Spice Rubbed Grilled Tri Tip

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

Sliced tri tip, parsley, white platter

Why You’ll Love This 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 grilling method and the perfect tri tip rub over time.

Today I’m not only sharing the recipe for my Best Ever Grilled Tri Tip, but I’ll be sharing some of the best tips and tricks I’ve learned for how to cook this particular cut of meat.

My spice rub is great for breaking down the muscle fibers on this lean cut of meat. It’s going to help make it super tender and juicy.

What is Tri Tip?

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 real key to getting tender, juicy grilled 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.

This particular cut is somewhat regional and more readily available on the west coast, and more specifically in California. 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 Ingredients

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
  9. Salt
  10. Brown sugar

How to Marinate a Tri Tip

  • 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 that 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 8-12 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 8-12 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 to maintain the cooking temperature. Using too high of a heat can cause the meat to cook too fast on the outside, and not enough on the inside, and can also lead to flare-ups.

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 as much as possible 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).

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.

The Flesh Test for Meat Doneness:

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

  • Let it rest. This tip is true for any piece of meat. Cut into the meat too soon and you’ll lose the juices all over your cutting board. 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.
  • 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

Serving Suggestions

The rub and marinade will impart a ton of flavor to your roast, so you don’t need a ton of toppings to finish it off. However, it’s nice to have options! Try one of these delicious finishes the next time you make this recipe.

Storing Leftovers

If you have leftover meat, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Reheating can be tricky because it’s easy to overcook. I usually melt some butter in a skillet and heat the slices that way. They are delicious with scrambled eggs and toast!

You can also thinly slice leftovers for sandwiches.

More Grilled BBQ Favorites

If you’ve made this recipe, please come back and leave us a star rating or a comment below. Or, tag us on social media @yellowblissroad or #yellowblissroad for a chance to be featured.
A Tri-tip steak sliced in pieces on a plate

Grilled Tri-Tip with Spice Rub

4.70 from 39 votes
Grilled Tri-Tip is so tender, juicy and EASY! Learn all about how to prep, spice rub, marinate, and properly grill and slice a tri-tip roast.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 6 hrs 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 314kcal


  • 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


  • 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.


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.


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

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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  1. The first tritip I ever cooked was this recipe and it came out amazing. I cooked it on my Weber grill using some hickory chips to smoke. I cut the silver skin off the fat but left the fat layer that was on one side on. I criss-hatch cut the fat layer. I cooked it about 45 minutes total which got it to 135 in the thickest part. The ends were probably medium-well. This tasted great! Served with a kale salad and potato salad. One satisfied family here!

  2. Whooee! That picture of that finished tri-tip at the end looks delightful. I’d eat that up in a heartbeat. My in-laws and I have decided to start looking at getting into barbecue more. I think we’d like to try all the wonderful foods before we start making them ourselves, though.

  3. I’ve been cooking steak a long time and have never enjoyed a steak as good as this! Thank you for a small piece of heaven! 5 stars!!!

  4. Hi! I’m curious if this turns out spicy at all. My kiddos are very sensitive to spice, so I’m wondering if I should leave out the chili powder or cayenne? Thanks!

    1. It is a bit spicy. If you are concerned about the heat, I would suggest leaving out the cayenne and maybe cut the chili powder in half.

  5. Thank you Kristin, we’ve used this recipe about 8 times so far. Everyone is always amazed and asks for the ingredients.

    1. I think you could! I haven’t tried this particular recipe in the oven but I don’t think it would get that nice crust that it does on the grill. I would maybe try with the seasonings cut in half and little to no oil.

  6. Wow! Can’t believe how wonderful this recipe is! I’ve never cooked a tri tip before so the instructions were right on and the seasoning was the best! There was none left over! Thanks again!

  7. Superb! What an amazing recipe! The meat was tender with a beautiful crust… I will be making this delight on a regular basis. Thank you sooo much for sharing the recipe!

  8. Wow! What an amazing recipe!!! This is the first time ever I have had this cut of meat to prepare…this recipe will become a regular for us! Major delicious!!!! Thank you!!!

  9. My husband went to CA for training last year, he came back raving about this tri-tip BBQ he had. I bought a Tri-tip from Crowd Cow, and used this recipe to grill it. We almost at all 2.5 lbs, it was so good!

    I thought the Cayane wss going to be too much, but I followed the recipe to a tee, and it was perfect.

    I will not change anything next time I make this.


  10. Im in the process of marinating and this recipe made me feel like the master chef for the evening(eventhough its not done yet, ive masterd the grilling techniques already), so I have faith with just the smell this is going to be a top favorite in my family! and since I dont have a heat thermometer I am blown away by the how to cook meat with your body temp!! You are a genius and I love the spice mix. FOOD is MEDICINE, I am grateful you shared this recipe. As I wait I wanted to THANK YOU all the way from HAWAII!!!! Warmest Aloha

  11. I make this monthly for our family Sunday dinner and am considered to be The Godfather of back yard BBQ. I always do the rub on Saturday. The key is the inside temperature reading!!
    Thank you!

    I didn’t let it marinate over night because I found this recipe like 2 hours before actually making dinner, so I let it marinate for 2 hours only but still turned out sooooo good.
    The only thing I did different was I made this in the oven. I live in an apartment so I dont have a grill in hand.
    I found a tri tip recipe online to make it in the oven so I combined both of your recipes….
    I seared the fat part for 4 minutes on my cast iron skillet and then place it in the oven at 425 for 25 minutes (math is 10 minutes per pound of the cut your making). It was the perfect temperature and we loved it.
    Thank you for the rub. Sooooooo good!

  13. Since discovering Sous Vide 6 months ago, I have had THE BEST Tri Tip ever. The Sous Vide will tenderize it.. I appreciate seasonings, but sometimes less is more. I use chili powder, lemon pepper and Lawry’s seasoning salt in that order. Sous Vide for 7.5hrs @ 134F. Sear afterwards. AMAZING.

  14. I appreciate anybody who loves Tri tip as much as me…
    I slow smoke mine at 250, flipping once at 1 1/2 hours—-my family isn’t to keen on rare, so for me, this time and temp method works almost perfect for a 3hr, med rare cook, to 3.5- 4 hrs med cook,( I like to pull mine at 140, the wrap and let sit)
    Sorry, forgot to mention that I do 5 at a time as I have a army to feed…most of the time…
    Marinating doesn’t give you a chewy meat? I’m real hesitant to marinate wet, but a dry rub all day is my go to.
    Thanks and keep cooking