How to Cook Tri-Tip Steak

Tri-tip steak is a versatile beef cut for grilling, broiling, and skillet-cooking. It is lean, tender, full of flavor, and a real bargain. Learn our best tips and techniques for cooking tri-tip steak.

What is a Tri-Tip Steak?

Tri-tip steak is cut from a tri-tip roast, which is a small, triangular cut from the sirloin. The tri-tip was popularized in California but is now more widely marketed, although you may need to request it from your butcher. It is also known as a triangle steak or bottom sirloin steak. Each steak is boneless, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, and should be nicely marbled. You'll be pleased with the rich beef flavor and tender texture, as well as the cheaper price tag than similar steak cuts.

How to Grill Tri-Tip Steaks

  • Because tri-tip steaks are leaner than most cuts, consider marinating them for 2 to 3 hours to keep them moist during grilling. 
  • If marinating, remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. Or 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.
  • For a charcoal grill, place the steaks on a grill rack directly over medium coals. Grill, uncovered, to desired doneness, using the chart below as a guide.
  • For a gas grill, preheat the grill. Reduce heat to medium and place steaks on the grill rack over heat. Cover the grill.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. Transfer the steaks to a plate, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

How to Broil Tri-Tip Steaks

  • As with grilling, marinating for 2 to 3 hours will help to keep the steaks tender and moist but is not essential.
  • If marinating, remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. Or, season plain steaks as desired with a spice rub, herb blend, or salt and pepper. Measure the thickness of the steaks with a ruler.
  • 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.

How to Cook Tri-Tip Steaks in a Skillet

  • Select a heavy skillet that is a good fit for the number of steaks you are cooking. Lightly coat the skillet with nonstick cooking spray, cooking oil, or olive oil.
  • Season the steaks as desired and measure the thickness with a ruler.
  • Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the steaks. They should sizzle if the skillet is hot enough. Do not add any liquid and do not cover the skillet.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook to desired doneness, turning steaks occasionally. If the steaks are cooking too fast, reduce heat to medium low.

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