How to Cook Tri-Tip Steak

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 recipes as we go.

The tri-tip steak cut is best cooked using fast-cooking methods. 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 more about cooking tri-tip roasts here, but if you're looking for how to cook tri-tip steak, here are the best ways.

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. Use the tri-tip rub from this roast recipe as inspiration. Measure the thickness of the steaks with a ruler.
  • For a charcoal grill or gas grill, grill 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 for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

How long to grill tri-tip 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 how to cook tri-tip steak in the oven, opt for broiling instead of baking to keep with the fast-cooking methods that make tri-tip recipes their most delicious.

  • 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 guidelines below as a guide 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:

  • 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). 

 

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. Too large skillets will cause pan juices to burn. Lightly coat the skillet with nonstick cooking spray, cooking oil, or olive oil. Or use a heavy, nonstick skillet
  • 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 (using the guideliens 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.

How long to cook tri-tip steaks in a skillet:

  • 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). 

Try It: Caprese Pasta and 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. It is also known as a triangle steak, bottom sirloin steak, or Santa Maria steak. Each steak is boneless, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, and should be nicely marbled. Tri-tip is a good cut of meat because of its rich beef flavor, tender texture, as well as the cheaper price tag than similar steak cuts. It's also a lean cut of meat, making it a healthier red meat option. The tri-tip was popularized in California but is now more widely marketed, although you may need to request it from your butcher.

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