Stovetop Smoked Beef Tri-Tip with Bourbon Sauce

A flavorful and tender beef tri-tip smoked on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes.


Don’t let the word “smoked” scare you away from this recipe.  With the right equipment, beef tri-tip can be smoked on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes!  All you need is a good dry rub and a stovetop smoker with a few mesquite “chips”.  The stovetop smoker that we use is the Cameron Smoker. As you can see in the pictures below, ours has had a lot of use over the years.  We’ve had it for about 30 years and it’s been a great little smoker for year round smoking of proteins such as beef, duck, turkey, pork, and fish.  This Smoked Beef Tri-Tip with Bourbon Sauce is my favorite thing to smoke but only just a little ahead of alder smoked wild salmon.

Beef tri-tip (also called a triangle roast) is cut from the hindquarter and is part of the sirloin, specifically the bottom sirloin which is quite flavorful.  For years it’s been used for ground beef and is the cut used to make “sirloin burgers”.  Because of its flavor and low fat content, tri-tip also makes a great cut for a quick smoke, especially in small smokers.  A whole tri-tip is anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 pounds so, in comparison to other cuts, it’s small.  Depending on where you buy it, it can come as a small roast, or long strips (which is what they sell at Costco). Either of these cuts work in the smoker; however, the smoking times need to be adjusted depending on the cut and the thickness of the cut.  A whole roast and thicker roast or thick strips take about 5 minutes longer smoking time compared with thinner cuts.  (See Kitchen Notes for Smoking Time Adjustments.) It might take a couple of tries to get the timing and the heat level right, but once you do get it right – the outcome is well worth the trial and error!


A flavorful and tender beef tri-tip smoked on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes.

Smoked Tri-Tip with Bourbon Sauce Recipe

Serves 4
Prep Time: less than 10 minutes
Cook Time: about 30 minutes

Recipe author:  MJ of MJ’s Kitchen

Special equipment:  Cameron Stovetop smoker with mesquite chips


Dry Rub (adapted from Big Bad Beef Rub @ Amazing Ribs)

2 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
1 Tbsp. medium NM chile powder or ancho powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. mustard powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chipotle powder
1 tsp. crushed dried oregano

Additional ingredients

2 to 2.5 pound tri-tip
~1/3 cup beef rub (above)
1 Tbsp. Mesquite chips (for Cameron smoker)
¼ cup bourbon
½ Tbsp. butter
cornstarch (optional)


  1. Combine all of the ingredients for the rub in a bowl and whisk well to combine.  Transfer to a spice jar for sprinkling.Mesquite chips for a Cameron Smoker  (You can rub it on with your hands, but the chile powders could cause you hands to burn a little afterwards.)
  2. Sprinkle all sides of the tri-tip generously with rub. Let set in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to an hour.
  3. Divide 1 Tbsp. Mesquite shavings into 2 piles on the bottom of the smoker (right).
  4. Place the drip pan on top of the chips, then the rack.
  5. Place the tri-tip on the rack.A flavorful and tender beef tri-tip smoked on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes.
  6. Slide the cover on the smoker, leaving a very small opening.  Turn the burner on to medium heat.  Keep an eye on the opening and when you see a puff of smoke escape, close the cover and set the timer.  (I also wrap the ends of the smoker with aluminum foil to keep smoke from escaping out of the corners.
  7. For thinner and smaller cuts, smoke for 20 minutes.  Thicker cuts – 25 to 30 minutes.Smoking on the stovetop using a Cameron smoker
  8. Once done remove the tri-tip from the smoker. Wrap in aluminum foil and let rest while you make the sauce.
  9. Using a turkey baster, transfer the drippings from the drip pan to a small sauce pan and add the bourbon. Heat over a high heat.  Whisk in ½ Tbsp. butter and boil for about 2 minutes.
  10. For a thinner sauce like an au jus, remove from the heat after a couple of minutes once you’ve added the butter.  For a little thicker sauce, reduce to a simmer and sift in 1 tsp. cornstarch. Bring back to a boil whisking constantly.  Remove from heat.
  11. Slice the meat into about ¼ inch slices.  Arrange on the plate and top with a little sauce. The sauce is salty, so use it sparingly.



A flavorful and tender beef tri-tip smoked on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes.


Kitchen Notes

The Seasoning – If you don’t want to make this rub or don’t have the ingredients, then use another rub or your favorite seasoning mix.  A creole seasoning works great.

The Mesquite – Mesquite is what I prefer for beef tri-tip; however, oak, hickory or pecan would also work quite well. You could also do a mix, like half mesquite and half pecan.  I’ve done that before and it was delicious!

The Cut of Meat – 90% of the time I use tri-tip, but one time I couldn’t find tri-tip so I purchased a couple of flap steaks.  They were just as tasty, but cooked very quickly, so 20 minutes was actually too long.

Rare, Medium or Well-done – To be honest, it’s quite hard to get this to rare or even medium rare which is how I normally I like my beef cooked.  The nice thing is that tri-tip is actually quite forgiving up to a point.  Even at medium (20 minutes) and well-done (25 – 30 minutes), it’s still tender and quite delicious and with the sauce…it’s hard to beat.  However, past well-done, tri-tip becomes tough and dry even with the sauce.

Smoking Time Adjustments – The amount of time that you smoke the meat is based on a few factors, the first being a whole roast or strips as shown above.  The roast requires about 5 minutes longer than the strips.  Also, the thicker the cuts, the longer the smoking time.  Time is also affected by the cooking temperature.  I use a setting of “medium” for the times given above.  Medium on your stovetop may be higher or lower than mine so the first time you make this, I would suggest going for less time rather than more time.  If the meat is undercooked to how you like it, then place it, wrapped in aluminum foil in the oven @ 400° F for 3 to 5 minutes or zap it in the microwave for a very few seconds.

Smoking chips for a Cameron Stovetop Smoker

Cameron Smoker – These smokers can be used on the stovetop, in the oven and even on the grill, making them quite versatile.  I use mine mostly in the winter on the stovetop.  However, there are a couple of recipes in which I start out on the stovetop, then move the entire smoker into the oven.  This technique is especially effective for meats that are best “slow-cooked” like country-style pork ribs.  So next time you’re trying to think of a gift for your favorite cook, I highly recommend one of these smokers. They’re only around 50 bucks (US)!  They come with an assortment of smoking chips, and you can always buy more from Cameron or Amazon if you run out.  Just make sure you’re buying the chips for a stovetop smoker, not the grill.

Suggested Sides  – Obviously mashed potatoes and carrots are perfect sides for any smoked meat and this smoked tri-tip is no exception.  Mashed sweet potatoes also are a great complement to spicy beef.  However, if you want to go light, I highly recommend a citrus salad.  For this particular batch I followed my sister’s suggestion and combined my Avocado, Orange and Cucumber Salad with shredded raw cabbage and a cucumber dressing.  It was the perfect complement!


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57 Responses to “Stovetop Smoked Beef Tri-Tip with Bourbon Sauce”

  1. vicki June 22, 2017 at 7:51 am #

    I am wondering if you can help me with this problem. I just bought the cameron stove top smoker and made a turkey breast only, so far. Afterwards, while the breast came out fine, I could not believe how long and how little I accomplished cleaning the darn drip tray, top and bottom with burnt marks to the hilt, and the inside of the smoker, where the chips were there were scorches. What is the secret. Wrap the sucker in tinfoil completely? I don’t get it. Hoe you can help me. Thanks.

    • mj June 22, 2017 at 10:27 am #

      Vicki, keeping a Cameron smoker looking new is an impossibility. The bottom of my drip tray is solid black but then I have been using it for 10 years. 🙂 Sometimes I’ll spray it with my homemade orange vinegar cleaner, and then let it sit for about 10 minutes before scrubbing with ScotchBrite. This releases some of the cooked on burn, but not all. I ALWAYS place foil in the drip tray, wrapping it around the edges. This helps tremendously in cleaning the inside of the tray. In fact the tray stays clean. I guess wrapping the entire tray in foil would keep the bottom from turning black. I don’t worry about the bottom of the smoker where the wood chips go. Mine has turned a dark brown due to use. The lid I always let soak in soapy water, then just clean it. Yes, it’s has turned brown over the years, but at least I know it’s clean. Because it is a wonderful kitchen tool for smoking small portions of meat, especially salmon and winter smoking, I’ve quit worrying about it looking new and considered it “seasoned”. 🙂 Hope this helps and thanks for your question!

  2. IFortuna August 5, 2016 at 12:24 am #

    Nami had a link from her site which is how I found you. This recipe and technique are great. I had a friend who smoked turkey once and it was unforgettable, absolutely delicious. Hubby is the outdoor cook but it gets so hot in Texas that we really need indoor smoker . It has been too hot to grill at all so this would be a great boon to variety at our house! Thanks for your informative article and recipe. : )

    • mj August 5, 2016 at 8:26 am #

      So glad you came over and checked this out. I love my stovetop smoker! Here in ABQ it gets used more in the winter than the summer which works out well because, like your family, we love smoked meats. The husband has a pit barrel smoker that he uses for 3 seasons, but for some reason I just can’t convince him to smoke a brisket in January. 🙂 If you purchase this smoker, I hope you enjoy! It also does a great job with salmon.

  3. Nami | Just One Cookbook February 5, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    Thank you for this post! I’ve been telling my husband about this smoker after I’ve seen two bloggers talked about it and I’ve been curious since then. My husband wants a big one in the backyard… that’s nice too, but I think this little indoor smoker sounds great for daily use! I’m sending my husband this link. 😀

    • mj February 6, 2014 at 8:19 am #

      Thanks Nami! Of course what man doesn’t want a big smoker in the back yard. 🙂 Bobby loves this smoker and has used it on the grill before during the summer. It’s great for smaller quantities and smaller cuts of meat.

  4. Charles February 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    That looks beautiful MJ – Never used a stove-top smoker… I heard you could hack one together using a wok but never tried it. Now we’re in Sweden I hope to eventually get my own smoker and do some big-scale stuff! Should start small though – perhaps with a real crowd-pleaser, which I’m sure this is!

    • mj February 6, 2014 at 8:17 am #

      Thanks so much Charles! There are ways of making a stovetop smoker with what you already have, but as cheap as these are – why bother. 🙂 Good luck with your smoking endeavors!

  5. Deb February 3, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Never used a stove top smoker (in fact I did not even think stove top smoking was even available), but, this recipe is a keeper..Bookmarked

    • mj February 6, 2014 at 8:15 am #

      Thanks Deb! You really need to check out this smoker. I love it and use it quite often.

  6. Shannon | JustAsDelish February 1, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Malaysian/chinese dishes don’t use smoking, so have not come across any need for a smoker. until last month I saw this neat diy technique for an middle eastern smoked chicken dish. Burn a piece of charcoal till smoking hot, place charcoal onto a ramekin lined with foil with melted butter. Place ramekin onto pan with food and cover or into the oven with the food for 15 mins. it works great for me

  7. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles February 1, 2014 at 12:29 am #

    I was admiring this dish on facebook today — that bourbon sauce sounds over-the-top delicious MJ and I’d recognize those signature cucumber slices anywhere ;-).

    • mj February 2, 2014 at 7:20 am #

      Thanks Kelly! I never intended the cucumber slices with chile powder to become a signature but it has hasn’t it. 🙂

      • Kelly @ Inspired Edibles February 3, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

        yup! I can’t look at sliced cucs without thinking of paprika or chile powder – and that makes me smile and think of you! 🙂

  8. Jodee Weiland January 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    This looks absolutely wonderful! I bet this is real tasty, just full of amazing flavor. The recipe sounds so good…another winner, MJ!

    • mj February 2, 2014 at 7:19 am #

      Thanks so much Jodee!

  9. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz January 31, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    MJ this recipe looks just scrumptious and lovely in flavor. I never saw a smaller smoker like that. Tempting indeed. Especially like the bourbon sauce, will bring some back from my trip soon too. Have a great weekend!

    • mj February 2, 2014 at 7:19 am #

      Thanks Evelyne! The bourbon sauce is SO easy an SO good with this meat! Hope you’re having a great weekend as well!

  10. Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania January 31, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Wow, the smoker can do such wonders even on stovetop! Your beef tri-tip is gorgeous. I’d like to taste this for sure! Happy CNY to you!!

    • mj February 2, 2014 at 7:18 am #

      Thanks Purabi! These smokers are pretty amazing! A Happy CNY to you as well!

  11. Debra January 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    Thanks for the notes on tri-tip. (I should know these things from my long ago 4-H days but I can’t help but think of “meat judging” without snickering like an adolescent.) LOL

    • mj January 31, 2014 at 8:51 am #

      You are most welcome Debra! Now that I know you were a 4-H meat judge, I’m flatter that I was able to introduce you to a new cut. 🙂

  12. Giulietta | Alterkitchen January 30, 2014 at 1:48 am #

    Never used a stove top smoker (or other smokers, by the way), but I’m so interested in this recipe.
    I love smoked flavor, and I can only imagine what this beef taste like. Amazing!

    • mj January 31, 2014 at 8:48 am #

      Thanks Giulia! This is the only smoker I use. During the warmer months, Bobby turns the grill into a smoker and smokes larger cuts of meats. Have a great weekend my friend!

  13. Bill January 29, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    I’m a total carnivore and I love all things beef. However, I’ve never made tri-tip and you’ve piqued my interest. I’ve also always wondered how the stovetop smokers work and I’m glad to hear that you’ve had success. This dish looks delicious and is totally making me hungry! (Dinner is not ready yet!). BTW, thanks for your most recent comment on SBD. I so appreciate your support!

    • mj January 31, 2014 at 8:33 am #

      Thanks so much Bill! It’s one of the few gadgets that I kept after the kitchen remodel because I do use it a lot! Your comments and support are always appreciated here as well. 🙂

  14. Sissi January 29, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Of course “tri-tip” 🙂 Sorry for the error.

    • mj January 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

      No problem! I knew what you meant. 🙂

  15. Sissi January 29, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    MJ, you are responsible for a new kitchen gadget on my wish list 😉 I had no idea such a thing as a stovetop smoker existed! I don’t have a house (I live in a flat) so I was sure smoking wasn’t for me… Your meat looks fabulous (I found the “tri-top” name quite amusing, I must check a French translation, if the cut exists in this part of Europe of course). I already imagine smoking chicken, but especially pork! I must check if such smokers are sold in Europe too! Thank you so much for inspiration and for sharing all the useful tips!

    • mj January 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

      Thanks so much Sissi! These little smokers are great for flats! And they do a great job on chicken and pork! I know that Amazon carries them and it ships international I believe. Check them out. As far a tri-tip goes, if you have a butcher, just ask him. It’s also called the bottom sirloin as well. Good luck!

      • Sissi February 3, 2014 at 9:04 am #

        I have checked both the tri-top and smokers. I found many false translations, but finally managed; tri-top is not a popular cut in France, but I have seen it in Switzerland (!). I am sure I could substitute it with something else… Smokers are very expensive here, but I’ll see if I can buy from US amazon. It might be cheaper even with shipping. Thank you again for this great idea!

  16. Vicki Bensinger January 29, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    I use to work part-time at SurLaTable and we sold a lot of these – people raved about them. I never purchased one but made a homemade version using a tin foil container with lid.

    I love bourbon chicken so bourbon beef actually sounds even better. Nice recipe. I’ll be sure to save this to try.

    • mj January 29, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

      Thanks Vicki! these smokers are incredible, so easy to use and so cheap (relatively). Love your homemade idea!

  17. Katerina January 29, 2014 at 1:52 am #

    That bourbon sauce got me hooked up! Beautifully made meat!

    • mj January 29, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Thanks so much Katerina!

  18. Liz January 28, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    I’d love a stove top smoker! Your tri-tip sounds amazing! I bet it would be good grilled, too 🙂

    • mj January 28, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

      Thanks Liz! Yes – it would be good grilled. 🙂

  19. Deb January 28, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    What a perfect recipe for this weekends Super Bowl Sunday food fest! The Smoked Tri-Tip would make my husband very happy!

    • mj January 28, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

      Deb – you’re so right! A great Super Bowl Sunday recipe! Enjoy the game!

  20. Barb Bamber January 28, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    I’ve always been intrigued by the whole process of smoking meats. I can’t believe you have this done so easily on your stove top in only 20-25 minutes! That’s so awesome. It’s getting more and more tempting to try smoking meats:) Great recipe!!xx

    • mj January 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

      Thanks Barb! My husband does the big smoking processes on the grill during warming weather, but I do these little smoking recipes inside during cold weather and really love the results!

  21. Angie@Angie's Recipes January 28, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    I have never smoked meat…this has turned out perfect, MJ. I love the rub.

    • mj January 28, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

      Thanks Angie! It’s a great rub and perfect with beef.

  22. Ramona January 28, 2014 at 4:47 am #

    I have never smoked meat..yet another thing for me to conquer in the kitchen. I like your method on the stove top with this small smoker,,,those big smokers scare me a bit.

    I bet it does taste wonderful especially with the rub you put on the meat (reminds me I need to buy chipotle powder). The meal looks wonderful, light and healthy.

    • mj January 28, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      Thanks Ramona! Those big smoker scare me as well. 🙂 This little smoker doesn’t scare me at all. It’s so easy to use and pretty foolproof.

  23. Hotly Spiced January 28, 2014 at 2:52 am #

    I can imagine the beef is very tasty with that rub. What a yummy looking dish. I’ve never smoked anything but I see smoked dishes coming up on a lot of blogs and am thinking it’s time I jumped onboard xx

    • mj January 28, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

      Thanks Charlie! Recipes such as this show that smoking is not just for the restaurants.

  24. Raymund January 28, 2014 at 12:27 am #

    I never had smoked this way before, now I am so wanting to try it. Nice one mj!

    • mj January 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

      Thanks Raymund! It’s a great way to smoke and so easy!

  25. Choc Chip Uru January 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    A smoker seems worth its money to create exquisite dishes like this from 😀


    • mj January 28, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

      Thanks Uru! I definitely think a smoker is well worth the $50! 🙂

  26. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef January 27, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    I don’t have a smoker of any sort at all. My son keeps telling me I don’t know what I’m missing. I looked at one at a show recently and it was over $1000. That’s beyond my budget.

    Your steak looks perfect and I love the sauce idea.

    • mj January 27, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

      Thanks Maureen! You really should check out these smokers. They are less than $50 (US) and the perfect size for 3 to 4 people.

  27. John@Kitchen Riffs January 27, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    What a great recipe! I’ve been tempted to buy a Cameron smoker, but have never made the purchase. I have to! It’d be worth it just to make this recipe. I love this — thanks!

    • mj January 27, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

      Thanks John!! You really need to get this smoker. You’d love it and would Mrs. KR!


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