The Best Slow Grilled Tri Tip Steak

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This slow cooked, grilled Tri Tip steak is amazingly tender and tasty when cooked outdoors on the grill and it doesn’t take long to grill.

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Slices of tri tip steak

Tri tip steak is one of my favorite cuts of beef. It is cut from the bottom sirloin and can be found in most grocery stores these days, at least on the West coast. It was made popular in Santa Maria, California, in the 1950s when the Santa Maria rub was also created.

The cut of meat alone is very tender and is best when cooked at low heat and served at medium rare. It’s not the type of roast that is served fork tender or falling apart. It’s not a “shredded beef” type of roast.

The best ways to cook a tri tip roast are on the grill or in the oven. My preferred method is on the grill. You really can’t beat a cook out. Fire up the grill, grab a can of beer, assemble your family or friends and have a grill a delicious tri tip.

Ingredients You’ll Need for Grilled Tri Tip

  • 3 pound tri tip roast
  • A seasoning rub (either store-bought or homemade)
Tri tip steak sliced

Yep, that’s all you need! It’s a super simple, but very delicious way to season tri tip that you’ll roast in the oven.

For this and many other cuts of beef, we use our homemade dry rub, which is a blend of paprika, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders, chili powder, and brown sugar. It gives the meat the perfect flavoring and it’s super easy to mix up.

Preparing the Tri-Tip

Raw tri tip

You might notice when purchasing Tri Tip that it can be prepared in a few different ways by the butcher. Generally, the roast has a thick fat cap on one side.

You can also find tri tip to have a layer of fat around the entire cut. Or it can also come with no fat at all. If you have your choice, ask for or look for one with fat on one side that has been trimmed down to 1/4 inch.

If there’s fat on both sides of the roast you’ve purchased, that’s okay. You can trim it off of one side. You’ll also noticed that there is a silver membrane along that side of the meat that should also be removed. It’s a bit tough when cooked and makes the meat less tender.

Homemade Dry Rub

You can choose what type of rub you put on the tri tip. There are so many great store-bought seasonings and rubs you can use for beef. If you have a favorite one, stick with that.

Seasoned, raw tri tip

The most “authentic” (I guess you would say) way to make tri tip is with a Santa Maria rub. It’s just three ingredients: salt, pepper and garlic powder. Hard to believe that the original rub that has become so famous includes just 3 ingredients, but it’s true.

  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder or 2 tsp garlic salt
santa maria rub

I actually really prefer to season the roast with my regular homemade dry rub, which has more flavors than just salt and garlic. It’s a little more to mix up, but it’s worth it. I use it on all my meats now, because the flavor is to good.

Here are the ingredients. This makes probably a little bit more than you’ll use on the roast, but you can save it to use on something else if you have some leftover.

homemade dry rub
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix together these spices and rub it all over the roast to form a thick crust. Rest the meat in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to over night to allow the rub flavors to sink into the meat.

Size and Internal Temperature for Tri Tip

Tri-tip roasts range from 1 1/2 pounds to 4 pounds. A 1 1/2 lb roast will serve around 3 people, depending on appetite. I try to buy a 2 1/2 to 3-pound roast so there’s some left overs.

The cooking time will vary based on the size of the roast. The best way to make sure the meat is cooked to your preference is to use a thermometer to test the meat.

If you have a digital oven thermometer that can be left in the meat while it cooks, that’s the best way to ensure it doesn’t over cook.

Tri tip steak on the BBQ with a thermometer in

For medium-rare you want 135° F. For medium it’s 145° F. Be sure to take into account the 5-10 degrees from carryover cooking (the amount the temp rises during resting). I don’t recommend going over 145° for this cut, but if you like well done meat, that’s up to you.

How to Grill a Tri Tip

You want to slow grill your tri tip for the best texture. It benefits from a slower cook. Doing this is really easy if you have a grill with a two-sided heating element. You can set the left side to medium high and keep the right side turned off.

You will sear the meat on the hot left side grill and then remove it to the right side where it will receive indirect heat.

During the slow cooking, you don’t want the heat of the grill to go over 375° to 400° F with the lid down. This will keep the heat low enough to slow cook the tri tip.

Raw tri tip steak on the BBQ

Once the grill is preheated to at least 375° F, set the tri tip on the hot side of the grill and close the lid. Cook the roast for roughly 5 minutes per side to sear the meat all around and get some nice dark grill marks. Searing ensures the rub forms a nice crust and locks in all the juices and flavor.

Once the searing is done, move the roast to the cooler side of the grill, off of the direct heat. If you have a leave-in grill thermometer probe, stick that into the thickest part of the meat and close the lid. Watch that the temperature in the grill doesn’t go above 400° F.

The tri tip is done when the instant-read thermometer reads 130° F (54 degrees C), for medium-rare. If you want medium, continue cooking to 135° F.

Take the meat off the grill and let it rest for at least 10 minutes wrapped in tin foil. This allows the meat to come up to the proper temperature.

To serve, slice the roast against the grain in thin slices.

Slicing a tri tip steak

What to Serve Tri Tip With

We find that this Tri Tip doesn’t require any sauce, because we love the rub so much, but if you prefer a sauce, you can use our favorite homemade BBQ sauce or any BBQ sauce you like. It also tastes great with some chimichurri.

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tri tip steak

The Best Slow Grilled Tri Tip Steak

This slow cooked, grilled Tri Tip steak is amazingly tender and tasty when cooked outdoors on the grill and it doesn't take long to grill.
4.97 from 32 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Beef, Brisket
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 552kcal
Author: Laura

Ingredients

  • 3 pound tri tip roast

For the dry spice rub:

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Instructions

  • Mix the seasonings in a bowl. Season the tri tip using the seasoning mix. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if possible.
  • Once the grill is preheated to at least 375° F, set the tri tip on the hot side of the grill and close the lid. Cook the roast for roughly 5 minutes per side to sear the meat all around and get some nice dark grill marks.
  • Once the searing is done, move the roast to the cooler side of the grill, off of the direct heat. If you have a leave-in grill thermometer probe, stick that into the thickest part of the meat and close the lid. Watch that the temperature in the grill doesn’t go above 400° F.
  • The tri tip is done when the instant-read thermometer reads 130° F (54 degrees C), about 15 minutes, for medium-rare. If you want medium, continue cooking to 135° F, about 20 minutes.
  • Take the meat off the grill and let it rest for at least 10 minutes wrapped in tin foil. This allows the meat to come up to the proper temperature.
  • To serve, slice the roast against the grain in thin slices.

Equipment Needed

Nutrition

Calories: 552kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 71g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 221mg | Sodium: 1354mg | Potassium: 1164mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1013IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 6mg

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Slices of tri tip steak

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