Steven Raichlen’s Chipotle Rubbed Tri-tip

A deliciously smoky take on a classic (and yet highly under appreciated) cut of beef - the tri-tip. This is an exclusive Memphis Wood Fire Grills recipe from the renowned BBQ author and host, Steven Raichlen, for his new show, Project Smoke.


  • 1 beef tri-tip (2-1/4 to 2-1/2 pounds)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Your favorite salsa, for serving
  • For the rub:
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat grill to 225 degrees. Use mesquite or your favorite flavor of pellets.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and stir to mix.
  3. Place the tri-tip in a baking dish and sprinkle on all sides with the rub, patting it into the meat with your fingertips. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and rub.
  4. Place the tri-tip on the grill. Lower the lid and smoke the tri-tip until the internal temperature reaches 100 degrees. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Transfer the tri-tip to a plate and cover with foil.
  6. Reset the grill to 600 degrees. Once temperature is reached, switch to Open Flame Cooking Mode. Press the arrow to Open Flame 3 (OF-3). Carefully remove the grill grates and the EZ-Access Hatch and replace with the Direct Flame Insert.
  7. Remove the tri-tip from the foil. Sear the tri-tip until crusty and browned on the outside and the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees in the center for rare; 130 degrees for medium-rare (or to taste), 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning with tongs. Transfer the tri-tip to a cutting board.
  8. Let the meat rest for 2 minutes, then very thinly slice it across the grain. Serve with your favorite salsa. Serves 4.