This juicy and flavorful Traeger tri tip is ready in as little as 1.5 hours with that slow-smoked flavor you're guaranteed to love!
Tri tips are one of my favorite cuts of meat to smoke in the Traeger -- they're inexpensive, cook quickly, and are just as flavorful as more costly cuts of meat. You can get that slow-smoked BBQ flavor in just a couple of hours with this recipe!
The seasoning recipe is as simple as it gets without skimping on flavor. A little cumin, garlic salt, onion powder, smoked paprika (for that extra smoky kick), and salt and pepper add the perfect amount of BBQ flavor to a delicious and beefy-tasting tri-tip.
When choosing your tri-tip, I recommend Prime grade if you can find it, although Choice grade is still marbled and flavorful while being a little more budget-friendly. A local butcher or meat market is the best place to find quality tri-tip, no matter the grade, but Sam's Club and Costco often have this cut of meat available as well.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Tri-tip. You'll need a 2-3 pound tri-tip steak for this recipe. The whole tri-tip works better for this recipe than slices. If you can only find one larger or smaller, you'll have to adjust the smoking time as needed.
- Cumin. Adds an earthy, warm flavor to the spice mix.
- Onion powder. For a subtle onion flavor.
- Garlic Salt. I prefer garlic salt over garlic powder for this recipe as it adds more flavor to the meat. If you only have garlic powder, be sure to add additional salt as needed.
- Smoked Paprika. While the Traeger adds a smoky flavor to the meat, adding smoked paprika is a great way to get a little extra smokiness in every bite!
- Salt and pepper.
Be sure to see the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and directions.
Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions
Before beginning the rub and prepping the meat, prepare the smoker and pre-heat it to 225°F.
Step 1: Combine the cumin, onion powder, garlic salt, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper in a small dish, mixing well.
Step 2-3: Sprinkle the dry rub onto the tri tip, then, using your hands, spread the dry rub over the front, back, and sides of the meat, pressing down so that the mixture adheres to the meat.
Step 4-5: Put the steak directly on the smoker racks and insert a digital thermometer at a slight angle into the side of the tri tip. Make sure that the tip of the thermometer is in the center.
Step 6-8: Smoke low and slow until the desired temperature is met, about 1.5 to 2 hours for medium-rare. Once done, remove the steak from the smoker using tongs and place it on a dish covered with aluminum foil. Wrap the smoked tri tip tightly in the aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 7-10 minutes.
Step 9-11: After resting, put the steak on a cutting board and slice it against the grain. Cut the slices as thin as possible, as this will create a more tender texture. Serve immediately.
No one will believe this tender, juicy smoked tri tip took only a few hours and such little effort to make!
At 225°F, a tri tip should take around 30 minutes per pound for rare, or about 60 minutes for a 2-pound tri tip, or 1.5 hours for medium-rare.
Cooking low and slow is the key to a tender and juicy tri tip. If the heat is too high for too long, the tri tip may dry out and have a tough texture.
- For juicy and tender meat, smoking low and slow is key. Don't be tempted to turn the heat up to cut down on the time it takes to make your tri tip.
- When preparing your tri tip, you'll notice a very thin layer of fat on the bottom. Leave this intact!
- Once you add your tri tip to the smoker, put the meat fat side down, and do not turn it once you've added it.
- When preparing the Traeger for your tri tip, ensure it's clean and the plate below is free from grease and other smoke. Failing to do this could cause dark smoke and add an unwanted flavor to your meat.
- Smoking meat is a great way to tenderize cuts that may otherwise be a little tougher. Another way to increase tenderness is to cut against the grain and make your slices as thin as possible when slicing your meat.
- Use oak or mesquite pellets for this recipe. You could also use the Traeger Signature Blend, which is a mix of maple and cherry.
- You don't have to add a water pan to the Traeger, but if you do add a shallow pan of water while smoking, the meat will be moister, and the temperature will be more easily regulated.
How Long to Smoke Traeger Tri Tip Steak
Always smoke to temperature, not time, since different thicknesses of meat will take varying times to cook. For a rare steak, it should take around 30 minutes per pound to cook, but this isn't a hard and fast rule.
Inserting a meat thermometer into your steak so you can check the internal temperature is the most accurate way to know when you should remove your tri tip steak from the Traeger grill.
See the chart below for an accurate temperature for your desired doneness of the steak.
Traeger tri tip
- 1 2-3lb tri tip
- 1 teaspoon salt, coarse
- 1 teasopon black pepper, coarse
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Start by preparing the Traeger accordingly. Preheat it to 225°F.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon garlic salt, and ½ teaspoon onion powder. Mix to combine.
- Sprinkle the dry rub onto the tri tip. Using your hands, spread the dry rub over the front, back, and sides of the meat ensuring to press the rub into the steak.
- Put the steak directly on the smoker racks and insert a digital thermometer at a slight angle into the side of the tri tip ensuring the tip is all the way in the center.
- Smoke low and slow until the desired temperature is met, about 1.5 to 2 hours for medium-rare.
- Using tongs, remove the steak from the smoker and place on a dish. Wrap the smoked tri tip tightly in aluminum foil and allow to rest for 7-10 minutes.
- After the resting period, put the steak on a cutting board and slice against the grain. The thinner the slices, the more tender the steak.
- Serve immediately.