If you’re not familiar with tri-tip, it’s a small triangular slice of beef cut from the sirloin that cooks up to be a beautiful, tasty piece every time. Tri-tip is the greatest, most undervalued, and most affordable beef for grilling, and learning how to cook it properly always yields delicious results.
Cooking tri-tip on the grill may be alien to you, but this will change after reading this article. Pay attention to all the tips we’ve outlined for you so that grilling a tip turns into an easy and fulfilling cooking process for you.
Tips for Cooking Tri-Tip
When cooking a tri-tip recipe on the grill, you’ll need the following tips to achieve the best results:
When buying meat for tri-tip recipes – What you need is well-marbled, delicious cuts in roasts or steaks with visible fat streaks going through the meat. The white lines across the muscle within the grain of the flesh can be seen if the roast is precisely trimmed.
The flavor of the meat is enhanced by the internal fat, referred to as marbling, in the meat.
Trimming the outer fat reduces flare-ups while leaving enough fat on the meat to keep it from drying out on the grill.
Using a dry rub – 1 tablespoon of rub per pound of meat is a decent rule of thumb, depending on how salty the rub is raw. If you taste it right out of the package and all you get is salt, use a little less. The 1 tablespoon guideline works if the salt is pleasant and flavorful, boosting other flavors.
Dry rubs should be left on the meat for at least 40 minutes (up to 24 hours) before grilling to allow the salt to penetrate and flavor the meat. If not, do so right before you put it on the grill.
When marinating your tri-tip, a marinade is a moist mixture of acid (citrus, vinegar, or white wine) or enzymes with aromatics like garlic, herbs, and a small amount of oil to add taste. These are great for adding citrus or herb flavors that dry rubs can’t introduce, but they work best on thinner slices of meat because the flavor is largely on the top and doesn’t penetrate deeply.
Marinades containing acids or enzymes (such as pineapple or papaya) should only be left on the meat for a few hours; otherwise, the flesh will become tough or mushy.
When using an acid-based marinade, always use a glass dish—aluminum and stainless steel might react with the acid and harm the meat.
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Cooking Time for Tri-Tip on Grill
The table below depicts the ideal timing for cooking tri-tip on the grill:
|Searing the tri-tip on the hot side of the grill
|5 to 7 minutes per side
|Cooking the meat on the colder side of the grill
|Resting the meat after grilling
- 2 pounds of tri-tip roast
For the marinade:
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke flavoring
- 2 teaspoons of onion powder
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- Splash apple juice
For the dry rub:
For the marinade
- To make a paste, combine the minced garlic, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon liquid smoke, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl or using a mortar and pestle.
- Pour in enough apple juice to make the paste spreadable.
- Spread the paste evenly over the meat and let aside for at least 1 hour, preferably longer.
For the dry rub
- Measure the spice rub components on a kitchen scale, then pour into a small jar with a lid and shake until fully blended. Taste the mixture for a salt-sweet-spice balance, and adjust as needed. Allow 1 tablespoon of spice to marinate on each 1 pound steak for at least 40 minutes before cooking.
For propane gas grills
- Heat a gas grill on high for 10 – 15 minutes, until it reaches above 400 degrees when you’re ready to grill.
- Clean grates using a wire brush once they’re hot (425°F or above).
- Turn one of the burners off on one side while keeping the others on medium-high to create two zones of heat.
For charcoal grills
- In a charcoal chimney starter, light wood briquettes and leave to burn until 90% of the coals are burning and hot (this should take about 15 minutes).
- Fill one side of the grill with hot coals while leaving the other side open.
- Clean the grill grate with a wire brush before installing it.
Grilling the tri-tip
- Start by searing the tri-tip fat side up on the hot side of the grill for 5-7 minutes. Turn the meat over and sear the other side for another 5-7 minutes.
- Cook the meat for another 15 minutes (turning as needed) on the colder side, over indirect heat, until the thickest section, is medium-rare (130-135F).
Once the roast is moved to the indirect heat side to finish cooking, arrange the thicker half near the embers with the thinner ends pointed away to help it cook more evenly.
- The remaining cooking time will be determined by the thickness of the roast and the desired degree of doneness.
- Remove the roast from the grill and transfer it to a cutting board, tenting it loosely with aluminum foil and allowing it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Carve the final roast by slicing against or across the grain. This is especially crucial to achieve a soft texture when serving.
The total duration to make this tri tip recipe is 1 hour and 55 minutes, including a prep time of 1 hour and a cook time of 45 minutes. This recipe produces juicy and flavorful steak that you and your family will definitely enjoy eating.
For more ideas on ways to cook a tri tip on a grill, make sure to check out this video recipe.