Get ready to embark on a smoky, flavor-packed journey with this Smoked Tri-Tip Roast recipe! This dish is not just a meal; it's an adventure in taste, combining robust West Coast flavors with the art of grilling. Whether you're hosting a backyard BBQ or looking to impress your family, this recipe is your ticket to a world of juicy, smoky goodness. So, let's get that smoker fired up and dive into the delicious world of smoked tri-tip!
1 - Why You Will Love This Recipe
There's something truly magical about the combination of smoke, seasoning, and tender tri-tip. This recipe takes you on a flavor journey that's both familiar and exciting. The oak or hickory smoke infuses the meat with a depth of flavor that's simply unmatched. Plus, the searing process adds a beautiful crust that locks in those juicy flavors. Trust me, once you take that first bite, you'll be planning your next BBQ around this dish!
2 - The Best Cut of Meat For This Recipe
- Recommended Cut For This Recipe
The star of this show is undoubtedly the tri-tip roast. This cut, hailing from the bottom sirloin, is known for its rich flavor and tender texture. When you're shopping, look for a cut that's well-marbled and has a clear, red color. If you're going upscale, Snake River Farms offers exceptional Wagyu tri-tip, which elevates this recipe to a whole new level of luxury. You can find quality tri-tip at your local butcher shop or even at a well-stocked grocery store.
- Other Cuts You Can Use For This Recipe
Not able to find tri-tip? No worries. You can substitute it with brisket, chuck roast, or even sirloin tip. Each of these cuts brings its unique texture and flavor to the table. Just remember to adjust your cooking time accordingly, as these cuts can vary in thickness and fat content.
- Using Wagyu Beef, Grass Fed Beef, or Dry Aged Beef
Now, if you're feeling fancy, Wagyu, grass-fed, or dry-aged beef will elevate this recipe to gourmet status. The key here is to let the quality of the meat shine. With Wagyu, particularly, go easy on the seasoning to let its natural flavors take center stage. The marbling in Wagyu ensures your smoked roast comes out extra juicy and flavorful.
3 - Tools Needed
Before we dive into the cooking process, let's talk tools. A reliable smoker or grill is a must. A digital meat thermometer is also crucial for nailing the perfect doneness. And, of course, a sharp knife for that all-important slicing.
4 - Seasoning
- Using a Marinade
For a deeply flavorful marinade, whisk together ½ cup of olive oil, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of mixed fresh herbs (like rosemary, thyme, or parsley), and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Coat your tri-tip evenly and let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight. This process not only imparts rich flavors but also tenderizes the meat, making it succulent and flavorful. The only downside is the need for advance preparation.
- Using a Rub
Create a savory-sweet rub by mixing 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. This blend is perfect for achieving a caramelized crust with a hint of sweetness. Rub it generously over the entire surface of the tri-tip before smoking. The brown sugar enhances the crust formation, adding a delightful texture to the tender meat.
- Using Mayo as a Seasoning
Try coating your tri-tip with a thin layer of mayonnaise before applying the rub. Use about 2-3 tablespoons of mayo, spreading it thinly and evenly. This not only helps the rub stick better but also contributes to a more moist and tender end product. The mayo will disappear during cooking, leaving no trace but its tenderizing effect. This method is a unique trick for ensuring a juicy, flavorful tri-tip.
5 - Cooking Methods
- On the Grill
Grilling your tri-tip adds a delightful char and smoky flavor. The key is to maintain a consistent temperature and to flip the meat occasionally for even cooking. The downside? It requires constant attention. But the payoff? A beautifully seared, smoky piece of meat that's hard to resist.
- In the Oven
Oven-roasting is a more controlled method. Slow-cook your tri-tip at a low temperature before finishing it under the broiler for a nice crust. While it lacks the smoky flavor of grilling, it's a foolproof method for a tender and juicy roast.
- Sous Vide
For the tech-savvy cooks, sous vide is a great option. It allows precise temperature control, ensuring your tri-tip is cooked perfectly throughout. Finish it off with a quick sear on a hot grill or skillet for the best of both worlds.
6 - Cooking Tips
- Dry Brining Your Steak
Enhance your tri-tip's flavor and juiciness with a dry brine. Follow these steps:
- Generously sprinkle the entire surface of your tri-tip with kosher salt. Aim for a uniform coating, using about 1 tablespoon of salt for every pound of meat.
- Place the seasoned tri-tip on a rack in your refrigerator, uncovered. This allows air to circulate around the meat.
- Let the tri-tip sit in the fridge overnight, or for at least 12 hours. This process not only seasons the meat deeply but also helps it retain moisture, leading to a juicier roast after cooking.
- How to Get the Perfect Doneness Using a Thermometer
Achieving the perfect doneness starts with a reliable meat thermometer. Here's how:
- Insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the tri-tip before you start cooking.
- As you cook, monitor the internal temperature closely. Aim to remove the tri-tip from the heat when it's about 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit below your desired final temperature. For example, if you're aiming for a medium-rare finish (130-135 degrees F), take the tri-tip off the heat when it reaches around 125 degrees F.
- The reason for this is carryover cooking, where the meat continues to cook and reach the desired temperature as it rests.
- How to Rest Your Tri-Tip and Cook Against the Grain
Resting and slicing your tri-tip correctly are crucial for the best eating experience:
- After cooking, transfer your tri-tip to a cutting board and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This pause allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful slice.
- When ready to slice, first observe the direction of the meat's grain – the muscle fibers. You'll want to slice perpendicular to these fibers.
- Begin slicing at the narrower end of the tri-tip, and as you proceed to the wider end, adjust the angle of your slicing to continue cutting against the grain. This technique ensures each slice is as tender as possible. Remember to use a sharp knife for clean, precise cuts.
7 - Storage Instructions
- In the Fridge: Store your cooked tri-tip in an airtight container. It'll keep for up to four days.
- In the Freezer: For longer storage, wrap the cooled tri-tip in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. It'll last for up to three months.
- The Best Way to Reheat This Recipe: Reheat your tri-tip in a preheated 275 degrees F oven. Cover it with foil to keep it moist. It should take about 20 minutes for a medium-sized roast.
8 - Side Dishes
Complement your smoked tri-tip with these three side dishes:
- A crisp, fresh salad for a light contrast
- Roasted vegetables for a hearty accompaniment
- A side of creamy mashed potatoes or a hearty grain for some satisfying carbs
Final Take Away
Smoking tri-tip may seem daunting at first, but it's a surprisingly simple and rewarding process. The key is to pay attention to the quality of your meat, your seasoning, and your cooking method. Whether you're a grilling newbie or a seasoned pro, this recipe is sure to become a fast favorite. So, grab your apron, fire up that grill, and get ready to enjoy one of the tastiest cuts of beef out there!
- 2.5 lb tri-tip roast 1 tri tip, with the fat cap and silver skin removed (your butcher can help with this)
- 2 Tablespoons beef seasoning blend or a mix of equal parts kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder
- 3 Tablespoons butter salted
- 1 sprig rosemary fresh
- Preheat Your Smoker: Set your pellet smoker or grill to 225 degrees F. I've found that using robust wood like oak or hickory adds a good smoke flavor that's just perfect for this west coast favorite, often known as Santa Maria steak.
- Season the Tri-Tip: Take your room-temperature tri-tip roast and rub it all over with the beef seasoning. I like to gently press the seasoning into the meat to ensure it sticks well. This is the first step to creating that nice crust we all love.
- Smoking the Meat: Place the tri-tip directly on the grill grates of your smoker. Let it smoke until the internal temperature of the meat is about 5-10 degrees from your desired final temperature (115 degrees F for a rare roast, 125 for a medium rare roast, 135 for a medium roast, 145 for a medium well roast, or 150 for a well done roast). Remember, for the best results, a meat thermometer is your best friend here.
- Sear for Perfection: If you're using a grill, crank up a pellet or gas grill to high heat. Alternatively, for those who prefer the kitchen touch, heat a cast iron skillet on your stove over high heat. Now, take your tri-tip off the smoker and lay it on the grill or in the skillet. If using a skillet, add butter and rosemary for extra flavor. Sear each side of the tri-tip for 2-3 minutes, ensuring you get a beautifully caramelized crust. If you're searing in the skillet, don't forget to spoon over that delicious, herb-infused butter to baste the steak as it sizzles.
- Rest and Serve: After searing, let the tri-tip rest on a cutting board for about 15 minutes. This is crucial for letting those muscle fibers relax. Then, slice it against the grain. Tri-tip can have grain running in different directions, so start at the narrow end and adjust your knife angle as needed.