Tri-Tip Smoked Like a Brisket

In partnership with Rocky Mountain Ace Hardware Stores

Without question, one of our favorite Traeger cooks is a juicy tri-tip steak. There’s something about the results when cooking on a Traeger Grill that just cannot be beat. The roast cooks perfectly– for all your diners– because the thinner ends end up more medium/well and the thicker center more medium/rare. Add to it the amazing flavor that comes from a smoky reverse sear, and you have a Traeger cook that will soon become a most-requested favorite.

Tri-tip cooked like a brisket.
Tri-tip cooked like a brisket.

But… this post is not about a traditional reverse-seared tri-tip roast. Rather, we decided to do something different to get more of that iconic slow-cooked BBQ flavor in our meal. It was just the two of us for dinner, so a whole packer (12-18 pound) brisket was a no-go. It was finally the perfect night to cook a tri-tip like a brisket!

You read that right. The delicious, succulent and flavorful tri-tip can be transformed into a dish that really closely resembles another fan-favorite, brisket! With about 5 hours and the incredible adaptability of a Traeger grill, anything is possible and this dish was a big hit.

Tri-tip before wrapping in front of the Traeger grill.
Tri-tip before wrapping in front of the Traeger grill.

By cooking the tri-tip low and slow on the Traeger, we are able to impart a lot of smoky, delicious flavor while sealing in the natural juices of the meat and producing a finished result that is pull-apart tender and really tastes a lot like brisket. Follow along and you can make this yourself at home on your Traeger.

The Process

We started this cook with a 3.5 pound tri-tip roast. The one we selected was trimmed, but not completely devoid of a fat cap. This seemed like an important decision because we wanted to keep the meat juicy, tender and moist throughout the cook, and we knew the fat cap on the roast would largely render during a long cook like this.

Tri-tip roast ready to be seasoned.
Tri-tip roast ready to be seasoned.

For the grill, we chose our Traeger Pro series grill, which we got at our local Ace Hardware store. Using their free assembly and delivery service, we were able to select our grill, have it professionally assembled and delivered right to our back patio without lifting a finger. Especially handy when you don’t have a pickup truck and want to make sure your grill is ready to use the minute it lands at your house!

Seasoning was simple– we wanted something reminiscent of brisket, so I gave the tri-tip roast a generous coating of salt, pepper and garlic powder. No binder was used on this cook, but you could use one if you wanted. I am a big fan of pretty traditional Texas-style brisket cooks, so simple is better to me.

The Cook

I started this cook by preheating my Traeger grill to 225° with the Super Smoke feature enabled. This allows me to get extra smoky flavor imbued in my cooks while keeping the temperature nice and low for a low and slow cook. The Traeger I used from my local Ace Hardware store also comes with the D2 technology, a pellet sensor (so you never run out of pellets mid-cook) and an incorporated thermometer and probe that connects right to Traeger’s app. All these things make it super easy to use, and you don’t have to stand by the grill ensuring the temperature and fire are maintained throughout the cook.

Tri-tip on the Traeger grill.
Tri-tip on the Traeger grill.

While the grill heats up, I patted the roast dry with a paper towel and seasoned it generously with my salt, pepper and garlic powder mixture.

On to the grill it went, with the integrated Traeger thermometer probe inserted in the thickest part of the roast. I closed the lid and kept an eye on the internal temperature from my phone, which allowed everything to cook evenly and continuously despite the downpour rainstorm that started right after I put the roast on.

Did I mention that it rained hard through nearly all of this cook?
Did I mention that it rained hard through nearly all of this cook?

After about 3.5 hours, the internal temperature of the meat hit 165°, which was my first benchmark temperature. I pulled the meat from the grill and wrapped it first in a layer of butcher paper and then in a layer of aluminum foil. The butcher paper is porous and allows flavor to continue to permeate the meat while ensuring that the bark I built in the 3.5 hours of cooking didn’t become soggy. The aluminum foil helps hold in heat, which made this cook go a little faster.

Tri-tip wrapped on the grill.
Tri-tip wrapped on the grill.

I upped the temperature of the grill to 250° and returned the wrapped roast to the center of the grill, again with the probe inserted in the thickest part. My goal was to cook it until the internal temperature was about 202° and the meat was probe tender. What I mean by probe tender is that the pointy probe of a thermometer can easily slide into the meat with little resistance– sort of like cutting room temperature butter with a table knife.

Once the roast hit 202° internal, I removed it from the grill, placed it in a baking dish and covered it (still wrapped) with a couple kitchen towels until the other dishes for dinner were done. After about 20 minutes of resting, the meat was still extremely hot and sliced beautifully.

Takeaways

This was a terrific cook for a weekend afternoon, as it took about 5 hours total for my tri-tip roast to be cooked like a brisket. The built-in tools of the Traeger Grill from my local Ace Hardware– especially the integrated thermometer probe and the app– made cooking during a deluge easy and worry-free.

In the end, we enjoyed a delicious roast that tasted a lot like brisket, but we didn’t end up with 5+ pounds of leftovers. Next time you have a small gathering but a hankering for brisket, give the Tri-Tip cooked like a brisket a try!

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