Smoked Tri-Tip


This weekend I decided to give a California style BBQ a shot.  I had a nice Tri-tip which is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin.  It is a very lean cut with not a lot of marbling that grills like steak, slices like brisket. Has the beefy flavor of sirloin, and is somewhat forgiving when it comes to grilling time?  Commonly smoked over  red oak in Southern California. I didn’t have any red oak on hand so I used a combination Cherry and Hickory. I see a lot of people recommending 4-6 hours of smoking for Tri-tip. In my humble opinion that is far to long. Seriously all it takes is 60-90 minutes with the smoker running at a temp of 225.  That will give you a nice tender and juicy medium rare, or just a little bit longer for medium.  I would not take this cut of meat further than medium or risk it becoming dry and tough. Again as in other posts I highly recommend a thermometer and aim for internal temp of 130-135.

I start by pulling the Tri-tip out of the fridge to let it come up to room temp while I get my rub together. Now the Tri-tip comes weighing in at 1.5-2.5 lbs so you don’t really need a lot of rub for this. I like to keep the rub as a traditional rub that has a good balance of sweet and savory with a touch of heat. 1 tablespoon each of the following is a good starting point, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin, and light brown sugar.

Let’s first take a look at the Tr-tip and the way the grain runs;IMG_0497

Notice how the grain runs two different directions, on the one side (the left side of the screen) runs horizontally and the majority of the grain in the rest of the meat runs vertically.  This will be important when slicing the Tri-tip when it’s done.

Once the Tri-tip has come up to room temp pat it dry with paper towels and give it a good coating with the rub. Remember even though it is called a rub do not rub it into the meat, doing that will clog the pores of the meat and not let the smoke penetrate. You could put this back in the refrigerator for a few hours or even over night, but I have found that if it sits just long enough for me to light my chimney and get my smoker up to 225 that is enough time.


Like I stated earlier at 225 it really only takes 60-90 minutes, just check the thickest part of the Tri-tip with a thermometer and once you hit 130-135 pull it out of the smoker loosely tent it with foil and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

Once it has rested it is time to slice it. As with any other cut of meat you want to cut it across the grain.  Remember looking at the Tri-tip earlier? You will want to cut this across the grain in different directions depending on your Tri-tip. Cut it somewhat thin and on an angle kind of the same way you would a brisket.


So give this cut a try and good luck.



1 tablespoon each



Smoked Paprika


Garlic Powder

Brown Sugar


2 Comments Add yours

  1. chefkreso says:

    Perfect seasoning, perfectly grilled!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cheers for the actual article i have recently been on the lookout with regard to this kind of advice on the net for sum time right now so many thanks


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