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!

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

Get the Recipes for Jeff's Rub and Sauce

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!

promise you'll love my dry rub/seasoning recipe and my barbecue sauce recipe or you don't pay!

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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.


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


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.

2015-IMG_7198 2015-IMG_7199

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.


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.


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.


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.


Order Jeff’s Rubs and Barbecue Sauce TODAY!
Jeff's Rubs and Sauce

✅ My rubs and sauce will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted and it’s a great way to support what we do!


You can also order the formulas for my rubs and sauce and make these yourself at home. Grab those HERE and download immediately.

Jeff’s Smoking Meat Books

smoking-meat-book-coverSmoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue – The book is full of recipes and contains tons of helpful information as well. Some have even said that “no smoker should be without this book”!

With more than 1000 reviews on and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it comes highly recommended and is a Bestseller in Barbecuing & Grilling books on Amazon.

AmazonBarnes & Noble | German Edition

smoke-wood-fire-book-coverSmoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.

It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.

Purchase at Amazon

Printable Recipe

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Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

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!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Servings: 4 -6


  • 2-3 lb tri-tip roast
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • Jeff’s Texas style rub recipe


Step 1: Remove the Fat Cap (optional)

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

Step 2: Season the Meat

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

Step 3: Smoke the Tri-tip

  • Place the ti-tip directly on the grate of the smoker
  • Using indirect heat, smoke cook the roast for about 2 hours or until it reaches medium rare (140°F)
  • 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

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



  1. Robert L. Atack Jr March 9, 2021 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Jeff, what about the Tri Tip strips at Costco? Same time and temp?

    • Jeff Phillips March 10, 2021 at 10:39 am - Reply

      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.

  2. MARK CHRIST October 23, 2020 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    the recipe does not say what temp to put the smoker at ????

  3. Dave Pierce July 28, 2018 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    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.

  4. How to smoke and slice tri tip roast | ThermoWorks April 20, 2018 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    […] ways to cook this delicious cut of meat is to smoke it. Following the guidelines put forward by and How to BBQ Right, we decided to cook out tri tip a bit lower and slower than you would in an […]

  5. Tri-Tip Steak Chili:The Ultimate Hearty, Meaty Football Party Food April 17, 2018 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    […] you grill it, smoke it, or simply brown it in a skillet per this recipe, Tri-Tip Steak Chili is always a […]

  6. LaTrina Johnson December 4, 2017 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    If you haven't had tri tip u got try it I like it a lot more than brisket.

  7. Watty August 26, 2016 at 6:42 am - Reply

    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.

  8. Charlie June 21, 2016 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Maggie January 27, 2017 at 11:39 am - Reply

      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…

  9. Jerry Tune May 7, 2016 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Marc January 22, 2018 at 8:44 pm - Reply

      Pull it at 130 and let it rest a bit. It will be med-rare and just done kicking, she'll come back for more.

  10. Rick Reicker May 28, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    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.

  11. Mike April 30, 2015 at 9:00 am - Reply

    5 stars
    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.

  12. JimF April 30, 2015 at 8:29 am - Reply

    5 stars
    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?

    • Sherry December 24, 2015 at 10:03 am - Reply

      Ask for a delmonico cut from the butcher. It is the closest you can get on the east coast.

      • Jim T September 27, 2016 at 8:40 pm - Reply

        Delmonico is a rib. Tri tip is bottom Sirloin. Absolutely NOT the same. You'd be closer asking for a Flank

    • Jim T September 27, 2016 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      You'll pay a premium. Check Lobels Prime beef. $$$$ but great cuts.

    • Matt May 18, 2017 at 9:01 am - Reply

      Wegmans in Germantown, MD has Tri-tip. You may want to give a closer Wegmans a shot.

    • Marc January 22, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      They're not the cheapest cut of meat, is it possible to order online from Costco?

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