How to Cook Tri-Tip Steak 3 Easy Ways for a Quick and Delicious Entrée

Tri-tip steak is a versatile beef cut best cooked by grilling, broiling, and skillet-cooking. It is lean, tender, full of flavor, and a bargain compared to other steaks at the meat counter. We'll walk you through each of the best ways to cook tri-tip steak, sharing some of our best tri-tip steak recipes along the way.

Craving a juicy steak but don't want to spend a long time waiting for it to cook? Cook a tri-tip cut of beef! The tri-tip steak is best cooked using fast-cooking methods, meaning less time in the kitchen and more time for eating. This particular cut comes from the bottom sirloin, which also makes a delicious roast. So if you're looking for a low and slow way to cook tri-tip, you'll want to use a tri-tip roast instead. Learn how to cook a tri-tip steak with our three simple methods, and you'll have dinner ready in no time.

Tri-Tip Steaks with visible grill marks on Texas Toast on white plate. Topped with red onion, jalapeno slices, and shredded lettuce.

How to Grill Tri-Tip Steaks

The high heat from the grill is perfect for cooking 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. After they're marinated, use the following steps for grilling tri-tip steaks.

  • If marinating, remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. (Or you can season plain steaks with a spice rub, herb blend, or salt and ground black pepper. Use the tri-tip rub from this roast recipe as inspiration)
  • Measure the thickness of the steaks with a ruler.
  • For a charcoal or gas grill, cook steaks, covered, over medium heat to desired doneness (guidelines below), turning once halfway through grilling.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. Transfer the steaks to a plate, tent with foil, and let stand 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

How Long to Grill Tri-Tip Steak

Here's why you measured your steak earlier. Your grilling time depends on the thickness of your steak.

  • ¾-inch thick steaks: 9 to 11 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 11 to 13 minutes for medium (160°F).
  • 1-inch thick steaks: 13 to 15 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 15 to 17 minutes for medium (160°F).

How to Broil Tri-Tip Steaks

When it comes to cooking tri-tip in the oven, opt for broiling the meat instead of baking to keep with the fast-cooking methods that make tri-tip recipes their most delicious. As with grilling, marinating 2 to 3 hours will help to keep the steaks tender and moist, but is not essential. Follow these steps for broiling tri-tip steak.

  • If marinating, remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. (Or you can season plain steaks with a spice rub, herb blend, or salt and ground black pepper. Use the tri-tip rub from this roast recipe as inspiration).
  • 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 your desired doneness. Use the guidelines below for how long to cook tri-tip steaks in the oven.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. Transfer the steaks to a plate, tent with foil, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

How Long to Broil Tri-Tip Steaks

Broiling steaks takes 10 minutes or less, depending on their thickness.

  • ¾-inch thick steaks: 6 to 7 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 8 to 9 minutes for medium (160°F).
  • 1-inch thick steaks: 9 to 10 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 11 to 12 minutes for medium (160°F).
Caprese Pasta and Steak
Andy Lyons

How to Cook Tri-Tip Steaks in a Skillet

Perhaps the most convenient way to cook tri-tip steaks (or any steak, for that matter) is in a skillet. Here's how to cook tri-tip steak on the stove:

  • Select a heavy skillet such as a cast-iron skillet that will fit all of the steaks you're preparing. Skillets that are too large will cause pan juices to burn. Lightly coat the skillet with nonstick cooking spray, cooking oil, or olive oil.
  • Season the steaks as desired.
  • 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.
  • Don't add any liquid.
  • Leave the skillet uncovered.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook to desired doneness (using the guidelines below), turning steaks occasionally. If the steaks are cooking too fast, reduce heat to medium low.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. Transfer the steaks to a plate, tent with foil, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Test Kitchen Tip: For best results, don't use a skillet with a nonstick surface. It won't caramelize your tri-tip steak as well.

How Long to Cook Tri-Tip Steaks in a Skillet

Skillet-cooking tri-tip steaks will take a little longer than broiling, but they'll still be done in 13 minutes or less.

  • ¾-inch thick steaks: 6 to 9 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F).
  • 1-inch thick steaks: 9 to 12 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F).
Tri-Tip Steak raw

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.

It's also known as a triangle steak, bottom sirloin steak, or Santa Maria steak. This is a boneless cut, about ¾- to 1-inch thick, and should be nicely marbled. Tri-tip is a quality cut of meat because of its rich beef flavor and tender texture. Its lower price tag than similar steak cuts adds to its appeal. The tri-tip was popularized in California but is now more widely marketed, although you may need to request it from your butcher.

Now that you can cook a delicious tri-tip steak, try making a tri-tip roast! Here's a juicy tri-tip roast with grilled avocados to get you started. You can also opt for a different cut of beef and make one of our many favorite steak recipes.

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