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How to Cook a Perfect BBQ Tri-Tip Steak

Posted by Manuel Gonzalez on
How to Cook a Perfect BBQ Tri-Tip Steak

What is a Tri-Tip

The tri-tip is a cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin on the cow. It is boneless and tender. Like other cuts of beef, you will want to look for some good marbling in the meat (small streaks of interwoven fat). Most tri-tips are purchased trimmed from the butcher and weigh 2-3 pounds. Untrimmed tri-tips have a large fat cap and layer of silver skin and can weigh nearly 5 pounds. 

Reverse Searing a Tri-Tip

Before we get into revere searing let’s go over what it means to sear. Searing is when you cook something over direct, high heat to get that nice, browned crust. And reverse searing is the opposite, where you start in indirect heat, so the oven, cool side of a grill, or smoking it, and you finish it off by searing it at the end. I'd say the best way to reverse sear is to start by smoking it and finish it over a fire. Adds a lot of flavor to the meat, and I mean a lot. 

Reverse Seared Tri-tip

Smoking a Tri-Tip

Now what if you don't know how to smoke a tri-tip? Well, first thing you need to do is get ahold of a smoker of some kind. Next you have to get the seasoning right. I'd recommend seasoning it the same way we recommend it in the recipe down below, but feel free to try something new. Now its time to smoke the meat. You want to maintain a pretty solid 225 degrees. During this stage, the tri-tip will slowly get to temp, creating an even cook from edge to edge and help with retaining moisture inside of your meat. You can wait until the internal temp at the thickest part reaches 135-140 degrees F so you can wrap it tightly in foil or butchers paper, but we like to lock in all of those juices and get a gorgeous crust on the exterior of the meat. I like to do this in a really hot cast iron pan with some sizzling butter, but you can also sear it over any fire. 

Since we pretty much gave you the instructions to reverse searing and smoking a steak, we have decided to have our recipe consist of an initial sear and a finish over indirect heat. But do try every method, they all have their perks.

Smoked Tri-tip

How we cook a perfect Tri-Tip 

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 1 -2 Hours

Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes - 2 Hours 20 Minutes

Servings:  3 - 5


  • Loubier Gourmet Hot or Mild BBQ Sauce
  • 3 - 4 lb Tri-Tip
  • Coarse Salt
  • Coarse Pepper
  • Garlic


  • Step 1
    Take Tri-Tip meat out of your refrigerator and let it sit out for 1-2 hours until it is at room temperature.
  • Step 2
    Preheat your grill to 350 degrees F (if you do not have a grill disposable, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F).
  • Step 3
    Take the meat out of the wrapper, rinse it with cold water, and shake it off until there is no water dripping from the Tri-Tip.
  • Step 4
    Shake a lot of salt, pepper, and some garlic to both sides of the Tri-Tip.
  • Step 5
    Once your grill or oven is heated to 350 degrees F, place Tri-Tip directly on the flames for the first 15-20 minutes (it doesn’t matter what side you place directly on the flames because later you will be flipping it constantly). This is just meant to warm up the meat (if you’re using an oven, prior to placing your Tri-Tip in the oven, sear both sides of the meat on a pan without using any oil to develop a crust. We would recommend searing each side for a couple of minutes but it really depends on how you want your crust).
  • Step 6
    After the initial 15-20 minutes of your meat being over the flame, move it to the side and flip it (do it quickly) every 15 minutes (if you’re using an oven, you do not need to move the Tri-Tip, but you will still need to flip it every 15 minutes). Step 5 and 6 can be switched, and if you do, you would be reverse searing this Tri-Tip Steak. Check out our Reverse Sear Blog to learn how!
  • Step 7
    Keep an aluminum tin can of water on the grill (3/4ths full), but not directly over the fire. This will ensure the inside of the grill remains moist (do this in an oven as well).
  • Step 8
    Once Tri-Tip reaches internal temperatures of 125 degrees F for Rare, 130 degrees F for Medium Rare, 140 degrees F for Medium, 150 degrees F for Medium-well, or 160 degrees F for Well-done, place the meat directly on the fire and char each side for 5 minutes (if you’re using an oven, broil each side of your  Tri-Tip on high for 5 minutes).
  • Step 9
    When you are done charing each side, put your Tri-Tip in a container with foil on the top and let it sit out for an hour before cutting it (this is called tenting).
  • Step 10
    Cut your Tri-Tip like it is bread, so cut against the grain. If a lot of blood comes out that means it is just medium. If not much blood comes out it is well done. 
  • Step 11
    Dip or cover your delicious Tri-Tip in Loubier Gourmet’s Hot or Mild BBQ Sauce to finish it off.
  • Step 12
    Lastly, enjoy :)
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