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Up close tri-tip roast that's been smoked on a charcoal grill.
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5 from 1 vote

Smoked Tri-Tip (Amazingly Delicious!)

Packed with layers of flavor from an amazing rub and the garlicky basting sauce, this deceptively easy Smoked Tri-Tip will have you going back for more! Plus, we include all our tips and tricks for a perfectly tender tri-tip every time.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Grill
Servings: 6 -8 people
Calories: 267kcal


  • grill charcoal or gas grill
  • Wood chunks or wood chips mesquite, hickory, or oak


  • 2-3 lbs tri-tip trimmed
  • 2 ½ tablespoon montreal steak seasoning
  • teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoon rosemary chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoon fresh garlic minced
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar no substitutions


Prep Components

  • Combine seasonings and rosemary. Rub into meat and let stand in the refrigerator at least one hour, up to overnight.
    2-3 lbs tri-tip, 2 ½ tablespoon montreal steak seasoning, 1½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon cayenne, 2 teaspoon rosemary
  • While the rub is sitting, make the garlic oil basting sauce. Cook oil and fresh garlic on low until garlic just starts to toast. Remove from heat and whisk in vinegar. Whisk again before using.
    ½ cup vegetable oil, 2 tablespoon fresh garlic, ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • Thirty minutes before cooking, soak wood chips, if using. No need to soak wood chunks. Then place them in smoke box or tin foil pouch.

Set up Grill

  • Set up grill with two zone fire.
    Gas grill: Set half the burners on medium-high. Once hot, place the smoker box of wood chips or chunks over the heat.
    Charcoal grill: Heat enough coals to cover ⅓ to ½ of the grill. Once ashed over dump and spread evenly over "direct" heat section of the grill. Be sure to leave at least half the grill without any coals. Place the wood box or tinfoil pouch of wood over the coals. If using wood chunks they can be placed directly on the coals.

Smoke tri-tip

  • Over the hot side of the grill, sear each side of the tri-tip for 5 minutes a side. You are looking for a good crust, but not too much color. The wood should be smoking by the time the meat has seared.
  • Transfer meat to indirect side of the grill with the thicker side of the tri-tip closest to the coals. Baste with oil/garlic mixture and flip every 7-8 minutes. Keeping the lid closed to keep as much smoke in the grill as possible. The grill should be about 250° during this stage.
  • At the 30 minute mark, start checking the temperature. Pull the tri-tip off the grill when the temperature has reached the desired doneness (130 for a medium roast, 140 for a medium well roast, or 150 for a well done roast). I prefer the sweet spot of 145°. As it rests, the temperature will rise about 10 degrees.
  • Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Thinly slice against the grain. See picture in post if needed. Serve immediately.
  • We love comments! Please come back and leave us one after you’ve tried this recipe


Tips & Tricks
  • For extra flavorful meat, allow the rub to sit overnight or freeze ahead. It isn't necessary but does allow the flavor to go deeper into the meat.
  • For adequate smoke flavor, make sure that smoke is pouring out of the sides of the grill. If not, be sure to add more chips or chunks right away.
  • For tender meat, slice against the grain. See photo in the post if needed.
  • Begin the cooking process with really cold, but not frozen meat. Cold meat accepts the smoke flavor better than room temperature beef. 
The rub can be made and placed on the roast up to one day ahead if storing in the refrigerator or up to 6 months ahead in the freezer. Plus the basting sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Thaw roast completely before smoking. 


Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 82mg | Potassium: 525mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 153IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 3mg