This flavorful smoked tri-tip recipe is perfect for your next cookout and is sure to have your guests drooling with anticipation. Plus, this recipe is beginner-friendly and will have you looking like a BBQ Hero in no time.
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With its bold and flavorful Espresso Brisket Rub, this recipe is guaranteed to have your taste buds dancing with joy. And when you slice into that perfectly cooked meat, your guests won’t be able to resist going back for seconds (and maybe even thirds).
So what are you waiting for? Grab your apron, fire up that pellet smoker, and get ready to amaze your friends and family with this mouthwatering smoked tri-tip recipe. Trust us – it’s worth the effort!
What Is A Tri-Tip?
Tri-tip is a cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin subprimal cut of the cow. It’s a triangular muscle that’s located on the underside of the cow and weighs between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds. Tri tips are also sometimes referred to as Santa Maria steak, triangle steak, or bottom sirloin roast.
What makes tri-tip different from other cuts of beef is its texture and flavor. Tri-tip is a lean cut of beef, but it has a decent amount of marbling that gives it a rich and juicy flavor. It’s also a bit coarser than other cuts of beef, with a medium-firm texture that’s similar to sirloin.
Grilling and smoking are the most popular methods for cooking tri-tip, but they can also be roasted or pan-seared. Tri-tip is typically cooked to medium-rare or medium doneness, with an internal temperature of 130-135°F, to keep it tender and juicy.
Once cooked, it’s important to let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing it against the grain to make it more tender and easier to chew.
Overall, tri-tip is a delicious and affordable cut of beef that’s perfect for grilling, smoking, or roasting.
With a little bit of preparation and the right cooking techniques, it’s easy to turn this cut of meat into a crowd-pleasing dish that everyone will enjoy.
How To Make Smoked Tri-Tip
- Preheat Pellet Smoker
Preheating your smoker is an essential first step to ensure a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process. Most pellet smokers, like the Traeger Grills, come with digital controls that make it easy to set the temperature.
Set Traeger temperature to 225°F and give your smoker enough time to heat up. This will help create a perfect smoke environment and prevent any hot spots or temperature fluctuations during the cooking process.
- Trim Tri-Tip
Trim the tri-tip using a sharp knife. Remove any silver skin and excess fat. If your tri-tip comes with the fat cap intact, you’ll have to decide if you want to remove it or not. Some people may choose to remove the fat cap to reduce the amount of fat in the final dish.
Also, removing the fat cap ensures that your seasoning reaches all surfaces of the meat. However, leaving the fat cap on may result in a juicier and more tender finished product. Ultimately, the choice is yours.
- Season Tri-Tip
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Espresso Brisket Rub (coarse kosher salt, ground or espresso coffee, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, brown sugar, onion powder, ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika).
The Espresso Brisket Rub is what gives this dish its signature flavor. Rub the roast with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, making sure to cover it evenly, then rub with the Espresso Brisket Rub, making sure to cover all sides evenly. Rubbing the tri-tip with olive oil helps the rub adhere to the meat and create a crust on the exterior.
- Cook Tri-Tip
Place tri-tip directly on the grill grates over indirect heat. Make sure that it is in the center of the smoker and not touching the sides or other items. Close the lid and let the smoker do the work. Let the tri-tip smoke for approximately 30 minutes before checking on it. This helps the meat absorb the smoky flavor and develop a nice crust.
- Check The Internal Temperature
Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the roast. When the temperature reaches 120°F (10°F under medium-rare doneness), remove the roast from the smoker and transfer it to a large cast iron pan over high heat.
When the temperature reaches 120°F, it’s time to sear it for the last 10°F. Heat butter on a large cast iron pan over high heat and sear the tri-tip for 1-2 minutes on each side, until it reaches a final internal temperature of 130°F. Using a meat thermometer is crucial to ensure the tri-tip is cooked to the right temperature.
Once the desired temperature is reached, remove the roast from the smoker and let it rest for 10 minutes. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it juicier and more tender.
- Slice & Serve
Slicing the tri-tip against the grain helps break down the muscle fibers, making the meat more tender and easier to chew. Use a sharp knife and cut the tri-tip into ¼-inch thick slices, making sure to cut against the grain.
Your smoked tri-tip with Espresso Brisket Rub is now ready to serve. This dish pairs well with a variety of sides, such as smoked or roasted vegetables, corn on the cob, potatoes, or a refreshing salad. You can also pair it with your favorite barbecue sauce for an extra kick of flavor.
Best Side Dishes To Serve With Smoked Tri-Tip Roast
To fully enjoy the juicy and mouth-watering flavor of this fantastic recipe, try pairing it up with Smoked corn on the cob, smoked Sweet potatoes, Smoked baked potatoes, or smoked asparagus.
Tips For Making Smoked Tri-Tip
Here are a few tips for beginners who are trying out this Smoked Tri-Tip with Espresso Brisket Rub recipe:
The type of wood pellets you use in your pellet smoker can significantly impact the flavor while you smoke meat. For this recipe, we recommend using oak, hickory, or mesquite wood pellets.
Oak is a milder wood, while hickory and mesquite are more robust and can add a smokier flavor to the meat. Remember, the wood pellets you choose will affect the final taste of your smoked tri-tip.
Cooking meat to the correct internal temperature is crucial to achieving perfect doneness. A meat thermometer is the best tool for measuring the internal temperature of the meat. F
or medium-rare doneness, remove the meat from the smoker when it reaches an internal temperature of 130°F. A meat thermometer will ensure that your smoked tri-tip is cooked to perfection.
For an extra layer of flavor, try searing the tri-tip on a hot grill or cast-iron pan after smoking it. This will give it a nice crust and enhance the overall taste of the meat.
To do this, remove tri-tip from the smoker when the internal temperature reaches about 10-15 degrees under the final desired temperature.
Best Beer To Pair With Smoked Tri-Tip
Nothing beats enjoying a cold beer while grilling up some delicious BBQ, and the Smoked Tri-Tip with Espresso Brisket Rub recipe is no exception. Here are the top 3 types of beer that pair perfectly with this recipe.
An Amber Ale is a classic beer that pairs perfectly with the smoky and rich flavors of the smoked tri-tip. The caramel notes in the Amber Ale complement the sweetness of the Espresso Brisket Rub, while the beer’s hop bitterness balances out the meat’s richness.
Brown Ale is another excellent choice to pair with this recipe. The nutty and toasty flavors in Brown Ale work well with the smoky and earthy flavors of the smoked tri-tip. The beer’s slightly sweet finish enhances the meat’s caramelized crust, creating a mouth-watering combination.
For those who prefer a more hop-forward beer, an IPA is an excellent choice to pair with the Smoked Tri-Tip with Espresso Brisket Rub. The strong hop bitterness in the IPA cuts through the rich and fatty meat, making it more enjoyable. The beer’s citrusy and fruity notes also complement the Espresso Brisket Rub’s smoky and spicy flavors, creating a balanced and delicious pairing.
Smoked Tri-Tip Recipe
- Your preference of smoker (I recommend a pellet smoker)
- Cast Iron Pan
- 1.5 pound tri-tip roast
- 1 batch of Espresso Rub
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- Some butter for searing
- Preheat your pellet smoker to 225°F.
- Trim the tri-tip by removing any silver skin and the fat cap if desired
- In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Espresso Brisket Rub (coarse kosher salt, ground or espresso coffee, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, brown sugar, onion powder, ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika)
- Rub the roast with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, making sure to cover it evenly, then rub with the Espresso Brisket Rub
- Once the smoker has reached 225°F, place the tri-tip roast directly on the grill grates.
- Close the lid and let it smoke for approximately 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the roast. When the temperature reaches 120°F (10°F under medium-rare doneness), remove the roast from the smoker and transfer it to a large cast iron pan
- Sear the tri-tip on high heat with butter until it reaches the final internal temperature of 130°F.
- Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes, slice the tri-tip against the grain into ¼-inch thick pieces.
- Serve and enjoy!
Smoked Tri-Tip FAQs
Tri-tip is a delicate, boneless roast that is sliced into thin pieces and enjoyed by many people. It benefits from extended cooking at a low temperature like a roast, enabling the heat to gently dissolve the connective tissues in the muscle, making it incredibly soft.
We recommend cooking the tri-tip for about an hour, depending on the size and thickness of your tri-tip. Remember, it’s not about timing when smoking meat, it’s all about the internal temperature. Once the internal temp in the thickest part of the meat reaches 135ºF (for medium-rare) consider it done.
It’s not necessary to flip the tri-tip mid-smoke. The only time flipping is very important is during the final stages where you sear over high heat.as it allows the meat to be infused with a tasty smoke flavour that you just won’t get when you grill the meat.
We believe smoking is the best option. for tri-tip. It allows the meat to be infused with a tempting smoke flavor along with all the other ingredients, doubling up the flavor.
That is entirely up to you. Our recipe does not call for wrapping, but if you find that your smoked tri-tip is coming out dry, you can definitely try wrapping to retain moisture.
Smoked tri-tip is best smoked with Oakwood, Hickory wood, or any fruitwood.
It is suggested that you cook the fat side up for the juiciest final result.
You can buy tri-tip from the supermarket or the butcher’s shop. If you choose to visit a butcher, you will likely have the option to choose trimmed or untrimmed. The trimmed tri-tip will likely have the fat cap removed along with the silver skin.