Reverse Seared Tri Tip: A 5-Step Recipe!

June 29, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

When it comes to BBQ, reverse searing gives you the best of both worlds. You get to cook your favorite meat cuts to the ideal temperature over a long time, which preserves the meat's moisture and enhances its flavor. Afterward, the meat is exposed to high heat to give it the perfect grilled finish that we all love.

I learned how to reverse sear tri-tip in culinary school, and I haven’t stopped ever since. Over the years, I’ve picked up tips and tricks that produce the best-tasting tri-tip. Today, I'll walk you through the steps in my recipe so you can reverse sear this cut like a pro.

reverse seared tri tip

How to Make Reverse Seared Tri-Tip?

Ingredients

Dry Rub Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
Slices of Roast Beef Sirloin Tri Tip Steak

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Tri-Tip

Start with rinsing the 2-pound tri-tip with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.

If the meat is not trimmed, use a sharp knife to remove excess fat and silver skin. Also, trim the tri-tip's fat cap to about a quarter-inch thick. Any thicker could prevent proper rendering and even result in flare-ups.

Next, apply kosher salt to the meat's surface and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse the salt from the meat with cold water and dry it with paper towels. Applying salt to the tri-tip creates a dry brine that keeps the meat moist and flavorful as you smoke it.

Step 2: Apply the Dry Rub

First, make crisscross cuts over the roast's fat cap using a sharp knife. These cuts should be spaced 1 to 2 inches apart. Ensure the knife cuts through the fat without cutting into the meat. Next, mix the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and slather it on the meat.

If you have time, leave it to cure in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours. Although immediately smoking the roast is fine, letting it rest in the refrigerator for a few hours allows the rub to permeate the meat.

Step 3: Prepare the Grill

For this recipe, I’ll be using my Traeger 575 pellet grill. Of course, you can use other grills, but I prefer how easy it is to use this grill.

Fill the hopper with pellets and preheat your pellet grill to 250 degrees. Add applewood chips to the hopper for extra flavor.

Step 4: Smoke the Tri Tip

Next, place the tri-tip on the grill and smoke it till the internal temperature reads 120 to 130 degrees. From experience, this should take about an hour. Ensure you keep the lid closed so the beef cooks evenly.

Remove the tri-tip from the grill when the internal temp reaches between 120 and 130 degrees and place it in a pan to rest. Now it’s time to turn your pellet grill's temperature to 500–600 °F. Allow the grill to heat up for ten more minutes to make sure it is hot enough to sear.

When the pellet grill is ready for searing, sear the tri-tip for about 2 minutes on one side, then flip it over and repeat the process on the other side. For perfectly cooked meat, keep doing this until the tri-tip reaches a target temp of 145 degrees.

Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the meat's internal temperature. Keep in mind that the meat's temperature will slightly rise once it's off the pellet grill. Also, pay attention to the meat's crust so it's not excessively charred. Ideally, the crust should appear golden brown.

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy

Once the meat’s internal temp reaches 145 degrees, let it rest for 10 minutes. Make sure you wrap the meat in foil and let it rest once you remove it from the pellet grill. Any moisture that is lost during the cooking process will be reabsorbed once you wrap it.

When it comes time to slice your reverse seared tri-tip, cutting it against the grain is the finest method. I like to slice the meat in half before slicing it into smaller pieces. It's easier to cut the meat into smaller, finer pieces this way.

Tri Tip Beef Dinner

What is a Tri-Tip?

A tri-tip is a triangular cut from the lower portion of the sirloin. There are several other names for it, including Triangle steak, Newport steak, and Santa Maria steak. Tri tip is a tasty meat cut with sufficient marbling, a supple texture, and a beefy flavor. Despite being a lean cut of meat, it does have a fair amount of fat, giving it a slightly buttery taste.

Additionally, because it is lean, this meat cut is a good addition to any diet. Moreover, this roast absorbs the flavors of a marinade well. It also costs less than comparable cuts like the sirloin roast and cooks in less time.

Where to Buy Tri-Tip Steak?

Unfortunately, tri-tip steak is not readily available in many stores across the country. This is because several local butchers generally chop this portion of the cow differently. I advise talking to your butcher if you can't find a tri-tip in the meat aisle.

You can ask for the bottom-tip sirloin, California cut, or Santa Maria cut and see if it helps. That said, you may easily find this cut if you live in California. Why? Because this tasty roast originates from California.

How to Select a Tri-Tip Roast?

Selecting the best tri-tip cut is crucial if you want the tastiest results. Here's what to look out for when selecting a tri-tip roast.

Size: The average tri-tip weighs between 1½ and 3 pounds. A 3-pound roast will serve roughly six people when paired with some filling sides. So, pick the size that will feed your guests.

Fat: A tri-tip can be lean or slightly fatty. I suggest choosing a roast with specks of fat marbling. Meat with more marbling typically tastes sweeter and juicier.

Trim: Untrimmed roasts have a comparatively thicker fat cap than trimmed meat. I recommend trimming the fat cap to about a quarter of an inch so the fat renders adequately.

Best Wood Chips for Searing Tri Tip

I love using fruit wood when searing my smoked tri-tip on the grill. My favorite is applewood chips, but cherry also works well for this recipe. Alternatively, you could blend these wood chips for a more unique flavor. Wood chunks also give tasty results.

Extra tip: You could soak the wood chips for 30 minutes before adding them to the grill. This technique slows down the high heat of the grill for a slower, more consistent cooking temperature.

Grilled and Sliced Tri Tip Steak

Best Dishes to Serve with Reverse-Seared Tri-Tip

Reverse seared tri tip is a meaty cut that tastes great with several sides. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Collard greens
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Coleslaw
  • Grilled Brussels sprouts
  • Caesar salad

How to Store Seared Tri Tip?

Your seared tri-tip can be stored for 3–5 days. However, if you're not going to eat the meat within that timeframe, it's best to freeze it.

This tasty roast will last up to three months in the freezer. That said, it's best to eat the smoked tri tip as quickly as possible because the meat tends to lose some of its delicious flavors if it remains in the freezer for too long.

To store your tri-tips in a fridge or freezer, wrap the meat in plastic film to prevent moisture from touching the meat. Then place the wrapped meat in an airtight container. I advise labeling the container with the date you stored it so you're aware of how much time you have left.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Tri-tip vs. Sirloin Tip?

A tri-tip is cut from the bottom half of the sirloin, whereas a sirloin tip comes from the round primal, which is found on the front end of the cow's rear leg. A sirloin roast is leaner than a tri tip, making it a better choice for diet watchers. On the other hand, the tri tip has more marbling.

2. How Long Does Reverse Searing Tri-tip Take?

There's no straightforward answer to this question. The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness and size of the cut and the cooking method you use. In my cooking experience, searing typically takes about two hours. That said, I recommend cooking to temperature instead of time for more accurate results.

Conclusion

That’s all there is to reverse searing tri tip roast! Feel free to try this delicious recipe and enjoy the sizzling crust and tender texture. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making a dry rub, you can always get one from any store near you.

Remember to keep a meat thermometer close so you can closely monitor the meat’s internal temp. Tri-tip steaks are versatile cuts that complement several side dishes and can absorb different flavors, so don’t be shy to experiment with my reverse seared tri tip recipe; you may discover a combination that best suits your palate.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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