Last Updated: June 18, 2021
If you've enjoyed it grilled or roasted, you'll love smoked tri tip. But it might be hard to find in your neck of the woods. In most of the country, it's cut into sirloin tip steaks.
If you don't see tri tip roasts in your grocer's meat cooler, check to find out if they can get one for you.
The tri tip roast is a triangular shaped single muscle taken from the bottom sirloin. The meat is lean, tasty and versatile. It can be grilled over direct high heat, rotisserie grilled, slow cooked with indirect heat, oven roasted or smoked.
Tri tip has been the regional specialty of Santa Maria, California for the last 50 years. The cut is often labeled as a Santa Maria steak, in addition to being called tri tip and triangle roast.
For smoking, it's best to choose one that still has a decent layer of fat still remaining. Often the tri tip is trimmed of almost all fat, and for smoking is less than desirable.
The fat will melt as the meat smokes, and you know what that means...more flavor, more juice!
This recipe is for a pair of 2, to 3 pound tri tip roasts.
TRI TIP RUB INGREDIENTS
Combine the tri tip rub ingredients. Season each of the tri tips with salt...kosher if you got it. Use about 2 teaspoons of salt per each roast, one teaspoon per side.
Let the roasts sit salted for a few minutes, then season with the tri tip rub. Go ahead and pack all of it on.
When placing the tri tip in the smoker, position the fat cap up, so as it cooks it bastes the meat. To help the fat melt, and to get seasoning flavors into the meat, cut score marks across the fat cap before seasoning.
Traditionally, tri tips are cooked over a fire of red oak, so if you can get red oak, use it for the smoke. Or burn it if you have a wood fired smoker.
Use two, maybe three foil packs of wood in your electric smoker or on top of your charcoal, or a couple of fist sized chunks buried in your charcoal.
If you can't find red oak, or any oak for that matter, use a little mesquite. Or whatever you got...it'll still taste good!
Smoke your tri tips at 225-250ºF for about 2 hours, or until the meat reaches medium rare, or to your desired level of doneness. Because of its leanness, it's best if not cooked more than to a medium level of doneness.
Remove the smoked tri tip and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing across the grain and serving to your more than grateful family. A bit of bbq sauce is good with this, and sliced thin, makes great sandwiches.