Spice Rubbed Grilled Tri Tip

My Spice Rubbed Grilled Tri Tip is the best ever recipe for Tri Tip on the grill. With 10 spices and seasonings in an overnight spice rub marinade, this tri-tip roast is tender, juicy and incredibly flavorful.

Sliced tri tip, parsley, white platter

Grilled Tri-Tip Recipe

Tri-Tip has been my favorite meat to grill for so long it’s pretty much what you can expect from me if you attend a barbecue we’re hosting. I’ve been making it this way for years and have perfected the method over time. Today I’m not only sharing the recipe but I’ll be sharing some of the best tri tip tips and tricks I’ve learned for how to cook this particular cut of meat.

Tri-tip is not one the most tender cuts of beef you can buy. However, when treated right, it can yield juicy, flavorful, and yes, tender slices of meat right from your grill. The first key to getting tender, juicy tri-tip is the marinade. I am enamored by this spice rub and have been using it for as long as I can remember. There are 9 different spices and a little brown sugar for a touch of sweetness. You can see there’s quite a bit of fat marbled through the meat which helps keep it juicy.

Read on for my tips for getting the Best Ever Grilled Tri-Tip. This particular cut is somewhat regional and more readily available on the west coast. If that’s not where you are, ask your local butcher (or grocery store) to order some for you. It’s also known as a Bottom Sirloin Roast or Triangle Roast. I bet you’ll love it as much as we do!

a raw whole tri tip, spices in a white dish, a knife

The Best Spice Rub

A tri-tip needs a good amount of time to marinate for the seasonings to penetrate the meat and help to break down that muscle. I’ve used a variety of different rubs and marinades but this spice rub is by far my favorite. There are a total of 8 spices, plus salt and brown sugar.

  1. garlic powder
  2. onion powder
  3. black pepper
  4. paprika
  5. chili powder
  6. cayenne pepper
  7. dry mustard
  8. cumin

The first step is to rub the meat all over with a generous amount of kosher salt. Salt is a natural tenderizer. Next rub the meat with the spice rub. Don’t be scared – it looks like a lot! But it’s going to coat the meat and give it a nice, flavorful crust when it’s grilled. Now toss it in a ziploc bag with some olive oil and let the baby rest in the fridge overnight. The longer you can let it marinate, the better – I’ve let it go as long as 36 hours and man was that a good roast!

images of a cutting board, a raw tri tip, a spice rub and a knife

How to Grill a Tri Tip

Preheat your gas grill to a nice medium heat (I try to keep mine between 350 and 400). Let the meat sit out for about 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature while your grill preheats.

Set the meat on the hot grates of your grill. I like to start with the fat side up so as it starts to melt, the juices drip down and flavor the meat. Close the lid, watch for flare-ups and leave it alone until it’s time to flip it over.

Depending on how rare you want your roast to be (we go medium rare with tri-tip) it will take anywhere from 6-10 minutes per side.

collage with images of a tri tip cooking on the grill

Should You Flip a Trip Tip?

A tri tip has 3 sides – it’s sort of like a 3D triangle shape. You’ll want to get grill marks on all sides, so you may have to flip it more than once. But, generally speaking, throw it on the grill and LEAVE IT ALONE.

Just like any piece of meat that you cook on the stovetop or grill, please let that meat be. It can take anywhere from 6-10 minutes per side depending on how rare you like it. Every time you lift it up or flip it over before it’s ready, you risk losing that nice sear and also overcooking your meat. Flip it once, let it sit and then flip it one last time.

At what temp should I BBQ a tri tip?

Heat your grill to about 350-400 degrees F. It’s important to keep the grill closed when cooking tri tip to keep at the same temperature.

If your BBQ has a temperature gauge on the front, you’ll notice that the temp goes down dramatically when the lid is open. It can drop as much as 100-200 degrees. Keeping the grill lid closed keeps the heat in and allows the roast to cook more evenly.

How to Check for Doneness

It can take up to 20-25 minutes to cook a 2 pound tri-tip, so check the temperature with an instant read digital meat thermometer (120 degrees for rare, 130 for medium rare and 140 for medium), or in a pinch use the flesh test (see notes). 

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, try the flesh test. It’s not quite as reliable, but it will do in a pinch.

  • Different parts of your face will match the feel of the center of the meat at certain levels of doneness.
  • Touch your cheek with your index finger. This is what “rare” feels like. Touch your chin; this is what a medium-rare to medium piece of meat will feel like. Touch your forehead – this is about the way a well-done steak will feel.

I’ve been using this method for years and it’s almost foolproof!

How to Slice a Tri Tip

First, let it rest. This tip is true for any piece of meat. If you’ve ever cut into a piece of steak right after it’s come off the grill you’ve seen those lovely juices (aka flavor) run all over the cutting board and onto the counter and there’s no way to get them back. While meat is cooking, the juices all run to the center. Those juices need time to redistribute throughout the meat which is what happens as the meat rests. Give it a good 10 minutes under a tented piece of foil before slicing it up.

Second, slice against the grain. This is one you’ve probably heard, but when it comes to tri-tip did you know that the grain runs two different ways? One half of the roast runs one way, and the other half runs a different way. When you go to cut your roast, cut it in half first (pay attention to where the grain changes) then cut each half against the grain. You can see below when they kind of go their separate ways in the middle. Cutting it this way makes it easy to cut and chew the meat, and makes it even more tender.

cutting board, parsley, sliced grilled tri tip

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A Tri-tip steak sliced in pieces on a plate

Spice Rubbed Grilled Tri-Tip

This Spice Rubbed Grilled Tri Tip recipe will yield the juiciest, most tender BBQ Tri-Tip ever! Plus tips for grilling, slicing and serving!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 6 hrs 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 314kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 pound Tri-Tip Roast
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Trim the large chunks of fat (or have your butcher do this) from the tri-tip, and cut the thin silvery skin off if you can. Rub the salt all over the tri-tip.
  • Combine the remaining seasonings (except the olive oil) in a small bowl and rub into the tri-tip. (*It will seem like a lot, but that's a good thing!).
  • Pour ¼ cup of olive oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Place the spice rubbed tri-tip in the bag with the olive oil and rub it in to coat completely. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal. Place in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours, or up to 24 hours.
  • When ready to grill, preheat an outdoor gas grill to 350-400 degrees F. Remove the tri tip from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while the grill is heating.
  • Place the tri-tip directly over the flames on the hot grill. Close the lid and watch for flare-ups. 
  • Cook approximately 8-10 minutes per side for medium rare. It can take up to 20-25 minutes to cook a 2 pound tri-tip, so check the temperature (120 degrees for rare, 130 for medium rare and 140 for medium), or in a pinch use the flesh test (see notes). 
  • Place the cooked roast on a cutting board to rest, covered loosely with foil for about 10 minutes.
  • Uncover and cut in half, where the grain changes direction, then cut each piece against the grain into ½ inch slices.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

If you don't have a meat thermometer, try the flesh test. It's not quite as reliable as a thermometer, but it will do in a pinch. 
  • Different parts of your face will match the feel of the center of the meat at certain levels of doneness.
  • Touch your cheek with your index finger. This is what "rare" feels like. Touch your chin; this is what a medium-rare to medium piece of meat will feel like. Touch your forehead - this is about the way a well-done steak will feel.
I've been using this method for years and it's almost foolproof!

Nutrition

Calories: 314kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 40gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 883mgPotassium: 662mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 566IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 51mgIron: 3mg
Keyword bbq tri tip, grilled tri tip

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. I don’t have kosher salt and I don’t have dry mustard what can I use to replace or use instead of kosher salt and dry mustard cause I don’t have that right

  2. This is so good!! I let the rub sit on the meat 24hours. Grilled at 375 on the Traeger & got it to 145. 2lb steak & it took about 10 min on each side. Rested about 8 min. So tender & good!

  3. What would happen if I let it sit in the rub for more like 30 hrs? Smoked/seared this a couple weeks ago and it was incredible. Only had the rub on for a few hours though.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I have left the rub on and the tri tip in the fridge for as long as 48 hours and it was fine. I’d recommend no more than a day – but at 30 hours you should be fine.

  4. Made this roast as your instructions. We however used husbands rub and did in oven rather than grill. We cooked in cast iron. We could not believe how tender and quick cooking. We were amazed. It was too rare for me but we all agreed better on the grill. Would try again but the price of this cut is very expensive. Perhaps a special occasion for us. Better I a sandwich next day.

  5. Hi ! I’m trying to find the protein , fat, carbs , calories! Do you have a breakdown in ounces ?

    1. Hi Veronica, It’s just a 2-3 pound tri-tip roast, so it will depend on the size you buy. I don’t have the ability to break it down into ounces from there, but there are several online nutritional calculators I’m sure can help you out.

  6. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It is awesome! I smoked mine with a reverse seer but this rub and age process worked very well and I’m sure I’ll use it many more times.

  7. This recipe is absolutely fantastic! It has been my go-to each and every time I do tri-tip – and that has been well over 20 of them (so far). I’ve done this on the gas grill following Kristen’s exact recipe and instructions. I’ve also done them on a smoker. I bring the tri-tip up to about 110 degrees (measured in the thickest part with a thermometer), then wrap it in foil and a towel and place it in a cooler while I turn the smoker up to it’s highest setting. About 15 mins later when the smoker reaches its maximum temp (about 425) I sear it on both sides making a nice crust and take it off at medium rare. It continues to cook a bit more once it’s off, so plan for that. I’ve honestly had no desire to try any other recipe for tri-tip. This is a hands-down winner, each and every time! Thank you Kristen!

  8. I’m a SoCal gal too from Orange County & we LOVE our tri-tip! I was looking for a marinade or rub to change things up and stumbled upon your website & this recipe. This thick rub was to die for and made the best trip-tip with a beautiful crust and incredible flavor. I made a chimichurri too that I’ve made for years to go with it but used hardly any because the flavor of the meat was so good by itself. Thank you & look forward to goin thru your recipes for more ideas.

  9. First of all….WOW! This was one of the best Tri-tip steaks I’ve grilled. Thanks for the recipe!

      1. Hi, can you broil this? I have a commercial quality gas range,
        I tried Butcher box and it came
        With this. Thank you!

        1. Hi Erin, you can roast tri-tip in the oven at 350. For this recipe, just use the rub, not the oil. Then sear the meat on all sides in a couple of tablespoons of oil in an oven safe pan and pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes per pound.

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