Best Smoked Tri Tip Steak

This article has links to products that we may make commission from.
  • 2
     votes
  • 2 Comments
  • Jump to Recipe

This Smoked Tri Tip steak is coated with a delicious homemade rub that builds a flavorful crust as it smokes to a perfectly tender juicy meat in just 2 hours.

» You might be interested in this ChefsTemp Finaltouch X10 digital thermometer review.

Smoked Tri Tip

If you love Tri tip steak and you have a smoker, you’ll really love this recipe for Smoked Tri Tip. It’s one of my favorite cuts of beef and smoked is a really great way to enjoy it. If you like a hanger steak, you definitely should seek out the tri tip. It’s just as tender.

Tri Tip is cut from the bottom sirloin and can be found in many grocery stores on the West coast of the United States, and often at Costco. It was made popular in Santa Maria, California, in the 1950s when the Santa Maria rub was also created.

The cut of meat alone is very tender and is best when cooked at low heat and served at medium rare. That’s why a smoker does some a great job with this cut. It’s a very low, slow way of cooking that imparts a lot of flavor.

If you don’t have a smoker, you can also cook tri tip steak on the grill or in the oven. My preferred method is smoking or grilling. The smoked flavor along with the rub are unbeatable.

Ingredients You’ll Need

tri tip ingredients
  • Tri Tip – You can find a tri tip roast at the grocery if you live on the west coast, otherwise you’ll probably need to ask for it from your butcher. I usually cook a 3-pound roast, which is the most typical size. At Costco, you can usually find tri tip as strip steaks, around 6-8 ounces each. You can still cook them on the smoker, but they will take a lot less time.
  • Seasoning rub (either store-bought or homemade) – My homemade rub includes brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder. It’s easy to mix up and can last for a few months, so you can use it for lots of other things.

Yep, that’s all you need! It’s a super simple, but very delicious way to season tri tip that you’ll roast in the oven.

Expert Tips

  • If you want the ultimate flavor and crust on your smoked tri tip, let it marinate with the dry rub on for at least a few hours before smoking.
  • Be sure to slice the tri tip against the grain of the meat for the most tender bites.
  • For added flavor and texture, consider searing the tri-tip over high heat for a few minutes on each side before transferring it to the smoker. You can also do a reverse sear – which means searing it after it’s smoked.

What Size Tri Tip to Buy

Raw tri tip

Tri-tip roasts range from 1 1/2 pounds to 4 pounds.

  • A 1 1/2 pound roast will serve around 3 people, depending on appetite.
  • A 3-pound roast will serve about 6 people.
  • A 4-pound roast will serve about 8 people.

I try to buy a 2 1/2 to 3-pound roast so there’s some left overs for the two of us. It’s great the first day as a main dish with a side dish like smoked cauliflower or smoked vegetables. The next day you can use it for steak sandwiches or steak quesadillas.

How Long to Cook a Tri Tip on the Smoker

Tri tip steak on the BBQ with a thermometer in

The cooking time will vary based on the size of the roast. The best way to make sure the meat is cooked to your preference is to use a digital thermometer to test the meat, like this amazing Thermoworks one.

If you have a digital thermometer that can be left in the meat while it cooks, that’s the best way to ensure it doesn’t over cook. Most smokers come with an internal thermometer.

  • For medium-rare you want 135°F.
  • For medium it’s 145°F.
  • I don’t recommend going over 145°F for this cut, but if you like well done meat, it’s 155°F.

Be sure to take into account the 5-10 degrees from carryover cooking (the amount the temp rises during resting).

Santa Maria Rub

The most “authentic” way to make tri tip is with a Santa Maria rub. It’s just three ingredients: salt, pepper and garlic powder. Hard to believe that the original rub that has become so famous includes just 3 ingredients, but it’s true.

  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder or 2 tsp garlic salt
santa maria rub

What Smoker to Use

Z GRILLS Wood Pellet Grill Smoker with PID 2.0 Controller, 700 Cooking Area, Meat Probes, Rain Cover for Outdoor BBQ, 7002C

Z Grills 7002C2E Pellet Grill & Smoker

The 7002C2E is a new model featuring a digital PID control board and advanced technology for even temperatures and consistent results. With the built-in dual temperature probes, a huge pellet hopper, pellet cleanout system, and pellet view window, your grilling experience will be enhanced like never before. See this grill and more on the Z Grills site.

Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Electric Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker, Bronze, Extra large

Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill & Smoker

Traeger created the original wood-pellet grill as the ultimate way to achieve wood-fired taste. The Pro Series 22 is the one most people choose because it’s compact, yet has plenty of space for cooking.

You can use any type of wood pellets you like. I prefer Hickory, which is great for naturally enhancing beef, chicken, pork, and veggies with full-bodied, bold flavor.

smoked tri tip

Related Posts:

Like it, Love it, Want Some More of It? Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. We really love it when you save our recipes to Pinterest 😊

smoked tri tip

Smoked Tri Tip

This delicious smoked Tri Tip is coated in a flavorful dry rub and slow smoked to perfection.
4.50 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 409kcal
Author: Laura Lynch

Ingredients

  • 3 pound tri tip roast

For the dry spice rub

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  • Trim fat on tri tip to 1/4″ and remove membrane, if necessary.
  • Mix the seasonings in a bowl. Season the tri tip with the dry rub, reserving 1 tablespoon for later. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if possible.
  • Preheat the smoker to 225°F, set the tri tip directly on the grill and close the lid.
  • Mix the remaining dry rub with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Smoke the tri tip for about 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours, basting twice during cooking with the olive oil/rub mixture.
  • The roast is done when the internal temperature reaches 125°F for medium rare or 135°F for medium.
  • Take the meat off the grill and let it rest for 15 minutes wrapped with tin foil. This allows the meat to come up to the proper temperature.
  • To serve, slice the roast against the grain in thin slices.

Equipment Needed

Notes

  • If you want the ultimate flavor and crust on your smoked tri tip, let it marinate with the dry rub on for at least a few hours before smoking.
  • Be sure to slice the tri tip against the grain of the meat for the most tender bites.
  • For added flavor and texture, consider searing the tri-tip over high heat for a few minutes on each side before transferring it to the smoker. You can also do a reverse sear – which means searing it after it’s smoked.

Nutrition

Calories: 409kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 147mg | Sodium: 903mg | Potassium: 776mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 675IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 4mg

Pin it for later!

smoked tri tip

2 thoughts on “Best Smoked Tri Tip Steak

  1. Mike Thiewes says:

    I saw your recipe for smoked tri tip . I’m from N.E. South Dakota. Smoking in a grill is my than. But it’s still too cold here. If u want I can show you a video of my yard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating