Indulge in the mouth-watering flavors of a grilled Tri Tip steak, grilled to perfection outdoors or on your indoor griddle. It’s perfectly tender and delicious.
Why You’ll Love It
- Flavor Explosion: One bite of grilled tri-tip and you’ll notice the rich, beefy flavor, amplified by the smoky aroma from the grill. Its unique triangular shape allows for an optimal mix of textures.
- Versatile: Grilling tri-tip steak allows you to experiment. Whether you prefer it charred on the outside and rare in the center, or cooked to medium perfection, you can tailor it to you.
- Cost-Effective: High in taste but not in price, tri-tip offers a more budget-friendly alternative to pricier cuts like ribeye or filet mignon, without sacrificing quality.
Ingredients You’ll Need for Grilled Tri Tip
- Tri tip roast – You can cook whatever size tri tip you need to feed your crowd.
- A seasoning rub – I like to make my own seasoning rub with my favorite spices, or buy a Santa Maria rub.
- Grill or griddle – You can cook this on an outdoor grill or indoors on your griddle pan. It is important if cooking on a grill to have this over indirect heat, which means the fire must be on one side of the grill and the meat must be on the other side.
- Kitchen tongs – It’s easy to move the tri tip onto and off the grill with a pair of sturdy kitchen tongs.
- Meat thermometer – It’s important to test the internal temperature of the meat to make sure you’ve reached the desired level of doneness without going over.
Preparing the Beef Tri-Tip
When buying Tri Tip, you’ll see it prepared in different ways by the butcher. Some cuts have a thick layer of fat on one side, others are covered in fat all around, and some have no fat at all. If possible, go for a cut with a 1/4-inch fat cap on one side.
If your Tri Tip has fat on both sides, or more than 1/4″ of fat on one side, you can trim it yourself with a sharp knife. Also, remove the silver membrane on that side; it makes the meat tough when cooked.
Also note that you can buy tri tip steaks for grilling, rather than a whole roast, if you don’t want to make such a large amount. I often buy tri tips steaks that are around 6-8 ounces each at Costco.
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.
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
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.
- 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 Grilled 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 get the tri tip steak perfectly cooked is to use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.
If you have a digital thermometer probe that can be left in the meat while it cooks, that’s the best way to ensure it doesn’t overcook.
For medium-rare beef tri-tip, you want 135° F. For medium it’s 145° F. Be sure to take into account the 5-10 degrees of 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 beef, that’s up to you.
How to Grill a Tri Tip
You want to grill your beef tri tip over indirect for the best texture. 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 cooking, you don’t want the heat of the grill to go over 375° with the lid down. This will keep the heat low enough to cook the tri tip slowly and evenly.
Step 1: Grill the Tri Tip
Once the grill is preheated to 375° F, set 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.
Step 2: Rest the Steak
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 steak against the grain in thin slices. It can be difficult sometimes to see which way the grain runs, but it’s important to go against the grain, so spend the time making sure you’ve got it right.
How to Reheat Tri Tip
There are several ways to reheat tri-tip, but the best method depends on your personal preference and the equipment you have available. Here are a few options:
- Oven: Preheat your oven to 325°F. Place the tri-tip in an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil to prevent it from drying out. Reheat for about 10-15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 130°F.
- Sous vide: If you have a sous vide machine, you can reheat the tri-tip by placing it in a vacuum-sealed bag and heating it in the sous vide water bath at 130°F for about 30 minutes.
- Microwave: Place the tri-tip on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 30-second intervals until it reaches your desired temperature.
- Grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Brush the tri-tip with a little oil and grill it for a few minutes on each side until it is heated through.
- Air fryer: Preheat your air fryer to 350°F. Slice the tri-tip into even pieces and place them in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Brush the tri-tip with a little oil to prevent it from drying out. Cook the tri-tip for 5-7 minutes, flipping halfway through, until it is heated through and crispy on the outside.
No matter which method you choose, be sure to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the tri-tip before serving.
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.
Side Dishes to Try
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
- BBQ Pork Belly Slices
- Instant Pot vs Pressure Cooker: Which is Better?
- Smoky Basil Oaxacan Mezcal Cocktail
The Best Slow Grilled Tri Tip Steak
- 3 pound (1.36 kg) tri tip roast
For the dry spice rub:
- 1 tablespoon (7 g) paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon (6 g) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) chili powder
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) onion powder
- 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.
- Smoker Grill
Pin it for later!
Laura is a home cook, with 25 years experience behind the stove, who spends an extraordinary amount of time in the kitchen cooking. She loves making new recipes and finding wonderful new things to eat, both at home or abroad. She spends a lot of time researching, crafting, and perfecting her recipes and currently has a cookbook in development.