The tri-tip is often confused with Brisket and Picanha. It’s a steak, but you can cook it like a brisket.

You can reverse sear the meat and slice it when it is medium-rare. This results in a tender and flavorful cut of beef.

What is Tri-Tip

The tri-tip comes from the bottom sirloin. The tri-tip is named for its triangular shape with a tapered end; tri-tip.

In the past, muscle was used to make hamburger meat. Bob Schutz, Santa Maria Market’s owner, decided to grill the power in the 1950s.

It is also known as California Cut, Newport Steak, or Santa Maria Steak.

It is scientifically known as the tensor fasciae lata muscle.

I reserve “poor man’s brisket” to chuck roast. Tri-tip is a steak and not a roast ( as actual brisket).

It also tastes better to me when it is cooked like a beef steak.

The tri-tip is a relatively lean meat that doesn’t require much trimming. This also depends on where you purchase it.

You can also remove silver skin and any excess fat.

It is exceptionally juicy when cooked as a steak and becomes tender if sliced across the grain. (More on this below).

Smoked tri-Tip Ingredients

Tri-tip (mine weighed 2.62 lbs).

Kosher Salt is Morton’s Kosher Salt

Freshly cracked black Pepper

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

I use Lawry’s seasoning salt, Pepper, and kosher salt when I cook steak. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like this combination.

Garlic powder can be used in place of kosher and regular salt.

I like the purple stripe Garlic Powder from Burlap and Barrels.

The tri-tip is a highly versatile meat cut. You can use it with a variety of rubs or seasonings.

Don’t worry if you are a beginner and have a heavy hand.

I also love to taste the beef. Things like dry-rub and smoke flavors are only there to elevate the meat.

Equipment for Smoked Tri-Tip

I’m a smoker. I used a Weber Kettle 22″.

Charcoal briquettes or lumps

The wood pieces are made of post oak or a similar hardwood

What to use to sear steaks with*

*For this guide, I chose to sear my smoked meat over the top of my grill grates and charcoal chimney. I saw a few people do this, so why not try it? It worked well, and I would do it again.

If I hadn’t done it this way, I would have used my cast iron skillet with grapeseed and butter (described below).

Smoking the Tri-Tip

You want to get as much smoke flavor from the tri-tip as possible as we cook it like a steak. This means that the meat should reach 125F internally (medium rare).

You can do this by lowering the temperature of your smoker to 225F. Anywhere between 180F and 250F will work.

You want to lower the smoker’s temperature because it will allow the meat to reach the internal temperature you desire faster and with more smoke flavor.

I use post-oak for most cuts of beet I smoke, like brisket. You’d be safer smoking with Hickory.

Factors such as thin blue smoke are not important here since the smoke only interacts with meat for 1-2 hours.

It took approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to heat the meat to 125F.

After the meat reached an internal temperature of 115F at its thickest point, I lit my charcoal chimney with about a half-chimney of charcoal.

The chimney is ready when the steak’s internal temperature reaches 125F (it usually takes 15-20 minutes for the ash to cover the entire surface).

Please do not use the briquettes until they are entirely ashy!

The outer surface of meat could be more appealing at this stage. This is corrected when you search.



Briquettes of charcoal A firelighter or butane torch

Post-oak wood pieces

Charcoal Chimney

Removable Grill Grates To sear, use the chimney and removable grill grates. You can also use a cast-iron skillet and butter instead.


2.62 lbs tri-tip

Dry Rub

1 Tbsp of Kosher salt

1 Tbsp black peppercorns. You will need a pestle and mortar or a grinder to grind them.

Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, 1 Tbsp


Remove the meat from the vacuum packaging or seal.

2.62 lbs Tri-tip

Apply your dry rub after placing the tri-tip onto a cutting board. It is essential to coat all surfaces (including the edges) of the meat while still being visible.

1 Tbsp Kosher salt,1 Tbsp Black peppercorns,1 Tbsp Lawry’s seasoning salt

While you prepare the smoker, place dry-rubbed Tri-Tip on a platter and put it in the refrigerator.

Smoking the Tri-Tip

Set your smoker between 180 and 250F. I used a Weber Kettle with the Slow N’ Sear. However, what you use will vary. You aim to maintain a low smoker temperature (the lower the best) for optimal amounts of smoke. I went with 225F.

After the smoker is stabilized, add a piece of post-oak and let it smoke.

Place the tri-tip in the more relaxed zone of the smoker, opposite your fire.

Searing the Tri-Tip

Check the temperature inside the tri-tip. When the internal temperature of the tri-tip reached 115F (test the thickest part), I began preparing my charcoal chimney.

Then light the coals. Wait until the charcoal has completely ash-covered – usually 15-20 minutes.

The chimney should be ready when the temperature inside the tri-tip reaches about 125F. Place the grill grates on top of the chimney, and then place your tri-tip right in the middle of the flame. Sear each side for about a minute.

Resting the Tri-Tip

Once satisfied with the meat’s exterior, place it inside for 5 minutes to rest.

Slice the Tri-tip

You should note the grain structure of the tri-tip before cooking, as it is easier to identify when it’s raw. The point at which the grain direction changes (usually in the middle boomerang shape) is the best place to separate the meat. Once the heart is divided, cut each piece against the grain.