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Smoked Tri Tip Recipe

Ever since I was a young man, beef has held a fascination to me. While you can do a lot with a single cow raised for slaughter, I would have to say that steak, especially smoked tri tip, is my favorite option.

smoked tri tip

Now I know that there are a lot of different ways you can prepare a steak, based on the cut you decide to cook with. While most people will say that they love a prime sirloin or a t-bone steak as their preferred steak cut, I feel I should say my peace and vouch for tri tip.

“Why tri tip?” you may ask. The answer to this question is simple: I know my way around a mean smoked tri tip. Everyone I have ever prepared tri tip for has fallen in love with the end result. Those people that can cook have often begged me to teach them how to smoke meat so that they might have even a chance of coming close to producing the same deliciousness I introduced them to.

Beyond being darn tasty when cooked right, tri tip is cheaper than other, more esteemed cuts of steak. My kids always look forward to Sundays because that’s when I break out my amazing smoker. My smoked tri tip helped in winning the heart of my now-wife and the dish is a regular fixture of any major holiday or celebration.

Outside of the usual Sunday dinner, I last prepared smoked tri tip for my son’s graduation party.

Check out my other mouthwatering smoked recipes! Try my smoked chicken breast, smoked chicken thighs, or smoked corned beef which are fan favorites!

You also want may want to try my smoked country style ribs, smoked whole chicken recipe or my smoked pork roast.

smoked tri tip rub recipe

What is a tri tip cut?

This particular cut is a triangular cut taken from the bottom sirloin subprimal. When left alone without any trimming of fat or gristle, this cut weighs roughly five pounds.

How did it get its name?

The answer to this cut’s etymology remains unclear. Other names for it have included triangle tip/steak, Newport/Santa Maria steak, aiguillette baronne, tafelspitz, colita de cuadril, maminha and rabillo de cadera.

How long does it take to smoke tri tip at 225°F?

Like with most cuts of steak, the answer to this question is entirely dependent on how done you want the meat to be. If you favor medium rare, like most chefs, then you will want to cook it until it hits 120°F.

Do you flip tri tip when smoking?

The best time to flip a tri tip is once an hour during the smoking process. This gives each side enough time to get a nice flavorful crust as your sauce or rub clings to the meat.

What is the first step to smoking tri tip?

The very first thing you should do when looking to smoke a trip tip roast is to brine it. This step adds a ton of extra flavor to your meat through the process of osmosis, drawing in dark brown sugar, kosher salt and whatever other seasonings you used as water leaves the meat over time.

What Makes A Good Tri Tip Recipe?

smoked tri tip temp

Tri tip is a simple cut to work with and its modest price means that you can feel safer to experiment with it over other cuts. It is an incredibly versatile cut that I feel is best applied toward smoking.

If you know what you are doing around a smoker, you will have no problem working with a tri tip roast. If you are a newcomer to working with steaks and roasts, you can rest easy knowing that tri tip is an incredibly beginner-friendly cut of beef to work with. You simply need to remember a few basic details and your entree is as good as cooked.

As has been previously established, you can get the best out of tri tip, and just about any other cut, for that matter; by giving it a good brine. Brining is a great way of adding even more flavor to your tri tip and serves as an excellent co-pilot toe the flavor boost that a good rub can impart upon the meat. If you are a newcomer to brining meat, the basic ingredients are as follows.

  • Use enough water to leave the cut submerged, even the largest tri tip only needs around 6 cups of water. You may need to add ice cubes to keep the water line at the same height during the brining process.
  • Kosher salt to help dehydrate and flavor the meat. Anywhere from half a cup to 1 cup will suffice for tri tip, depending on the size.
  • Dark brown sugar to add some flavor contrast. Use as much of this as your kosher salt.

smoked tri tip recipe

Smoked Tri Tip

Tender and juicy smoked tri tip recipe

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours


  • 2 lbs Tri Tip Roast
  • 1/4 cup Roasted Coffee Beans finely grounded
  • 1/4 cup Paprika
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Brown Light Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Ground Coriander
  • Wood Chips I favor apple chips


  1. Prep your smoker to 225°F (roughly 107°C) by lining it with your preferred type of wood chips.

  2. Mix all of the non-steak ingredients together to create a coffee steak rub.

  3. Apply the rub to every side of your tri tip.

  4. Place your freshly seasoned cut of meat into the active smoker.

  5. Give the meat 2-3 hours to smoke, flipping the cut every hour. You want to cook the tri tip just long enough to reach an internal temperature within 10° of your desired level of doneness; medium rare tri tip calls for a final temperature of 120°F. Temperature can go up to 150F for well done.

  6. Give the finished tri tip a minimum of 10 minutes before you cut into it.

  7. When the meat and its juices have properly cooled down, slice against the grain and immediately serve.

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