how long to smoke tri tip at 180

How Long to Smoke Tri Tip at 180°F

Tri tip is a popular cut of beef that is known for its tender and juicy texture. It is a great option for smoking and can be cooked at a variety of temperatures to achieve your desired outcome. One important question that arises when smoking tri tip is how long to smoke it at 180°F. In this article, we will explore the different factors that affect the cooking time of smoked tri tip at this temperature and provide you with a step-by-step guide to achieve the perfect smoked tri tip.

Factors that Affect Cooking Time

When smoking tri tip at 180°F, there are several factors that can impact the cooking time, including the thickness of the meat, the fat content, and the smoker’s environment.

Thickness of the Meat: The thickness of the tri tip will impact how long it takes to cook. Thinner cuts will cook quicker than thicker pieces of meat. Generally, a tri tip that is 1-1.5 inches thick will take around 1.5 hours to smoke while a thicker cut may take around 2-2.5 hours.

Fat Content: The fat content of the tri tip can also affect the cooking time. A piece of meat with more fat will take longer to cook as the fat needs time to render down and become tender.

Smoker Environment: Finally, the smoker’s environment can also affect the cooking time. If the temperature of the smoker is fluctuating, it will take longer to cook the meat. It is recommended to maintain a steady temperature of 180°F to ensure even cooking.

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Step by Step Guide for Smoking Tri Tip at 180°F

Now that we’ve identified the factors that impact cooking time let’s dive into the step-by-step process for smoking tri tip at 180°F.

Step 1: Prepare the Meat
Before you get started, it is essential to prepare the tri tip for smoking. Start by trimming any excess fat from the meat. You can also score the fat cap to allow the rub to penetrate the meat better. Next, apply your choice of dry rub generously, ensuring that the meat is coated uniformly on all sides. Let the meat sit for at least an hour to absorb the flavors of the rub.

Step 2: Prepare the Smoker
While the meat is marinating, prepare your smoker for cooking. Start by filling the water pan with water and preheat it to 180°F. Next, add wood chips of your choice to the smoker tray. If using an electric smoker, plug it in, and if you are using a charcoal smoker, light a few coals to get it started.

Step 3: Place Tri Tip in the Smoker
Once the smoker has reached the desired temperature, it’s time to place the tri tip in the smoker. If using an electric smoker, place the meat on the rack provided. If using a charcoal smoker, place the meat on the grill grates. Close the smoker and allow the meat to smoke for the required amount of time.

Step 4: Monitor the Meat’s Internal Temperature
While the meat is smoking, keep an eye on its internal temperature. Use a digital meat thermometer to check the temperature. Tri tip is cooked to medium-rare when the internal temperature reaches 130°F. For those who prefer their meat cooked more, continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 145°F for medium doneness or 160°F for well-done.

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Step 5: Rest the Meat
Once the meat has reached your desired internal temperature, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This resting period allows the juices to distribute evenly, resulting in a juicy and tender piece of meat.

Step 6: Slice and Serve
Finally, it’s time to slice and serve the tri tip. It’s recommended that you slice the meat against the grain to ensure that it is tender and easy to eat. Serve with your favorite side dishes and enjoy.


1. Can I smoke tri tip at a higher temperature?
Yes, you can smoke tri tip at higher temperatures. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that higher temperatures will cook the meat faster, resulting in a drier and tougher piece of meat. It is recommended to stick to a temperature of 180°F to achieve perfect results.

2. Can I use any wood chips for smoking tri tip?
Yes, you can use any wood chips that you prefer. However, it’s recommended to use fruitwoods like apple or cherry for smoking tri tip, as they provide a sweet and mild smoky flavor that pairs well with the beef.

3. Do I need to wrap the tri tip in aluminum foil while smoking?
Wrapping the tri tip in aluminum foil is an optional step that can help to retain moisture and speed up cooking time. However, it’s important to note that wrapping the meat will result in less smoky flavor and a softer crust.


Smoking tri tip at 180°F can be a great way to achieve a tender and juicy piece of meat. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can achieve perfect results every time. Remember to consider the factors that impact cooking time, like meat thickness, fat content, and smoker environment. Finally, don’t forget to experiment with different wood chips and dry rubs to create your signature flavor. With practice and patience, you can become a master at smoking tri tip at 180°F.

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