Smoked tri tip recipe slicing tri tip

Easy Smoked Tri Tip Recipe The Poor Man’s Steak

This Smoked Tri Tip recipe is a good start to any meal. Tri-Tip steaks (roast) are a tender, Juicy, and favorable steak when cooked right. It has been an underrated cut of beef for a long time, that has grown in popularity over the years.

Smoking tri tip recipe picture of tri tip

Some Info About Tri-Tip Before We Start

Diagram of a cow showing were tri tip comes from

The tri-tip is an incredibly flavorful steak with a bold, beefy taste and tender texture. It has dense marbling that melts into the steak as it cooks. Tri-tip is cut from the sirloin subprimal. Cuts from the sirloin are known for their rich flavor and are low in fat. The top portion of the sirloin subprimal provides top sirloin steaks and the bottom portion provides the tri-tip.

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The tri-tip muscle is naturally in a triangular shape within the bottom sirloin butt, hence the name ‘tri’. Tri-tip has many nicknames: triangle tip, triangle steak, triangle roast, bottom sirloin steak, and Santa Maria steak. (just to mention a few)

Smoked Tri-Tip

This smoked tri-tip recipe is an easy recipe to do and will produce a juicy and tender piece of meat, that will make the whole family happy. It’s a basic recipe that you can follow or make adjustments to easily. I am posting this recipe because it’s great for the first time smoking tri-tip. Plus a very nice recipe for those who have done it before, to follow and make adjustments too.

Trimming The Tri-Tip

Depending on where you got your tri-tip from, the fat cap might already be trimmed off. If it still has it, I trim sparingly. Tri-tip like most steaks is a lean cut of meat. I like to leave the fat cap around 1/8-1/4 inch thick so the juices from it soak into the tri-tip while cooking. During the slow cook process, I leave the fat cap up for this reason. You just don’t want to leave it too thick.

Trim based of your preference.

Seasoning The Tri-Tip

We are going to grab a bottle of yellow mustard or olive oil and apply a light coat all around the tri-tip. I used olive oil this time. Normally I prefer yellow mustard though. We are using this as our binder.

What is a binder?

(This step is optional some people always use a binder others don’t)

Basically, a binder is used to help hold the spices to the food, to give them more time to soak in, and keep the spices from falling off as easily.

Then we are going to take some Kosher salt and sprinkle a nice coating of it on the tri-tip.

Tri tip sprinkled with Kosher salt

Next, we are going to repeat this process and apply a layer of Ground pepper. Once You have applied the salt and pepper to one side flip the tri-tip over and do the same to the other side

Apply to your preference once again. The amount of spice will take a few cooks to get dialed in. Using a good dry rub or even a store-bought one is another good option. I would just use a basic salt and pepper rub if it’s your first time smoking tri-tip to get a good basic feel of it.

After applying the dry rub(spices) I will normally place it back in the fridge for about an hour to give the spices time to soak in some. After 45 mins to an hour, I will pull the tri-tip out of the fridge and go start up the smoker.

Letting the tri-tip set out for 15 mins or so before placing on the smoker will help it cook more evenly.

Smoking The Tri-Tip

What we need is to go get our smoker to a temp of 225° F and keep it as stable as possible throughout the cook. That is one of the advantages of a pellet smoker.

Smoking can be done with other methods as well. The use of an electric smoker or an offset smoker works very well too. A Grill set up to cook with indirect heat and a smoke box or smoke tube work as well with some practice.

For this smoke we are using a pellet grill. The temp is set at 225° F and is ready to smoke.

part of the Smoking tri tip recipe..Tri tip on smoker

We are going to smoke the tri-tip for around 1/2 an hour per pound. Judging by temp is a better way to go though.

This is a great time to use a temp sensor if you have one.

If your Smoker/Grill does not have a Temp probe built in. There are some cheap alternatives that work nicely. I have one listed on my accessories review page

Roughly 2 hours later the tri-tip has reached my desired temp of 125­° F. We are going to pull it off when the tri-tip gets to within 5-10° of the desired temp for a sec. The reason is we are going to sear it. I will double-check with my instant-read thermometer to make sure it’s at my desired temp.

I want to pull the tri-tip off around 125° F for this step( I am shooting for a final temp of 130°-135° F for this step)( I cook my tri-tip Med-rare)

Time to pull it off.

Here is a chart giving you some basic guidelines of the temps you want. I cook my trip tip to a medium-rare. I do not recommend cooking them past medium. Tri-tip gets tough and chewy past medium and the taste changes. But we all have our preferences. But after medium tri-tip is not that good in my opinion


Steak DonenessTemperature (°F)Temperature (°C)
Bleu Steak110°F43°C
Rare Steak120–130°F49–54°C
Medium Rare Steak130–135°F54–57°C
Medium Steak135–145°F57–63°C
Medium Well Steak145–155°F63–68°C
Well Done Steak155°F and up68°C and up

Searing Our Tri Tip

For this step I am going to pull off the tri tip and cover it in tin foil.

Tri tip wrapped in tin foil

The reason for this is I want to raise the temp of my pellet smoker to 400°-450° f and open my sear plate. Once the smoker gets up to around 400° I will put the tri-tip back on the smoker.

Tri Tip with sear plate open

At this point I like to flip it every 3-4 mins. Be careful and pay attention when the flames reach the fat cap they will flare

After each side has been cooked for 3-4 mins I will use my instant-read thermometer to check the temps. If not the right temp. I will keep flipping every couple mins until I get the desired temp (130-135) in my case

If your smoker does not have the option of a sear plate there are a few other options.

Cast Iron Skillet

One of the options is to grab a cast-iron skillet and just use your stove to sear it. Just throw 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a pan, once it has melted and starts sizzling. Throw in the tri-tip and cook for 2-3 mins per side.

On The Grill

Another option is to use your grill if you have one and have been using a smoker. Heat the grill up to a med-high heat (I normally shoot for 450°f or so) and grill it on each side for 3-4 mins

Let The Tri Tip Rest

Once you have the tri tip seared. It’s time to let it rest. Cover it with tin Foil and let it sit for 15 mins. It does not have to be tight wrap. Just need to tent the foil over the tri tip to hold the heat in.

Smoked Tri tip wrapped in tin foil

Time To See How We Did

Cutting the smoked tri tip

Looks yummy. I guess its time to eat.

If you have any questions or comments would love to hear them.

would love to know how your Tri Tip turned out


Smoked tri tip recipe slicing tri tip

Easy Smoked Tri-Tip Recipe-The Poor Man’s Steak

This is a easy Tri-Tip recipe that delivers where it counts.. taste
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 38 minutes
Resting time 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 8 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 5 people
Calories 200 kcal


  • Smoker
  • Grill


  • 1 3 lb Tri Tip
  • 1 ¼ tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ tbsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 ¼ Cup Yellow Mustard


  • Depending on where you got your tri-tip from, the fat cap might already be trimmed off. If it still has it, I trim sparingly. Tri-tip like most steaks is a lean cut of meat. I like to leave the fat cap around 1/8-1/4 inch thick
    smoked tri-tip recipe-Fat Cap pic
  •  Turn the Tri Tip fat cap down and apply a light coat of mustard to the back side
  • Sprinkle about 1/8 tbsp of Kosher Salt over the Tri Tip
    smoked tri-tip recipe-Apply Salt
  • Sprinkl about 1/8 tbsp of ground pepper over the Tri Tip
    smoked tri-tip recipe-Apply Pepper
  • Flip It Over and repeat. Apply light coat of mustard and 1/8 tbsp of Kosher salt and Black Pepper
    smoked tri-tip recipe-Apply Mustard,salt and pepper
  • After applying the spices. Place it back in the fridge for about an hour.
    smoked tri-tip recipe-Tri Tip tented in tin foil
  • Time how you need. I will pull it out of fridge and go start up my pellet smoker. after 15 mins my pellet smoker will be ready
    smoked tri-tip recipe-Been in fridge for 1 hour
  • Going to cook the Tri Tip at 225° F for about 30 mins per pound. Place it in the smoker and place your meat probe if you use one.
    Easy Smoked Tri_Tip Recipe-Meat probe in tri-tip
  • Want to pull the tri tip at 125° F and tent it in tin foil.
    smoked tri tip-tri tipe being tented
  • The reason for this is I want to raise the temp of my pellet smoker to 400°-450° f and open my sear plate. Once the smoker gets up to around 400° I will put the tri-tip back on the smoker.
    smoked tri tip-tri tip On sear plate
  • Flip this every 2-3 mins. Going to keep this up until have a nice crust on both sides and have reached an internal temp of 130°-135° F. Going for medium rare. Be careful the flame will flare up from the juices dripping off the Tri Tip
    Smoked Tri Tip - fire is flaring
  • Once Tri Tip is at temp 130°-135° F. Pull it off and tent with tin foil again. Let it rest for 15 mins
    Smoked pork ribs recipe-Ribs under tin foil
  • Now the Tri Tip is ready to eat. Time to slice it up
    Smoked Tri Tip - Time to Slice



If your smoker does not have a searing option. Searing the Tri Tip can be done on a Grill. Going to want a cooking temp of around 500° F or so and just flip ever 2-3 mins until you get a nice crust and internal temp of 130°-135° F.
If this is not an option just sear the Tri Tip in a Cast Iron skillet over med-high heat in the same way.
Keyword Smoked Tri-Tip recipe

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