tri-tip steak smoked over indirect heat then reverse seared

I’ve heard people label tri-tip as ‘poor man’s tenderloin’, ‘poor man’s eye fillet’ and ‘poor man’s ribeye’. Whilst it is certainly cheaper in price (about half the price or less) it definitely deserves a lot more credit than it price tag warrants.

Tri-tip is triangular in shape (who would’ve guessed!) and is cut from the bottom sirloin. Despite being quite lean it is extremely juicy and is best cooked at a low temperature and finished with a reverse sear over high heat to medium rare.


  • tri-tip steak
  • your favourite beef rub or a simple mix of kosher salt and coarse black pepper


  1. Dry brine 3 hours before cooking (if you have the time) at the rate of 1/2 tsp per pound.
  2. Season the meat with your choice of rub and fire up your cooker aiming for somewhere between 225f to 250f.
  3. When the temperature of the cooker is stable place one wood chunk about half the size of your fist on to the coals.
  4. Position the steak over indirect heat* (away from the coals) and cook until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 125f, approximately 45 minutes.
  5. Reverse sear** the steak, flipping every 30 seconds until the meat temperature reaches 135f (medium rare). Obviously you can adjust this to suit depending on how you like your steak.
  6. Slice the meat against the grain and retain the juices to pour over the meat once you have plated.

*Indirect heat simply means cooking the meat away from the coals or flame. If you have a 4 burner barbecue for example, turn on 2 of the burners and cook your meat over the other 2. If you are using charcoal then have the coals on one side of the cooker, meat on the other.

**For an in depth discussion on the science behind ‘the reverse sear’ you can read The Food Lab’s article here.

There are many options when it comes to serving Tri-Tip. We served ours with a mac n cheese loaf and pico de gallo. The next day I sliced it up, chucked a few slices on some sourdough and topped with red cheddar, caramelised onions and espresso BBQ sauce.

tri tip sanga