Jess Pryles

Smoked Tri Tip Steak

Smoked tri tip steak
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Think you couldn’t possibly love steak anymore? Wait until you try it smoked. Check out this recipe for perfectly medium rare Smoked Tri Tip.

Long popular in California, the rest of the country is falling in love with the hindquarter muscle known as the Tri-Tip (or if you wanna be real fancy, tensor fasciae latae). Unlike a brisket which needs many hours of cooking to break down, the tri-tip is best cooked to a medium rare, like a steak. It has a little more chew than traditional steaks like strip or tenderloin, but a whole bunch of flavor.

Triangular in shape (hence the name), the muscle is hefty enough that it also lends itself to being smoked whole. Here’s the part that makes it extra awesome – unlike so many low’n’slow cuts, tri tip can be ready in just about two hours. CUE THE CELEBRATORY ANGEL SONG!

So, where to purchase your meat? Here’s what I always say (in fact, this is lifted straight from a quote I gave Thrillist). “Invest in quality meat. They say you can’t polish a… well, you know the rest. But it rings true. The quality of your meat is relative to the success of your cook. Higher grade meat with more marbling means the cut is going to be more tender and flavorsome, and the presence of more intramuscular fat makes it more forgiving during the cook”. Oh god, I’m the person that just quoted myself… anyway, moving on.

The point is, particularly when you are dealing with rare or medium rare, the quality of the raw beef is directly proportionate to the eating quality of the finished dish. It’s logic, not rocket science. I used Snake River Farms American Wagyu Tri Tip for this recipe – and you can see my the pictures just how luscious and marbled it was.

You can use any sort of smoker for this recipe (even a grill that is hacked to put out a little smoke). For low and slow I use my JP Signature Pitts & Spitts offset smoker- I reckon you could fit about 40 tri tips in that thing! I also recommend you get yourself a decent thermometer if you’re going to attempt meat cookery, because internal temp is everything! I use a Smoke device when, well, smoking, which monitors the internal temperature remotely.

But wait- are you wondering about the green sauce strewn all over the delicious smoked meats? That my friends is my version of a pipian romesco. Or, in plainer terms – a sauce made from toasted pumpkin seeds and a bunch of other delicious goodies. Much like a chimichurri, the idea is that the steak is allowed to shine while being complimented by the bright and fresh flavors of the romesco drizzle. Get the recipe here.

Recipe after the pics:

raw tri tip californian

snake river farms tri tip

sliced tri tip on a board

smoked tri tip

close up medium rare tri tip


Print Recipe

Smoked Tri Tip

I recommend you serve this beef with a side of Green Pipian Romesco sauce.


  • 1 whole tri tip steak (about 2.5 lb)
  • Salt & pepper or your preferred seasoning rub


  1. Heat a smoker to run at 250f.
  2. Trim the steak of any silverskin/membrane on the surface using a filet knife. This step isn't essential, but here's why you want to do it: unlike fat, which renders during cooking, silverskin doesn't break down, and can result in a chewier bite.
  3. Season well with salt and pepper, then place into the smoker. If you have one, insert a probe to monitor temperature. If you don't have a probe device, use a meat thermometer to start checking the internal temperature at about 1.5 hours in.
  4. Once the internal temp at the thickest part reaches 130-135f, remove the meat from the smoker and wrap tightly in foil or butchers paper. Allow to rest 20 minutes.
  5. After resting, slice against the grain into 1/4" strips and serve immediately with the Green Romesco.


Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, author, and TV personality specializing in the field of meat, with a particular expertise in beef. She’s also a respected authority on live fire cooking and BBQ. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

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