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Reverse Seared Tri-Tip Steaks

Reverse searing tri tip is one of the best ways to build flavor.

It’s hard to beat a juicy, Reverse Seared Tri Tip that has a crispy crust on the outside, with a tender bite on the inside. Smoking the steak initially builds an incredible wood-fired flavor, finished with a hard sear to add texture. Read this guide, get to the grill, and slice into your own perfection.

I’d argue that the reverse seared tri tip is one of the most versatile steaks for dinner. Or lunch, or heck, even breakfast if you’re daring.

It’s SO incredibly tender because of its balance of marbling. Slice it thick and use it for steak medallions, slice it thin for sandwiches, or you can even cube it up for incredible tacos. If you manage to have leftovers, you’re in for a treat every time you open the fridge.

Use this process to make the flavorful Santa Maria Tri Tip, or even a cheesy Tri Tip Sandwich.

Slice into the juiciest reverse seared tri tip.

Why This Method Works

Reverse searing is a (relatively) newer concept that involves slowly cooking the steak to a target temperature, and then finishing it at a high heat, searing a crust. Thicker steaks are difficult to cook evenly, and using this method solves that issue.

How to Reverse Sear Tri Tip

There’s a two-step process: Smoking & Searing. It’s important to have a smoker or charcoal grill if you’d looking to maximize the flavor with wood-fire smoke.

NOTE: You do NOT need a grill or smoker to reverse sear tri tip (but you’ll miss out!). You can accomplish this in the oven if you have to. Reverse searing is cooking at a low temperature first, and then searing to finish.

Season the tri tip roast generously with Canyon Crust Beef Seasoning.

Season the Tri Tip Steak

There are many ways you can season your tri tip, but I prefer a coarse rub to create a crusty bark from the smoking process.

Try using our Canyon Crust Beef Seasoning, which has a base of salt, pepper, and garlic, fortified with smoky chiles to add color and flavor.

Season generously on all sides. You can immediately cook the tri tip, or you can dry brine the steak.

To dry brine, season and then place in the fridge on a baking sheet with a wire rack if you’d like to dry brine. Dry brining will allow the seasoning to penetrate more into the steak, and help develop a better bark. Do this at least 4 hours ahead of time, up to overnight.

Set up the Grill for Smoking

Now that you’ve seasoned the tri tip, it’s time for Phase 1: Smoking!

Set up your smoker or grill for indirect cooking at 250°F. Go with a lower temperature if you want even more smoke, but be aware that it will increase the cooking time.

  • Charcoal Grill: Heat up the charcoal and bank it to one side. Add hardwood chunks if you desire more smoke flavor.
  • Pellet Grill: Place the tri tip in the smoker at 250°F away from the hottest areas.

Smoke the tri tip until you’ve reached your target temperature below. This is the most critical step. Searing will finish off your steak to the ideal temperature.

Reverse Searing Target Temperatures

DonenessTarget Temp in the SmokerFinal Temp during sear
Rare105°F 120°F 
Med-Rare115°F  130°F 
Medium125°F  140°F 
Med-Well135°F  150°F 
Reverse searing tri tips adds a layer of smoke before grilling.

Sear the Tri Tip

Flame time, this is where everything comes together!

Once your tri tip steak hits the target temperature, increase the temperature of the grill or smoker.

  • Charcoal Grill: Remove the lid and open up the vents to allow the charcoal to heat up.
  • Pellet Grill: Turn the heat up to 450°F and stay nearby to monitor the tri tip. If you’re planning to sear on cast iron or a griddle plate inside the pellet grill, remove the tri tip from the smoker while it’s heating up.

Flip the smoked tri tip steak often to build a crust and also prevent any single side from searing too much. Every 60 seconds is fine, which will ensure a crispy crust with minimal grey bands when you slice.

Allow the tri tip steak to rest for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.

REst your reverse seared tri tip

Allow the steak to rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before slicing into it. TRUST US, you don’t want all of that amazing juice inside to flow out. These are juice bombs!

Sides to Serve with Tri Tip

Sure, you can totally just eat steak for dinner. I’m guilty of that. Side dishes don’t hurt though! Try some of these which are our favorites alongside reverse seared tri tip:

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Reverse searing tri tip is one of the best ways to build flavor.

Reverse Seared Tri-Tip Steaks

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Reverse seared tri-tip has become one of my favorite steaks. You can achieve an consistent temperature and still have a spice-filled crust on the outside.

  • Total Time: About 90 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 1x




  1. Season the tri-tip steak. Season all sides of the steak generously and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes prior to grilling. 
  2. Prepare the grill for 2-zone cooking at around 250°F. Light the coals and set them on one side of the grill, leaving the other side without direct heat. Add chunks of hardwood if using to the coals.
  3. Smoke the tri-tip steak. Place the steak on the cool side of the grill away from the coals. Make sure the thickest part is the closest to the fire so that the thinner side doesn’t overcook. Allow the steak to cook with the lid closed for about 40-60 minutes until it reaches around 115-118°F (for medium-rare).
  4. Lift the lid and sear the steak. Allow the coals to start burning hotter by lifting the lid off the grill. Move the steak to the hot side of the grill and allow it to sear for 1 minute. Flip the steak and continue to repeat this process until the steak reaches your target temperature, about 128-130°F for medium rare. NOTE: If the steak is searing too quickly, move it to the cooler side for a minute to slow down the cooking. It’s best to take your time rather than burn the outside. Move it back over the heat and continue searing when ready.
  5. Allow the steak to rest before slicing. Give it about 10-15 minutes to rest at room temperature. This will allow the juices to be redistributed. Slice against the grain and serve.


  • Read the article for tips on how to reverse sear a tri tip using a pellet grill.
  • Flip the steak often during the searing phase to make sure the sides don’t cook too quickly, causing a grey band.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Reverse Sear
  • Cuisine: Dinner, Meat
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