Follow my simple steps and you too can be grilling the Perfect Tri Tip!
WHAT IS TRI TIP?
Tri Tip has to be one of my favorite larger cuts of beef. It has a great balance of fat marbling but also a fairly lean cut. If you are starting out on your grilling journey then you need to this recipe to be able to grill the perfect Tri Tip! Some regions you might find it hard to get a Tri Tip; if you don’t see it ask your butcher, he can probably point you to it or order it for you.
Tri Tip is most known in Southern California. It’s known as the Santa Maria Tri Tip and there is even a special grill you are supposed to use to cook it on. I do not have a Santa Maria Grill but I am still able to get that delicious wood flame grilled flavor by starting first low and slow on my Camp Chef SmokePro, followed by a hot a fast sear on my 900 degree sear box!
I like my Tri-Tip to have A LOT of flavor, so I start with a marinade then follow with a dry rub. This gives the meat time to absorb some flavors from the marinade but also gives a nice crust on the outside of my meat. Then it gets a boost of the wood flavor during my smoking phase.
I plan for about 2 hrs on the lowest smoke setting; pull it off to rest and light my Camp Chef Sear Box to high. I throw my Smoked Tri Tip on, and sear the Tri Tip until it reaches 133 degrees (med rare).
The beauty of this reverse sear technique is you don’t have to wait for it to rest! It rested between the smoking and searing phase and gave plenty of time for the juices to redistribute. Also when you reverse sear you get a more even edge to edge pink within the meat. NO GREY MEAT!
WHAT GOES WITH IT?
I like to serve my Tri-Tip with my delicious Avocado Chimichurri, a side of my Cowboy Caviar and some warm corn tortillas! It reminds me of my childhood in Southern California. If you aren’t in the mood for a Mexican feel, it goes well with salad greens and potato salad & grilled corn for a more traditional BBQ meal.
Either way you enjoy it, this recipe will make you the Grilling Hero of the neighborhood!
YOU CAN PREP YOUR TRI TIP IN ADVANCE!
My Smoked Tri Tip is always a hit on our annual family trips to Lake Powell. Our houseboat doesn’t have a smoker, so I actually half-cook it before we go! Surprisingly, it turns out incredible! I marinade, rub & smoke the Tri Tip, allow it to cool down and vacuum seal it & freeze it. Then when we are ready to enjoy it I thaw it and bring to room temperature.
I light the grill and cook it to my desired finished temperature of 132 degrees and let it rest. It will take longer to cook than it does normally because I have to get it up to 135 degrees from 70 degrees but it always tastes amazing! It almost has a stronger (but not overpowering) smoky flavor because the smokiness got vacuum sealed in!
I typically buy my Tri Tip at Costco and it always comes in a 2 pack. If I am just cooking for my family we only need 1, so I smoke both but vacuum seal the second one and freeze it for a later time. Now I have an easy dinner for another night!
- When I make my marinades I always try to blend them so the flavors get more evenly distributed. It isn’t the end of the world if you can’t blend them, but I find that the flavor is just better, also you don’t have to chop any fresh herbs you are adding to the marinade if you blend it before! I like to use my handy immersion blender to do this
- Make sure you pat your tri tip dry after removing from the marinade, this way it doesn’t steam during the smoke phase and can develop a good crust from the beginning.
- Depending on the outside temperatures your tri tip can be done smoking in 1 hr or 3 hrs… I have made the mistake of not checking it every 30 min and it being overcooked in the smoker and then I don’t get to sear it very long! So NEVER go by time, ALWAYS by temperature. That is why a good thermometer is KEY!
- Crush your coriander and Coarse sea salt together in a mortar & pestle, crushing them together helps crush the coriander and spread the flavor around.
- DO NOT USE coffee grounds, use only instant coffee. The coffee grounds will get too bitter during the high heat sear phase and it will not taste yummy. Coffee is a very good compliment to beef and that is why it is used here.
Cutting your Tri Tip Properly
Another VERY important part to grilling the Perfect Tri Tip is knowing where and how to slice it properly. With all meat, you want to cut against the grain. This breaks up the muscle for a better mouth feel and chew.
Tri Tips have 2 muscles coming in together and meeting at the top of the triangle, so first, you need to separate these two muscles by cutting down the middle of the triangle.
Proceed to cut each piece against the grain like the image above. Each piece of meat will be slightly different, so make sure to look at your cut of beef and look at the way the muscle is going and cut perpendicular to them.
The Perfect Tri Tip; Smoked & Reverse Seared
- 3 lb Tri Tip Roast
- ⅓ cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 3 Tb Olive Oil
- 2 T Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1.5 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Rosemary fresh
- 2 T Smoked Paprika
- 1 T Coarse Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 T DarkBrown Sugar
- 1 T Cumin
- 1 t Onion Powder
- 1 t Garlic Powder
- 2 t Whole Coriander crushed
- 1 t Espresso Instant Coffee
- ½ t Cayenne Pepper opt
- Use a blender or immersion blender to mix all marinade ingredients together
- Place Tri Tip in gallon Ziplock bag and pour in marinade, refrigerate for at least 4 hrs or overnight. (no longer than 24 hrs as the marinade will break down the beef too much)
- Set Smoker to low smoke (around 160-180 degrees), allow to heat up
- Make dry rub by first crushing the coriander and coarse sea salt together in a mortar & pestle, then add remaining rub ingredients and mix well
- Remove Tri Tip from marinade and remove excess marinade, pat dry
- Liberally add dry rub to all sides and edges, save extra rub for your next tri tip or add it to ANY beef cut you'd like to grill.
- Place Tri Tip in smoker and smoke until internal temp reaches your desired doneness:Rare: 120 degrees F
Medium Rare: 127 degrees F
Medium: 133 degrees F
Medium Well: 140 degrees F
Well Done: 150 degrees F
- Cover with foil and rest while grill or sear box heats up. Heat grill on HIGH
- Place Tri Tip on grill and sear 3-5 mins each side until internal temperature reaches your desired doneness:Rare: 125 degrees F
Medium Rare: 135 degrees F
Medium: 145 degrees F
Medium Well: 155 degrees F
Well Done: 160 degrees F
- Slice Tri Tip against the grain and serve!