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Smoked Tri-tip Roast

smoked tri tip

Smoked tri-tip is on of my favorite beef cuts to smoke when I am looking for a steak-like texture and flavor. The really awesome thing is that cooking steaks or even lean, tender roasts in the smoker yields a medium rare that is edge to edge instead of the typical medium rare in the center and more done toward the outside. Perfectly cooked all the way through!

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 220°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 140°F
  • Recommended Wood: Hickory
What You’ll Need

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recipe-ad-rubHaving used my original rub many times on smoked tri-tip, I can tell you that it is really good. This time, I used the new Texas style rub and it is also very good. You may find it difficult to decide which one to use but no matter what you choose, it will definitely be tasty!

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Step 1: Season the Meat

Lay the meat fat cap down on the cutting board or down in a pan to keep the area clean.

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Pour olive or vegetable oil onto the meat and brush it all over the top and sides.

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Normally I would add the rub right at this point but I realized during the process that I forgot to remove the fat cap, so we’ll take care of that, then come back to the rub part of this process.

Flip it over to fat cap up..

Step 2: Remove the Fat Cap (optional)

Since we are cooking this to medium rare, the fat cap does not have time to render and really serves no purpose in my opinion.

A sharp knife and a little patience will do the trick.

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Step 3:  Apply the Rub

With oil brushed all over the meat, including the sides, sprinkle my Texas style rub (purchase recipes here) onto the meat.

Don’t be skimpy about it.

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Step 4: Smoke the Tri-tip

Setup your smoker for cooking at around 220°F using indirect heat. If your smoker has a water pan, it’ s a great idea to use it.

I used hickory with this ti-tip but the traditional wood to use is red oak if you have it available.

Once the smoker is ready, place the meat directly on the grate or you can use a bradley rack, Weber grill pan or even a basic cooling rack  to make it easy to transport the meat to and from the smoker.

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The amount of time that it actually takes to reach medium rare or your desired finished temperature depends largely on the thickness of the roast. Most of the ones I do take around 2 hours. This one finished up in just under 2 hours.

I highly recommend using a digital probe meat thermometer such as the “Smoke” by Thermoworks to monitor the temperature of this tri-tip while it cooks.

thermoworks smoke thermometer

You can also use a handheld digital thermometer like the super fast Thermapen or a Thermopop  to check it every so often.

Thermapen Mk4 Orange ThermoPop Orange 01

I am a big believer in knowing the temperature of what you are cooking.. there’s no substitute for safety and when you’re cooking, there’s no need to guess at it when there are so many wonderful tools at your disposal.

I would estimate that it will take about 2 hours but give yourself some extra time just in case. If it gets done early, you can easily let it rest under foil for 30 minutes or so before slicing it.

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Note: As noted below in a comment, after smoking the beef to about 110°F internal temperature, you can place it on a grill, under the broiler or even in a skillet to give it a good sear and brink it up to a perfect medium rare prior to serving. This is known as reverse searing and is a great way to serve a wonderful piece of beef like this.

Step 5: Serve the  Tri-tip

Slice across the grain for maximum tenderness. It is always a great idea to make note of the grain direction before adding the rub to the meat.

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Slice it thin for sandwiches or you can slice it into ¼ inch pieces and then further into strips for placement atop a nice smoked meat salad.

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Printable Recipe

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Smoked Tri-tip Roast

Smoked tri-tip is on of my favorite beef cuts to smoke when I am looking for a steak-like texture and flavor. The really awesome thing is that cooking steaks or even lean, tender roasts in the smoker yields a medium rare that is edge to edge instead of the typical medium rare in the center and more done toward the outside. Perfectly cooked all the way through!

  • Author: Jeff Phillips
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Hot Smoking

Ingredients

Units Scale

Instructions

Step 1: Remove the Fat Cap (optional)

  1. Using a sharp knife, remove the fat cap from the roast.

Step 2: Season the Meat

  1. Rub olive or vegetable oil all over the top, bottom and sides of the tri-tip roast.
  2. Apply Jeff’s Texas style rub generously all over the roast.

Step 3: Smoke the Tri-tip

  1. Place the ti-tip directly on the grate of the smoker
  2. Using indirect heat, smoke cook the roast for about 2 hours or until it reaches medium rare (140°F)
  3. Remove from smoker and allow trip tip to rest under foil for about 20 minutes once it has finished cooking.

Step 4: Slice and Serve

  1. Slice the smoked tri-tip roast thin for sandwiches or into ¼ inch slices and then strips for placing atop a salad.

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20 Comments

    1. Robert, I have not seen the trip-tip strips.. just the whole tri-tips. You can definitely do them in a similar way but I assume they would probably get done a little quicker than the whole piece. Use a thermometer and when they reach medium-rare (130°F) or your own desired level of done, they will be delicious.

  1. I’ve used Jeff’s rub and sauce recipes since I got my big green egg several years ago. I’ve done ribs, pork butt, brisket, all kinds of stuff. Smoked rack of lamb (his recipe) is probably the best thing I’ve done. Make the potatoes and herb sauce!
    Doing a tritip this weekend and will make Jeff’s awesome bbq sauce.
    Buy the dang recipe. Sure there are lots of them out there, and I use some others, but you’ll not regret having Jeff’s rub and sauce recipe. It’s a go to standard for me.

  2. Smoking 2 3tips this morning 430 for a nice meat and egg breakfast . Simple rub, weather is great in southern ca,
    40 inch electric masterbuilt.
    Watty

  3. I’ve been smoking meat for 50-years but never a tri-tip. I live in Orcutt on the Central Coast of California, the home of tri-tip. We use open pit (ranch style) grills and burn nothing but red oak. It’s to die for. However, it time to try something new. At the risk of being ostracized by my neighbors, I’m going to fire up the smoker and try a tri-tip. Wish me luck. I’ll come back and rate it.

    1. Hi Charlie, I live in Santa Maria, CA. We bbq tri-tip all the over over red oak too. How did smoking it go? I just bought a new Traeger grill and wanted to try smoking a tri-tip. Thanks for any info…

  4. I can’t convince my wife a tri tip is done at 140. She likes London broil, prime rib rare and bloody hamburgers. I smoke a lot of packer briskets, she loves brisket. She thinks it should turn out like a brisket. She is a bull headed Yankee. So I eat tri tip for supper and she has a can of soup. Any suggestions or just live with it?

  5. If you’ve ever been to a Buckhorn, the trick to their delicious tri-tip is smoking it for about 45 minutes, then finishing it on the grill. Gives it that smokey goodness, but also the nice seared crust (and you can leave the fat cap on).

    Looking forward to trying this one this way this weekend.

  6. Hi Jeff,
    I have always wanted to try smoking a tri-tip. This looks so good and I bet it would be terrific on a sandwich.

  7. My family LOVES tri-tips but here on the East Coast, it is almost impossible to find. Costco sometimes carries the cut but is almost always super expensive for what it is. The butcher will be my next stop. Any suggestions on grocery stores that may have tri-tips around the DC area?