Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: August 23, 2023

The smoked tri-tip steak, with its succulent and flavorful profile, is a top choice for barbecue lovers, including me.

Prepared with the right blend of seasonings and optimal cooking temperatures, tri-tip is bound to be a household favorite.

For a truly unique smoked tri-tip experience, you can either stick to this recipe or customize it by incorporating your favorite spices and BBQ sauce.

Recipe Overview

Cut Smoked Tri-Tip
  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Number of Servings: 4


Dry Rub

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • 2 tri-tip steaks
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • Fresh thyme

Recipe Instructions

Smoked Tri-Tip on a board
  1. To make the best tri-tip, place it on a cutting board and trim it. With a sharp knife, remove the fat pockets and silver skin. Some cuts may have a thick layer of sinewy fat on the base (or thicker side). Remove it since it won't render and will have a chewy texture when cooked.
  2. Before adding your dry tri-tip seasoning, you may also use a binder, making it easier for the spices to stick to the meat. I suggest using binders like spicy sauce with garlic powder, mustard, and olive oil and let it sit for 30 minutes or more in the fridge.
  3.  I usually use a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil. Once you've applied an even layer of spice or rub, you're prepared to fire up the grill.
  4. Tweak your seasoning to your liking by making a homemade rub of your choice.
  5. Use indirect heat to smoke at 225°F (107°C). Place the tri-tip directly on the grill grates of your pellet smoker. Oak or fruit wood both work well for your smoker recipes because of how rapidly they cook. I chose hickory pellets, but you can't go wrong with any wood.
  6. The temperature of this triangle tri-trip steak will gradually rise during this phase, ensuring equal cooking throughout the meat and assisting in moisture retention. When the internal temperature of the meat is within 5 to 10 degrees of your desired ultimate target temperature, remove it from the smoker.
  7. Pull the medium rare tri-tip out of the smoker and set it aside. The meat must be immediately seared on both sides in the final stage. This will result in a lovely crust that isn't extremely burnt, slight char, and amazing color.
  8. Add a stick of unsalted butter, garlic cloves, and fresh thyme to your skillet once it sizzles. Butter works well for searing because the milk proteins assist the meat in browning quickly.
  9. Add the tri-tip after letting the butter melt. Give it a 30-second sear on each side. If your skillet is hot enough, this shouldn't take longer than 60 seconds.
  10. Take out tri-tip roast after quick searing. Carefully wrap it in aluminum foil or butcher paper to keep the juices intact. Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  11. Slice the meat against the grain on a cutting board. To do this, slice while holding our knife perpendicular to the grain. Cut against the grain rather than with it so it doesn't get too chewy. You should twist the meat when slicing the tri-tip since the grains run in two directions.

Note: The perfect temperature for smoked tri-tip is when the thickest part of the meat reads 125°F internal temperature on a digital instant-read meat thermometer [1]. Remember that the USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145°F, so if you prefer a medium to medium well, this is the safest temperature for you.

"You risk the possibility of cooking the meat inside past medium rare if the cast iron skillet isn't hot enough."

- David Rose, American Chef

Recipe Notes

Cut Smoked Tri-Tip

Here are a few takeaways to keep in mind when before you smoke tri-tip:

  • Choosing a well-marbled piece of meat is crucial when picking a tri-tip for smoking. The beef's marbling will give the end product taste and keep the meat wet during the smoking process. A tri-tip should weigh at least 2-3 pounds and be roughly 1-1.5 inches thick.
  • Since the cast iron skillet had been warming up in the smoker for a while, heating it shouldn't take long. You don't want to burn ingredients, so be careful when heating it on the stove.
  • When smoking tri-tip, you must base your decisions on temperature rather than aesthetics. Use a meat thermometer to be accurate.
  • For every level you want it cooked more, raise the temperature by around 5 degrees. For instance, the medium's interior temperature would be 145 degrees. Remove your smoked meat from the smoker five degrees before you like it done.
  • When searing the triangle tip, less is more because if you roast it too long, the meat will become overcooked, and the extra items in the pan may burn.
  • After it has finished cooking, the tri-tip can absorb some of the juices released during the cooking process by letting the meat rest on a clean cutting board.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

  • Calories: 1171kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Protein: 119g
  • Fat: 72g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Net carbs: 2g

Side Dish Ideas for Smoked Tri-Tip

Garlic potato fries

Garlic potato fries, spicy green beans, and mashed cauliflower are the ideal side dishes to pair with juicy smoked tri-tip.

If you like creamy side dishes like myself, try creamed corn, baked pinto beans, shrimp skewers, or blue cheese salad.

Related Articles:


Is Tri-Tip Good for Smoking?

Yes, tri-tip is good for smoking because it gets infused with smoke flavor combined with spices and kosher salt.

How Long Does It Take To Smoke a Tri-Tip?

It takes roughly two hours to smoke a tri-tip steak at 225°F. It is longer to cook at this temperature since the meat heats slowly to infuse it with more smoke to add flavor.

How Do I Keep a Tri-Tip Moist while Smoking?

To keep a tri-tip moist while smoking, wrap the smoked tri-tip in aluminum foil after spraying it with oil before returning it to the smoker.

Have You Tried This Best Smoked Tri-Tip Recipe?

This smoked tri-tip is a delicate beef roast covered in a handmade spice rub and slow-smoked to perfection.

The recipe is a quick and stunning main dish that works well for feeding your friends and family.

Just slice the meat when it has rested and serve it with your preferred sides for a complete meal.

If you're keen on sourcing the finest organic meat for this dish, be sure to check out our curated list of the best organic meat delivery services.

These services ensure that you receive the highest quality cuts, ethically sourced from farms that prioritize animal welfare and sustainable practices.


  1. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/kitchen-thermometers
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