Smoked Tri-Tip with Shreve-O-Chili’s Sweet BBQ Rub
Food and Drink

Courtesy of Steven Shreve

Smoked Tri-Tip with Shreve-O-Chili’s Sweet BBQ Rub

"This is a twist on the traditional Santa Maria style tri-tip. Here, we’re getting a Kansas City flavor, Memphis dry rub texture, and a California cooking method, which proves we really can all get along."

Steven Shreve
Serves: 4 - 6


1 tri-tip, 1.5–2 pounds (higher grade meat is worth the price)


For Shreve-O-Chili’s Sweet BBQ Rub:

We use a 5-4-3-2-1 matrix on this. For a single tri-tip, tablespoons are sufficient but can be scaled to suit any size dish. This is the basic formula. Don’t be afraid to experiment based on your own tastes.


5 tablespoons paprika

4 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder (not garlic salt)

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


Optional spices: (add any or all of the following for different flavor profiles)


red pepper (for a touch of heat)

cinnamon (for a different kind of kick)

cumin (for the adventurous)

rosemary (for a touch of traditional Santa Maria tri-tip)


Set the grill up for indirect heat at 225°–250°F. For indirect cooking on charcoal grills, arrange the glowing coals around the edge, placing the meat in the center. For gas grills, only light the burners on one side, placing the meat on the unlit side. You can also cook tri tip on a pellet grill.

Mix all the Sweet BBQ Rub ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl using your fingers until all the brown-sugar clumps are broken up and the ingredients are well mixed.

Rub the tri-tip generously with the rub. Use a little olive oil on the surface of the tri-tip to help the rub cling to the meat, if needed.

Place the tri-tip over indirect heat (preferably of a charcoal/wood fire), shut the lid, and low smoke to an internal temperature of 110°F, 1–2 hours depending on the individual cut. Leave it alone, except to start checking the temperature after an hour or so. Remove from the grill and let the tri-tip rest very loosely covered with foil, 10 minutes.

Build up the charcoal/wood fire for direct grilling. For gas, turn the lit burners to high and place the meat over them. This part is about getting a good sear.

Finish off the tri-tip over direct heat to your liking. We cook to 135°F for a nice slight medium-rare, 3–5 minutes. If cooking to well done (not recommended), additional rub may be needed in the last few minutes of direct grilling.

No need to rest the meat again. Slice the tri-tip against the grain (just like a brisket) and serve with black beans and salsa.