How to Cook Beef Loin Tri Tip Steak

Tri tip steak, also known as triangle roast, Newport steak or Santa Maria steak, is a flavorful and affordable cut of beef from the bottom sirloin. While not as popular as ribeye or filet mignon, tri tip has a robust beefy flavor and can be prepared in a variety of ways. This guide will provide tips and techniques for cooking the perfect tri tip steak.

What is Tri Tip Steak?

  • Tri tip steak is triangular in shape and gets its name from the small triangular muscle located near the back of the cow.
  • It weighs around 1.5 to 2.5 pounds and there are only 2 tri tips on each cow.
  • It has nice marbling which provides great flavor and tenderness when cooked right.
  • Compared to other steaks, tri tip is very affordable at around $7 to $12 per pound.

Benefits of Tri Tip

  • Budget-friendly – More affordable than premium cuts like ribeye or tenderloin.
  • Tender and juicy – When sliced against the grain, it has a tender, juicy texture.
  • Bold beefy flavor – With adequate marbling, tri tip has a rich beefy taste.
  • Versatile – Can be grilled, smoked, roasted or broiled.
  • Perfect size – Individual steaks are a nice portion size.

How to Buy Tri Tip

  • Look for solid marbling throughout as this adds flavor and moisture. Avoid tri tips with little marbling.
  • Choose steaks that are 1.5 to 2.5 pounds. Steaks under 1.5 pounds tend to cook unevenly.
  • Pick tri tips with a bright red color throughout. Avoid brown or gray colored steaks.
  • For maximum tenderness, choose USDA Choice grade tri tip over Select.

Tri Tip Prep Tips

  • Let it rest at room temp – Remove tri tip from fridge and let sit at room temp for 30 min to 1 hour before cooking.
  • Season generously – Use a rub or coat evenly with oil and seasonings. Tri tip benefits from bold seasoning.
  • Maximize browning – Pat dry before searing. Browning adds tons of beefy flavor.
  • Cook to medium rare – Cook to 135°F for peak juiciness and tenderness.

How to Cook Tri Tip Steak

Oven Roasted Tri Tip

Cooking tri tip in the oven is simple and gives great results every time. Use this oven tri tip recipe:

  • Prep – Take tri tip out of fridge and let sit 30 min – 1 hour until it reaches room temp. Pat dry and coat all over with oil. Season liberally with salt, pepper and other spices/herbs.

  • Roast – Preheat oven to 450°F. Place tri tip on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and roast until internal temp reaches 135°F, about 30-45 more minutes.

  • Rest – Remove from oven, tent with foil and let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing against the grain.

Grilled Tri Tip

The high dry heat of the grill adds great flavor to tri tip. Follow these tips:

  • Use direct/indirect heat – Sear over direct high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Then move to indirect heat and cook until 135°F.

  • Make crosshatch marks – Rotate steak 45 degrees halfway through searing to get nice grill marks.

  • Let rest before slicing – Always let rest 10-15 minutes to allow juices to redistribute.

  • Slice against the grain – Slicing against the grain shortens the muscle fibers for tenderness.

Smoked Tri Tip

Smoking tri tip produces incredibly moist, tender and flavorful results. Use these smoking tips:

  • Use a rub – Coat tri tip evenly with a dry rub at least one hour before smoking.

  • Smoke at 225-250°F – Use hickory, oak or mesquite wood for flavor. Smoke until internal temp reaches 135°F.

  • Finish by searing – For crispy exterior, sear smoked tri tip briefly on grill or in a hot pan.

  • Let meat rest – Always allow meat to rest before slicing for juicier meat.

Sous Vide Tri Tip

Cooking tri tip using sous vide yields exceptionally tender results:

  • Season and seal – Season tri tip all over then seal in a sous vide bag, removing excess air.

  • Cook at 130°F – Cook for 2-4 hours until center reaches 130°F for medium rare doneness.

  • Sear quickly – Remove meat and pat dry. Sear briefly on hot grill or in cast iron skillet.

  • Slice against grain – After resting, slice very thinly against the grain for tenderness.

Tri Tip Doneness Temps

It’s crucial to use an instant read thermometer to determine doneness when cooking tri tip. Remove from heat when steak reaches these internal temps:

  • Rare: 120-125°F
  • Medium Rare: 130-135°F
  • Medium: 140-145°F
  • Medium Well: 150-155°F
  • Well Done: 160+°F

Tri tip is best enjoyed at medium rare doneness between 130-135°F. This ensures it stays tender and juicy.

How to Slice Tri Tip

Proper slicing is key for tender tri tip steak:

  • Rest before slicing – Let meat rest at least 10-15 minutes before slicing to allow juices to redistribute.

  • Identify grain direction – Locate which way the muscle fibers run to determine slicing direction.

  • Slice against the grain – Always slice tri tip very thinly against the grain. This yields the most tender bite.

Common Tri Tip Recipes

  • Santa Maria Style – Rubbed with salt, pepper and garlic then grilled over red oak coals.

  • Coffee-Chile Rubbed – Coated in a spicy, coffee-infused dry rub before grilling or smoking.

  • Rosemary-Garlic Crusted – Topped with a mixture of crushed garlic, rosemary and olive oil then oven roasted.

  • Teriyaki Marinated – Soaked overnight in a sweet and salty teriyaki marinade.

What to Serve with Tri Tip

Tri tip steak pairs well with these sides:

  • Roasted potatoes or baked potato
  • Grilled vegetables like zucchini or bell peppers
    -Fresh green salad with vinaigrette
  • Garlic bread or dinner rolls
  • Rice pilaf or risotto
  • Roasted root vegetables like carrots or parsnips

With its robust beefy flavor and tender texture, tri tip steak is a budget-friendly cut worth adding to your grilling and dinner rotation. Follow these tri tip cooking tips for irresistibly tender, juicy and flavorful results.

How to Cook TriTip Steak


What is the best cooking method for tri tip steak?

How to Cook Tri-Tip Steaks on the Grill. The high heat from the grill is perfect for cooking tri-tip steaks. Because tri-tip steaks are leaner than most cuts, consider marinating them for 2 to 3 hours to keep them moist during grilling.

Is beef loin tri tip steak good?

Tri-tip is a very flavorful steak, boasting a nice beefy taste and tender chew. Although it is a lean cut of meat, it does have a decent amount of fat, offering a bit of buttery taste. It does take to a marinade nicely, and therefore will adopt the flavors of the ingredients.

Does tri-tip get tender the longer you cook it?

The longer you cook tri-tip the more tender it will become, so you can choose your time according to what you are trying to accomplish. For a more traditional texture you can cook it until it is just heated through, usually 3 to 4 hours.

How do you make tough tri-tip tender?

My tri tip marinade starts with a base of olive oil plus red wine and balsamic vinegar. The oil adds a little extra fat and helps tenderize the meat. The acid in the vinegar does its part, too, breaking down the steak’s tough fibers.

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