Tri Tip Dry Rub Recipe

You’ll never go back to store-bought steak seasoning after trying this Tri Tip Rub! Made from a handful of savory and smoky spices, the rub forms a beautiful crust around this impressive steak while infusing it with mouthwatering flavors.

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When you need an impressive cut of steak, look no further than tri tip. It’s a naturally rich and flavorful steak that you can turn to when you’re craving a steakhouse-quality meal at home. And when you want to take it over the top, slather the meat with this Tri Tip Dry Rub!

Like my dry rub recipes for brisket and prime rib, this is a simple dry rub for steak that’s easy to make using a hand-picked selection of warming, smoky spices, savory seasonings, and brown sugar. The spices are massaged onto the exterior of the meat before it’s smoked in a pellet grill and finished in a cast iron skillet. 

With this tri tip dry rub recipe in your back pocket, you’ll always end up with mouthwatering meat that’s perfectly flavored! 

What is dry rub?

Dry rubs are just as easy to make at home as they are to find in a grocery store or deli. They’re made from a mixture of various dried herbs, spices, and seasonings, then pressed into the surface of the meat before it’s cooked. This spice blend adds flavor to the meat, as well as creates a delicious seared crust around the exterior.

What is tri tip?

Tri tip is a lean triangular cut of beef roast from the bottom sirloin butt area. It has a rich beefy flavor, consistent fat marbling, and a tender texture. All of these qualities and more make it an impressive, yet budget-friendly piece of meat.

Ingredients for tri tip dry rub on small plate.

Dry rub ingredients

  • Kosher salt and black pepper – Adding Kosher salt (or sea salt) to the dry rub will always give you the best results. Its large, coarse granules tenderize the meat fibers and make it easier for the juices to redistribute into the meat after cooking. 
  • Garlic and onion powder – This aromatic duo gives the dry rub a distinct savory taste that compliments the beefy flavors. 
  • Brown sugar – Similar to my smoked chicken wing rub, brown sugar adds a sweetness that balances out the otherwise savory and smoky spices. Also, as the sugar crystals melt, they form a crisp, caramelized crust around the steak.
  • Chili powder and paprika – For a balance of earthy, smoky, and warming flavors. 
  • Cayenne pepper – Cayenne can be pretty spicy but it won’t make this beef dry rub blazing hot. If you don’t like spicy food, reduce the amount to ¼ teaspoon or omit it.

How to make the best dry rub for tri tip 

All you need to do to make your own dry rub for steak is to whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, and you’re done!

You can use this simple steak rub right away or store it in an airtight container at room temperature for later. 

How to apply dry rub

Once your dry rub is ready and you’ve trimmed the excess fat and silver skin from the tri tip, generously sprinkle the dry rub evenly over the surface of the meat. Use your hands to gently massage and press the spices into the meat, ensuring the steak is evenly coated. 

Remember to let the seasoned steak rest on the counter for about 30 minutes before cooking. This gives it time to come down to room temperature and allows the spices to soak into the meat.

Tips and tricks

  • Use the highest-quality spices you can get your hands on. Grinding whole spices yourself will yield the boldest flavors!
  • Taste the seasoning blend as you go. You can make the rub more smoky, spicy, sweet, etc. by adjusting the quantities of the individual spices.
  • Don’t be stingy with the dry rub! This recipe makes enough to encrust the entire surface of one 3-pound tri tip. 


Should you rub steak with oil before applying dry rub?

It’s typically not necessary to rub oil on meat before applying a dry rub because the rubs are designed to stick to the natural moisture on the meat’s surface.

What other spices can be added to the dry rub for tri tip?

Feel free to add other common steak seasonings here, such as chipotle chili powder, ground mustard, red pepper flakes, ground cumin, rosemary, and thyme. 

How much of the dry rub should you use?

As a general rule, you’ll want to apply enough dry rub to coat all sides evenly with a dense layer of seasoning. 1 to 1½ tablespoons of dry rub per pound of meat should be plenty. Or, in this case, expect to use approximately 3 to 4½ tablespoons for a 3-pound tri tip steak.

How long should the dry rub sit on a steak before cooking?

Leaner cuts of dry rub seasoned steak, like tri tip, should be left to rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours before cooking. 
If you plan on letting the seasoned steak rest for more than 30 minutes, lay it on a baking sheet and cover it with plastic. Store it in the fridge overnight, then let it come down to room temperature before cooking the next day.

How do you cook tri tip steak?

The best way to cook tri tip is on a 225ºF Traeger or pellet grill for 60 to 90 minutes. This method infuses the beef with mouthwatering wood-fired flavor by constantly circulating temperature-controlled heat around the meat. For further instructions, check out my Juicy Traeger Smoked Tri-Tip recipe.

Finished smoked tri tip before searing.

More ways to use this rub

While this dry rub is undoubtedly the best steak seasoning for grilled or smoked tri tip, you can also use it to season these proteins:


The tri tip seasoning blend will last up to 6 months when stored in an airtight container in your pantry or spice rack.

Finished sliced tri tip.

More dry rubs and seasonings

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Tri tip dry rub in small wooden bowl with teaspoon.

Tri Tip Dry Rub

You’ll never go back to store-bought steak seasoning after trying this Tri Tip Rub! Made from a handful of savory and smoky spices, the rub forms a beautiful crust around this impressive steak while infusing it with mouthwatering flavors.
5 from 4 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 people


  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ Tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ Tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to three months.


Makes enough for one 3-pound tri tip.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Calories: 22kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.05g | Sodium: 1176mg | Potassium: 69mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 558IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 0.5mg
5 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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