The Perfect Sear and Reverse Sear

When it comes to cooking meat, there are seemingly endless methods from which to choose from. However, whether you're grilling beef, pork, poultry, or produce – nothing beats the taste of a perfectly seared or reverse seared surface. The question lies on which to choose for optimal tenderness and flavor? To help with your decision, here is everything you need to know about achieving the perfect sear on your Pit Boss Wood Pellet Grill.

Sear vs. Reverse Sear

It’s important to understand the difference between these two cooking methods. Deciding which one to use depends on how thick your cut is, how crusty you like the outside, and how tender you want the inside to be.

What is searing?

Searing is a method of cooking that focuses on creating intense flavor on the outer surface of your foods before fully cooking the inside. It starts with browning the outside against high heat, so that the moisture evaporates, and a chemical change occurs resulting in a crusty texture and distinct caramel like flavor. Searing is preferred to reverse searing when grilling thin cuts of meat that will cook through quickly, like hamburgers, hot dogs, and steaks less than 1 ½ inches thick, in addition to, tender fruits or vegetables, like pineapple, onions, peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini. To sear using your Pit Boss, start by browning both sides over piping hot grates. Followed by grilling with indirect heat until your food reaches the desired tenderness or internal temperature.

What is the reverse sear method?

Reverse searing still features the distinct flavor and texture of the caramelized surface. Although, with a reverse sear, you start by cooking your meat to the desired internal temperature first, before finishing it off on a piping hot sear. Foods that are reverse seared take a little bit longer to cook, but this style is ideal for thicker cuts of meat that require more cooking time. Recipes best reverse seared include prime rib, ribeye or porterhouse steaks, and chicken breast. As well as dense fruits and vegetables like asparagus, carrots, or peaches. To achieve a reverse sear on your Pit Boss, start by cooking your food low and slow until you reach the desired internal temperature. Then, open the slide plate flame broiler and brown the outside until you reach a deep brown color. This can range from 30 – 90 seconds on each side depending on how hot your grill is.

reverse sear

Prepping the Grill for Searing and Reverse Searing

The grill is one of the most important elements of the sear. A well prepped grill can make all the difference between a crunchy crust or a burnt one.

1. Clean your grill

A good seared surface starts on a clean grill. Clean any debris leftover on your grates, so you can get even contact between the meat and the piping hot metal.

  • Pro Tip: For easy cleaning, do a bake off at the end of each grilling session. Turn the grill up to 500°F for two to three minutes, so any leftover food will either burn and turn to ash or melt off and flow in to the grease management system.

2. Open your broiler plate

Remove the cooking grates to slide the flame broiler plate open and replace them afterward. If you have the Pit Boss Pro Series 1100, you can open the slide plate with the small handle underneath the side shelf.

3. Coat grill or food with oil

Coat your grill or food with a little bit of oil. Fatty meats may not need this, but for foods like fish or fruits that have delicate skin, a touch of oil will help the flesh from sticking to the grill. Choose high-smoke point oils like canola, sunflower, or safflower.

4. Apply meat when the grill is nice and hot

Wait until your grill gets nice and hot. The best sear or reverse sear is going to come from lots of heat for a very short period of time, so even though there will be an open flame underneath, we still want the cast iron grids to be nice and hot.

  • Pro Tip: An open flame can give off 1,200°F of heat. To avoid charring immediately, aim to have your fire just barely licking the grates. This can sometimes mean turning the grill temperature down to lower the height of the flame. The goal is to have the flame right at the height of the cooking grids and not too high above them.

Prepping Your Meat

In order to have a successful sear that is both crusty on the outside and tender on the inside, use the following steps to prepare your meet:

1. Make sure your food surface is dry

Dry the surface of your foods before searing them. If your meat was marinating beforehand, simply let the marinade drip off.

  • Pro Tip: Water is something you really want to avoid on the surface of your food or grill. When water contacts the hot grates, it will instantly turn to steam. Steam reduces the perfectly crusty and caramelized texture that comes from the direct heat.

2. Bring meat to room temp

Allow meats to reach room temperature before grilling. This improves the overall flavor and juiciness.

Meat Searing Tips

Be sure to follow these tips for the perfect sear or reverse sear:

1. Wait for the perfect level of flame.

2. When flipping your food to sear the other side, aim to place it on an unused section of the grill.

The first side will cool the grates slightly, so an unused section will help you achieve even heat and browning for both sides.

3. Know when it’s time to flip.

Either sear for 1-2 minutes or look for a crusty dark brown color. The sweet spot for the perfect brown color is just after the surface turns a nice golden color and right before it starts to char and turn black.


For a flavorful and textured crust, season with course black pepper and our Smoke Infused Sea Salt, before you sear or reverse sear.

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