Cooking Tri Tip: A Step-by-Step Guide for Perfect Results

Cooking tri tip is a delicious way to enjoy a juicy and tender cut of beef. However, it can be intimidating to cook for some people, especially if they don’t know where to start. That’s why we have put together this step-by-step guide for cooking tri tip to help you achieve perfect results every time. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner in the kitchen, this guide will take you from selecting the perfect cut of meat to serving up a delicious and impressive meal.

Cooking Tri Tip: A Step-by-Step Guide for Perfect Results | Eat Urban Garden
Cooking Tri Tip: A Step-by-Step Guide for Perfect Results

What is Tri Tip?

Tri tip, also known as triangle steak, is a mouthwatering and flavorful cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin subprimal of the cow. It’s called “tri tip” because of its triangular shape, with one pointed end and two broader ends. This cut of beef is relatively lean compared to other cuts and is considered to be a budget-friendly option, making it a popular choice for backyard barbecues and family dinners.

What Makes Tri Tip a Popular Cut of Beef?

Tri tip is a flavorful and tender cut of beef from the sirloin region of the cow. It’s sometimes referred to as a Santa Maria steak, which is where it gained popularity in the mid-twentieth century. The tri tip is triangular in shape and typically weighs between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds. Here are some reasons why tri tip is a popular cut of beef:

Lean and Tender

Tri tip is a lean cut of meat that is lower in fat than other cuts such as ribeye or New York strip. This makes it a healthier option for those looking to watch their fat intake. Despite being lean, tri tip is still incredibly tender thanks to its unique structure. The meat fibers run in two different directions, which helps to create a natural tenderness.


Tri tip is a flavorful cut of meat that is well-suited to outdoor cooking. When grilled or smoked, the meat develops a crisp crust on the outside that seals in the juices and flavor. The meat has a beefy, slightly nutty flavor that is unique to this cut.


One of the things that makes tri tip so popular is its versatility. It can be cooked in a variety of ways, from grilling to smoking to roasting. It also pairs well with a variety of flavors and marinades, making it a popular choice for backyard barbecues and dinner parties.


Finally, tri tip is an affordable cut of meat that won’t break the bank. It’s often cheaper than other popular cuts of beef, such as filet mignon or ribeye, making it a great option for those on a budget.

How Do I Prepare Tri Tip?

If you’re new to preparing tri tip, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s a versatile cut of beef that can be cooked using a variety of methods. The key is to be sure you follow a few simple steps before cooking no matter which method you choose.

Seasoning Tri Tip

Seasoning is one of the most important steps when it comes to preparing tri tip. If you don’t choose the right seasonings for your beef, you may end up with an unappetizing meal. Whether you choose to marinate, dry rub or inject your tri tip, be sure to season it at least an hour or two before you plan to cook it. This will give the seasoning time to penetrate the meat.

When it comes to seasoning tri tip, you have a lot of choices. Some people prefer to keep it simple and only use salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Others like to add a bit of sugar to their rubs, while still others prefer a more savory blend of herbs and spices. It’s up to you to find the flavor profile that works best for your taste.

Marinating Tri Tip

Marinating your tri tip is an excellent way to add flavor and tenderness. To prepare the meat for marination, you’ll need to cut the tri tip into portions that are small enough to fit in a container or zip-top bag. Make sure to pierce the meat all over with a fork to help the marinade penetrate the beef.

You’ll want to let your beef marinate for at least 6 hours, and up to 24 hours. If the beef is too big to fit in a bag or container, you can pour the marinade into a plastic zipper bag and then add the beef. To ensure even coverage, massage the bag thoroughly to distribute the marinade.

Dry Rubbing Tri Tip

Dry rubbing tri tip is a quick and easy way to add flavor to your meat. Start by applying a generous amount of your rub on your tri tip about an hour or two before cooking. The rub should be evenly distributed, and the meat should be patted down to absorb the rub. Cover the meat with plastic wrap so the rub has time to adhere to the meat.

Dry rubbing is easier than marinating since you don’t have to wait overnight. Simply massage your rub into the meat, then wrap it with plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour or two. This will give the meat time to absorb the flavor and seasoning of the rub.

Injecting Tri Tip

Another way to prepare tri tip is to inject it with marinade. This method is particularly useful if you don’t have time to marinate your tri-tip for 24 hours or to dry rub your meat. You’ll need an injector and your choice of marinade to prepare your beef.

Preparing to inject your tri-tip, pierce the meat with the injector and inject the marinade into the meat. Make sure the marinade goes throughout the tri tip so it can reach every part of the beef. Then wrap the beef and let it sit for a few hours before you cook.

What Are the Best Ways to Cook Tri Tip?

If you’re wondering what is the best way to cook tri tip, then we’ve got the answer for you. The three most popular ways to cook tri tip are grilling, smoking, and roasting in the oven. Each method is unique and offers different tastes and textures, so choose the one that fits your preference or the occasion you’re preparing it for.

Grilling Tri Tip

Grilling tri tip is perhaps the most common and popular way to cook it. It’s quick, easy, and perfect for outdoor summer gatherings and BBQs. To grill tri tip, you need to heat your grill to medium-high heat, season the meat with your favorite rub, and place it on the grates.

  • Cook the tri tip for about 5-6 minutes on each side for medium-rare or longer for medium or medium-well.
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature reaches 135°F for medium-rare, 140°F for medium, or 145°F for medium-well.
  • Once cooked, let the tri tip rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing it against the grain.

Smoking Tri Tip

If you prefer a more smoky and flavorful tri tip, then smoking it might be the way to go. It takes more time and effort, but the end result is worth it. To smoke tri tip, you’ll need a smoker and some wood chips.

  • Season the tri tip with your preferred rub and let it rest for an hour at room temperature.
  • Prepare your smoker with the wood chips and heat it to 225°F.
  • Place the tri tip on the smoker grates and smoke it for about 2-3 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 135°F for medium-rare or longer for medium or medium-well.
  • Take the tri-tip off the smoker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain.

Roasting Tri Tip in the Oven

Roasting tri tip in the oven is a great option for those who don’t have an outdoor grill or a smoker. It’s also a convenient method if you want to cook it during colder months or for a larger group of people. To roast tri tip, you’ll need an oven, a roasting pan, and a meat thermometer.

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F and season the tri tip with your favorite rub.
  • Place the tri tip on the roasting pan and insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.
  • Roast the tri tip for about 20-30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 135°F for medium-rare or longer for medium or medium-well.
  • Remove the tri tip from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain.

Remember, regardless of what method you choose to cook tri tip, the key is to let it rest before slicing it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and gives you a juicier and more tender tri tip.

What Temperature Should I Cook Tri Tip To?

If you’re wondering what the perfect temperature is for cooking tri tip, keep in mind that the internal temperature of the meat when cooked to medium rare should be around 135-140° F. This range of temperature allows the meat to be juicy and pink on the inside, with a crispy, flavorful crust on the outside.

Why is Medium Rare the Recommended Temperature for Tri Tip?

Tri tip is a lean cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin. Cooking it to medium rare is the best way to preserve the natural tenderness and flavor of the meat. Additionally, cooking it to a higher temperature can make it dry and tough.

  • When cooking tri tip, let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking to ensure even cooking.
  • Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  • Place the meat fat-side up on a wire rack in a roasting pan.
  • For medium rare, cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 135-140°F.

Once you’ve reached the perfect internal temperature, remove the tri tip from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. This resting time allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful end product.

How Do I Slice Tri Tip?

Tri tip is a unique cut of beef that has become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in part to its versatility and relatively low cost. But in order to get the most out of this tasty piece of meat, it’s important to know how to prepare it properly. One of the most critical steps in the process is learning how to slice tri tip. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Let it rest

Before you start slicing your cooked tri tip, it’s important to let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes. This will allow the meat to cool slightly and “relax,” which will make it easier to slice neatly and evenly. It will also help to retain the internal juices and flavor.

Step 2: Locate the grain

Once your tri tip has rested, the next step is to locate the “grain” of the meat. This is the direction of the muscle fibers, which will be visible on the surface of the meat. To slice against the grain, you’ll want to imagine your knife cutting through those fibers at a perpendicular angle. This will result in more tender, juicy meat.

Step 3: Slice thinly

When you’re ready to start slicing your tri tip, use a sharp chef’s knife and hold it at a slight angle to the meat. Make thin, even slices that are roughly 1/4 inch thick, cutting across the grain of the meat. Be sure to also trim away any excess fat or connective tissue as you go.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy!

Once you’ve sliced your tri tip, it’s ready to serve! Depending on your preference, you can serve it hot or cold, as a main dish or as a sandwich filling. Tri tip is a versatile cut that pairs well with a variety of sauces and sides. Enjoy!

Thanks for Reading!

There you have it, a step-by-step guide for perfect tri tip cooking! We hope this article has inspired you to dust off the grill and try out this delicious cut. Remember to keep your seasonings simple and your cooking times right, and you’ll have a truly amazing meal that’ll impress your guests. Don’t forget to come back for more amazing recipes and cooking tips!

Cooking Tri Tip: A Step-by-Step Guide for Perfect Results

Learn how to cook Tri Tip with this easy step-by-step guide. Grilled Tri Tip is juicy, flavorful and easy to make. Perfect for weekend gatherings, parties, or a simple family meal. Follow these simple tips for a perfectly cooked Tri Tip every time!

  • 1 Tri Tip (about 2-3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Remove the tri tip from the package and pat it dry with paper towels. Trim the excess fat and silver skin from the tri tip, then season generously with the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Let the seasoned tri tip rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, around 375-400°F. If using a gas grill, turn on all burners to high and close the lid, letting the grill heat up for about 10-15 minutes. Once hot, lower the heat to medium-high.
  3. Place the seasoned tri tip on the grill over direct heat. Sear the tri tip for 5-7 minutes on each side, until browned and slightly charred. Once both sides are seared, move the tri tip to the cooler side of the grill to continue cooking over indirect heat. Baste the tri tip with olive oil and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 135°F, about 20-30 minutes. This will ensure that your tri tip is cooked to medium-rare, with a bright pink center. If you prefer your meat more done, continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 145°F for medium or 155°F for medium-well.
  4. Once the tri tip has reached the desired temperature, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing against the grain. This will help the juices redistribute throughout the meat and make for a juicier steak. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
Main dish
tri tip, steak, grilling, BBQ, cooking, meat

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