How Long to Smoke Tri Tip At 225°F?

How Long To Smoke Tri Tip At 225
Photo Credit: Johnny Coate

Smoking tri-tip is a delicious way to prepare this flavorful cut of beef. Tri-tip, or Santa Maria steak, is a triangular muscle cut from the bottom sirloin. When smoked at a low and slow temperature of 225°F, it becomes tender, juicy, and infused with smoky flavors.

This article will tell exactly how long to smoke tri tip at 225°F. We’ll explore techniques to smoke them to perfection so that you can have a mouthwatering experience. So, fire up that smoker, and let’s begin!

Different Types of Tri Tips

There are mainly two types of tri tips, depending on the location and composition of the animal. 

StyleSmoking Time at 225° Fahrenheit
Beef Tri Tip30 minutes per pound
Pork Tri TipAround 30-40 minutes per pound

Do You Smoke Tri Tip At 180°F Or 225°F?

When it comes to smoking tri-tips, 225°F instead of 180°F is better and creates a tastier result. The higher temperature helps the tri-tip cook through more quickly while still achieving the desired tenderness and flavor.

Smoking at 180°F prolongs the cooking time, increasing the risk of it being undercooked or not reaching the preferred doneness. At 225°F, you control the cooking process and ensure the tri-tip is cooked thoroughly while still being juicier and more tender.

Best Wood Pellet For Smoking Tri Tip

When smoking tri-tip, you want to choose a wood pellet that complements the flavors of the meat without overpowering it. Take a look at some popular wood pellet options that work well for smoking tri-tip,

  1. Hickory: A versatile wood pellet that imparts a strong and slightly sweet taste to the meat. It adds a rich and savory flavor to tri-tip, enhancing its natural beefy profile. It’s also fantastic for pork tri-tips!
  2. Oak: Oak provides a pleasant and smoky flavor that pairs well with the rich taste of tri-tip. Oak pellets produce a moderate smoke profile that doesn’t overpower the meat.
  3. Pecan: Pecan offers a milder and sweeter smoke flavor than oak or hickory. They contribute a subtle nutty taste that pairs well with tri-tip, allowing the meat’s flavor to take center stage without being too strong.
  4. Mesquite: They add a bold, almost sweet, and tangy taste to the tri-tip. Mesquite works particularly well for those who enjoy a stronger smoky flavor.
  5. Apple: While not as intense as hickory or mesquite, apple wood offers a delicate, sweet flavor like pecan. It may not emit as much smoke as it is less packed than hickory or oak.

How To Prepare Tri Tips For Smoking?

Tri-tips that were properly smoked should be flavorful and tender. You must properly prepare your tri tip before chucking it in the smoker. Here’s how you do it,

  1. Selecting and Trimming the Tri-Tip
  • Choose a well-marbled tri-tip with a consistent thickness. 
  • Trim any excess fat or silver skin from the surface of the tri-tip. Leaving a thin layer of fat can add flavor and moisture during smoking.
  1. Seasoning the Tri-Tip
  • Create a dry rub or marinade of your choice to enhance the flavors of the tri-tip.
  • Generously season all sides of the tri-tip with the dry rub, pressing gently into the meat. Let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes to marinate the flavors.
  1. Preheat the smoker to 225°F, and smoke away!

How Long To Smoke Tri Tip At 225°F?

Let’s get down to smoking the tri tip,

  1. Chuck the seasoned tri tip on the smoker grate, fat side down. 
  2. Keep a close eye on the smoker, and don’t open it too often to prevent heat loss. 
  3. Leave it in there for an hour or an hour and a half until the internal temperature reaches 115-120°F. You could even crank it up to 130-135°F if you prefer the meat more done. 
  4. Take it off the smoker and wrap the meat in fresh foil paper. 
  5. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving! 

How To Serve A Smoked Tri Tip?

When it comes to serving smoked tri-tip, there are several amazing ways to do it right. Take a look at some of them, 

  1. After resting the smoked tri-tip, slice it against the grain into thin slices. This helps keep the meat tender.
  2. Serve the smoked tri-tip with sauces and condiments on the side. For example, use barbecue sauce, tangy steak sauce, or horseradish sauce. These add flavor and bring out the flavors of the smoked meat.
  3. Choose side dishes that complement the smoky flavors of the tri-tip. Roast or grill vegetables, cornbread, with garlic coleslaw, mashed potatoes, or a fresh green salad.
  4. You can also pair the smoked tri-tip with classic sides like baked beans, potato salad, or corn on the cob.
  5. Top or garnish the smoked tri-tip with fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, or sliced onions. You could even sprinkle crumbled cheese such as blue cheese or feta!

How Long Do Smoked Tri Tips Last?

Like any other smoked meat, tri tips last four days longer in the refrigerator. But a little longer, almost two months in the freezer. However, tri tips with gravy or other garnishes can be refrigerated for nearly two days and frozen for up to 3 months.

How Long To Smoke Tri Tip At 225° F On Traeger?

When using a Traeger grill set at 225°F to smoke tri-tip, you can achieve a beautifully smoked and flavorful result in just one hour. The low and slow cooking method infuses the smoky flavors into the meat. 

During this one-hour smoking session, the tri-tip absorbs the aromatic wood smoke, elevating its natural flavors. Combining the Traeger’s steady heat and the infusion of smoky goodness creates a delightful balance of tenderness and smokiness!

Smoking Tri Tips
Photo Credit: Lando Aviles

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Smoking Tri Tips At 225°F

Look out to avoid these common mistakes when you’re smoking tri tips at 225°F,

  • You must let the tri-tip sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before smoking. This helps the meat cook more evenly and promotes better flavors.
  • When you’re cutting the layer of fat off, leave a light layer on. This adds flavor, moisture and brings out the smokiness even better!
  • This cannot be said enough, but keep the smoker’s temperature constant. Power through any cuts or interruptions, but keep it running!
  • Using too much smoke can ruin the taste of tri tips. Instead, use a moderate smoking wood or pellets to achieve a balanced and enjoyable smoky flavor.
  • Season the meat properly with the right ingredients. Using the wrong rub can completely throw off the meat’s flavor or taste.
  • Use a meat thermometer; this is vital to monitor the internal temperature of the meat. 
  • If you don’t let the meat rest for a while before cutting, it can cause the juices to escape, drying the tri-tip out.


So, there you have it! Smoking tri-tips is like embarking on a flavorful adventure where patience and precision are your trusty companions. As you savor each juicy bite, remember it took the perfect balance of time, temperature, and tantalizing flavors to determine how long to smoke the tri-tip at 225°F!


Is Tri Tip An Expensive Cut of Meat?

The cost of a tri-tip depends on factors like location, availability, and quality. Generally speaking, tri-tip is considered a more affordable beef cut than premium cuts like ribeye or filet mignon. Additionally, despite being tri-tip less expensive than other cuts, while still being delicate and having a good, meaty flavor.

Since there are only two tri-tips on an entire cow, locate a good butcher, as they may not be popular where you live. In some regions, tri-tip is more popular and readily available at a lower price point. But the price might be higher in areas where tri-tip is less common or considered a specialty cut. Tri tips have become a very popular choice for backyard barbecues, grilling, and smoking.

How Long Does It Take To Smoke A 4lb Tri Tip At 225°F?

When smoking a 4 lb tri-tip at 225°F, you can expect it to take approximately 2 to 2.5 hours to cook. Note that cooking times depend on factors like the tri-tip’s thickness, your smoker’s specific features, and how cooked you want it. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the tri tip. Aim for an internal temperature of around 130-135°F. 

Remember, these are general estimates, and it’s important to rely on the internal meat temperature rather than just on cooking time. A meat probe or thermometer will ensure your tri tip is cooked to your preferred doneness and achieves the desired tenderness and juiciness.

What Are Some Good Rubs For Smoking Tri Tips?

Tri tips pair beautifully with most ingredients. Here are two great rubs to use when you’re smoking tri tips,

Santa Maria Style Rub
You need: Paprika black pepper, kosher salt, garlic powder, dried parsley, and oregano, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Inspired by the California Central Coast’s Santa Maria-style barbecue, this rub adds a zesty and slightly spicy kick to the tri-tip.

Cajun Spice Rub
You need Salt, Paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, and oregano. If you enjoy a bit of heat and bold flavors, a Cajun spice rub adds a punchy and aromatic kick to the tri-tip, creating a strong and spicy ambiance for your taste buds!

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