Smoke Roasted Tri Tip with Cowboy Butter

Smoke Roasted Tri Tip with Cowboy Butter

By Robyn Lindars - GRILLGIRL.COM

Tri Tip is one of my favorite cuts for good reason, it’s like a cross between a roast and a steak! It’s a well known cut on the West coast of the US but still a bit of the novelty on the East Coast so you may have to ask your butcher to procure one for you or order one online. It is a triangular cut from the bottom sirloin part of the cow, and is often called the “Santa Maria Steak”. The beauty of this awesome cut is that it’s a great option for entertaining because it cooks relatively quickly, and the ends will cook faster than the middle part, yielding more done parts on the end versus more rare cuts on the inside, pleasing everyone in your dinner party. 

In this recipe, we are smoking the Tri Tip on the LoCo Kettle to infuse it with smoke flavor, and pairing it with Cowboy compound butter to make for the perfect steak bite! Trust me when I tell you that this is a killer combo of flavorful juicy smoked steak paired with an herbaceous citrus butter that takes your steak eating experience to new heights! 

There are rarely leftovers, but if there are, your family will be fighting over them the next day!

Serves: 3-4, 4 oz servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: One Hour and Thirty Minutes


  • fire starters for starting the charcoal
  • Wood chips for smoking- I prefer Bourbon Barrel Chips to infuse food with bourbon flavor
  • Meat Thermometer, such as a Thermapen


  • One Tri Tip (usually about 4-5 lbs)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil

Cowboy Compound Butter:

  • 8 oz. (organic) butter, unsalted (2 sticks)
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, small, minced
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, stems removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


Let the butter come to room temperature. Combine all ingredients with a stick blender or a food processor. Roll butter onto a large piece of plastic wrap forming a log. Roll the plastic wrap up into a log and twist on the ends. Store in the refrigerator until it is time to use.

After the butter is made, prep your meat by adding the olive oil as a binder and then rub in the salt and pepper. Let the meat sit out on the counter and come to room temp while you prep the grill.

Next, let’s start the grill. 

Plug the LoCo Kettle into an outlet so you can engage the digital controller and fan. Pour charcoal into the kettle, out ¾ of the way full in the charcoal basket. Next, add fire starter to the starter shelf, light the fire starter and close the compartment so it can ignite the charcoal. Close the lid and turn on the digital controller and set the temp to half of your desired temp, approximately 175. This will engage the fan to turn on. One the coals have gotten lit, change the temp to 350 degrees. Add wood chips to the fire and then place your deflector plate onto the grill so to smoke / roast on the grill on indirect heat.

Smoke the meat on indirect until the internal temp in the very middle hits 125 internal degrees. Please note that the ends of the Tri Tip will be cooked closer to medium rare while the middle, at 125 degrees is at rare and will be closer to medium rare by the time the meat rests. You alternately can finish the steaks directly on the coals, caveman style, at the very end, if you prefer a crust on the outside of your steak (this only works with lump charcoal, not briquettes fyi). For Tri Tip, I like mine more like a roast and don’t always do this step.

Temp, never time, determine how long your meat will be on the grill. This should take about an hour or so, but make sure to use an internal read thermometer to ensure you have cooked your Tri Tip to your preferred level of doneness, keeping in mind that it will continue to cook after you take it off the grill.

Let the meat rest for 10 minutes, slice it against the grain up in thin pieces (be careful with Tri Tip as it has a few variations in the grain direction - always ensure you are slicing against the grain), and add copious amounts of cowboy butter medallions. I like to serve this with an arugula salad and let the meat be the star of the show. If you do have leftovers, Tri Tip makes awesome french dip sandwiches the next day paired with au jus and a horseradish mayo. Tri Tip is truly one of my favorite cuts because of its versatility!

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