Smoked Tri Tip Recipe – Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on August 26, 2022


Annabelle Watson

Annabelle is an experienced food writer and editor. She focuses on common sense, easy to replicate recipes formulated to help keep things fresh and exciting while fitting into her day to day life as a wife and mother.

Smoked Tri Tip Recipe – Ultimate Guide

Image Credit: Ernesto Andrade

In the world of beef cuts, nothing comes close to the tri tip – which is basically a thick, triangular beef roast cut from the lower part of the sirloin.  

Most tri-tips are purchased when they are already trimmed from the butcher and weigh 2-3 pounds. Untrimmed tri tip has a large fat cap and a layer of silver skin, and can weigh nearly 5 pounds.

How To Smoke A Tri Tip?

Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 2 hrs
Resting Time: 15 mins
TOTAL TIME: 2 hrs 35 mins
COURSE: Main Dish

The process of preparing the smoked Tri-tip is almost similar to other cuts of meat. However, the tri-tip tends to be smaller in size and may require less heating as compared to the other options.

There are only three steps involved in smoking the tri tip. As you may have predicted, the first step involves seasoning the steak. After seasoning, you’ll need the right smoker to smoke and sear before serving.

Seasoning: For this recipe, we will season using basic ingredients such as salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Ideally, you should sprinkle freely on both sides of the steak to achieve a uniform taste. 

You may choose to combine these ingredients the traditional way or prepare your own seasoning with a bit more additives. For this first steak, you don’t have to prepare a complex seasoning for your beef. However, I recommend that you try playing around with your spices in the future, and prepare according to your tastes and preferences.

Smoking: Once you are done with preparing and seasoning your steak, the only thing left is smoking. If you’ve smoked any beef steak before, you probably know that it takes a considerable amount of time to be ready. Thankfully, you can easily smoke the tri tip on any type of smoker. Since most smokers can attain the required temperature of 225 degrees F, just set your smoker and try to maintain this temperature throughout the cooking processes.

Searing: Lastly, you have to take your smoked steak through a searing process to help lock the extra juices. Failure to which your smoked tri tip will remain juicy, which may not be ideal for most people.

This step also gives you a chance to introduce butter or any other additives. I like searing mine on a hot pan with a dash of salted butter to achieve a perfect final crust. However, you may still obtain an amazing tri tip even if you use a gas grill or any other option for searing.


The tri tip that we are going to prepare in this recipe can serve up to four people as the main dish. To increase the flavor, you may choose to serve alongside your favorite salads.Let’s get right into it….

  • 1 tri tip roast – Ensure that the fat cap and silver skin are removed
  • 2 tablespoons of seasoning prepared by mixing equal parts salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons of salted butter for searing
  • 1 sprig rosemary

Preparation & Cooking Instructions

Step 1: Heat your smoker and season the steak

Even before you start preparing your steak for smoking, ensure that you heat your smoker to the required temperature. Use strong wood chips like oak or hickory to ensure that you maintain the 225 degrees Fwhich is the ideal heat for smoking this steak.

Now, season your steak with the prepared seasoning on all sides. Ensure that you work the seasoning into the grain of the steak to ensure a rich uniform flavor.

Place the seasoned tri tip in the smoker and close the lid. Smoke while monitoring temperatures; the internal temperatures should read 120 degrees F for a rare roast, 128 degrees F for a medium roast, 140 for a medium-well roast and 159 degrees for a well done roast.

Step 2: Prepare cast Iron For searing 

Prepare your cookware because when the steak is nearing the correct internal temperature you’ll need to preheat the cast-iron skillet over high heat and put on it about two tablespoons of salted butter. Let the butter melt completely before dropping in the Rosemary sprig.

Step 3: Prepare and sear the smoked Tri-Tip

When the cast iron is ready and the butter is melted, remove the tri tip from the smoker and place it into the hot butter and sear it for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the juicy surface forms a uniform crust. While it cooks, continue spooning the remaining butter over it. 

Step 4: Serve the ready Tri Tip

After about 5 to 6 minutes, your tri tip should be ready to serve. At this stage, it should be oozing a sizzling rosemary and garlic aroma.Remove the roast from the pan to the cutting board. Give it about 15 minutes to rest before slicing. The best way to slice the tri tip is against the grain. With a good knife, start with the smallest point and angle your knife to give you a perfect cut against the grain.

Quick Note:

Tri tip, also known as the triangle steak, triangle tip, bottom sirloin steak or simply triangle roast ( depending on the state or city you live in) is a popular delicacy in Western America, and it is fast gaining traction across major cities in the US. This is mainly due to its unique taste and ease of cooking.

We would also recommend trying this tri tip recipe if you plan to make a DIY Santa Maria grill.


Annabelle Watson

Take Away

With that, you have your sumptuous tri tip ready for serving. This dish can be served alongside salads, Grilled Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Parmesan Broccoli, and Herbed Smashed Cucumbers among others. You can serve the single tri tip to four people or less depending on their appetite. When preparing your smoked tri tip, the most important aspect to keep in mind is temperature control. Ensure that you use wood that allows you to maintain a constant temperature of 225 degrees F. If you fail to maintain the required temperature, your steak may not be done internally. It may also remain juicy even after searing.