Looking to smoke a juicy tri-tip and want to find the right wood for it?
You’re on the right page!
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Different types of woods to use for tri-tips?
- Top wood for smoking tri-tip?
- Time and temp for smoking tri-tips?
- And much more!
Below is a quick list of all our top recommendations. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose the best wood for smoking your next tri tip!
Tri-tip is a tender cut of beef from the bottom sirloin portion of the cow. It makes for a great meal when smoked. If you are unable to find tri-tip in your stores, it may be labeled something else, such as bottom sirloin tip or Santa Maria cut.
After trying just about every type of wood out there, I can help you quickly find what you’re looking for and avoid wasting time and money testing them yourself!
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Our Top 3 Woods for Smoking Tri Tip
What Are the Different Types of Woods for Smoking Tri-Tip?
Wood comes in a variety of flavors and cuts for all of your smoking needs. Let’s first start by narrowing down the cuts of wood that work best for tri-tip.
- Wood pellets are the heat and smoke source for pellet grills — think Traeger, Pit Boss, or Z Grills.
- Most pellets are 100% hardwood that has been kiln-dried, ground into saw dust, and then compressed into the pellet shape.
- The only caveat is you have to already have a pellet grill, which don’t really put out much smoke for a cut of meat like tri-tip.
- Wood chips are usually small, thin strips of wood. They come in a variety of flavors.
- Because of their small size, they can be used in just about any type of grill or smoker to add that burst of flavor you want with your tri-tip.
- Chips tend to burn quickly, so for a larger meat like tri-tip, it’s best to avoid wood chips.
- Wood chunks are a great choice for most meats when using a smoker, including tri-tip.
- The three to four-inch chunks of wood burn longer than wood chips and can serve as the heat source or be mixed with charcoal.
- Wood chunks are my go-to choice for smoking tri-tip!
What Do You Look for in the Best Wood for Tri-Tip?
Good quality woods are a necessity for smoking ribs since lower quality wood can leave them bitter and unsavory.
The right wood will leave your tri-tip flavorful and tender, and you can avoid the bitterness some cuts of wood can produce.
For the best flavor, I recommend you go with oak, hickory, or pecan.
- It burns hot enough and long enough for a brisket being smoked at 250-300 degrees.
- It produces a great smokey flavor without overwhelming the meat.
- Oak is my go-to choice for smoking tri-tip!
- Pecan gives off a flavor similar to hickory but a bit milder
- It’s a safe choice for most meats, including tri-tips.
- Sweet, bacon-y flavor you can really taste
- Strong smoke flavor that will set your tri-tips off
Top Woods for Smoking Tri-Tip Reviewed
Oak is my go-to for brisket. It is a medium “smokiness” that won’t overwhelm your brisket (or my kids’ taste buds).
Most of the time, I’ll use Camerons Oak Wood Chunks by themselves, but occasionally, I’ll pair them with apple or cherry wood chips to add a slight fruity flavor.
These are kiln-dried wood chunks that ignite and produce smoke quickly to create a delicate smokey flavor!
- Great Smokey Flavor
- Doesn’t Overpower The Brisket
- 100% Natural Wood With No Additives
- Ignites Quickly and Burns Evenly
- Some chunks may be larger than others
Pecan smoking chunks are a solid choice for many different cuts of meats. That’s no different for tri-tip.
These pecan chips are a bit mild, but add a great flavor to your tri-tip!
Because of their availability, Western brand smoking chunks are a great value.
- Great value
- Good taste added to ribs
- Can be used with many other meats
- Not as strong of a taste as hickory
- May notice some broken chips
Enjoy your tri-tip with a slightly nutty flavor after smoking it with these hickory chunks. They are heat-treated so you won’t have any worries of mold, rot, or pests.
They also smoke quickly once they are placed in the grill or smoker, so you can get your BBQ on faster.
The chunks can vary in size, sometimes by quite a bit. This can lead to uneven burning of the wood and uneven smoke. You can cut the pieces down to size or just use the chunks you will need and save the larger pieces for a later time.
- Nice, Nutty Flavor
- Heat-Treated With No Additives
- Can Easily Use The Larger Chunks As Your Heat Source
- Chunks Vary Greatly In Sizes
- Some Burn Very Quickly, Others Take Quite Awhile
Time And Temp of Smoking Tri-Tip?
There are several methods of smoking tri-tip, but if you want the best tri-tip, you’ll want to go low and slow!
- Smoke your tri-tip low and slow at 250 degrees until you get to around 125 degrees.
- After you hit medium-rare, sear the outside of your tri-tip to finish it off.
- Enjoy some juicy tri-tip!
Final Thoughts on the Best Wood for Smoking Tri Tip
- Smoke your tri-tip low and slow
- It can handle all the smoke you throw at it, so use a high-quality wood chunk
- Oak, pecan, and hickory are good choices with oak being my recommendation
- Enjoy this juicy cut of meat; it’s underrated and may turn into your new favorite!
Learn More About Grilling
Want to learn more about grilling? Check out these helpful resources!