Updated: Jan 20
THE ULTIMATE GRILL SEARING GUIDE by Traeger
BUY NOW: PRO 22 BRZ PELLET GRILL
The greatest home cooks know how to make their mark on signature dishes, and when it comes to meats, nothing says mastery quite like a nice sear. If you’ve heard that a Traeger can’t sear, we beg to differ.
A sear is to mark, brand, or char a surface with extreme heat. Searing seals in natural flavors and creates a new flavor combination where it sears. When protein and sugars heat above 350°F, meat browns and caramelizes, which improves the flavor. The flavor is what makes people want to lick their plates.
HOW SEARING WORKS ON A TRAEGER WOOD PELLET GRILL
For the best results, use a Traeger pellet grill. You get beautiful marks from searing on a grill and you also get a different flavor and texture than when you sear any other way.
Inside the Traeger wood-fired oven, the convection fan speeds up the cooking process by 20%. By placing the meat directly on a hot grate, the protein begins to warm and the cold of the meat reflects cold back to the grill grate, which slows down the heating process of the parts that are not directly touching the grate. This is how the area of the meat that is touching the grate has the Maillard reaction or browns, and forms seared grill marks on the protein.
Searing occurs in the area of meat that touches the hot grate. This area cooks faster and hotter than the circulating convection heat cooks the rest of the meat.
TOP TIPS FOR SEARING ON A GRILL
Make sure the grill is clean. If you’re cooking on a dirty grill, food will stick to it no matter what you do. If it looks like a tough job, an all-natural grill cleaner can help. Then you can use vegetable oil to season the grates
Invest in cast iron grill grates for even hotter grates.
Get the cooking surface hot. 450°F or higher. Once you’re preheated, you’re ready to go.
Gently lay the meat on the grates. Searing time varies depending on the type and cut of meat but generally, you’ll want to sear for just 3-5 uninterrupted minutes per side.
Don’t touch it until it’s time to flip. If you poke and prod at it, you could release juices prematurely which will ruin your sear. Use tongs, a spatula, or our pig tail BBQ flipper to flip.
TO OIL? OR NOT TO OIL?
Some use oil for flavor. Others use it for even cooking. In any case, don’t go overboard for fear of the meat sticking. It’s not uncommon for meat to stick to the grill grates at first, but it has less to do with how much oil you’re using and everything to do with giving the Maillard reaction time to kick in.
You just want to wait for the proteins to harden. Once they do, the meat will flip easily and you’ll see a nice sear. All your hard patience pays off -- just don’t wait too long or your meat will dry out! Keep reading for specific instructions.
PREPARING YOUR MEAT FOR SEARING
For larger cuts of meat like a tenderloin, the first order of business is trimming what’s known as the “silver skin” or excess fat from your meat.
Next, you want to get the surface as dry as possible. In a pinch, you can blot it dry with a paper towel but for steaks, it’s best to leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight.
Another method is salting the meat. If you go this route, you should let it sit for at least an hour or moisture will get in the way. Salt will draw moisture to the surface.