Smoked tri-tip has become a staple in our house. In this recipe we’ll use the reverse-sear method which involves smoking the tri-tip first and then finishing it off with a nice sear. What you end up with is a smoke flavored, perfectly seasoned, beautifully crusted tri-tip roast that will have everyone begging for more!
- 2-3 pounds Tri-Tip Roast
- 3 tablespoons Meat Church Holy Cow rub, substitute favorite steak seasoning (optional recipe below)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
Trim and season the tri-tip
Trim off the excess fat and silver skin from all sides of the tri-tip. If your tri-tip roast has a fat cap, you can optionally leave it on - your call. Personally, I like it better with all of the fat removed. If you have the time, optionally season the tri-tip with Kosher salt and refrigerate uncovered overnight to add flavor to the meat and remove any excess moisture.
Prep the tri-tip for smoking
Rub the olive oil evenly over the entire surface of the tri-tip. If using the smoked tri-tip rub recipe in the notes, mix the ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the tri-tip. You'll want a solid coating of seasoning. The tri-tip is fairly thick and the slices will be thin, so even a lot of rub won't overpower it.
Smoke the tri-tip roast
Place tri-tip on the smoker and smoke at 225°F until it hits an internal temperature of 130°F in the thickest part of the meat for medium-rare, approximately 2 hours depending on the size. If using a pellet grill with smoke levels, set it on the level with the most smoke output. I usually remove it at 125°F for medium-rare. I recommend using a good leave-in or instant read meat thermometer so you don't have to constantly check the smoked tri-tip (see ingredients section above).
Sear the smoked tri-tip
Once the tri-tip roast reaches your desired temperature, place on a carving board and tent loosely with aluminum foil. While the tri-tip is resting, increase the heat of the grill to 450°F (set temperature to "High" if using a Traeger or any other pellet grill with a high heat setting) and place a cast iron skillet on grill. Close the lid. Alternately, you can sear the steak in a piping hot pan on the stove top. Once the grill reaches 450°F, add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and once sparkling add the tri-tip. Sear for 1-2 minutes on each side to form a nice crust. This will bring the tri-tip up to your desired finish temp. See chart below for doneness temperatures.
Rest the smoked tri-tip roast
This step is optional as the tri-tip has already rested before searing, but a little extra rest won't hurt and could allow the juices to redistribute further into the meat. Remove the seared smoked tri-tip from pan, place on a cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and rest for 10-20 minutes.
Slice the smoked tri-tip and enjoy
Slice your beautifully smoked, reverse seared tri-tip roast against the grain (diagram below in notes) and enjoy!
Slice the smoked tri-tip against the grain
The grain runs in 2 different directions in Tri-Tip. You want to make sure you are always slicing against the grain to ensure the most tender slices. You can use the tri-tip slicing diagram below to see where to make your slices.
How long do you smoke tri-tip at 225 degrees Fahrenheit?
The duration of smoking depends on two factors: the weight or thickness of the meat and the internal temperature. Tri-tip usually weights between 2 to 4 pounds. Smoking a 2 to 3 pound tri-tip at 225 degrees Fahrenheit will take around 1 1/2 to 2 hours and a 3 to 4 pound tri-tip will usually be done between 2-3 hours at 225 degrees F depending on the doneness you prefer.
Why do you smoke tri-tip at 225 degrees Fahrenheit?
We choose a temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit because it will slowly render the fat in the tri-tip giving it a melty butter-like texture and provide end to end doneness. This temperature will also allow more smoke to penetrate into the meat. The margin of doneness is about 10 minutes apart at 225 degrees, making the smoked tri-tip easy to manage too.
Can you smoke tri-tip-like brisket?
Yes! You can find my top rated recipe here. Even though tri-tip has a lower fat to protein ratio than brisket, you will still get juicy, tender meat with a ton of smoke flavor. Smoking it for longer periods of time gives the tri-tip a beautiful crusty bark and a nice smoke ring. You will be surprised by the flavor the smoking process gives to lean meat like tri-tip.
What temperature is tri-tip done on the smoker?
Whenever we smoke meat, the main focus is always on the internal temperature of the meat and not the time it's been smoking. Just to provide a ballpark smoking duration, a 2-pound tri-tip will take around 60 to 90 minutes at 225 degrees Fahrenheit in the smoker to reach the internal temperature of 130 degrees.
Here is a done temperature breakdown for smoked tri-tip:
- Rare: 115-120 degrees F
- Medium Rare: 125-130 degrees F
- Medium: 135-140 degrees F
- Medium Well: 145-150 degrees F
- Well Done: 150-155 degrees F
If you are not going to sear the tri-tip after smoking (we recommend you do, though), add an additional 5-10 degrees to the temperatures above.
We recommend using in internal meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tri-tip to get an accurate reading and helps you keep an eye on the internal temperature. We also suggest smoking the tri-tip to medium rare.