Pellet Grill Tri Tip: How Long Does it Take to Cook?

tri tip roast and tin foil Cropped
For a perfect medium-rare on a pellet grill, the internal temperature of the tri-tip has to reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The size of the tri-tip and desired doneness can influence cooking time but most tri-tips are done in 1 and 1/2 hours.

Tri-tip roast is one of the most popular cuts of beef in California, where it was discovered. It’s a particularly popular dish amongst people in Santa Maria, which has one of the most vibrant barbecue cultures on the west coast.

How Long Does it Take to Smoke Tri-tip on a Pellet Grill?

The amount of time required to smoke a tri-tip depends on the size of the steak, the temperature settings of your grill, and the pellets you use.

If we’re talking about a tri-tip steak cooked over hickory pellets on an average smoker/grill set at about 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius) with the lid on, then plan on about 30 minutes per pound of tri-tip.

For a standard-sized tri-tip, you’ll need a total time of about 1 to 1 and a 1/2 hours to reach the ideal temperature for perfect medium-rare. You’re looking for an internal meat temperature of 130-135 degrees F.

Don’t forget that timing can vary considerably from one person’s smoker to another, so don’t be surprised if yours takes a little bit longer or shorter.

Why Use a Pellet Grill for Tri-Tip?

It can be hard to get an evenly cooked tri-tip, but pellet grills make it easy! The pellets burn at consistent temperatures, so you can estimate how long it will take for your steak to reach its ideal doneness level.

Tri-tip is a tough cut of beef that requires a longer cooking time than most other cuts of beef, and pellet grills are designed for this so your tri-tip cooks perfectly every time.

Pellet grills use pellets made from compressed sawdust, which give off a lot more smoke than traditional charcoal or briquettes; the smoke flavor penetrates deep into the meat to get that perfectly cured taste even with less visible smoke.

Temperature to Cook Tri-tip on a Pellet Grill

It’s best to cook your tri-tip at 225°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 130°F (for medium-rare). The best way to check the temperature is to place a thermometer in the center of your meat, where the meat is thickest.

If you prefer steak at another temperature, here are the internal temperatures required:

How You Like Your MeatIdeal Temperature Range
Rare120-130 °F
Medium-Rare130-135 °F
Medium135-145 °F
Medium-Well145-155 °F
Well-Done155-165 °F
Table comparing meat temperatures
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brisket being sliced with a carving knife

Smoky Pellet Grilled Tri-Tip Recipe

  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


It's easy to cook delicious tri-tip using a Pit Boss or Traeger pellet grill!

This delicious smoked tri-tip recipe is simple enough for a beginner but can taste like a masterpiece. Serve this juicy tri-tip with your favorite BBQ sides like potato salad and baked beans for a crowd-pleasing meal.


Units Scale
  • 3 lbs Tri-tip Roast
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil ((or oil of choice))
  • 2 tbsp Dry Beef Rub


  1. Preheat the grill with the lid closed for 15 minutes at 225℉.
  2. Generously season the tri-tip with olive oil and your favorite dry rub. You can make your own rub with a tablespoon of kosher salt and a few teaspoons of black pepper, but you can also ramp up the flavor with garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, and onion powder. 1 tsp of each makes a great DIY beef rub!
  3. Place the tri-tip on the heated grill grate with a meat thermometer in the center, close the lid, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 125-130℉. This should happen in about an hour and a half, but make sure to check regularly. 
  4. Once the ideal temp is reached, take the meat off the heat, wrap it in aluminum foil, and let it sit on the cutting board for 10 minutes.
  5. Next the meat gets seared. Turn up the temperature of the grill between 450°F and 500°F depending on how hard a sear you want. You will preheat on high heat for 15 minutes with the lid closed. Leave the thermometer in the thickest part of your meat and return it to the grill. Sear on each side for 4 minutes until it develops a caramelized crust.
  6. Pull it back off the grill, allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve while still warm. The crust will have a great crunch, and the middle will remain a perfect medium-rare.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Cuisine: American

Best Wood Pellets for Pellet Grill Tri-Tip

Pellets are made from compressed sawdust, and you can use them for cooking a wide variety of foods. If you’re new to using pellets in your grill, you may wonder what kind of flavor they add to your meat.

Hickory Pellets

Hickory is a perfect choice for grilling because it’s a strong wood that can withstand high temperatures.

Hickory pellets are known for their bold flavor and distinctive aroma. They’re great for smoking meats like tri-tips, pork ribs, or brisket. You’ll get that classic “pit barbecue” hearty flavor that you can’t beat.

This is the most widely used type of pellet in the realm of grilling, and it can be combined with a different kind of pellet to make it milder.

Oat Pellets

Oat pellets are made from oats (surprise), making them much more delicate than other pellets. They have a nutty taste that goes well with lighter foods like poultry or fish.

Oat pellets imbibe a unique flavor to any meat. The resulting smoke is milder than other types of wood pellets and is best suited when you want something different from the traditional hickory or mesquite flavors.

Cherry Pellets

Cherry pellets are made from cherries that give them their unique flavor. The smoke produced by cherry pellets is sweet and fruity, and it pairs wonderfully with more robust meats. Their taste is excellent for adding sweetness to your dishes while grilling.

Pecan Pellets

Pecan pellets are made from pecans and other nuts like almonds, contributing to their nutty flavor profile.

They also have a slightly spicy and sweet vanilla tinge that makes them ideal for poultry dishes like turkey burgers or grilled chicken breasts. All these elements combine to make a deep and complex flavor that won’t overpower rich red meat.

Mesquite Pellets

Mesquite pellets are made from mesquite wood chips, and they are even stronger than hickory pellets. This is the way to go if you want something hardcore for your red meat – mesquites have a bold, smoky flavor that some people love, but others might find it overpowering.

Popular Pellet Grill Cooking Methods for Tri-Tip

Using the Reverse Sear Method

If you’re looking for a different way to cook your tri-tip steak, consider using the reverse sear method. This method involves cooking your steak at a low temperature and then searing it at a high temperature (typically in a cast iron skillet) to finish it off.

The benefit of this method is that it gives a nice outer crust while still being tender and juicy on the inside. So it’s still a medium-rare piece of heaven when it’s done cooking.

The Popular “225 and Let it Ride” Method

The famous “225 and let it ride” method is one of the most effective ways to cook tri-tip steak on a pellet grill. The process involves cooking the meat at a low temperature for an extended period of time.

This allows the meat to cook slowly and develop flavor. It also helps the connective tissues in the meat to break down, making it even more tender and juicy. This method can take up to 18 hours of cooking time.

To utilize this method, cook your steak at 225°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 125°F for medium-rare or 130°F for medium, before searing them on either side to create that delicious crusty texture.

What is the Difference between Bottom Sirloin and Tri-tip Steak?

The bottom sirloin and tri-tip steak are different ends of the same portion of the steer.

The tri-tip steak comes from the round portion of the steer (near the flank), and it tends to have a decent amount of marbling. One defining feature between them is that the tri-tip steak has a triangular shape.

The bottom sirloin tends to be the more inexpensive cut of beef – it was even called the “poor man’s brisket.” For those looking to barbecue on a budget, this makes it ideal as an alternative to tri-tip.

Just keep in mind that this meat is tougher than tri-tip and has a chewy consistency. This is why a marinade and slow cooking method are perfect for bottom sirloin.


Alexandra is a passionate writer who loves everything related to food: from buying local produce and sourcing the best ingredients to finding the perfect spice mix and sauce to complement each dish. She loves getting together with friends near a campfire and grilling up some barbecue goodness while having quality conversations - no screens allowed.

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