Tri Tip Cooked on a Pit Boss (10 Simple Steps)

Tri-Tip is a great alternative to the brisket!

Juicy, meaty, and much cheaper!

It’s also known as the Santa Maria Tri-Tip.

That is after the region it’s said to originate from, or triangle roast due to the shape.

It’s best used to be used in stews or sliced for steaks. 

However, it has become popular to smoke low and slow!

The rising price of brisket has driven many people to choose this cut as well!

It’s different from smoking a brisket.

So make sure you follow along with my steps so that you produce a pitmaster level tri-tip!

Smoking a Tri-tip Roast

With a bit of seasoning and the right wood chips, the smoked beef tri-tip roast comes up a treat.

The tri-tip is a cut that is heavily marbled with fat seams and is similar to brisket but cooks in a fraction of the time. 

The low and slow cooking process allows the fat and connective tissue to break down into delicious gelatin.

Preparing the Tri-Tip for Smoking

The process is a simple one with a tri-tip roast.

First, pat your meat dry then apply the rub.

I use my brisket rub recipe which includes black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder in. 

Wood Flavor Recommendations

There’s a wide variety of wood chip flavors on the market, from mixed blends for specific meats to individual flavors.

Red meat can handle a stronger, bold flavor profile.

Like oak or hickory hardwood pellets with their rich, bacon-type flavors, or mesquite chips for a strong rich flavor.

Or for sweeter, more subtle flavors try apple, maple, or cherry pellets.

They will give the smokiness without overpowering the natural flavors.

However, you may struggle to get a smokey flavor through the meat.

Should You Marinate Your Tri Tip?

You should try marinading your tri-tip.

So people prefer just using a rub or dry brine.

However, I think you get a better flavor with a marinade.

Plus it helps to tenderize the meat.

See the tri tip marinade recipe here.

Dry Brining Process

It’s best to coat the entire surface of the meat in a layer of kosher salt and rub at least two hours before smoking.

What You Need For Tri-Tip

1 Tri-tip roast

Meat rub (herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, pink sea salt, and black pepper rub)

Oil, Worchester sauce, or mustard 

Add some extra time for a reverse sear and resting, and you’ll have a perfect medium-rare roast before you know it.

Smoking Your Tri Tip 

Follow my 5 steps below for the perfect smoked tri-tip! 

Pre-heating the Grill

Preheat your smoker to 225°F.

Make sure there are enough wood pellets in the hopper to feed the entire cook.

There’s nothing worse than slowing up the process by running out of chips!

Seasoning the Tri-Tip

Wipe the surface of the meat to remove any excess moisture.

Coat with a layer of mustard, Worcestershire sauce, or oil to give the dry seasoning something to stick to.

Evenly coat the entire surface with your dry rub ingredients.

Ideally, allow the coated roast to sit for an hour before smoking.

This allow the seasonings time to permeate and the meat to come to room temperature.

What Temperature Should I Cook At?

Close the grill cover and cook at a steady temperature of 225°F.

How Long to Smoke a Tri-Tip?

It takes 30 minutes per pound to smoke tri-tip.

However, that will depend on the tri-tip size and the temperature of the grill.  

The most effective way of monitoring is to use a digital meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

How Will I Know When It’s Cooked?

The best way to monitor is with a meat temperature probe, rather than a time frame.

If you want to have the same texture as a brisket you want to cook the tri-tip until you have an internal temperature of 203°F.

If you want more of a steak texture cook to the following;

When the internal temperature is 125-145 degrees (135 degrees for rare, 145 for medium-rare), remove it from the grill.

Reverse Searing The Tri Tip

If you are wanting to reverse sear your beef roast, remove at 125-130 degrees and let the meat rest under a piece of foil tented, for about 20 minutes. 

While it’s resting increase the grill temperature up to 450-500F.

The reverse searing step will give a gorgeous crust over your medium-rare meat.

Remove the aluminum foil and coat with oil.  Place on the grill grates for 10-15 minutes. 

A lovely crispy brown crust should form on the outside, while the center stays at the optimum internal temperature.

Slicing Your Tri-Tip and Serving It Up

There is one single trick to serving tri-tip that will make or break your dish, and that is the way it is sliced.

The tri-tip has a grain that runs in two different directions changing midway through.

If sliced incorrectly you can end up with very chewy pieces, even though the roast has been cooked to perfection.

For the perfect slice, simply find which way each part is running.

Then cut the meat against the grain direction for maximum tenderness.

Not Sure What To Serve With Your Tri Tip

You have done the hard yard with the meat, but what are you going to serve with it?

Some of my favorites include;

Wasabi Potato Mash

Truffle Mushrooms

Spice Bag Fries

I have lots of other sides that go well with tri tip here.

Have You Tried Sous Vide Tri Tip?

Smoked tri tip is delicious but have you tried the sous vide method?

Using the sous vide leaves the meat tender and succulent.

See the Seared Sous Vide Tri Tip recipe here.

Got Leftover Tri Tip?

Here are some of the favorite ways to use leftover tri-tip.

Smoked Tri-Tip Fajitas

Smoked Tri Tip Sandwich

Leftover Steak Shepherds Pie

Click here to see more leftover tri tip recipes.

When serving up your leftover tri-tip, make sure you reheat the tri-tip properly. Otherwise, it can end up tough and chewy.

Pit Boss Tri-Tip

Tri-Tip is a great alternative to the brisket! Juicy, meaty, and much cheaper!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Marinating Time1 hour
Total Time4 hours 5 minutes
Course: Dinner, main, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 256kcal
Author: Charlie


  • Pitboss Grill


  • 1 Tri-tip roast
  • Meat rub (herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, pink sea salt, and black pepper rub)
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • Worchester sauce or mustard
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt


  • Mix rub ingredients in a bowl until evenly combined.
  • Preheat pellet grill to 250ºF with the smoke setting on medium-high.
  • Coat with a layer of mustard, Worcestershire sauce, or oil to give the dry seasoning something to stick to. Evenly coat the entire surface with your dry rub ingredients.
  • Let your seasoned tri-tip rest at room temperature for about an hour.
  • Place tri-tip on the pellet grill grate and shut the lid.
  • Cook until the center of the tri-tip is 125-145 degrees. This usually takes about 1 hour, give or take.
  • Remove tri tip from grill and let it rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  • While the beef rests, raise the temperature in your pellet grill to 450-500F.
  • Put tri tip back on the grill to sear each side of the roast.
  • After the tri-tip is seared on all sides, check the internal temperature in the center of the beef to see if it has reached desired doneness (135 for rare, 145ºF for medium rare).
  • Once doneness has been reached, place the finished tri-tip on a cutting board.
  • Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

The tri-tip roast is such a versatile cut that you can cook low and slow if you have plenty of time, or a little quicker when you need to feed a tribe in a hurry.

Either way, it will still retain its tender, moist qualities.

So next time you think of smoking a brisket, why not try tri-tip?

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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