger wood pellet grills. With 572 square inches of total cooking space, there’s plenty of room to grill up a feast. The bottom rack offers 418 square inches of space, while the top rack adds another 154 square inches.
Just how much space is this? You’ll be able to fit a few to a dozen steaks, two dozen burgers, three to four chickens, or four to five rib racks on this bad boy. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can keep tabs on the cooking temperature and meats from anywhere in the house. You read that right, y’all, no more hovering over the grill!
The Traeger Pro 575 has an 18-pound pellet hopper capacity, which means you won’t have to refill it too often. It has a height of 53 inches, depth of 27 inches, width of 41 inches, and weighs 124 pounds.
Oh, and I nearly forgot: this one’s built to last. From the brushless motor that powers the convection fans to the porcelain-coated grill grates to the all-weather wheels, this grill is a workhorse that gets the job done. So fire it up, invite over some friends and family, and enjoy some delicious, seared meats cooked to perfection.
What we like about it:
- When you buy a Traeger, you get honest quality, friendly customer service, and a generous three-year warranty.
- The Traeger Pro 575 has plenty of cooking space, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a big hopper.
Flaws, but not dealbreakers:
- The Pro 575 can reach high temperatures, but has no option for direct-heat searing.
- Customers report that getting to temperatures above 450°F can take this grill a while.
- Hardwood pellet grill and meat smoker
- Indirect-heat cooking at temperatures up to 500°F
- Direct-heat searing at temperatures as high as 1,000°F
- Porcelain-enameled grates with 465 sq. in. of cooking space
- Side shelf, serving tray, bottle opener
- 5 lbs hopper capacity
Y’all, if you’re looking for a pellet grill that won’t break the bank, or our top pick is out of stock, the Pit Boss 440 D2 might just be the one for you. Don’t let the lower price tag fool you; this grill can bring the heat — just like our top pick — reaching temperatures of up to 500°F with its convection fan-controlled cooking chamber.
But wait, there’s more! This bad boy comes with the Pit Boss flame broiler that’ll let you sear your meat over direct heat as hot as a charcoal grill, at temperatures that go up to a whopping 1,000°F! Can you believe it? Talk about bringing the heat!
With 465 square inches of cooking area on the grates, you’ll have plenty of space to cook up a storm. There’s even a combination side shelf and serving tray to keep your sauces and spices handy, and a steel bottle opener for cracking open a cold one while you’re grilling. Not bad for a grill that costs as much as two full tanks on your pickup truck, now, is it?
As for specs, this here Pit Boss 440 D2 weighs in at a manageable 96 pounds and measures 50.2 inches tall, 24.02 inches deep, and 39.8 inches wide.
And let’s not forget the easy-to-use dial-in digital control with its LED read-out, making it a breeze to set and monitor the temperature. While it doesn’t come with Wi-Fi connectivity by default, you can always upgrade it with the Pit Boss Legacy Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Controller later on.
So, there you have it, folks. The Pit Boss 440-series hardwood pellet grill might be our runner-up pick, but you wouldn’t be wrong to say it is also a winner in its own right. With its solid set of features and very reasonable price, this grill will have you searing up some mouth-watering meats in no time.
What we like about it:
- There’s no other wood pellet grill this good for that kind of money.
- The Pit Boss 440 D2 is rugged, reliable, and allows you to grill and smoke meats over direct and indirect heat alike.
Flaws, but not dealbreakers:
- The hopper doesn’t have a lot of capacity, so the smoker isn’t great for long cooks.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is an option, but costs half as much as the grill.
How We Picked
A wood pellet grill and meat smoker with great searing performance is one that can reach and sustain high heat. It must come from a reputable manufacturer with a reliable warranty and helpful customer support. Although the price must be reasonable, a sturdy build with high-quality materials is a non-negotiable, at least as far as we’re concerned..
The pellet grills we’ve rounded up for you here provide a high enough heat for searing — you can bet your hat on that. The Traeger Pro 575, our top pick, takes 45 minutes to one hour to heat up to 450-500°F, and can hold this temperature for a long enough time to sear up a nice and good batch of steaks. The Pit Boss 440 D2, our runner-up, has this drawer that brings the flames to the cooking chamber, allowing you to sear meats at temperatures as high as a thousand degrees Fahrenheit, same as red-hot coals.
These days, we’re used to everything being connected, including our pellet grills. No Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t a dealbreaker, but in our book, it definitely isn’t a plus.
The Traeger Pro 575 connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network and gives you control with Traeger’s app. The Pit Boss 440 D2, on the other hand, can be upgraded with a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controller (alas, at a steep price).
Hopper capacity isn’t a big deal when searing, but it makes a world of difference for smoking. The bigger the hopper, the more pounds of wood pellets you can pour in, letting you smoke meats for extended periods of time without dropping temperature in the cooking chamber in needing to refill mid-cook.
One of the reasons why the Traeger Pro 575 came out on top of our list was that the hopper holds a whole 18 pounds of wood pellets. This makes the Traeger a fantastic grill and meat smoker for beginners and seasoned meat smokers alike. In contrast, we think that the Pit Boss 440 D2 is ideal for a beginner, but experienced users will find its 5-pound hopper capacity too small.
Searing vs. Meat Smoking
Well now, when it comes to BBQ-ing meat, there are two primary methods: searing and smoking. While both techniques can result in delicious, succulent meat, they produce vastly different results, and understanding these differences is crucial if you want to become a backyard pitmaster.
Some people think you can’t sear on a pellet grill, but that’s simply not true.
Searing is a high-heat cooking technique that involves cooking meat over direct heat, typically at temperatures ranging between 400 and 500°F. The goal isn’t to cook the meat through, but to create a browned, crispy crust on the outside of it while keeping the inside juicy and tender. It’s ideal for thin cuts that cook quickly, as well as for bringing out the flavor of thicker cuts before or after cooking them with gentler heat.
Smoking, on the other hand, is a low and slow cooking technique that involves cooking meat over indirect heat for an extended period of time, typically at a temperature from 200 to 250°F. The goal is to infuse the meat with smoky flavor while slowly breaking down tough connective tissue and rendering fat — resulting in juicy, fall-off-the-bone cuts. Smoking is perfect for tougher cuts of meat, be it the brisket, the pork shoulder, and the rib rack.
The Griller’s Guide to Searing
If you’re dealing with thin cuts of meat, like steak or pork chops up to 1½ inches thick, searing them is the way to go. Searing is a quick and efficient cooking technique that will help develop a beautiful crust on your meat. All you need to do is preheat your pellet grill to a high temperature, oil the grates, and then cook the meat for a few minutes per side until it comes out dark-brown and formidably crispy.
What about thick cuts of meat, like a good ol’ rack of ribs of a pork shoulder? Searing can still be a great option, but you’ll want to be a little more strategic about it. If you’re smoking the meat, try searing it before or after you’re done smoking it. This will give you the best of both worlds — a smoky flavor from the slow cooking process, and a crispy, caramelized exterior from the searing.
When it comes to searing, less is more. You will only need to sear the meat for a few minutes per side to get the desired effect. Overcooking can lead to dry and burnt meat, which nobody wants. And don’t forget to season your meat before cooking! A sprinkle of salt or a dry rub can go a long way in enhancing the flavor of your meat.
There’s seldom a need to sear your brisket; the smoking will already have developed the bark; leave well enough alone.