I love tri tip and smoking it on my Weber kettle is my favorite way of cooking this roast.
My approach to tri tip is to do a Reverse Sear where the roast is smoked until it hits an internal temperature of 120F and then it is seared at high temperatures to get a beautiful crust.
Keep reading and I will show you what you need to do!
Smoking a Tri Tip on a Kettle
The general steps for smoking this cut are:
- Season with bold, spicy dry rub
- Set up the grill for indirect heat
- Smoke at 250F for approximately 90 minutes with hickory, oak or pecan.
- When the tri tip reaches an internal temperature of 120-125F move the roast to direct heat to sear.
- Remove the roast from the grill when it hits an internal temperature of 135F (Medium Rare)
- Let the roast rest for at least 30 minutes and slice against the grain.
Let’s look at each of these steps a little closer.
The Dry Rub
I like my beef to have a bold, spicy rub but that doesn’t mean that it has to be complicated or fancy. A lot of times I go with a simple salt and pepper rub but go seriously heavy on the black pepper. For this cook the rub was:
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
I like to let the salt in the rub melt into the meat for at least an hour before the meat goes onto the grill.
If you do want to try a more complex rub then check out my World Championship Brisket Rub Recipe.
Setting Up the Kettle
Setting up the kettle for indirect heat is pretty simple.
Read more: Hot and Fast Brisket | Family Cuisine
I fill a charcoal basket with Kingsford briquettes and place it on one side of the kettle and put the tri tip on the opposite side of the kettle. If you do not have charcoal baskets then you can simply bank the coals opposite of the tri tip.
I set the bottom vent to about 30% open and leave the top vent 100% open.
There are two ways to approach the charcoal and either one is fine.
- Start with fully lit charcoal for higher temperatures (275-300F)
- Start with only a portion of the charcoal lit for lower temperatures (225-250F)
I like to start with a partially lit load of charcoal. I do this by lighting a wax starter cube on one side of the charcoal bed.
Smoke Until 120F Internal
A single chunk of wood will be plenty to smoke a tri tip. I like to use hickory or oak to smoke beef but pecan works nicely as well. Milder woods like maple and the fruit woods don’t make that much impact of red meat (with cherry being the exception).
How long it takes to smoke the tri tip will depend on how large it is and how hot your fire is running. You should do your first check with a digital thermometer after about 45 minutes. For this cook I was running around 230-250F and it took about 90 minutes to hit 120F.
Once the tri tip hits 120F move it directly over the hot charcoal to get a little searing action on the surface. I let it grill for two minutes per side until it hits an internal temperature of 135F.
Let the Beef Rest
Once the tri tip hits 135F take it off the grill and let it rest for 30 minutes. I use the resting time to have a little more fun with my grill.
For this cook I grilled some tomato slices and topped them with Muenster cheese.
While the tomatoes were grilling I made up a horseradish cream sauce and toasted some beautiful ciabatta rolls.
Kicked Up Horseradish Cream Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup prepared horseradish
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
- 1 Tablespoon Sriracha garlic hot sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
The rolls were grilled then coated in that creamy goodness then topped with thin sliced tri tip along with the grilled tomato. This sandwich is going to make it into the Hall of Fame!
Technique Number 2
I know this isn’t exactly what you were looking for when you were searching but I just had to include it!
I used a Spider Grills pellet adapter to convert my Weber charcoal grill into a pellet grill! The general technique is the same with smoking at a low temperature to 120F and then searing at high temperatures. I made a video showing how to reverse sear a tri tip in a kettle and I hope you enjoy it!
Want to learn more about Tri Tip? Check out my articles on Tri Tip vs Picanha and Tri Tip vs Brisket!