Brisket Style Tri Tip

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This brisket style tri tip may just blow your mind.. like it did mine!

I've ALWAYS cooked tri-tip like steak and called it done at medium rare but a while back I heard that some backyard chefs were cooking this thing like brisket and I figured I had nothing to lose.

Worse case scenario, it would be inedible. Best case scenario, it would be amazing and I could share it with you guys.

I will admit that I had a very difficult time letting it go past medium rare.. but I'm glad I persevered!

Here's how it works:

Helpful Information

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 250°F (121°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 200°F (93°C)
  • Recommended Wood:  Cherry/Oak mix

What You'll Need

Step 1: Dry Brine + Season

This is a premium beef cut but it's still a great idea to give it a little salt treatment called “dry brining“.

I recommend placing it into a pan for this process.

To help the salt to stick really good, I doused it with some “Wooster” sauce.. about a cup should be plenty but you don't really need to measure..

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Apply about 1.5 teaspoons of coarse kosher salt evenly to the top of the tri-tip.

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Then apply about 2 TBS of Jeff's Texas style rub  to the top of the tri-tip to season that bad boy up.

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Why use salt and Texas rub? My Texas style rub is very low on salt so if you want to dry brine and season separately or at the same time, you can do that.

Place the tri-tip in the fridge overnight.

Step 2: Set up Smoker

I used a pellet smoker for this experiment.. to get more smoke flavor, I set it up at the lowest temperature or about 180°F (82°C) to be used for the first 30 minutes.

Here's more pellet smoking tips

After that first 30 minutes, I'll turn it up to 250°F (121°C).

If you're using a regular smoker, you can just start at 250°F (121°C).

Once the smoker is ready to cook, place the tri-tip on the smoker grate fat side down. The fat cap (if any) will protect the rest of the meat during the cook.

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As you can see, I also opted to use a smoke tube to give it a little more smoke.

Step 3: Cook Time Part 1

Let the tri-tip cook for about 3 hours at 250°F (121°C) or until the thickest part measures 160°F (71°C) as read by an accurate meat thermometer.

To check the meat temperature, I used the new Thermapen ONE which reads in only one second!

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Step 4: Wrap

When the tri tip reaches 160°F (71°C), wrap tightly in pink butcher paper. This locks in the color and holds in the moisture while still allowing it to maintain some good bark.

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Foil works too but the bark will end up softer than with paper.

Step 5: Cook Time Part 2

Place the wrapped brisket style tri tip back into the smoker and crank it up to 275°F (135°C) for the next 2 hours or until it reaches 200°F (93°C) in the thickest part.

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Step 6: Rest

Pull the brisket style tri tip from the smoker and let it rest on the counter for about 30 minutes before unwrapping it.

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Step 7: Slice and Serve

Unwrap the tri tip and slice it across the grain into pieces that are about 1/8 to ¼ inch thick.

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Serve immediately!


I hope yours turns out as good as mine did.. it was juicy, tender and tasted like a really good brisket.

Am I going to always make brisket style tri tips from this cut? Nope but it's a great option and if you've had a hard time with regular brisket, this could be a way to hone your skills and transition more gradually to a full size brisket.


Brisket Style Tri Tip

When you cook a tri tip way past medium rare so that it ends up tender, juicy and remarkably delicious, you've made brisket style tri tip!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes


Units Scale


  1. Place tri tip into a pan and douse with 1 cup Worcestershire. Then apply a coat of 1/5 tsp coarse kosher salt and 2 TBS of Jeff's Texas style rub.
  2. Place pan of tri tip into the fridge overnight.
  3. Set up smoker for cooking at 250°F (121°C) using indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
  4. Place tri tip fat side down on the smoker grate and smoke cook for about 3 hours or until it reaches 160°F (71°C) in the thickest part.
  5. Wrap tri tip in pink or brown butcher paper then place it back into the smoker cranking up the heat to 275°F (135°C). Continue to cook for about 2 hours or until it reaches 200°F (93°C) in the thickest part.
  6. Remove the from the smoker and let it rest for about 30 minutes before unwrapping it.
  7. Slice across the grain into pieces that are 1/8 to ¼ inch thick and serve immediately.

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