Grilled Tri Tip is one of the easiest beef roasts to grill. It is also great for feeding a crowd. This Tri Tip recipe is finished with a Zinfandel red wine reduction sauce to add a little extra flavor after you slice it.
Check out our smoked tri tip for even more fun ways to prepare this roast.
If you are wondering what is Tri Tip? It is from the sirloin primal cut of beef. The cut is lean and has a very beefy flavor. After grilling Tri Tip, the texture is soft and delicate and the flavor is rich and juicy.
If wondering where to buy Tri Tip, ask your local butcher if they can cut it up for you from the sirloin. It has a triangular shape as it is cut from the intersection of three muscles.
If they can’t do it, you can always order via a quality beef supplier. Snake River Farms Tri Tip is amazing, with American Wagyu marbling and an incredibly butter-like flavor.
Preparing Tri Tip
A Tri Tip roast will come with some silver skin and fat pockets on it. Using a sharp knife, remove all the silver skin and little pockets of the fat on the outside of the tri tip and discard. If you leave some of that on the cut, some of the thicker pieces of fat will be chewy and unpleasant to bite into.
For a beef rub, we use a very simple “SPG” rub, which is equal parts kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and granulated garlic.
Start with a light coating of extra virgin olive oil after trimming. This acts as a binder that allows the rub to adhere to the meat, and then season the meat liberally.
Grilled Tri Tip
If you are looking for the best grill to cook a Tri Tip, the easiest method is to use a grill that you can set up for direct/indirect grilling or a two-zone grilling.
- Start by preparing your lump charcoal and getting the grill hot. Place the charcoal on one side of the grill, leaving the other half without any charcoal. Target about 450 – 500 degree Fahrenheit over direct heat.
- Place the Tri Tip roast over direct heat and grill for 5 minutes.
- Flip the cut over and continue cooking over direct heat for another 5 minutes. The goal is to get a nice char on each side of the meat, but not allow it to burn.
- Finally move the Tri Tip over to indirect heat and finish cooking for another 10 – 12 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches your desired finishing temperature. We like 125 degrees F for rare.
Cooking to temperature is the most important part of grilling or smoking. This is why it’s easier to get a nice sear first on both sides and then have the indirect side available to finish it to prevent burning the outside with an under cooked interior. Use a high quality reliable instant read thermometer like the Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen or the Thermopop. They take accurate temperature in seconds.
Beef Chef Temperature Ranges
- Rare: 120-130 degrees F
- Medium Rare: 130-140 degrees F
- Medium: 140-150 degrees F
- Medium Well: 150-160 degrees F
- Well Done: 160 degrees F (and not recommended)
How to Cut Tri Tip
This is an important part of the finished cut. Whenever cutting beef after it’s done, cut the meat perpendicular to the grains that make up the muscle striations. You can see the lines or direction of the muscle on both the raw and finished cuts. By cutting against the grain (or perpendicular to the cut) you get a more tender bite.
Start with the small pointy end of the roast. Slice in pencil thin slices perpendicular to the grains until you reach the next angle of the roast. At that point rotate the meat and begin slicing against the grain from the other side of the meat.
Red Wine Reduction Sauce (Zinfandel)
This red wine reduction sauce is a great way to use up any leftover wine, or, if you’re willing to sacrifice a small amount of your wine, simply to add incredible flavor to your meal. Half a glass of wine is enough to make a rich sauce for two people. This red wine reduction sauce recipe is easy and fast to make.
To add a great intense flavor to the grilled Tri Tip, we reduce Zinfandel with some shallots, balsamic vinegar, and thyme to get a delicious sauce to pour over the steak. Zinfandel is a flavorful red wine that has dark berry fruit flavor and intensifies as it is reduced.
- Saute shallots in olive oil to soften (but not brown) and then add the Zinfandel, balsamic vinegar, and thyme.
- Bring up the heat to a strong simmer and reduce the wine to 1/4 cup.
- Strain the shallots and thyme and add the butter. Stir until melted. And serve.
We strain into a glass measuring cup (though this is not necessary if you’d like to keep those bits of shallots). Be careful not to boil the sauce as that will burn the vinegar and create that same taste in the sauce. The butter as it melts will also give that beautiful shine to the red wine reduction sauce while keeping the modest thickness.
Grilled Tri Tip alone has a number of pairing options. The tender beefy flavor and charred meat is great with a bolder style Pinot Noir, Malbec, or even a smooth Merlot. But with this rich red wine reduction sauce we highly recommend it with Zinfandel. The intensity of the reduction sauce, along with the grilled meat, is an amazing match for the rich berry flavors, peppery spice, and acidity you’ll find in a quality Zinfandel wine. You can find great examples from California, especially in Sonoma, Amador County, Lodi, and Paso Robles. You can also find some good local Zin right here in eastern Oregon that would be fantastic with this Tri Tip! Find out more about Zinfandel and its pairing options here.
More Tri Tip Recipes
- Smoked Tri Tip
- Red Wine Marinated Smoked Tri Tip
- Tri Tip Mac and Cheese
- Tri Tip Fajitas
- Santa Maria Style Tri Tip (as found in our cookbook, Fire + Wine)
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Grilled Tri Tip with Red Wine Reduction Sauce
Grilled Tri Tip
- Preheat grill using the two zone or direct/indirect method targeting 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit over the direct heat.
- Remove silver skin and excess fat pockets from tri tip roast.
- Coat the tri tip in olive oil and liberally apply the beef rub.
- Place the tri tip over direct heat for 5 minutes or until you see a nice crust form. Then flip and grill over direct the other side of the roast for an additional 5 minutes or until a nice crust forms.
- Move the tri tip to indirect heat and continue cooking with lid closed until the internal temperature of the meat is 125 degrees F for rare (or your desired internal temperature). About 10-12 additional minutes.
- Remove the tri tip from the grill and then let rest 10 minutes. Slice the tri tip against the grains in pencil thin slices and drizzle with the red wine reduction sauce.
Zinfandel Red Wine Reduction Sauce
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat add olive oil and shallots. Stir until soft but not browned, about 7 minutes.
- Add the wine and balsamic vinegar and then bring to a simmer. Allow wine to simmer for 20 minutes or reduced to 1/4 cup of liquid.
- Strain the shallots from the reduction sauce in a bowl and add butter. Stir until the butter dissolves and pour over the steak. (This is great to prepare while the grill is preheating so it's done when the steak comes off the grill.)