That Easy, Go-To Meal: Grilled Tri-Tip Roast

You know what it is like cooking for a family—you cannot please everybody all the time.  Wherever two or more opinions are gathered there is rarely 100% agreement over what to have for dinner, except when Tri-Tip is on the menu. We discovered tri-tip when we lived in California years ago and it remains our favorite cut of beef.  A local specialty in Santa Maria in the 1950s, it has grown in popularity routinely sliced for fajitas, grilled as steaks or whole roasts, even replaces ground beef in chili.

Its flavor and texture is more like steak than a traditional roast, best when cooked medium to medium rare.  The uneven thickness (thicker in the middle, thinner at the tapered ends), makes it ideal when trying to please a variety of preferences—the ends will be more well done while the middle will be more medium to medium rare, depending on cooking time.  Use any marinade you like, we prefer Lawry’s Mesquite when we need something easy, otherwise a simple marinade of garlic, liquid smoke, lime, salt and pepper is great too.

Here are some of the ways we use tri-tip and why it is a mainstay, go-to meal at our house:

1. Grilled or oven roasted whole tri-tip roast; cooked until thickest part is medium rare and sliced into steak-style servings.
2. Sliced into 1 1/2″ steaks; each steak grilled to preference
3. Sliced for fajitas, beef stroganoff, chili con carne, or stir-fry
4. Use leftover roast for steak and egg breakfast or steak sandwiches

Grilled Tri-Tip Roast

Serves: 4
2-3   pounds  tri-tip roast
4-5   cloves  garlic — minced
2        tablespoons  lime juice
1        tablespoon  liquid smoke flavoring
2        teaspoons  onion powder
2        teaspoons  sea salt
1        teaspoon  pepper

Some tri-tip roasts are sold untrimmed which means there can be a fairly thick layer of fat on one side. Trim this layer until it is a little less than 1/4″ thick, but leaving enough to flavor the meat when grilled. Mix all ingredients except roast to form a paste. Spread paste over the meat and allow to marinate at least 1 hour.

Light wood briquettes or use a gas grill on low heat.  Start tri-tip fat side up and sear the meat directly over the hot coals on each side for 5-7 minutes. Move the meat to a spot on the grill so that it is not over direct heat and cook on each side until the middle is medium rare (130-140ºF), about 30 more minutes—the thickness of the roast and desired doneness will dictate the remaining cooking time.

Once the roast is done, remove from the grill, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 12-15 minutes. Carve by slicing across the grain and serve.

NOTE: Any favorite marinade can be used for this recipe; the most flavorful grilling method is using real wood briquettes. For more information check out my earlier post about grilling.

Also posted on the following Blog Hops:
Hearth & Soul Hop
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursdays
Fresh Bites Friday
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday


11 responses to “That Easy, Go-To Meal: Grilled Tri-Tip Roast

  1. That looks great! Love lime juice on steak.

  2. Tri-tip is our favorite beef cut also! I am going to try your recipe for a change…I have been marinating this cut for years with a so-called London Broil marinade of soy sauce, T-paste, garlic and herbs. We love it done on the rare side, and our kids always loved it. Thanks for a new idea for an old favorite.

  3. This looks delicious, and I like the lime you have used in the marinade – yum! I’m not sure what this cut would be called in England (I haven’t heard of Tri Tip Roast) but I’m going to show your post to my butcher and find out! Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe with the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.

    • I did a little research to see what I could find to help you.
      The tri-tip is also called “triangular” roast because of its shape. It is a triangular section of the sirloin primal and comes from the point where the sirloin meets the round and flank primals (tell your butcher this if he doesn’t know what a tri-tip is). Sometimes butchers will call the tri-tip “coulotte”, but that term should be reserved for the top sirloin cap. Here’s a couple more articles I found that might help you locate it in England. (Wikipedia) (BBC Article)

  4. Wow! This looks really good! I have seen Tri Tip available from my grassfed meat butcher and wondered about it. It look somewhat like a london broil. Is it more tender than a london broil? I plan to grill it and I really like the shape and being able to cook it med on the inside and more well on the outer sides. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  5. Hi again,
    Have you ever roasted this cut of meat? Or used a slow cooker? Would it cook like a pot roast or a roast beef?

    • Hi Jill,
      So glad to hear you have a grass-fed beef available to you, that is a great choice! Tri-tip is more tender than London broil because it has more marbling through the meat. In the winter when it is too cold to grill I do roast it in the oven at 350° for about 45 minutes for med-rare center, depending on the size. The texture when roasted is the same as when it is grilled — steak like — the flavor resembles roast beef. I have not put tri-tip in a slow cooker; it is not the type of cut that is fall-apart tender after extended cooking like chuck roast. It doesn’t have the kind of connective tissue of a chuck or pot roast requiring longer cooking times. I have heard that some folks put it in a pressure cooker, but I haven’t tried that. I think you will love it on the grill.
      Thanks so much for stopping-by Savoring Today. I hope to see you again :).

  6. HI Judy,
    Thanks so much for your response. I an definitely going to try this. I subscribed so I get all your posts!

  7. Pingback: Recipe: Grilled Grass fed Tri Tip Roast — Real Food Forager

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