Grilling Guide

Smoking Roast on the Grill

When planning meals for the grill, the most populate items are burgers, hot dogs, wings or steaks. But what about cooking a good-sized beef tenderloin roast over indirect heat. Once you have a good fire going, this cooking method takes no longer than roasting in the oven and the results are even better. If done correctly, the meat is tender, moist, and juicy with an incredible smoky flavor. Here are a few tips for smoking roast on the grill.

Best Cuts for Grilling

it’s important to know your beef and choose the correct cut that’s suitable for grilling. The cuts listed below respond well to higher grilling temperatures.  Just make sure not to overcook them.

  • Chuck eye roast – A boneless cut that’s tender, but also is usually very fatty.
  • Top round roast – One of the least expensive cuts and one of the leanest.
  • Top Sirloin – Lean and flavorful, less expensive.
  • Tri-tip roast. Taken from the top of the sirloin and has great marbling.
  • Rib roasts – The most tender, juicy, flavorful, and expensive.
  • Beef tenderloin – Also known as the fillet (think fillet mignon), this is the best cut of beef and pricey.   

Tips for Grilling the Most Tender Roast

Here are some tips and tricks to help you cook the perfect grilled roast, locking in the juices and flavors, and keeping the meat from drying out: 

  • Make sure the grill is large enough, so the roast has plenty of space for both direct and indirect grilling.
  • The internal temp of the beef, not going above medium rare (or your desired temperature) is the key to keep the meat juicy and not over-cooking it. You must have a digital meat thermometer.
  • Prepare grill for direct and indirect cooking. Preheat to medium-high (400° to 500°) with lid closed.
  • Before grilling, cover the roast with your favorite rub for a delicious layer of flavor and let it set overnight in the refrigerator. You could also cover with olive oil, coarse salt, and cracked pepper for a traditional taste. Add flavored wood chunks to the grill to get even more smoky flavor.
  • Give roast a good sear by placing it on the hottest part of the grill until the crust becomes lightly browned and crispy. If you have a fatty piece of meat, don’t sear the fatty end. The drippings can cause dangerous flare-ups.
  • After searing, move the roast away from direct heat and close the lid to cook the rest of the way. Temperature should be about 350°. This works much like an oven would, heating your roast thoroughly and evenly.
  • As a rule of thumb, grill the roast for 15 to 20 minutes per pound. A medium rare roast should cook to 130° – 135°. Tenderloins and rib roasts are best when cooked to no more than medium-rare. Once they reach medium, they’re less juicy and tender.
  • Rest at room temperature for up to 30 minutes before slicing the meat. This allows juices to move back through the grilled roast and preserves tenderness. Check the temperature again after resting to ensure it’s cooked to desired temperature.

Moroccan Smoke-Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: about 42 minutes Serves: 6 to 8


Ideal Grill: charcoal

Smoke Intensity: moderate


Special Equipment:

spice mill or mortar and pestle

butcher’s twine

large disposable foil pan

instant-read thermometer


1 beef tenderloin roast, about 3 pounds, preferably from the thicker chateaubriand end, trimmed of sliver skin and excess fat

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large handfuls mesquite wood chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes



1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seed

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seed

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seed

1 1/2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar, preferably muscovado

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

In a spice mill or using a mortar and pestle, coarsely grind the caraway, coriander and cumin seeds (or crush the seeds on a cutting board under a heavy saucepan). Pour into a small bowl and mix in the remaining rub ingredients.

Tie the roast with butcher’s twine every couple of inches to make it even and compact. Lightly coat the roast with the oil and season evenly with the rub. Allow the roast to stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before cooking.

Prepare a two-zone fire for medium-high heat (400° to 500°). Place a large disposable foil pan beside the bed of charcoal and fill three-quarters of the way full with water.

Brush the cooking grate clean. Sear the roast over direct medium-high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, for about 12 minutes, turning a quarter turn once every 3 to 4 minutes.

Slide the roast over indirect medium-high heat, directly over the foil pan. Drain and add the wood chips to the charcoal. Close the lid and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest part of the roast registers 125° for medium rare, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes (the internal temperature will rise 5° to 10° during this time).

Remove the twine and cut the roast crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Serve warm.