An award-winning recipe for Tri Tip Marinade from our very first BBQ competition. Made with tender Tri Tip and smoked slowly to perfection. Serve alone or with a delicious chimichurri sauce.
We have learned a lot about smoking Tri Tip over the years. It has evolved from a rather obscure cut of meat for us, to one of the most common meats we cook for crowds. It’s lean, incredibly flavorful, and, when cooked properly, tender and delicious.
This cut is something we hope everyone can ask his or her butcher for countrywide so they can taste for themselves how awesome it is!
The Cut – What is Tri Tip?
Tri Tip is beef, and comes from the backside of the cow or the bottom sirloin. It is where separate areas of muscle meat come together and thus you have three points to the cut. When you buy it, it should typically be trimmed and almost ready for grilling or smoking.
They are typically small, less than 2 or 3 pounds, so for a crowd you need to consider buying a bunch. Finally, buy high quality tri-tip. Marbling is key so you get the most flavor, so look for a good marble. We rarely use anything less than choice or its local farming equivalent. If you want to really see marbling then try Snake River Farms Tri Tip, it’s amazing.
How to Prepare Tri Tip
When trimming Tri Tip, remove the excess silver skin and small pockets of fat on the outside.
You want to expose that meat and have little to no fat or silver skin that gets in the way. Unlike its cousin, brisket, it cooks fast and since it is relatively lean, it won’t render out a ton of fat, so it is key to pull off and trim any excess layers.
Tri Tip Marinade
While I love the simplicity and flavor of salt and pepper — and you can see our signature salt and pepper tri tip here — the best tri tip marinade uses wine and then we smoke it for added flavor. In fact, in our very first ever BBQ competition we medaled using this recipe.
Tri Tip Marinade Ingredients
After trimming, our tri tip marinade recipe uses the following ingredients:
- Fruity red wine, like Syrah or Zinfandel
- Worcestershire sauce
Place in a gallon size bag and add the meat and refrigerate anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. After six hours the wine tends to over power the flavor of the beef which we don’t want. We feel 2 is plenty.
How to Smoke Tri Tip
We like to use cherry wood and prep the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the smoker is at temp, remove from marinade, pat dry, season with salt and pepper.
Then place on the smoker until it is done (roughly one hour or until the internal temperature reaches between 125-130 degrees for rare).
We always recommend using a good digital thermometer to check your temp, like this one in the pic.
Resting the Meat
Next, and one of the most important parts, is the wait!!!
Let those juices slowly redistribute for 15 minutes, then cut in. This part is hard when you’re hungry and all you want to do is reward yourself with those sweet morsels of beefy goodness. But you must wait. It’s worth it! 15 minutes is all you need before you can cut into this delicious cut of beef.
How to Slice Tri Tip
Make sure to cut AGAINST those grains. Check out the video below if you’re unsure what that means! We show you exactly how to cut a Tri Tip Steak. What is important to know is that typically you will see two directions the grain runs on a tri tip. So we will cut against the grain then rotate the roast and then continue cutting.
Serve alone or with your favorite side. We love to serve this with Chimichurri sauce (find our recipe here). It’s so darn good!
One of my favorite things about Tri Tip is its versatility with wine! One of the reasons I think it’s so popular at our events is that it’s fan-friggin-tastic with a full-bodied style Pinot Noir (and we do most of our events in Oregon wine country, aka Pinot country). Most folks just associate Pinot with pork or salmon, but it can totally work with beef, especially this cut.
Again, this is because it’s lean, and therefore doesn’t need some big tannic wine that will work better with a fatty cut. It also takes on some great savory characteristics from the marinade and smoke, which are to die for with the savoriness of Pinot. Juicy, lean, tender, and delicious. You can totally pair this with something bigger, like Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Tempranillo, but don’t be afraid to try it with Pinot Noir (especially a bigger style Pinot).
This post was originally published in July of 2017, and updated in June of 2020. Updates included the steps in the trimming. The recipe remains the same.
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