This mouthwatering pellet grill cowboy steak will quickly become one of your favorite go-to steak recipes! Our guide will walk you through how to make a fantastic reverse-seared cowboy steak, all in the comfort of your own backyard.
There is nothing more rewarding than biting into a perfectly cooked cowboy steak. And even better, we take these bad boys to the pellet grill for a low and slow cook, then reverse sear them to form a deliciously savory crust. This steak made an impression on us, and honestly, it is one of the best we’ve ever had.
What is a cowboy steak?
The cowboy steak is a rather impressive-looking French cut ribeye steak. This cut comes from the rib section of the steer and is thick, meaty, and contains a fair amount of marbling, much like what you’d find with a ribeye steak. Other names for cowboy steak include bone-in ribeye, cowboy ribeye, and tomahawk steak.
Cowboy steaks are perfect for the grill or smoker, but you can sear in a cast-iron pan as well. Once cooked, they will be juicy and tender, with a delicious beefy flavor.
Ingredients for pellet grill cowboy steak:
- Two cowboy steaks, about 2″ thick
- Fresh garlic
- Coarse salt (I use kosher, sea salt, or Argentinian salt)
- Black pepper
- Onion powder
- Herbs, like dried thyme and marjoram
- Smoked paprika (a little goes a long way)
- Olive oil (for brushing onto the steaks before seasoning)
- Compound butter ingredients (see below for the recipe)
Recommended wood pellets: oak or hickory. However, if you have a favorite, then please use it.
Steak cooking – plan ahead:
Your cowboy steaks will spend anywhere from 45-60 minutes in your pellet grill. After the initial smoke cooking occurs, you will need to reverse sear your steaks to form a nice crust. Doing this amps up the flavor and gives it a nice presentation.
What is reverse sear?
“Reverse-sear” refers to steaks and other meats brought to the desired doneness through a low and slow cooking method like roasting or smoke cooking. After this, the meat is seared at a high temperature. This is a complete reversal of high-temperature searing first to seal in juices, then slow roasting after the fact.
How do you reverse sear a steak?
Since we will be using specific outdoor cooking equipment for these pellet grill cowboy steaks, it’s best to know what your grill is capable of doing. Can it achieve high temperatures between 450-500 degrees F? Do you have the option to swap out your grill grates if needed? Don’t worry. There are solutions! Remember, you can always reverse sear your steaks in a pan on your stovetop. A flat-top grill or griddle pan will also work in a pinch!
How to make a pellet grill cowboy steak:
- Prepare your pellet grill for 225 degrees F. Combine the rub ingredients listed in the recipe below. Brush steaks on both sides with a little oil, and season liberally with the rub.
- Place steaks into your pellet cooker, close the lid, and let the steaks cook for about 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees F. If you’d like them more cooked through, pull them at 130-135 degrees. Please refer to my steak temperature guide to determine the right doneness. I recommend removing them about 5-7 degrees before they reach your target temperature.
When we developed the recipe for these pellet grill cowboy steaks, we were fortunate to have a flat-top grill at my disposal. Of course, we wanted to test the searing capability of this Cuisinart 360 XL. We were pleasantly surprised. However, if you have a Traeger or another pellet grill that can reach high temperatures, then definitely stick with the same cooker, or finish the job on the stovetop in a cast-iron skillet.
- Pull the steaks about 5 degrees before your desired doneness, and place them onto a clean plate. Crank up your grill’s temperature to 500 degrees F.
- Once it’s good and hot, place your steaks back onto the grates and sear them for 2-3 minutes per side.
- If using your stovetop or a flat top grill, melt a pat of butter on the surface right before adding the steak. Sear for 2-3 minutes, turn over, and repeat the process.
Remove your cooked steak from the heat. Add a pat or two of garlic-herb butter, slice, and serve. I find that the addition of the flavored butter adds a nice creaminess to each bite. Follow the recipe below for garlic-herb butter.
- Combine 1/2 cup of softened (not melted) butter with 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary, and 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme (or your favorite herbs). Stir together—scoop mixture out onto a 12″ piece of plastic wrap, and form into a log shape. Twist the ends and place the butter into the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- To use: unwrap and slice into 1/2″-1″ slices.
- Tip: Make this compound butter right after the steaks go on the pellet grill. The butter will be good and solidified by the time the steaks have finished cooking. Serve these steaks with my phenomenal Pellet Grill Funeral Potatoes.
Pellet Grill Cowboy Steak
- Pellet Grill
- 2 cowboy steaks about 1 3/4” to 2” thick
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- For butter:
- 1/2 cup softened butter room temperature, not melted
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- Prepare pellet grill to 225 degrees F.
- Brush steaks on both sides with a little olive oil. Combine rub ingredients and season liberally with mixture.
- Place steaks on the cooking grate, close the lid, and cook to an internal temperature of 120 degrees F (about 45 minutes). If you'd like your steak a little more cooked, then leave it on for another 15 minutes or so.
- Remove steaks from grill, place onto a clean plate and set aside. Turn pellet grill to its maximum temperature (or 500 degrees F).
- Place steaks back on the hot grill and sear each side for 2-3 minutes or until a nice golden brown crust forms.
- Once seared to perfection, remove steaks from grill and place onto a clean cutting board. Let them rest for 5-7 minutes and serve with a pat or two of garlic-herb butter on top, or carve and share.
- For garlic butter: Combine softened (not melted) butter with 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary, and 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme (or your favorite herbs). Stir together—scoop mixture out onto a 12" piece of plastic wrap, and form into a log shape. Twist the ends and place the butter into the refrigerator for 1 hour.To use: unwrap and slice into 1/2"-1" slices.
- Pellet recommendation: Hickory for a strong smoke flavor or oak for a milder smoke flavor.