Home Culinary How to Smoke Tri-Tip Like They Do in Santa Maria

How to Smoke Tri-Tip Like They Do in Santa Maria

How to Smoke Tri-Tip Like They Do in Santa Maria
Tri-tip on the smoker at Cold Spring Tavern near Santa Barbara, California.

Tri-tip, a portion of the bottom sirloin butt, got its start as a useless piece of meat that was often ground into hamburger. But the lean cut, when sliced properly, is very tender, has great flavor and works well with a simple seasoning of salt, pepper and garlic (often called Santa Maria seasoning).

Comparatively speaking, tri-tip is more expensive than beef brisket, and it has a good deal of fat cap that needs trimmed. It can cost $5-$8 per pound but it has a good yield of about 75% after trimming.


Tri-Tip Putting California BBQ Scene In Spotlight

In New York City, the Florence Meat Market has popularized the name “Newport steak” for a steak cut from the tri-tip. It has also become a popular cut of meat for producing chili con carne on the competitive chili-cooking circuit, supplanting ground beef because the low fat content produces little grease.

Here are tips and tricks to smoking tri-tip from Pitmaster Gene Goycochea at Cali Comfort BBQ in Spring Valley, California.

  • Trim to 1/4 fat and season with a good rub
  • Smoke at 225 degrees for 1 hour
  • Remove from smoker, place on a very hot fire made of charcoal or charcoal and wood (red oak is best). Allow the meat to char, developing a caramelizar√≠an (good taste) crust. Flip frequently as to not burn until you have an internal temperature of 130 degrees.
  • Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, carve across the grain with thin slices and serve with a butter or garlic roll.

Photo Credit: The Cold Spring Tavern near Santa Barbara, California