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Perfect Smoked Tri Tip (recipe, rub, and tips)

A smoked tri tip is the perfect main dish for your next backyard barbecue. This cut of beef is incredibly inexpensive, but it’s amazing when it’s cooked to perfection. But what is the best tri tip rub for smoking?

The best tri tip rub for smoking is a blend of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. This allows the flavor of both the meat and the smoke to not be overpowered. But for a smokier flavor with a kick, include ingredients such as smoked paprika, chili powder, and cumin.

The best way to smoke tri tip is to use the indirect method.

However, if you’re looking for the best results, there are things you must take note of, like first choosing the right cut of meat from the local grocery store. The ideal cut of this beef is extremely flavorful and juicy, and when it’s cooked properly, it’s delicious.

Is it better to marinate or dry rub a tri tip?

A dry rub is better for tri tip than a marinade.

Dry rubs are a great way to enhance your tri tip flavor without worrying about overcooking. The spices in the dry rub will create a nice crust outside of the meat, while the interior will stay nice and juicy.

However, marinating your tri tip roast is another option if you want to tenderize your meat more. This is because the marinade helps break down the meat’s tough fibers. Marinating is especially helpful if you’re working with a cheaper, tougher cut of tri tip.

If you decide to marinate your tri tip for the first time, you’ll want to start by choosing a marinade with acidity to make it more tender and help break down the tough fibers in the meat. Also, ensure to marinate for at least several hours, probably till the next day.

This will give the flavors time to penetrate the meat.

When it comes to dry brining, a great way is to start by choosing a rub with a good mix of sweet and savory flavors. Make sure to apply your onion powder and other dry brine generously, as you want the flavors to adhere to the meat.

Also, let the steak seasoning stay on the meat for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Either option you choose comes down to personal preference. If you like the flavor of a marinade, then go for it. If you prefer the flavor of a simple dry rub, then go for that. Trying them out is the only way to see what you like best.

Traeger is one of the most popular types of grills on the market, and for a good reason. They make delicious meals, are practical, and are long-lasting.

It can be tricky to understand how to use a Traeger grill if you’re new to the market or are considering buying one. 

But, not to worry, I’ve got you covered in my recent article.

Here, I went over the parts of these electric smokers and some simple instructions for using them. If you’re wondering how to clean these grills after using them, the article also explained that.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Best smoked tri tip recipe

The best tri tip recipe is to cook it low and slow. Tri tip is a triangular-shaped cut of beef that comes from the bottom of the sirloin.

This lean cut of beef is relatively full of flavor, making it a favorite among many cooks. When smoked properly, this triangle steak is a juicy, tender cut of meat with a slightly chewy texture.

Step 1 – Trim the fat

The first step is trimming the large fat cap off the tri tip, including the silver skin.

You don’t want too much fat content on the meat, as it will cause the meat to be greasy.

Step 2 – Add the rub

Next, you’ll want to season the meat with your favorite dry rub. Be generous with the rub to add a lot of flavor to the meat.

Step 3 – Preheat the grill/smoker

Once the meat is seasoned, you’ll want to preheat your smoker to a temperature of 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the smoker is up to temperature, you’ll place the tri tip in the smoker. The cooking time is between 2-4 hours, depending on the size of your tri-tip steak.

Look for an internal temperature of 125° F for rare, 135° F for medium rare, or 145° F for medium. Because tri tip can get chewy if overcooked, try not to exceed an internal temperature of 145.

Step 4 – Let the tri tip rest, then slice

Once the meat is cooked, you’ll want to let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing it.

When slicing the smoked tri tip, the best way is to slice it against the grain. This means you’ll want to slice the meat in different directions that the muscle fibers are running. Slicing the meat this way will make it more tender and easier to chew.

After you’ve sliced the meat, the final step is to serve it as is, or you can put it back on the pellet smoker for a few minutes using medium-high heat. Reheating is a simple recipe that gives the meat a bit of a crust on the outside while remaining juicy on the inside.

One of the best ways to enjoy a delicious steak is to tenderize it before cooking. This process can help to break down the tough fibers making them more flavorful. 

If you’re unsure how to tenderize your steak, visit my most recent article.

Here I explained 11 Simple Tips you can follow to make your Meat Tender. I also described what a decent steak tenderizer is in the article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Should I wrap tri tip in foil when smoking?

Yes, you can.

If you’re looking for a more tender and juicier piece of meat, wrapping it in foil can help you achieve that, as the aluminum foil can help to lock in moisture and keep the meat from drying out during the smoking process.

However, if you’re looking for a good smoke flavor, you may need to leave the foil.

Wrapping the meat in foil can also help create a barrier between the meat and the smoke, resulting in a mild flavor. Wrapping your smoked tri tip ground beef in foil also helps to speed up the cooking process. This is because the foil will help to trap in the heat, which will cook the meat faster.

However, the downside of wrapping your tri tip in foil is that it can make the meat less crispy. If you are looking for a nice crusty bark on your tri tip, skip the foil and let the smoke work its magic.

Butcher paper is a good compromise instead of foil as it allows more smoke into the meat while still helping to keep it from drying out.

Also, wrapping your triangle tip in foil can make the meat more difficult to sear.

If you are planning on searing your tri tip in a cast iron skillet after smoking it, then a great thing to do is leave the tin foil off so that you can get a nice crispy sear on the outside of the meat.

If you decide to wrap it in foil, ensure not to wrap it too tightly, as it can result in steaming instead of smoking, making the meat tough.

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

As a general rule, allow 30 minutes per pound if smoking at 250° F or 40 minutes per pound at 225.

Here’s a handy chart showing cook times at 225° F depending on the size of your tri tip:

Tri Tip Weight Smoke Time at 225° Smoke Time at 250° Smoke Time at 300°
1 lb. 40 minutes 30 minutes 20 minutes
2 lbs. 1 hour 20 minutes 1 hour 40 minutes
2.5 lbs. 1 hour 35 minutes 1 hour 15 minutes 50 minutes
3 lbs. 2 hours 1 hour 30 minutes 1 hour
3.5 lbs. 2 hours 20 minutes 1 hour 45 minutes 1 hour 10 minutes
4 lbs. 2 hours 35 minutes 2 hours 1 hour 18 minutes
4.5 lbs. 3 hours 2 hours 15 minutes 1 hour 30 minutes
5 lbs. 3 hours 20 minutes 2 hours 30 minutes 1 hour 40 minutes

For best results, ensure you use a meat thermometer to probe the thickest part of the meat and regularly check the internal temperature of your Santa Maria steak.

Look for an internal temperature of 125° F for rare, 135° F for medium rare, or 145° F for medium. Because tri tip can get chewy if overcooked, try not to exceed an internal temperature of 145.

If you’re using a charcoal grill during the smoking process, you’ll want to start by lighting a charcoal chimney. Once you have your hot coals, dump them into your smoker and preheat them to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. If using a gas grill, turn it on to the 225-degree setting.

Once the smoker is up to temperature, it’s time to add your wood chips.

Soak them in water for at least 30 minutes beforehand, then drain them and add them to the smoker. Place the tri tip on the grill, according to your favorite sides, and close the lid. Let it smoke for 2-4 hours or until it reaches the desired level of doneness or internal temperature.

Once it’s done, remove the tri tip from the smoker and wrap it in foil or butcher paper. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then using a sharp knife and a cutting board, slice them against the grain to thin slices, or anyhow you like, and enjoy.

There are many different types of steak, each with its unique flavor and texture. Choosing the right steak can go a long way to elevate your culinary experience.

If you’re unsure of how or where you can find the best steaks, visit my most recent article.

Here I reviewed your favorite steaks, the part of cows they come from, and the grocery stores that have the best you can get. Are you curious about what makes one type of steak better than another? The article also addressed that.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Should I season tri tip overnight?

Yes, you can. If you’re looking for a delicious and juicy tri-tip, seasoning your Newport steak overnight is the way to go. This method allows the flavors to sink into the meat, resulting in a tastier dish. Allowing the flavors to marinate overnight makes the meat more tender and easier to cook.

If you’re seasoning the night before, you’ll need to use a dry rub and cover your meat in plastic wrap or any airtight container you wish. Wet rubs or marinades can make the meat too salty, so avoiding them is best.

If seasoning overnight, ensure the meat is completely covered in the seasoning. This means using a good amount of seasoning and making sure it gets into all parts of the meat. Don’t forget to refrigerate the meat overnight so the seasoning can penetrate the meat.

If, like many others, you wish to season right before cooking, it’s also a great idea, and the good news is that you don’t have to worry about using a dry rub or marinade. You can season your prime rib in a small bowl with kosher salt, chili powder, olive oil, cayenne pepper, and any other spices you want.

The key is not to overdo it on the seasoning. You don’t want the meat to be too salty or too spicy.

Final Thoughts

The Perfect Smoked Tri Tip is a juicy and flavorful cut of meat that is perfect for any occasion. With its perfectly cooked exterior and juicy interior, this cut of meat is sure to please any crowd.

Santa Maria steak, triangle tip, and triangle steak are some of the other names for tri tip steak. When cooking steak, it is crucial always to use a meat thermometer. Regardless of your chosen cooking method, it is the only way to produce the perfect steak.


Beef Tri Tip by Arnold Gatilao is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell