Mastering How to Cook Tri Tip Steak: Grilling and Roasting

Written by: Samir P.



Time to read 4 min


Tri-tip steak, a favorite among grilling enthusiasts, combines flavor and tenderness, making it a perfect centerpiece for any meal. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a novice in the kitchen, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know to prepare and how to cook tri tip steak.

What is Tri Tip Steak?

Tri tip is a triangular cut of beef from the bottom sirloin subprimal. It’s known for its rich, beefy flavor and relatively tender texture. Originally popular in California, this cut has gained nationwide popularity due to its versatility and taste.

Selecting the Perfect Tri Tip

When choosing a tri tip steak, consider the following:

  1. Quality: Look for USDA Choice or prime-grade beef for the best flavor and tenderness.
  2. Marbling: Good marbling (the streaks of fat within the meat) ensures a juicy and flavorful steak.
  3. Size: Tri tip typically weighs between 1.5 to 3 pounds. Choose a size that fits your cooking method and the servings you need.

Preparing the Tri-Tip


Tri tip often comes with a fat cap on one side. Some prefer to leave a thin layer for added flavor and moisture, while others trim it entirely. If you choose to trim:

  • Use a sharp knife to remove the fat cap, leaving a thin layer if desired.
  • Remove silver skin (a tough, connective tissue) for a more tender bite.


Marinating your tri tip can enhance its flavor and tenderness. A basic marinade might include:


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Optional: herbs like rosemary or thyme


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Place the tri tip in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish.
  3. Pour the marinade over the meat, ensuring it’s well-coated.
  4. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.


If you prefer to skip the marinade, a simple seasoning rub works well:


  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Mix the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Rub the seasoning mixture evenly over the tri tip, pressing it into the meat.
What is Tri Tip Steak?

How to Cook Tri Tip Steak?

1. Grilling

Grilling is a popular method for cooking tri-tip, imparting a smoky flavor and a beautiful sear.

Charcoal Grill Preparation:

  • Light the charcoal and let it burn until it’s covered with a thin layer of gray ash.
  • Divide the coals into a direct heat zone for searing and an indirect heat zone for slower cooking.


  • Place the tri tip directly over the hot coals.
  • Sear for 5-7 minutes per side, creating a nice crust.

Indirect Cooking:

  • Move the tri tip to the cooler side of the grill.
  • Cover the grill and cook until the internal temperature reaches 130°F for medium-rare, about 20-30 minutes.


  • Remove the tri tip from the grill.
  • Tent with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

2. Gas Grill Preparation:

  • Preheat the grill with all burners on high.
  • Once hot, reduce one side to medium-low for indirect cooking.


  • Place the tri tip over the high-heat side.
  • Sear for 5-7 minutes per side.

Indirect Cooking:

  • Move the tri tip to the cooler side of the grill.
  • Close the lid and cook until the internal temperature reaches 130°F for medium-rare.


  • Remove from the grill and let it rest under foil for 10-15 minutes.

3. Oven Roasting

If grilling isn’t an option, oven roasting is a reliable method.


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Heat a large oven-safe skillet (cast iron works well) over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of oil.


  • Sear the tri tip in the skillet for 3-5 minutes per side until browned.


  • Transfer the skillet to the oven.
  • Roast for 15-20 minutes, checking the internal temperature after 15 minutes. Aim for 130°F for medium-rare.


  • Remove the tri tip from the oven.
  • Tent with foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

4. Sous Vide

For precise temperature control, sous vide is an excellent option.


  • Season the tri tip as desired.
  • Please place it in a vacuum-sealed or resealable bag using the water displacement method.


  • Set your sous vide circulator to 130°F for medium-rare.
  • Submerge the bag in the water bath and cook for 2-4 hours.


  • After sous vide cooking, remove the tri-tip and pat it dry.
  • Heat a skillet over high heat with a tablespoon of oil.
  • Sear the tri-tip for 1-2 minutes per side until browned.


Let the tri-tip rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Various Techniques of Cooking Tri Tip Steak

Slicing and Serving

Slicing the tri tip correctly is crucial for maximum tenderness.

Identify the Grain:

Tri-tip has two distinct grain patterns running in different directions. Before cooking, note the direction of the grain.

  1. Cut in Half: After resting, cut the tri-tip in half where the grain changes direction.
  2. Slice Against the Grain: Slice each piece against the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. Cutting against the grain shortens the muscle fibers, making each bite more tender.

Serving Suggestions

Tri-tip is versatile and pairs well with a variety of sides and sauces:

  1. Sides: Consider serving with roasted vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, or a fresh green salad.
  2. Sauces: A chimichurri sauce, creamy horseradish sauce, or a simple au jus can complement the rich flavor of the tri-tip.
  3. Bread: Serve with crusty bread or garlic bread for a complete meal.

Tips for Perfect Tri Tip

  1. Temperature Control: Use a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking. Tri tip is best served medium-rare to medium.
  2. Resting: Allowing the meat to rest after cooking ensures juices redistribute throughout the steak, resulting in a juicier bite.
  3. Searing: Whether you’re grilling, roasting, or using sous vide, don't skip the sear step. It adds a depth of flavor and a delightful crust.
Slicing and Serving Tri Tip Steak

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How to Cook a tri tip steak is pretty straightforward with the proper preparation and technique. Whether you prefer grilling, oven roasting, or sous vide, following these steps will ensure a delicious and tender steak every time. So, gather your ingredients, fire up the grill (or preheat the oven), and enjoy a mouthwatering tri-tip steak that will impress your family and friends.

Happy cooking!

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