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Reverse Sear Tri-Tip Recipe

Tri-tip (also called Santa Maria steak) is a popular and mouth-wateringly tasty cut of beef from the bottom sirloin. Less fatty than brisket but with enough marbling to give you massive flavor, tri-tip is a favorite of backyard BBQ chefs who want a crowd-pleasing cut of meat. Thanks to its West Coast origins, it’s also known as a California cut, but trust us when we say that this cut tastes great no matter where you live.

Do you love tri-tip but aren’t sure how to make a great smoked tri-tip on your grill? We’re here to help! Our reverse sear method is a simple way to cook up a juicy and tender tri-tip. You’ll start with a homemade BBQ rub to give your tri-tip tons of flavor. Then, you’ll cook it low and slow using your Grilla pellet grill before finishing it off with a high heat sear.

Rub Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Tones Rosemary Garlic Seasoning
  • 4 tbsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Hazelnut Coffee (any coffee is fine, but medium roast is best)
  • 1 tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 2 tbsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Cumin
  • 2 tbsp. Brown Sugar


  • 1 to 2 three- to four-lb. Tri-Tip Roasts


The night before you plan to cook, mix together your beef rub ingredients first. Throw your tri-tip on a cutting board and trim it up, removing any large hunks of excess fat and silver skin if there is any. Coat with the rub and place in a zip top bag and refrigerate overnight.

The next question, of course, is how long does it take to smoke a tri-tip? Cook time can vary with any smoker recipe based on the thickness and size of an individual piece of meat, instead of worrying about time, worry about temperature. Set your grill to 225 degrees and smoke the tri-tip until the internal temperature reaches 100-110 degrees. (Make sure you’ve got a high quality instant read thermometer like the Grilla Grills meat thermometer to give you accurate temperature information!) Remove from the grill at this point and rest.

Now it’s time for some high heat searing action. Set your grill to 450-500 degrees. Once your grill reaches its set temp, sear the tri-tip on each side until you are happy with the color. (Listen for that sizzle when it hits the grill grates!) You want a rare to medium finish cook to an internal temp of about 135 degrees. You can of course cook them to whatever doneness you prefer. Once your internal temp goes over about 150 degrees, the tri-tip can lose some of its tenderness and moisture so look out for that.

How to Cook Tri-Tip on Your Pellet Grill

If you are inspired by our grilled tri-tip recipe video, it is time to head over to your Grilla Grill. The original Grilla Grill rub recipe applies to most steak cuts, and especially prime rib. With just a touch of garlic kick, any steak can turn you into a star in your backyard.

Tri-tip is normally a thinner cut of meat, so this gives you the opportunity to experiment with different marinades that will soak right in. With a variety of ways to prepare a steak, Grilla Grills knows that grilling on a pellet provides the best results.

Fun Facts About Our Recipe

Reading through our ingredients, we are sure you might be wondering how coffee and brown sugar go with steak. Grilla Grills is not afraid to think outside the box when dreaming up new marinades, rubs and seasonings. Sometimes, the perfect recipe comes from experimenting and trying new combinations.

The goal with our recipes is to work alongside the rich flavor of steak as it comes from our pellet grill.

When Is the Best Time to Make This Recipe?

It is no secret that summertime is the best season for grilling and being outdoors. Searing tri-tip steak is a process that requires attention to detail, so you want to have your Grilla Grill set up in a comfortable environment. However, if grilling out in the winter, your pellet grill will surely keep you nice and warm.

When is the perfect time to eat and prepare this recipe? With family and friends by your side, this cut goes excellent as a main dish for dinner or even with some scrambled eggs first thing in the morning.

What Pairs with Tri-Tip?

Following our seared tri-tip recipe calls for some complementary sides. When preparing tri-tip for dinner, you can never go wrong with a healthy green dish. Grilla Grills recommends trying our grilled veggie skewers for that crunchy or sweet side.

Tri-tip steak is such a versatile cut of meat that it even goes well with breakfast or brunch. Just try coupling this recipe with our grilled apple crisps to taste for yourself.

Tips and Tricks for Pellet Grill Tri-Tip

Using our tri-tip recipe, a fun trick to enhance flavor is to prepare the rub ingredients the night before grilling. This gives your seasoning plenty of time to soak into the tri-tip. It requires a little extra prep time and planning, but you’ll get big rewards when you bite into a ridiculously flavorful steak. 

When grilling, the name of the game is watching the inside temperature of each cut. Searing any type of steak is not always about timing. Each cut of tri-tip has its own character, so keeping an instant read thermometer close by is the key to success. While searing, expose each side of the tri-tip to intense heat from your pellet grill for one to two minutes.

Finally, make sure you’re using a wood pellet variety that goes well with beef in your pellet grill. At Grilla Grills, we recommend our hickory pellets for a classic smoke flavor, but mesquite and pecan can also be great choices. Tough decision? Remember that our Competition Blend pellets are designed to give amazing flavor to anything you cook with them!

Check that the internal temperature for each strip is around 135 degrees and your steaks are ready to go. For more recipes and tips on learning how to get the most out of your pellet grill, be sure to check out What’s New for all the latest information about Grilla Grills.

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Holland, Michigan 49423