Sous Vide: Beef Tri-tip Roast–Sous-B-Q

This popular cut trades competitive pricing for the tendency to be "chewy." Sous vide tenderization offers us the best of both worlds.


Beef tri-tip/bottom sirloin roast, minimum of 16 oz/450 g.
Kosher salt, up to 2 tsp/1 lb/450 g,
Ground black pepper, to preference.

Optional ingredients:
TRI TIP BROWN GRAVY, 1 oz/30 ml per steak.
Post processing seasonings and rubs.

Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Lipavi heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Lipavi L15 rack or equivalent.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Paper towels.
Pellet smoker or conventional oven.
Cast iron broiler pan or thick bottomed skilled, approximately 12″/30 cm.


Serves 3+
Level of difficulty 2.5

Above: the tri tip roast processed whole, to be trimmed after shocking. Vacuum seal in heat rated bags and then process the roast at

129 F/54 C (rare) for a minimum of twelve hours.

At this low temperature, it is very difficult to over-tenderize the steak. If you prefer an appearance of doneness beyond rare, the tenderization process will occur somewhat faster. For more detailed information, refer to the guide linked HERE.

Even at 140 F/60 C, a 12 hour interval will achieve desirable results.
Note: While time determines texture/tenderness, the amount of time that proteins spend in the bath cannot be used to precisely MEASURE tenderness–this requires practice and the acquisition of a small amount of skill, explained HERE. Once the 12 hours have elapsed, and/or your roast has achieved the desired level of tenderness, shock the package in iced water until it achieves 70 F/21 C. Refrigerate to 40 F/4 C. For more detailed information on the shocking process, click the link HERE.

Into the smoker

The roasts can be kept sealed in the refrigerated state for up to at least one week before moving on to the next step or even another application. On the day of service, remove the roasts from the packaging and pat dry with a paper towel. Trim if desired/necessary. Reserve the juices and clarify as explained HERE. Season as desired or use our specially designed crust process as shown below, explained HERE.

Hot smoke the roasts in a pellet grill set to

180 F/82 C until the internal temperature achieves at least 125 F/52 C–we allowed four hours. If preferred, a conventional oven set to 225 F/107 C for approximately two hours can also be used.

Clocks cannot be used to accurately MEASURE internal temperature. Invest in a probe thermometer–at least until you learn to approximate the level of doneness by sight and feel.

The appearance of your roast is also useful as a guide to your decision as to when the roast is “ready.” This rub is a variation of the recipe HERE, with paprika, ground black pepper and sugar added to add a little variety.

The medium rare appearance is preserved in this case, even though the roast was processed, shocked and rekindled. This is dependent on the particular cut used as well the original time and temperature utilized. I find that tender cuts like New Yorks, filets and rib eyes are less tolerant of the shocking and rekindling model.

Presentation is important, but much simpler than most anticipate. Less is almost always more. In the picture, we used heavily reduced but otherwise un-thickened version of TRI TIP BROWN GRAVY.

On the other hand, some of us just can’t help ourselves.

Clean plates, empty space around the rim, a little altitude, a little attitude–they all go a long way to an eye-catching appearance.

Sous-b-q hot, sous b-q cold

Smoke flavors carry over into the product even when served cold.

Rather than re-kindling and re-re-kindling, a nice cold plate makes for a vibrant alternative to the Cheeseburger Lunch model.

Norm King


This stylistically economical approach to processing lets the excellent flavor and texture of the smoky tri-tip stand on its own. Experienced sous vide practitioners can value-add decorative up-scaling after the initial two faceted process has been completed.

This aptly named cut has been popularized in recent years. The price has climbed upward as a result--it is worthwhile shopping around. Many markets feature the cut either whole or at least large enough to serve as a roast--trimmed or untrimmed. We were fortunate to find the untrimmed version on sale at $3/lb after the Independence Day weekend.

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