Smoked Tri-tip with Chile Dry Rub

smoked and grilled tri tip

Tri-tip is tough and dry when overcooked and the meat usually lacks flavor. The chile dry rub and smoking add a succulent flavor and slow roasting the tri-tip on the cool part of the grill to 120 F then flash charring the outside directly over the hot coals allow the meat to conserve its juices and develop a tender meat. You may accompany this meal with black beans, grilled roasted corn and grilled serrano peppers or green peppers.


1 Tri tip about 2.5 - 3 lbs
6 - 8 garlic cloves microplaned
1 tsp roasted pepper
1/8 tsp morita chile powder
1 tsp pasilla chile powder
1/8 tsp ancho chile powder
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 smoker with hickory wood chips (if you do not have a smoker you may use hickory wood chips on the coals that have been submerged in cold water for at least 30 min.)
Instant read thermometer


Light your grill using a coal tower. Mix micro-planed garlic, peppers, powdered chile, spices, and sugar for the dry rub in a medium bowl. Pat dry your tri-tip and apply the rub. Smoke in stove-top smoker for 10 min. Let it rest in the smoker. Arrange coals on one side of the grill so you can cook the meat near the fire but not directly above it. Bring the tri-tip and place it fatty side down for about 5 - 8 min (step 1). After this time, flip the steak. Let cook another 5 - 8 min then flip again but make sure you turn the meat so the side furthest from the grill in step 1 is now closest to the coals. Cook for 5 - 8 min then turn again for the same amount of time so all sides of the meat are cooking. Cook until an instant read thermometer reads 120 F. At this point put the meat over the hot part of the grill to char and char on the flame for about 1 minute. Flip and cook for another minute. Place on a serving plate and cover with foil. Let the tri-tip rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut against the grain once you are ready to serve.

Additional Information

Adapted from The Food Lab by Kenji-Lopez Alt.