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Reverse-Seared Smoked Tri Tip

Tri Tip is the bottom sirloin on a steer where three muscles come together. Generally considered California or Santa Maria BBQ, this cut is gaining popularity across the US. Here's our favorite way to cook it, smoked to temp and then reverse seared like a steak to a medium rare.

BBQ Basics


1 tri tip (approximately 3-4 lbs)
Head Country Premium All-Purpose Marinade
Head Country Championship Seasoning, Original
Head Country Championship Seasoning, High Plains Heat
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Spritzer filled with high-quality apple juice (Doug likes Martinelli’s)

Cooking Instructions

Preheat grill to 200-225 degrees F. Use the higher temperature if you want to cook faster. The lower temp offers more smoke on the meat.

While the grill preheats, trim the fat cap from the bottom of the tri tip. Flip the roast over and trim all the silver skin off the top.

Take a moment to look at the grain on the top—if you're wondering how to cut tri tip, this is it. Using your knuckle, create a notch—you can also make a small cut— about ¼-inch deep to separate where the grain from the left side of the cut meets the grain of the right side. You will see that they do not run in the same direction. Usually, there is a vein of fat here, as well. Creating this notch or cut will help you when it's time to slice the tri tip after cooking, as it will be difficult to see the grain due to the bark from the sear.

Cover the bottom of the tri tip liberally with Head Country All-Purpose Premium Marinade, followed by a medium coat of Original Championship Seasoning first, and then High Plains Heat Championship Seasoning separately, followed by a light coating of Montreal Steak Seasoning. Flip and repeat these layers of seasonings on the top of the roast.

Put the tri tip immediately on the grill to smoke, fat cap side down. Spritz every 20-30 minutes with apple juice and cook to an internal temperature of about 120-125 degrees F. This will take about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the weight of the tri tip. Remove tri tip from the grill.

Turn the grill to 425-450 degrees F. Place a griddle or cast iron skillet on the grates. Wait for at least 12 minutes for the grill to come to temp and to heat the griddle or skillet. Put a small amount of butter on the cast iron to coat, then place the top of the tri tip, with the notch down, on the griddle for 4-5 minutes. Flip the tri tip and sear for another 4 minutes. Start checking temperature. The best tri tip temp is 132-134 degrees off the grill for medium rare.

Do not rest. Cut against the grain (remember, two ways, changing at the knotch/cut) and serve immediately. Doug loves this sliced a little thin and cut into bite size pieces. Enjoy!