Best Smoked Tri-Tip (Low and Slow, Then Seared)

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When cooked properly, smoked tri-tip is by far one of the juiciest, flavor-packed cuts of beef.

It’s a popular cut of meat across the country, and the best part is that one roast may serve many people.

We’ll walk you through the reverse sear cooking procedure in this recipe so you can enjoy this wonderful tender cut at your next BBQ.

If you don’t pay careful attention, you’ll end up with a tough, chewy piece of meat if you don’t follow a few important stages.

Smoked Tri-Tip

Lean cuts of beef, such as Tri-Tip, are ideal for smoking since they cook evenly on the interior.

The meat fibers cook evenly and gently when smoked. At high temperatures, muscle fibers strain and toughen, resulting in tough and chewy meat.

You could cook a tri-tip low and slow the whole time, but nothing beats a brief sear over high heat to generate a delicious crust.

What is Tri-tip?

Tri-tip is a triangular beef roast derived from the sirloin’s bottom. It is also known as bottom sirloin tip or Santa Maria steak.

It’s a versatile cut of beef that may be prepared in a number of ways.

Many people smoke and reverse sear it, but you can also grill it, bake it, or, if you’re feeling daring, smoke it low and slow until well done like brisket.

It’s becoming more common at large grocery shops recently, and you can always get a high-quality cut from our friends at Porter Road.

What type of smoker do I need? 

You may use whatever sort of smoker you like as long as the temperature stays steady between 225F and 250F.

We utilized our Kamado Joe Classic II to smoke indirectly for this dish, and then seared directly over hot charcoal for some excellent open-fire flavor.

If you don’t have an open flame searing plate on your pellet grill, I suggest searing your tri-tip on both sides in a smoking hot cast iron pan to achieve a beautiful crust on the exterior.

If you don’t already have a cast iron pan, Lodge sells a wonderful pre-seasoned skillet for a very low price.

How to smoke Tri-tip

1. Trimming

When you buy a tri-tip, it may have be trimmed, but if it isn’t, you’ll want to spend a few additional minutes to do it yourself.

First and foremost, let’s make sure you obtain a very clean trim job by using a fine sharp knife. With our Smoke Kitchen 6.5 Boning Knife, you can’t go wrong. This knife has a wonderful grip and is one of my favorite trimming knives.

Tri-tip may be ordered with or without the fat cap. If yours came with a fat cap, you may choose whether or not to use it. I like to leave it out because I want the flavor to penetrate all of the meat.

Remove any silver skin that may have accumulated on the tri-tip. For good clean cuts, utilize the whole length of the blade.

2. Seasoning

There are a TON of fantastic beef rubs out there, and honestly, this portion is all up to you.

If you know you’re going to sear the meat over direct fire, avoid rubs with a high sugar concentration to keep it from burning.

I used a basic spice combination of Kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and garlic powder.

If I have time, I usually do this 30-45 minutes ahead of time to enable the spice to permeate the flesh and tenderize the roast.

3. Smoking

Preheat your smoker to a consistent 225F.

As previously stated, we utilized our Kamado Joe Classic II with Weber Hickory Wood Chunks for this meal. Another excellent taste choice is pecan.

You must first determine how you want your tri-tip cooked before you place it on the grill. Tri-tip is ideally cooked to medium rare doneness in my opinion. If you’re not sure what the interior temperature of your ideal doneness is, see this article.

I utilized my MEATER+ Wireless Thermometer to measure the inside temperature throughout the smoking process.

A portable Bluetooth thermometer is an excellent addition to your BBQ arsenal, particularly for lower-temperature meals.

Place your meat on the indirect heat side of the smoker. Remove the MEATER+ after smoking the tri-tip until the interior temperature hits 115F.

Next, sear it over direct heat, turning it every couple of minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 127 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare doneness.

Remove from heat and let it rest for 15 minutes.

It’s worth noting that the internal temperature of a roast will normally rise by 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit while it rests, so cease cooking your tri-tip before it reaches the target doneness temperature.

Slicing, the most critical part!

It is critical to slice your tri-tip correctly. Otherwise, you’ll wind up chewing on something that resembles a leather belt.

The tri-tip contains grains that run in opposite directions, so be sure you’re cutting against the grain.

Start slicing from the smaller end of the tri-tip and work your way up to the bigger piece, where you’ll need to rotate to ensure that you’re slicing each component of the tri-tip against the grain.

Also, for the most sensitive taste, keep to thinly cut chunks.

Need some more steak guidance?

  • 11 best mail-order steaks in 2022
  • 9 best cheap steak cuts you can afford
  • 7 best steak knives in 2022
  • How to reverse sear a steak on the grill
  • How to cook steak on a charcoal grill


Can I smoke a tri-tip and sear it later?

Sear a Tri-Tip Steak. After smoking, take the pan from the smoker and set it on the cooktop. Preheat the oven to medium-high. Sear the steak for 2 minutes on each side once the pan is hot (approximately 5 minutes).

Can you smoke a tri-tip low and slow?

Smoking tri tip low and slow is an unusual way to prepare it. But believe me when I say that cooking low and slow in the smoker produces a beautiful end product. Smoke the tri tip at 250oF during the initial half of the cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165oF to 170oF, or until you’re pleased with the bark.

Is it better to sear a tri-tip before or after?

The Smoke: Smoke provides a fantastic taste aspect to tri-tip. If you have the opportunity, kiss this cut with some fine hickory or oak smoke. The Sear: After smoking the tri-tip, sear it rapidly at very high temperatures, 600-700 °F if feasible, to quickly generate the tasty crusty bark.

Should I sear my tri-tip before baking?

Season the tri tip. In a big cast iron skillet, sear it. Bake it for 12 minutes per pound in the oven. Rest before serving.

Should you sear a smoked tri tip?

The last searing seals in the flavor without drying out the meat. This approach works exceptionally well with harder cuts of beef, such as the Tri-Tip. Check out my buddies at Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner for some incredibly simple instructions for cooking beef as well as some fantastic dishes!

How long should a tri-tip rest before searing?

Cover the grill and smoke the tri-tip until it reaches an internal temperature of 115°F for rare meat or 120°F for medium-rare steak. This will take between 45 minutes and an hour. Step 4: Allow the tri-tip to rest for 10 minutes on a wire rack over a foil pan.

Is tri-tip better cooked fast or slow?

Fast-cooking techniques are excellent for tri-tip steak, which means less time in the kitchen and more time for enjoying. This specific cut is derived from the bottom sirloin, which also produces an excellent roast. If you’re searching for a low and slow approach to prepare tri-tip, a tri-tip roast is the way to go.

What is the best temperature to smoke a tri-tip?

Smoke – Use indirect heat to smoke at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Because it cooks so rapidly, fruit wood or oak is ideal. The thickest section of the meat should register 125 degrees F with an instant-read digital thermometer like a Thermoworks Thermapen for rare.

How long to smoke tri-tip steaks at 225?

The length of time it takes to cook a tri tip depends on its size as well as the degree of doneness desired. A 2-pound tri tip takes an hour for rare and an hour and a half for medium-rare at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. A 3-pound tri tip takes around 90 minutes to cook rare and 2 hours to cook medium-rare.

What is the best cooking method for tri tip steak?

Sear the steak for 3 to 5 minutes each side. Place the meat on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes per pound in a preheated oven on the center rack. Wrap in foil and let aside for 10 minutes before slicing.

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