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top down view of sliced smoked tri tip on a cutting board with bbq sauce on the side

Smoked Tri Tip

Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Grilling, Smoking
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 6 (6 to 8)
Calories: 246kcal
Author: Marilyn
A long time favorite in California, the delicious tri tip is enjoying fame across the rest of the country. And for good reason. Tri tip is cut from bottom tip portion of the sirloin in the rear of the cow. This slightly tougher and less expensive cut is pure perfection when it is cooked low and slow with just a simple seasoning rub.
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  • Preheat smoker to 225° F.
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and black pepper. Take note of the cross grains in the roast. (see Tip) Then, rub the mixture all over the roast.
  • Insert a heat-proof thermometer horizontally into the thickest part of the roast. Place tri tip directly on to the grates and cook, 60 to 90 minutes or until the temperature reaches 130℉ for medium-rare (about 30 minutes per pound). Remove the tri tip from the smoker and wrap in foil. Let stand 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, increase the heat of the smoker to 500° F.
  • Unwrap the tri tip, return it to the grates and sear, turning, 4 minutes per side or until roast has a nicely browned finish. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and lightly cover with the foil. Let tri tip rest 15 minutes.
  • Cut the roast where the 2 sections, that you noted in step 2, meet. Carve each section thinly against the grain. Serve immediately.


  1. Tri tip is shaped like a triangle with a slight bent tip. The intersection of those two parts is where the grain changes direction. This is where you will want to change your direction of slicing the roast in order to get the most tender cuts. Cutting across the grain always is the way to achieve this.
  2. According to the USDA, the safe temperature for beef is 145 degrees which is a medium done roast. The USDA recommended temperatures for beef are 135°F for medium-rare, 145°F for medium, and 150°F for medium-well. However, the beef roast will continue to rise in temperature 5 to 10 degrees while it is resting. So, take your roast off the the grill 5 to 10 degrees before it reaches the ideal temperature.
  3. Trim any silver skin that is on the roast or ask your butcher to do it. Do not trim off all the fat as you will want a fair amount to keep basting the roast while it is smoking.
Know Your Salt: Morton kosher salt and Diamond Crystal kosher salt have very different volumes because of the size of their crystals. The ratio is approximately 1-½ Morton to 2 for Diamond Crystal. For the 1 tablespoon of kosher salt in this recipe, you would use 1 tablespoon of Morton or 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal.
Tri Tip Rub Variations
Smoking Pellets: Use pecan, cherry or apple wood for the best results. You can also use hickory. I would avoid any of the more intense smoke flavors such as mesquite.
Leftover smoked tri tip can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 3 to 6 months. The leftovers are wonderful in sandwiches.


Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 1244mg | Potassium: 517mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg