How to Cook Tri-Tip

Tri-tip is a tender, lean beef cut that gets its name from its triangular shape. It is sold as a small roast from the bottom sirloin or cut into tri-tip steaks. What makes it special is the full flavor it promises for an affordable price. Season tri-tip and roast in the oven for an easy-fix dinner.


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If you haven't heard of tri-tip, that's because for a long time, it was primarily a cut marketed in California and is still sometimes called a Santa Maria steak. Other names for the tri-tip are bottom sirloin roast and triangle roast. If you don't see it in the meat case, you may need to request it from your butcher. A boneless tri-tip roast weighs around 1-1/2 to 2 pounds and is around 2 inches thick. It can also be cut into steaks or cubed for kabobs. Tri-tip meat should be nicely marbled even though it is considered a lean, tender cut. It is especially prized for its rich, beefy flavor.

Tip: One tri-tip roast, weighing 1-1/2 to 2 pounds, makes 6 to 8 servings.

Cooking a Tri-Tip Roast

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Oven roasting (high-heat baking) works well for this compact roast.

1. Seasoning the tri-tip roast

For added flavor, consider rubbing it with a tasty spice rub. If you have the time, cover the seasoned roast and chill for 6 to 24 hours. This will allow the flavors to penetrate the meat more deeply. Or marinate the roast in your favorite marinade for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. You can also just sprinkle the meat with salt and ground black pepper before baking, then serve with a sauce or a topper of sauteed mushrooms and onions.

2. Prepping the tri-tip roast

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into the center of the roast. Because a tri-tip roast is only a couple of inches thick, it will brown nicely on high heat while keeping the center moist and pink.

3. Oven-roasting the tri-tip roast

  • Place roast in the oven and roast, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until the thermometer registers 135 degrees F. Remove from the oven and cover with foil. Let the meat stand for 15 minutes, which will bring the temperature up to 145 degrees F (medium rare) after standing.
  • For medium doneness, roast for 40 to 45 minutes or until the thermometer registers 150 degrees F. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes, which will bring the temperature to 160 degrees F (medium). Because this cut contains so little fat, be sure not to cook it past medium.

4. Carving the trip-tip roast

Transfer the roast to a cutting board. With a carving knife, thinly slice the meat across the grain.

Tip: The stand time not only brings up the temperature, it also allows the juices to be absorbed back into the meat so they don't spill out onto the cutting board.

Cooking Tri-Tip Steaks

You can ask the butcher to cut a tri-tip roast into 3/4- to 1-inch-thick steaks. These are best suited for broiling in the oven.

1. Seasoning Tri-Tip Steaks

  • Marinating for 2 to 3 hours in your favorite marinade is not essential but will help keep the steaks tender and moist while cooking. If marinating, remove the steaks from the marinade before cooking and discard the marinade.
  • Another option is to season plain steaks as desired with a spice rub, herb blend, or salt and ground black pepper.
  • Measure the thickness of the steaks with a ruler.

2. Broiling Tri-Tip Steaks

  • Preheat the broiler. Place the steaks on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat to desired doneness, using the chart below as a guide.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. Transfer the steaks to a plate, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Broiling Chart Thickness Approximate Direct-Grilling Time Doneness
Tri-Tip Steaks

3/4 inch

3/4 inch

1 inch

1 inch

6 to 7 minutes

8 to 9 minutes

9 to 10 minutes

11 to 12 minutes

145 degrees F medium rare

160 degrees F medium

145 degrees F medium rare

160 degrees F medium

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