Perfectly medium rare smoked tri tip

How to Smoke A Tri Tip Steak

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 an hour. CUE THE CELEBRATORY ANGEL SONG!

When it comes to buying tri tip, as always the message is to buy the best quality grade beef you can afford. 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. The more marbled the tri tip, the more luxurious the eating experience.

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. You’ll also notice that I recommend cooking it to the “medium” side of “medium rare” – this slightly tougher cut eats better when it’s cooked a teeny bit more.

But, the MOST important thing you will need to achieve a dark and crusty bark on a piece of meat that only cooks for two hours is Hardcore Carnivore Black seasoning. It’s THE crucial ingredient for that incredible pink/black contrast. You can see here how it makes the tri tip black before it’s even been cooked:

Hardcore Carnivore Black seasoning on tri tip steak

One final pro tip: I like to roll my tri tips extra tight in the foil when resting to force them into more of a cylindrical shape. It gives you nice medallions when slicing rather than thinner strips.

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Perfectly medium rare smoked tri tip

How to Smoke A Tri Tip Steak

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4.5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Jess Pryles
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 6-8 1x



1 whole tri tip steak (about 2.5 lb)

23 tablespoons Hardcore Carnivore Black rub


  1. Heat a smoker to run at 275f.
  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. Pat the meat dry and season with Hardcore Carnivore Black all over. Be sure to use a generous amount of rub and ensure all the surface is coated. Place tri tip 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 about 45 minutes in.
  4. Once the internal temp at the thickest part reaches 135-140f, remove the meat from the smoker and wrap tightly in foil or butchers paper. It needs to rest for at least 20 minutes, I prefer resting mine in a towel-lined cooler for up to an hour.
  5. After resting, slice against the grain into 1/4″ strips and serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 90 mins
  • Method: BBQ

5 thoughts on “How to Smoke A Tri Tip Steak”

  1. I made this last night (this was my my tri tip, and it came out amazing. Probably one of the best things I’ve made on my smoker. I had a 1.7 lb tri tip and noticed that I was cooking way too quickly at 275, so after about 30 min, I dropped it to 225. Pulled it at 135 and let it rest for ~45 min….it was a perfect medium rare and had so much flavor. I would have posted it on IG, but we ate it too fast.

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