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My Dry 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.
Table of Contents
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.
The key to getting tender, juicy grilled tri tip is the marinade. I am enamored by this dry 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.
My dry rub is great for breaking down the muscle fibers on this lean cut. Along with some olive oil, it’s going to help make it super tender and juicy.
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 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!
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.
- Remove it and immediately tent with foil to trap the heat and allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes.
- To slice, make one cut through the middle where the grain changes and slice against the grain on each side.
Tri-tip is a flavorful cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin area of the cow. It’s known for its triangular shape and tenderness. To cook tri-tip, it’s best to grill it over direct heat to medium-rare or medium doneness. This typically takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat.
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.
There is quite a bit of fat marbled through the meat which adds flavor and helps to keep it juicy.
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.
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.
Tri-tip can be seasoned in a variety of ways. A popular approach is to create a dry rub using a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and any other desired herbs or spices, like the recipe you’ll find below. Alternatively, marinating the tri-tip in a flavorful mixture overnight can also infuse it with delicious flavors.
My dry rub marinade 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.
Searing the tri-tip before grilling is a personal preference. While some people prefer to sear it on high heat for a few minutes on each side to develop a flavorful crust, others skip this step and directly grill the meat.
Both methods can yield delicious results, so it ultimately depends on your preference. Personally, I don’t take the time to sear first because the high heat of the grill alone creates a beautiful exterior.
It’s important to let the tri-tip rest for about 10-15 minutes after grilling. This allows the juices to redistribute and the meat to become more tender. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil during the resting period to keep it warm.
While tri-tip is best enjoyed medium-rare or medium, you can certainly cook it to a higher doneness if desired. However, be aware that tri-tip is a lean cut, and cooking it well-done may result in a drier texture.
Yes, you can! It can be roasted or braised, similar to a pot roast.
Santa Maria-style tri-tip typically involves a simple yet flavorful seasoning and a unique grilling technique. You start with a dry rub, allowing it to infuse with the flavors before grilling.
It is typically cooked over a red oak wood fire, which imparts a smoky and robust flavor to the meat. The tri-tip is grilled over direct heat, often on a grate or grill grate set at a higher level, allowing the meat to sear and develop a flavorful crust.
How to Check for Doneness
It can take up to 20-25 minutes to cook a 2-pound tri-tip, so it’s best to check the internal temperature with an instant-read digital meat thermometer. Remove the tri-tip from the grill when it reaches this internal temperature:
- 120℉ for rare
- 130℉ for medium rare
- 140℉ for medium
- 150℉ for medium well
- 160℉ for well done
As it rests the temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees to an optimal finished temperature. The recommended temp for tri-tip is 130-140℉ for the perfect medium rare.
The Flesh Test for Meat Doneness:
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, try the flesh test. It’s not quite 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.
How to Slice a Tri Tip
- First, 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 happens as the meat rests. Give it 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? Half of the roast runs one way, and the other half runs differently. 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 even more tender.
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.
- Blue Cheese compound butter
- Sauteed Mushrooms
- Garlic butter (try adding some fresh herbs!
- Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde
- Fresh Pineapple Salsa
- Tomato Avocado Salad
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.
A few things to remember when grilling your tri tip roast.
- Season it well: Tri-tip benefits from robust flavors, so be generous with the seasoning.
- Preheat the grill: Ensure your grill is properly preheated to medium-high heat, around 400-450°F (205-230°C). This allows for a good sear and even cooking.
- Monitor the internal temperature: To achieve the desired level of doneness, use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the tri-tip. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of around 130-135°F (55-57°C).
- Let it rest: After grilling, let the tri-tip rest for 10-15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful end result. Tent it loosely with foil to keep it warm during resting.
- Slice against the grain: To ensure maximum tenderness, slice the tri-tip against the grain. Look for the direction of the muscle fibers and cut across them. This helps break up the fibers and results in tender, easy-to-chew slices.
- Experiment with wood smoke: If using a charcoal grill, consider adding wood chunks or chips to the fire to infuse the tri-tip with smoky flavors. Oak, hickory, or mesquite are popular choices that complement the beefy flavors.
More Grilled BBQ Favorites
- Grilled Steak Marinade
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Root Beer Barbecue Sauce
- Grilled Zucchini Recipe
- Grilled Potatoes Recipe
- Citrus Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Blueberry Dessert Pizza
- Slow Cooker BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Grilled Tri Tip Recipe
- 2 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
- 1/4 cup 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. Wipw off any excess marinade with paper towels.
- 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 internal temperature (120 degrees for rare, 130 for medium rare and 140 for medium), or in a pinch use the flesh test (see post).
- 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.
- 120℉ for rare
- 130℉ for medium rare
- 140℉ for medium
- 150℉ for medium well
- 160℉ for well done
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
last night i made tri tip again using your ‘rub’ for the first time. .actually even though i look at rub combos a lot i had never seen your site…anyway, it was soooo delicious! i will always use your rub recipe from now on. i could do without the cayenne pepper, but aside from that i loved it..so juicy & so tender…i took it out a bit earlier than i usually do, before the temp reached 130degrees, so it was more rare, med rare on the rare, but that was ok for it was so unbelievably tender it didn’t matter. i made it in a cast iron on the stovetop & added lots of minced fresh garlic, fresh rosemary from my garden & fresh thyme. perfect! thank you
You are so welcome Pookie! Thank you so much for the awesome feedback.
i have always heated up my tri tip slices in the microwave for 5 sec..depending on the thickness..it shouldn’t overcook.
i make a tri tip everytime Stater Bros. has it on sale, which is often, experimenting w/different dry rubs & marinades..i am going to make your spice rub tomorrow. i will add several cloves of fresh garlic + fresh rosemarry & thyme..can’t wait!
Perfect spice rub for tri-tip. I don’t make any changes except letting the steak marinate overnight or longer.
Love the feedback Judyw! Thanks for stopping by.
We grilled three tri-tips using this recipe. Rubbed the meat with the spices 24 hours before grilling, then followed the grilling instructions closely. We used an instant-read thermometer and brought the meat to 120 – 125 before removing from the grill. It was perfect! Everyone raved about the flavor, texture and tenderness. This recipe is now going to be a regular in our grilling rotation.
That’s awesome Lynne! That process works for us every time. Love your feedback, thanks for stopping by.
Very tasty! I omitted the onion powder and cayenne pepper and only let it marinate for 2 hours but this was one of the best tri-tips I’ve grilled. Nice little crust and a mix of good flavors with some applewood smoke made for a really great steak. Thanks for sharing your recipe
You are so welcome Gabriel! Thanks for stopping by to share your feedback.
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
You can use regular table salt, you’ll just want to use less. You can skip the dry mustard.
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!
Fantastic feedback Kris! Thanks for stopping by.
It was okay. Not sure it’s really 5 stars.
This was great! However, I did add 1/2 teaspoon of ground rosemary to the mix!
Love the feedback Diane! Thanks for stopping by.
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.
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.
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.
Nice! Thanks for stopping by Nancy. (Awesome feedback)
Hi ! I’m trying to find the protein , fat, carbs , calories! Do you have a breakdown in ounces ?
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.
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.
Awesome feedback Joe! Thanks for stopping by.
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!
You are so welcome Craig! Awesome feedback! Thank you for stopping by.
Delicious! I like simple recipes that enhance the flavor of meat, not overpower it.
Awesome! Thanks for stopping by Rizzo.
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.
Hi Stephanie, you are so welcome, thank you for stopping by.
First of all….WOW! This was one of the best Tri-tip steaks I’ve grilled. Thanks for the recipe!
Thank you Louis! and thank you for your feedback.
Hi, can you broil this? I have a commercial quality gas range,
I tried Butcher box and it came
With this. Thank you!
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.