The Best Grilled Tri-Tip Steak


Best Grilled Tri-Tip Steak

Triangle-shaped tri-tip beef, from the bottom sirloin, is one of the best steak cuts for grilling. Rub it with seasoning and grill it using direct and indirect heat for a juicy, memorable steak dinner. Top with herb butter for an extra flavor that seeps into the meat. 

What is tri-tip? 

A tri-tip is a triangular cut of beef cut from the bottom of the sirloin. Named after its triangular shape with a tapered “tip”, tri-tip might just be one of the most flavourful cuts of meat available at Safeway. It’s also called a “Santa Maria steak” because Santa Maria, California is where it first became popular.

Pick up USDA Choice Tri-Tip Steaks on sale for $3.99/lb. at Safeway this week and make this grilled tri-tip. 

How to cook a Tri-tip

Rich and meaty in flavor and low in fat, tri-tip cooks like a tender steak but slices like a brisket.  It can be smoked, barbecued, grilled or roasted, but it’s always best when cooked to a nice medium-rare, before letting it rest and slicing.

Some recipes will have you cut the layer of fat off the roast, I prefer to keep it on, and let the steak soak in the juiciness of fat as it cooks on the grill.  I score the fat so that it shrinks while cooking, basting the meat in the process. 


How to Grill Tri-Tip Steak

Follow these tips to get the best results when cooking your steak.

  • Score the fat layer with a sharp knife about 1/8 of an inch through the fat.  Do not cut through the meat if you can help it. 
  • Season it on both sides in advance to give the seasoning time to penetrate the meat and enhance its flavor.
  • Let the steak come to room temperature before cooking for more even doneness.
  • While searing the tri-tip on the grill, watch it carefully. As the meat’s fat heats up, it can drip down and cause flare-ups. Keep moving the tri-tip away from the flame if flare-ups occur.
  • Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the steak to check for your desired level of doneness (120°F for a rare, 130°F for medium-rare, and 140°F for medium).
  • Rest and tent the meat with foil 5 to 10 minutes after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute.


Remember that its triangular shape will mean that the tip will be more done, while the center will be slightly pinker.


How to Cut a Tri-Tip 

Take care when slicing your tri-tip – an incorrect cut can take the meat from tender and juicy to tough and chewy.

Tri-tip has two distinct grain patterns: one vertical and one horizontal.

For best results, cut the steak in half where the two grains intersect. Then slice each piece against the grain, to ensure you get the most tender slices of meat.


Tri-Tip Rub

  • tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion 
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or fresh, finely minced)

Note – as a shortcut, you can also use 1.5 tablespoons of your favorite premixed steak seasoning mix – like Kinder’s Prime Rib rub or McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning. 

Herb Butter 

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme


Cooking Temp for a Tri-Tip Stak 

Use a meat thermometer to check for your desired level of doneness (120°F for a rare, 130°F for medium-rare, and 140°F for medium).  I took mine off the grill at 135° and the residual heat brought it to just under 140°, which was perfect for my family as my kids prefer a pink steak, while my husband likes it medium-well. 

So -he ate the end pieces and the kids ate the middle pieces. 

Rest the meat 5 to 10 minutes after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute.



Grilled Tri-Tip Steak With Herb Butter

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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Grilled Tri-Tip Steak
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Eva Fry


Tri-Tip Rub

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or fresh, finely minced

Herb Butter

  • 3 tablespoons butter softened
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme


  • Using a sharp knife, score the fat layer in a diamond pattern.
  • Mix the rub ingredients together in a bowl
  • Sprinkle the rub on the meat on all sides, and massage the rub into the meat.
  • Cover the steak with foil or plastic wrap and let it sit at room temp for an hour to take the chill off and allow the rub
  • to work its magic
  • Prepare your grill for hot direct heat on one side, and indirect heat on the other.
  • Sear the steak for 3-4 minutes per side. Carefully watch the the steak during this process as the fat heats up it can drip down and cause flare-ups. Keep moving the tri-tip away from the flame if flare-ups occur.
  • Move the steak to the indirect heat (cool side of grill), fat side up.
  • Close the grill top to finish cooking.
  • Cook the steak until the temperature of the interior of the tri-tip reaches 120°F for a rare roast, 130°F for
  • medium-rare and 140°F for medium.
  • At this point the meat will take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to cook, depending on how hot your grill is, how well
  • done you want it, and the size of the cut.
  • Meanwhile - prepare the herb butter by combining the softened butter with the rosemary, thyme and parsley. Slather the herb butter over the steak just before removing from the grill.
  • Note that the interior temperature will continue to rise at least 5°F after you take the roast off the heat.
  • Once the steak reaches temperature, remove it from the grill and let it rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10-15
  • minutes.
  • Slice across the grain to serve

What to Serve with a Tri-Tip?

Cherry Tomato and White Bean Salad

Hatch Green Chile Cornbread

Zucchini Corn Fritters

Easy Grilled Vegetables

Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes


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