How To Grill Tri Tip Perfectly Every Time

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Learning How To Grill Tri Tip is all about a hot fire and two-zone grilling. Read on to learn the key tips for perfectly grilled Tri Tip every time in less than 30 minutes.

A grilled Tri Tip cooking over a hot grill
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Tri Tip is a beautiful beef roast that comes from the Sirloin portion of beef cattle. It’s tender with nice marbling and is a great roast to smoke, grill, or slice up for sandwiches. But the easiest way to cook tri tip is to grill it hot and fast.

Ingredients + Substitutions

  • Tri Tip – Look for good marbling for the best tri tip flavor. The more marbling the more that intramuscular fat and connective tissue to add flavor as it grills. You can read more about quality levels in our article on choice versus prime.
  • Binder – We use extra virgin olive oil. You can also sub with beef stock, Worcestershire, or even mustard.
  • Seasoning – We use our herbal and savory beef seasoning. Alternatively, you can use a Kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and granulated garlic mix also called SPG rub. Or use your favorite beef rub that does not contain sugar, because sugar can burn when cooked over direct heat or flame.
A raw tri tip with good marbling

Preparation

Tri tip comes from the sirloin of beef and is typically pretty well butchered when you buy it. If you see any substantial pockets of silver skin just remove that with a sharp knife. Remove any fat pockets as well.

Coat the tri tip with olive oil and then liberally apply your beef rub all over the cut before grilling. We like to do this the day prior and then store, covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator to allow the salt and flavor to dry brine the meat. This adds incredible flavor to the finished tri tip.

How to Grill Tri Tip

  1. Prep: Prepare your grill for two-zone grilling, targeting 450 degrees Fahrenheit in the cooking chamber. We prefer to use lump charcoal if using a charcoal grill for the extra flavor.
  2. Grill Direct: Place the seasoned tri tip on the grill grates over direct heat and close the lid. Grill over direct heat for up to six minutes or until you see a nice crust develop. Flip the tri tip over and continue grilling direct for an additional 6 minutes with the lid closed.
  3. Grill Indirect: When both sides of the tri tip have a nice seared crust, move the tri tip to the indirect side of the grill on the grates and close the lid. Continue to grill on indirect heat until the internal temperature of your steak reaches your desired internal temperature. For us, that’s 130 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare.
  4. Rest: Remove the tri tip when it hits your desired temperature and allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes uncovered. This allows for carry overcooking to occur and the internal temperature of the tri tip will increase by an additional 3 – 5 degrees. Slice against the grain and serve with your favorite sides.

Expert Tip

It’s important to rest your steak for up to 10 minutes to allow carry-over cooking to occur. Regardless of your desired internal meat temperature if you don’t allow for carry-over cooking and the rest time you will run the risk of overcooking the tri tip.

Beef Temperature Ranges

Be sure to take into consideration the carry-over cooking that happens while the steak rests. For steaks remove them 5 degrees lower than your desired temperature. For roasts remove them 10 degrees lower. The steak’s internal temperature will rise as it rests.

Black and Blue100 – 120° Fahrenheit (F)37 – 48° Celsius (C)
Rare120 – 130° F48 – 54° C
Medium Rare130 – 140° F54 – 60° C
Medium140 – 150° F60 – 65° C
Medium Well (not recommended)150 – 160° F65 – 71° C
Well Done (not recommended)160 – 170° F71 – 76° C

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

how long do you grill tri tip

Tri tip should be grilled until the internal temperature reaches your desired internal target temperature. Typically a medium rare tri tip will take 20-30 minutes, plus rest time. Exact time will be dependent on the size of your tri tip.

Do you close the grill while grilling tri tip

Yes, closing the grill door helps to keep the heat in, minimize flare-ups, and keep a stable grill temperature.

What is the best method for tri tip?

We always prefer to reverse sear tri tip (with a smoke flavor first and then finish over direct heat), when we have the option to do so. But a close second is grilling using a two-zone grilling method.

Do you need to marinate tri tip

Because tri tip is a thicker cut of meat there is no need to marinate it. It’s better to season it early, and then allow the natural beef flavor to shine. Save marinating for thinner cuts of meat like skirt steak or hanger steak.

What To Make With This Recipe

Tri tip can pair with so many side dishes. Our go-to with steak is potatoes and our perfectly roasted potatoes is a winner. Add grilled broccolini as well for a great veggie you can make at the same time.

For wine, we try to match with a red wine that has less tannins since tri tip has less fat versus ribeye or a NY Strip. Look for a good rich Syrah, Mourvèdre, or other Rhone varietal. A California Zinfandel can also be a great match as well as a bigger style Oregon Pinot Noir.

Other Tri Tip Recipe Ideas

Try our smoked tri tip for a little extra flavor. Tri tip also makes for great fajitas cooked in cast iron, or a tri tip sandwich. you can also grill tri tip with a Red Wine Reduction Sauce.

We also have a great Santa Maria seasoned Grilled Tri Tip Recipe only available in our cookbook. And if you have leftovers try our Tri Tip Mac and Cheese Recipe.

Tools Used

  • Instant Read Meat Thermometer – The most important grilling tool is a good instant read thermometer so you can determine the internal temperature of the tri tip and cook to your perfect temperature. We use the Thermoworks Thermapen One.
  • Long Tongs – The second of the most important grilling tools is a sturdy set of long tongs to prevent burning your arm and arm hair over the heat.

About Vindulge

Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.


Grilled Tri Tip cooking over a hot grill
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How To Grill Tri Tip

Grill perfect Tri Tip every time with our fool-proof method using two-zone grilling.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 people
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Ingredients 

  • 2 pound tri tip, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons beef seasoning

Instructions 

  • Prep: Prepare your grill for two-zone grilling targeting 450 degrees Fahrenheit in the cooking chamber. We prefer to use lump charcoal if using a charcoal grill for the extra flavor. Coat the tri tip with olive oil and the seasoning liberally.
  • Grill Direct: Place the seasoned tri tip on the grill grates over direct heat and close the lid. Grill direct for up to 6 minutes or until you see a nice crust develop. Flip the tri tip over and continue grilling direct for an additional 6 minutes with the lid closed.
  • Grill Indirect: When both sides of the tri tip have a nice seared crust, move the tri tip to the indirect side of the grill on the grates and close the lid. Continue to grill over indirect heat until the internal temperature of your steak reaches your desired internal temperature. For us that's 130 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare.
  • Rest: Remove the tri tip when it hits your desired temperature and allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes, uncovered. This allows for carry overcooking to occur and the internal temperature of the tri tip will increase by an additional 3 – 5 degrees. Slice against the grain and serve with your favorite sides.

Nutrition

Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 147mg | Sodium: 121mg | Potassium: 775mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 63IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American, grilled
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 397
Keyword: grilled tri tip, how to grill tri tip
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Vindulge

About Mary


I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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