Enjoy the bold, smoky flavor of tender Smoked Tri Tip. Perfectly cooked and seasoned to perfection, it’s the ultimate meat lover’s delight.

It costs approximately $25.91 to make this Tri-Tip. The recipe makes eight servings for about $3.23 per serving. 

I serve my smoked tri-tip with side dishes like scalloped potatoes, corn on the cob, or a cucumber tomato salad. So basically, anything that would pair well with a steak would also pair well with smoked tri-tip.

The finished Smoked Tri Tip, sliced and on a wooden cutting board.

Smoked Tri Tip

Tri-tip steaks are the humble, modest, unsung hero of the west coast, especially southern California, where they originate as a dish. I’m exaggerating, of course, but tri-tips are the best cut of beef you never knew you were missing, considering they have a “reputation” as a “poor man’s brisket.” This smoked tri-tip roast would change the minds of anyone who looked down on it! 

The tri-tip is rich in flavor and fairly cheap from the triangular tip of a bottom sirloin cut. It has all the tender, juicy, packed-with-protein meatiness you’d expect of any good steak or roast twice its price while also being low in fat. Though tri-tip isn’t always a standard meal at your favorite steakhouse, it stands very well on its own.

By the way, tri-tips also can be sliced like a brisket, which means this smoked tri-tip recipe is excellent for beginners. In addition, it’s a simple way to prepare a cut of meat that hasn’t always been celebrated outside of California.

The finished Smoked Tri Tip recipe in a cast iron skillet.

Ingredients and Estimated Cost

Per Serving Cost: $3.23

Recipe Cost: $25.91

  •  3-4 ound Tri-Tip Roast – $23.28
  • ⅓ cup sea salt – $0.96
  • ⅓ cup ground black pepper – $0.80
  • ⅓ cup garlic powder – $0.59
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter – $0.28

NOTE: The recipe prices are calculated by using grocery store websites. The recipe cost is calculated by the amounts needed for the recipe. The actual cost of the recipe will vary depending on what ingredients you already have. I updated the pricing for this recipe in May 2023.

Al of the ingredients needed to make this recipe.

How To Make Smoked Tri Tip

***For complete recipe instructions, see the recipe card below.

Note that I use a wood pellet grill for most of this process. More specifically, this recipe assumes you have a Traeger smoker/grill. I highly recommend oak, mesquite, or hickory wood pellets for smoking tri-tip.

Smoking tri-tip is a simple process you can do in a single afternoon for an incredible dinner later in the evening. I’ve found it’s easier than cooking a good steak sometimes!

  1. Trim any silver skin or hard fat from the tri-tip.
  2. Combine your salt, garlic powder, and black pepper in a small bowl. 
  3. Pat your tri-tip roast dry. Season all sides of the roast evenly. Lightly pat the roast to ensure the seasonings stay on.
  4. Set the smoker to 180-220°F. 
  5. Smoke the tri-tip for about 2-3 hours until you have an internal temperature between 130-135°F. (This is about medium rare doneness.)
  6. Add butter to a very hot cast-iron pan (500°F) and transfer the tri-tip to the pan. Sear it for about 30 seconds on each side.
  7. Rest the tri-tip for 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain and serving!

A picture collage showing how to make this recipe.

Recipe Variations

Glazes and Sauces:

  • Teriyaki Glaze: Combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, honey, and sesame oil for an Asian-inspired flavor.
  • Chimichurri Sauce: Make a zesty sauce with parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and spices like cumin or red pepper flakes.

Dry Rub Variations:

  • Cajun Spice: Create a blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, and black pepper for a spicy kick.
  • Mediterranean Herb Blend: Combine dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and garlic powder for a fragrant and savory rub.
  • Smoky Chipotle: Use chipotle powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, brown sugar, and salt for a smoky and slightly spicy flavor.

Wood Chip Substitutions:

  • Mesquite: If you want a more robust smoky flavor, use Mesquite wood chips.
  • Applewood: For a sweeter and milder smoky taste, applewood chips work well.
  • Pecan: Pecan wood chips provide a rich and nutty flavor, complementing the beef nicely.

Cooking Method Variations:

  • Sous Vide: Precook the tri-tip using the sous vide method to achieve perfect doneness and then finish it on the smoker to impart a smoky flavor.
  • Rotisserie: If you have a rotisserie attachment for your grill, try cooking the tri-tip on a spit for even cooking and a juicy result.

Storage Tips

SERVE: As stated, wait 10 minutes to serve your tri-tip after it’s done cooking.

STORE: Leftover tri-tip is amazing, especially on sandwiches, so be sure to store it in the fridge. It’ll stay fresh for 3-4 days in an airtight container.

FREEZE: Use an airtight container or freezer bag to keep the tri-tip frozen for 2-3 months.

REHEAT: Thinly sliced, cold tri-tip is actually very tasty, but if you want to reheat it, throw it in the oven at 250°F. When the internal temperature hits 165°F, it should be good to go.

Recipe FAQs

How long does it take to make smoked tri-tip roast?

Prep only takes 5 minutes, and the actual smoking takes 2-3 hours.

How much tri-tip does this recipe produce?

One 3-ish pound tri-tip roast should serve 8-12 people, give or take.

What’s the best way to slice my tri-tip?

The true secret of a good tri-tip is entirely in the slicing! It has two distinct “grain” patterns: a vertical one and its horizontal counterpart. Ensure you first slice your tri-tip in half only where the two grains intersect. Then keep cutting against the grain!

Three slices of triple tip on a white plate.

More Smoked Recipes

A close up picture of sliced Smoked Tri Tip steak on a cutting board.
5 from 1 vote

Smoked Tri-Tip

Recipe Cost $ $25.91
Serving Cost $ $3.23
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
8 people
Enjoy the bold, smoky flavor of tender Smoked Tri Tip. Perfectly cooked and seasoned to perfection, it’s the ultimate meat lover’s delight.


  • measuring cups and spoons
  • mixing bowl
  • Smoker grill
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife




  • Trim any silverskin or hard fat from the Tri-Tip.


  • Combine seasonings in a small bowl.


  • Pat dry and season evenly on all sides of the roast, lightly patting to ensure it sticks.


  • Smoke in a preheated smoker at 180-220°F for 2-3 hours until the internal temperature reaches 130-135°F (medium-rare).


  • Sear for 30 seconds on each side in a very hot cast-iron pan with butter (500°F).


  • Rest the tri-tip for 10 minutes.
  • Then slice against the grain and serve.


Serving: 0.5pound | Calories: 350kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 118mg | Sodium: 4814mg | Potassium: 796mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 141IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 4mg

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