Tri-Tip Roast On the Smoker

Have you ever had those moments in life where you feel like you are just killin’ it? Like you are rockin’ the mom gig, deserve Wife-of-the-Freaking Century award, you’re for sure the best neighbor, and hands down the best friend….like you got your crap together? Ha, me either… but I have this thing I make, and when I make it, I give myself a little pat on the back and say to myself “Nailed It!” every single time….and it is my Tri-Tip Roast!

You may think you are not a fan of roasts because 9 times out of 10, I bet you cook a roast for Sunday dinner and it turns out dry, or is fatty or just mediocre at best! Well let me tell you that a Tri-Tip Roast will change your opinion of roasts and will be a new favorite Sunday Meal (or any day if the week meal)!

What is different about a Tri-Tip Roast that makes it so wonderful?  I asked the Butcher Man:

TRI-TIP ROAST, FROM THE BUTCHER MAN: A Tri-Tip Roast is a beef roast.  You can ask your butcher for a Tri-Tip Roast and if they do not carry them or know what it is, tell them it is a bottom sirloin cut.  A tri-tip roast does cost more than a traditional beef or pork roast that people usually cook.  But it is worth the additional cost.  They are very versatile roast.  They can be grilled, smoked, cooked in the oven, or in a crockpot or an instant pot.  They are a good roast and people find them much more juicy and tender because the marbling that they have melts in to the roast as it cooks, giving it great flavor and a tender bite and cut.  You can use the Tri-Tip Roast for more than just a roast.  You can cut it up after cooking for a Tri-Tip sandwich, fajitas, stir-fry and a lot more.  They usually are cut to about an inch thick, and will be a triangular cut of beef.  They come with a fat cap on them.  Many people ask for the fat cap to be left on for flavor as it cooks, but it really doesn’t make much difference, just more work for you to trim it off after cooking.  (The Butcher Man always cuts to order for this reason).  After it is cooked, let the meat rest before slicing.  ALWAYS slice/cut against the grain.  The Tri-Tip Roast,  you will notice has fibers of meat going in two different directions, so it is easiest to cut the roast in two where the fibers change direction, and cut each piece separately against the grain.

I smoke my Tri-Tip Roast on the smoker because I love the smoky flavor I get, it turns out juicy and perfectly cooked every time and mainly because I’m lazy and you literally just put the roast on and let it smoke!! That’s it!! No checking on it, flipping it, watching the heat like you have to on a grill (you can grill them and they are delicious) and you don’t have to use your oven which leaves it available if you need it for baked potatoes or some other side dish and means you don’t have to heat up your house with the oven in the summer! I love my smoker! I love a Tri-Tip Roast on the smoker!

The meat cooks slowly (but not all day slow) and the smoky flavor is subtle but is perfectly matched with the marinade I use.  I prefer to have the fat cap trimmed off my Tri-Tip Roast and think it has plenty of flavor (and less work for me after)!

The marinade is stuff I always have in my cupboard, it mixes up in a matter of minutes and sits on the meat overnight! It is delicious! A perfect blend of spices, a kick of heat from the Dijon mustard, a tangy acidic punch from the red wine vinegar and the thyme gives it a subtle earthiness almost peppery taste that combined with the savory notes from everything else is perfection!

For the marinade I use canola oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, season salt, kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and thyme.

I mix up all the ingredients, then rub it all over the tri-tip roast! Then I put it in a zip top bag (I always double bag to make sure it doesn’t leak in my fridge and so the aroma of spices doesn’t somehow stink up everything as it marinates).

It marinates for at least 12 hours-up to 24. (Mine usually marinates somewhere in between).

When you are ready to smoke the roast, heat your smoker on the smoke setting for 5-10 minutes. Then turn the temperature up to 225 degrees.

I remove my roast from the zip top bag then season it again with some salt and black pepper on both sides. Then, I put my meat probe into my roast (a thermometer that sticks directly into the thickest part of the roast and then plugs in to my smoker for an instant read). If you don’t have this, (you can but a cheap meat thermometer probe at Walmart), you can use a meat thermometer that can stay in the meat as it cooks, or you can use a digital thermometer and start checking the temperature at 90 minutes of smoking! If you are using a meat thermometer that you have to insert to check the temperature, do not start checking it until it has smoked 90 minutes. You do not want to open the lid to keep checking the temperature until absolute necessary.

My roast usually smokes at 225 degrees for an hour and half to two hours. It varies every time but never stays smoking more than 2 hours!

Many people will tell you to pull the roast off when it reaches 130 degrees. At 130 degrees, after it rests for 20 minutes the roast will be pink. I don’t mind pink meat but I like to cook mine a bit longer to 145 degrees before pulling it off. At 145 it cooked perfectly to my liking…. not too pink but not fully cooked to well done, not dry, very flavorful and juicy, but still a little pink in the middle. It is definitely not too done. I would say it is more of a medium-rare (only slightly rare) at 145, where as if you pull it at 130, I consider it rare. After you take it off the smoker it needs to be covered in foil and left to rest for 20 minutes. Resting is very important because the internal temperature continues to rise after you pull it off and the meat will continue to cook and the juices are able to evenly distribute and settle, so don’t skip this step….resting is important).

After it has rested, you can slice it up! I usually try and slice it to 1/4 inch thickness and always cut against the grain. To cut against the grain, notice the fibers/lines in the meat and cut opposite of the fibers/lines.  As the Butcher Man mentioned above, the roast has two different directions that the fibers run, so cut the roast in two, where the fibers change direction, and then slice against the grain for each separate piece. 

The tri-tip roast is tender and juicy with amazing flavor. It is delicious on its own, or with a baked potato, salad or roasted veggies.

I love to eat mine on a hoagie with mayo, BBQ sauce, and yellow onion and it is the most juicy, flavorful sandwich I’ve ever eaten!

Hope you enjoy!

Tri- Tip Roast (on the Smoker)

The Tri-Tip roast will become your new favorite roast.  It is juicy, tender and full of flavor!
5 from 1 vote
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  • 2 1/2 lb Tri-Tip Roast

Tri-Tip Marinade

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp season salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme rosemary is a god substitute
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper


To Marinade the Tri-Tip Roast

  • Mix all of the marinade ingredients together.
  • Rub the marinade on the roast, making sure the entire roast is covered.
  • Let the Tri-Tip Roast marinade in the fridge for at least 12 hours, no more than 24 hours.  I put my roast in a zip top bag, and it works great.  You can also leave it in a glass or ceramic dish, covered.  

Smoking the Tri-Tip Roast

  • Heat smoker accordingly.  I set mine on the “Smoke” setting and let it heat for 5-10 minutes with the lid open.
  • Raise temperature on smoker to 225 degrees. Remove roast from zip top bag or dish.  If using a probe thermometer, or other type of thermometer that stays in the meat when it cooks, insert it into the thickest part of the meat.  (If it is not an electronic digital read, make sure you can see the face of the thermometer when you place it on the grill).  Place roast on the smoker.  I place it right on the grill, no pan underneath.
  • Shut the lid of the smoker (make sure you have enough pellets in the smoker), and let it smoke for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Check the meat temperature at 90 minutes.  You want it to read anywhere from 130-145 degrees, depending on what you like.  130 degrees, after resting will be rare, and 145 will be medium-rare (perfect to me!). If you do not have a meat probe that will give you a digital read, do not open the lid and check the meat, until is has cooked for 90 minutes (one hour and a half).  Then start checking the meat and let it smoke until it reaches your desired temperature.
  • Once the roast has reached your desired temeprature, pull the meat off the grill and cover with foil and let it rest 20 minutes.  
  • When you are ready to slice/cut it, take note of the fibers.  The fibers will run in two different directions.  You need to cut each section against the grain.  The easiest way to do this, is cut the roast in two where the fibers change dierction.  This will make it easier to cut each piece against the grain. 
  • I eat mine on a toasted hoagie bun with mayo, BBQ sauce, and yellow onion.  But you can slice it up and eat with a baked potato, roasted veggies, rice or a side salad. 

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should only be used as an approximation.


  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Mine reached 145 after only an hour. 40 minute rest, perfectly medium rare.

    • Beth, The Butcher's Wife

      Hi Graham! I’m so happy to hear it turned out great…. thanks for trying the recipe and taking the time to comment!!!! I love hearing great feedback! 😄

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