Santa Maria Tri Tip

Santa Maria TriTip is famous in Southern California.

Santa Maria Tri Tip is one of California’s most famous BBQ recipes, believed to have been invented by a butcher during the 1950s. Although regional Santa Maria tritip recipes may differ slightly from neighborhood to neighborhood, the residents of Santa Maria have embraced the dish as their signature feast, often serving it with a large pot of pink pinquito beans.

Santa Maria Tri Tip is one of Southern California’s signature recipes.

The meat is delicious serve alongside corn, or made into a tri tip sandwich, served on a roll with either horseradish sauce or a sweet barbecue sauce. I prepared this tri tip on my Green Mountain Grill pellet grill, but you can also use a Traeger or other similar smoker. I finish it off with a quick sear on both sides on my standard grill. The tri tip meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 150F.

Serve Santa Maria Tri Tip with Corn and Onion Rings!

Smoked Santa Maria Tri Tip

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 10


  • 1 large Tri Tip roast
  • Tri Tip Rub:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons salt


  • Mix together rub ingredients. Pack well on both sides of the tri tip. You can coat it with olive oil first if desired.
  • Smoke at 225 degrees F until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 150F. Remove from heat, sear on both sides on the regular grill if desired, and let sit 10 minutes before slicing.