3 Simple Steps to Smoky Tri Tip Tacos on Your Traeger Grill

First, marinate your tri tip in a mix of smoky spices like smoked paprika, cumin, and chili powder, blended with olive oil and crushed garlic. This not only tenderizes the meat but also packs it with flavor. Next, preheat your Traeger Grill to 225°F and smoke the tri tip using hickory and cherry wood chips for a distinct, smoky taste. Make sure it's cooked slowly until perfectly tender. Finally, slice the tri tip and tuck it into warm tortillas, topped with your choice of salsa, lime crema, or pico de gallo. You'll find even more ways to spice up your tacos just around the corner!

Key Takeaways

  • Marinate the tri tip with smoky spices and olive oil, then refrigerate for several hours.
  • Smoke the marinated tri tip on the Traeger grill at 225°F using hickory and cherry wood chips.
  • Check internal temperature of the tri tip reaches 145°F, then let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Slice the rested tri tip thinly against the grain for tender bites.
  • Assemble tacos using warmed tortillas, sliced tri tip, and your choice of toppings like lime crema and fresh cilantro.

Preparing the Tri Tip

Start by marinating your tri tip in a blend of smoky spices and olive oil to infuse it with bold flavors. When selecting your meat, aim for a tri tip that's well-marbled and weighs approximately 2 to 3 pounds. This cut's natural fats will melt under heat, ensuring your taco meat is juicy and flavorful.

For your marinade choices, consider how the components will complement the strong smoky profile you're aiming for. A good base is olive oil for its ability to carry flavors deep into the meat. Add crushed garlic, smoked paprika, a touch of cumin, and perhaps a dash of chili powder for heat. Don't forget a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. If you're feeling adventurous, a splash of lime juice can add a nice zesty note that cuts through the fat.

You'll want to let your tri tip soak in these flavors for at least a few hours, though overnight is ideal. This isn't just about taste—it's also about texture. The acids and oils in the marinade help tenderize the meat, making your final product not just tasty but also incredibly tender. Keep it covered and chilled while it marinates to keep things safe and savory.

Smoking on the Traeger

After marinating, you'll want to preheat your Traeger grill to 225 degrees Fahrenheit for the perfect slow smoking. Importance control is essential here because too high will cook your tri tip too fast, missing out on that deep smoky flavor, and too low just won't cook it through.

Now, let's talk wood selection, which is important for the flavor profile of your tacos. Different woods impart different flavors. For tri tip, I recommend a mix of hickory for its strong, bacon-like savor and cherry for a hint of sweetness. This combo provides a balanced backdrop for the robust spices you've used in your marinade.

Here's a quick guide to help you manage your smoking process effectively:

Step Detail Tip
Wood Prep Soak hickory and cherry chips Prevents quick burning
Temperature Set Maintain 225°F Use a grill thermometer
Smoke Time 2-3 hours Check internal temp reaches 145°F
Resting 10 minutes off the grill Lets juices redistribute

Assembling the Tacos

Once your tri tip is perfectly smoked and rested, you'll want to gather your favorite taco toppings and warm up some tortillas for assembly.

Choosing the right tortilla can elevate your taco experience. You've got options here: flour tortillas are soft and slightly sweet, perfect if you're after a more neutral base that lets the smoky tri tip shine. Corn tortillas, on the other hand, add a nice texture and earthy tone that complements the rich flavors of the smoked meat. Maybe heat them directly over a flame or in a dry skillet to bring out their best flavor and get some char.

Now, let's talk sauce variations. You can keep it simple with a drizzle of lime crema or go bold with a smoky chipotle sauce to echo the deep flavors of the tri tip. Want something with a bit of zest? Whip up a quick salsa verde or a pico de gallo; both add an invigorating crunch and acidity that cuts through the fattiness of the meat beautifully.

Grab a tortilla, lay down some slices of tri tip, spoon over your sauce of choice, and top it off with diced onions, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

There, you're all set for a masterful taco night!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use a Different Cut of Beef for These Tacos?

Yes, you can use a different beef cut for your tacos. Just adjust your beef selection and marinating methods to make sure it's tender and flavorful enough to stand up to smoking.

Are There Vegetarian Alternatives for Tri Tip in This Recipe?

Yes, you can swap tri tip for plant-based proteins like seitan or tempeh. These meat-free options still absorb those smoky flavors well, making them great for your tacos.

What Sides Pair Well With Smoky Tri Tip Tacos?

You'll love pairing your tacos with grilled vegetables and avocado salsa. They complement the smokiness perfectly, adding freshness and a bit of crunch that elevates the whole meal to another level.

How Do I Store Leftover Smoked Tri Tip?

To store leftover smoked tri tip, wrap it tightly and freeze it. When you're ready to eat, thaw it in the fridge and reheat gently to maintain its juiciness and flavor.

Can I Make These Tacos With a Gas Grill Instead of a Traeger?

Yes, you can make those tacos on a gas grill. You'll just need to master heat management and grill variations to mimic the smoky flavor you'd typically get from a Traeger.