Grilled Tri-Tip Roast

grilled tri tip

Pete Scherer

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Dry Bring: 12 hrs
Total: 13 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
479 Calories
25g Fat
0g Carbs
59g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 479
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 188mg 63%
Sodium 749mg 33%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 59g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 44mg 3%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 734mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tri tip is a crescent shaped muscle from the bottom sirloin - the upper portion of the cow's hip - and has the same great sirloin beef flavor you know and love. Sometimes called Santa Maria steak, tri tip is a little on the lean side but big on beefy flavor. This preparation is all about the natural flavors of the beef. It's not about a secret rub or special sauce. This recipe is all about your skill at the grill.

Tri tip can be challenging to cook evenly because of its irregular shape, but when done right it's so tender, juicy, and delicious. What's the secret? There are a couple of techniques that converge to create the perfect tri tip.

The first technique is called dry brining. That's a fancy way of saying that you salt the meat up to 24 hours in advance. While the meat sits in the refrigerator, the salt penetrates deeply into the muscle fibers, adding flavor and juiciness.

The second method is often called the "reverse sear" because you sear the beef at the end of cooking rather than the beginning. Instead of starting with a sear, you begin with a slow, low-temperature smoky roast. This technique promotes gradual, even heating throughout the meat, yielding a roast that is almost uniformly medium-rare throughout, despite this cut's odd shape.

Finally, it can be helpful to purchase your tri tip roast untrimmed and trim it yourself. Tri tip is often sold trimmed of most of its exterior fat. You still want to take off most of the fat, but leaving one side with a 1/4 inch fat cap really enhances the flavor of the final product.

You will need wood for smoking. Mesquite or hickory will work well for this recipe.


  • 1 large (3 to 4-pound) tri-tip roast, untrimmed

  • 3 to 4 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1.  Gather the ingredients.

  2. Trim off most of the fat, but on the side with the thick fat cap, leave about 1/4 inch.

  3. Dry brine the tri tip. Apply the kosher salt all over. Use about 1/2 teaspoon per pound of meat. Place the salted meat on a tray and put it in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. There is no need to wrap or cover the meat.

  4. Set up the grill for two zone cooking: one grate directly over the coals, and one grate over empty space or a heat buffer such as a stone deflector. Adjust the air intake, aiming for an ambient air temperature between 225 F and 275 F. Place a chunk of wood (not chips, maybe something about the size of a baseball) at the edge of the coals.

  5. Just before grilling, season the meat generously with fresh ground pepper. Place the tri tip on the indirect heat side of the grill. Grill until the meat hits an internal temperature of 90 F, then flip it over. Continue grilling in the indirect zone until the internal temperature reaches 115 F.

  6. Move the meat from the indirect side to the grate directly over the coals. Grill for about 2 minutes on each side. Rotate the roast, if you like, to create crosshatched grill marks. When the beef's internal temperature reaches 125 F, remove it from the heat.

  7.  Wrap the tri tip tightly in aluminum foil. Rest the meat for about 10 minutes.

  8.  Slice perpendicular to the grain, and serve immediately.

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