Tender, smokey and spicy, this tri tip comes from Santa Maria California and is probably the best tri-tip you can find. If traveling through Santa Maria, be sure to plan a stop to try this regional favorite. But making this at home is even better.
Mix all spices together. Rub the spice mixture all over the roast liberally, you want a nice thick layer. Cover the roast with plastic wrap, adding extra spices onto the roast before sealing. Seal tightly and refrigerate for 3-5 hours.
Traditionally, Santa Maria Tri Tip is cooked over an open pit with California Oak for about 45 minutes. Butter is not part of the traditional recipe, but is my addition that works really well. Cover with the melted butter when the tri tip is removed from the grill and let the tri tip rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
I don't have that in my backyard (most do not), so I decided to use my Traeger and it worked great. I smoked it on the lowest setting for 3 hours (it was averaging 190-200 degrees since it was fairly warm outside). Then I increased the temperature to 225 and continued to cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the smoker and cover with melted butter. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
When my sister was in College at the University of Santa Barbara, she made friends with many people in the region. This tri tip recipe was one that is well known in that region and is one of the most flavorful, tender tri tip recipes around. And a little warning: it is a bit on the spicy side.
I have memories from when I was a teenager of my sister and her husband having large parties where they would rent one of these pits and just make dozens of tri tips. She would serve with the Santa Maria beans and homemade tortillas. Food memories are always the strongest.