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  • David Skarin

Smoked Reverse Seared Santa Maria Tri-Tip

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Updates: September 8, 2020 (See Lessons Learned section below)

This is the epitome of West Coast barbecue! It doesn’t get much better than this Smoked Reverse Seared Santa Maria Tri-Tip. This is popular on the west coast and tough to find in other regions. But, if you see it, buy it and follow this recipe…you will not be disappointed!

This is just absolutely amazing. I've never, and I mean never, had anyone say they disliked this recipe.


Fast Facts

Category: Beef - Steak

Cut: Tri-Tip

Weight: 2 Pounds

Grill: Traeger and finished on the Dyna-Glo Grill

Heat Source: Wood pellets and gas

Estimated Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Actual Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Cooking Temperature: 225 degrees and then high heat, roughly 500 degrees, for sear

Location of Purchase: Costco

Cook Date: July 28, 2020


Ingredient List

  • 1 2-3 pound tri-tip, trimmed. I do like to keep a very slight fat cap on the top but this is personal preference

  • Santa Maria seasoning. You can find my custom recipe here or this is my pre-made go to.

  • Optional: Rosemary sprigs for garnish

Supply List

  • Thermometer - These are critical tools to have there are two main types. First, instant read thermometer like this one or this one. The Thermapen is worth it's weight in gold and one I use almost every day. I know the price tag seems excessive but it's the best in the business for a reason. If you're looking for a dual temperature thermometer for both grill temperature and meat, this is the way to go. I use my Smoke for longer more specific cooks such as this.



Step 1: Take your tri-tip out and bring to room temperature. Proceed to season generously with Santa Maria seasoning (I tend to have a heavier hand with this seasoning as it’s my personal favorite). Season to taste preference.

Step 2: Preheat your smoker (or indirect grilling) to 180 degrees. Place your seasoned tri-tip on the grill.

Tip: Generally speaking, you can estimate about 40-45 minutes per pound on the smoker to bring to temperature. However, I highly recommend using a meat probe in the thickest part of the cut.

Step 3: When within 10 degrees of your desired doneness, start preparing for the high heat sear. For this cook, I used my gas grill on high, roughly 500 degrees, but you can also turn the temperature up on your smoker (remove the meat before turning up the temperature and then place back on the grill once temperature is achieved). You can also use a cast iron skillet on the stove top with some butter.

For your preferred doneness, please check the following table of when to remove from the smoker:

Note: this is the temperature you pull from the smoker (or indirect grilling):

Rare: 116-120 degrees

Medium Rare: 121-125 degrees

Medium: 126-130 degrees

Medium Well: 131-140 degrees

Well Done: 141-150 degrees

Step 4: For the sear, you are looking at about 3 minutes a side to bring to your desired doneness. Below is a table of where your temperature should be when the cook is finished:

Note: there is rest time where the meat will continue to cook slightly and could increase by 2-5 degrees. Keep that in mind when timing the removal of the tri-tip from the sear.

Rare: 126-130 degrees

Medium Rare: 131-135 degrees

Medium: 136-140 degrees

Medium Well: 141-150 degrees

Well Done: 151+ degrees

Step 5: Remove at preferred doneness and let rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting. Cut against the grain in slices.

Step 6: Devour!!!

Lessons Learned (Note: I will update this section to include your lessons learned from the comment section)

  • Keep a close eye on the sear as that can jump your temperature more than you are wanting.

  • September 8, 2020: I updated the initial temperatures from 225 degrees to 180 degrees. This allows a slower smoke bath and an even cook. I also updated the temperatures from when you should remove from the smoker and place on the grill from 5 degrees to 10 degrees.


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