How to Grill a Tri Tip Steak: Easy Guide for Perfect Results

Discover the art of grilling a perfect tri tip steak with our easy-to-follow guide that promises to deliver mouthwatering results every time.

Are you ready to take your grilling skills to the next level? If so, then it’s time to learn how to grill a tri tip steak. This flavorful cut of meat is perfect for those warm summer evenings when you want something delicious and satisfying.

But, if you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry! In this article, we’ll guide you through the entire process step-by-step so that you can impress your friends and family with your grilling prowess. So fire up the grill and let’s get started!

Selecting Quality Tri Tip

how to grill a tri tip steak easy guide for perfect results

You want to choose a quality piece that will be tender and flavorful once cooked. Look for beef that has good marbling throughout the meat, which means there are thin streaks of fat running through it.

This will help keep the steak moist during cooking and add flavor.

It’s also important to pay attention to color when selecting your tri tip steak. The meat should be bright red with no brown spots or discoloration, indicating freshness.

Consider purchasing from a reputable butcher or specialty store where you can ask questions about the origin of the beef and how it was raised. Grass-fed beef tends to have more flavor than grain-fed varieties but may require slightly different cooking techniques due to its leaner nature.

Tools and Equipment

Here are some essential items that will make your grilling experience easier and more enjoyable:

1. Grill: A gas or charcoal grill is ideal for cooking tri tip steak.

2. Meat Thermometer: To ensure that your steak is cooked to perfection, invest in a good quality meat thermometer.

3. Tongs: Long-handled tongs are essential for flipping and moving the steaks around on the grill without piercing them.

4. Spatula: A sturdy spatula comes in handy when it’s time to remove the steaks from the grill.

5. Basting Brush: Use a basting brush to apply marinade or sauce onto your tri-tip while grilling.

6.Grill Brush : Keep your grate clean with this tool.

Preparing the Grill

This will ensure that your steak cooks evenly and has a delicious smoky flavor. First, clean the grill grates with a wire brush to remove any debris or leftover food from previous use.

Then, oil the grates by using tongs to hold an oiled paper towel and rubbing it over the surface of each grate.

Next, decide whether you want to use direct or indirect heat for cooking your tri tip steak. Direct heat means placing the meat directly over hot coals or burners while indirect heat involves placing it next to but not directly above them.

For this recipe we recommend using both methods: searing on high direct heat first then finishing off on low indirect heat until desired doneness is reached.

Grill Setup: Direct Vs Indirect Heat

There are two main methods for grilling a tri tip steak: direct and indirect heat. Direct heat is when the meat is placed directly over the flames or coals, while indirect heat involves cooking on a cooler part of the grill with no direct flame underneath.

Direct Heat: This method works best for thinner cuts of meat that cook quickly, such as burgers or hot dogs. For tri tip steaks, use this method if you want to sear both sides and create those beautiful char marks.

Indirect Heat: For thicker cuts like tri-tip steak (1 ½ – 2 inches thick), we recommend using indirect heat because it allows for even cooking throughout without burning or drying out your meat. To achieve this setup on a gas grill turn off one burner and place your steak over that side; on charcoal grills move all coals to one side leaving an empty space where you will place your beef cut.

Marinating and Seasoning

A good marinade will not only add flavor but also tenderize the meat. You can use a store-bought marinade or make your own using ingredients like olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper.

To marinate the steak properly:

  • Place it in a large resealable plastic bag with the marinade.
  • Make sure that all sides of the steak are coated with it.
  • Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight for best results.

When you’re ready to grill your tri tip steak:

  • Remove it from the bag and discard any excess marinade.
  • Pat dry with paper towels before seasoning generously on both sides with salt (preferably kosher) and freshly ground black pepper.

Remember to let your seasoned steaks sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling them so they cook evenly.

Pre-Grilling Tips

First and foremost, take your steak out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking to allow it to come up to room temperature. This will help ensure even cooking throughout.

Next, pat your steak dry with paper towels and remove any excess moisture or marinade from its surface. This will prevent steaming during grilling and promote better browning.

If you’re using a gas grill, preheat it for at least 10-15 minutes on high heat before adding your meat. For charcoal grills, wait until the coals have turned white-hot before placing your tri tip on top of them.

Grilling Time and Temperature

The key here is to cook the steak low and slow until it reaches the desired internal temperature. This will ensure that your meat is cooked evenly throughout without drying out or becoming tough.

For medium-rare doneness, aim for an internal temperature of 130-135°F (54-57°C). For medium doneness, aim for 140-145°F (60-63°C), while well-done steaks should reach an internal temperature of around 160°F (71°C).

To achieve these temperatures on a gas grill with three burners, heat up two burners on high heat while leaving one burner off. Place the tri tip over indirect heat – above the unlit burner – close the lid, then adjust all burners so they maintain a steady cooking temp between 250° F –300° F.

Flipping and Searing Techniques

Flipping too often can cause the meat to dry out, while not flipping enough can result in uneven cooking. A good rule of thumb is to only flip once or twice during the grilling process.

To achieve a perfect sear on your tri tip steak, make sure that your grill is hot enough before placing the meat on it. You want a temperature of around 400-450°F for optimal results.

Once you’ve placed your steak onto direct heat, let it cook for about 2-3 minutes per side before flipping.

When flipping your tri tip steak over onto its other side, use tongs instead of a fork as piercing with a fork will release juices from inside and lead to dryness. After both sides have been cooked evenly (about 10-12 minutes total), move them away from direct heat and continue cooking indirectly until they reach an internal temperature between 130°F -135°F (medium-rare) or up-to maximum desired doneness level.

Checking Steak Doneness

The easiest way to do this is by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the steak, making sure not to touch any bones or fat.

For medium-rare doneness, aim for an internal temperature of 130-135°F (54-57°C). For medium doneness, aim for 140-145°F (60-63°C), and for well-done steaks, aim for an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) or higher.

If you prefer not using a meat thermometer and want to rely on visual cues instead – use your fingers! Gently press down on the center of the steak with tongs or a spatula; if it feels soft and squishy like raw meat then it’s still rare inside; if there is some resistance but still has some give then that means it’s cooked at medium-rare level; when there is no give at all in terms of resistance when pressing down – congratulations! Your tri-tip has reached well-done status.

Remember that cooking times may vary depending on factors such as grill type and thickness/weight of your cut so always double-check with either method mentioned above before removing from heat source.

Resting the Steak

Resting allows the juices in the meat to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful steak.

To rest your tri tip steak, remove it from the grill and place it on a cutting board or platter. Tent loosely with aluminum foil or another heat-safe cover for about 10 minutes.

This will allow time for the internal temperature of the meat to even out while keeping its surface warm.

Avoid cutting into your tri tip immediately after grilling as this can cause all those delicious juices that have accumulated inside during cooking process spill out onto your plate instead of staying inside where they belong!

Slicing and Serving

Before you start cutting into the meat, make sure to locate the grain of the meat. The grain refers to the direction in which muscle fibers run through a piece of meat.

To ensure that each slice is tender and easy to chew, it’s important that you cut against (perpendicular) or across (diagonal) this grain.

Using a sharp knife with long strokes, begin slicing thin pieces from one end of the steak towards another while keeping your blade perpendicular or diagonal relative to its grains as mentioned above. Arrange slices on a platter and serve immediately with your favorite side dishes such as grilled vegetables or salad.

Side Dishes and Accompaniments

When it comes to pairing with tri tip steak, there are plenty of options that can complement its rich flavor. One classic choice is a simple green salad with vinaigrette dressing, which provides a refreshing contrast to the meat’s smoky taste.

If you’re looking for something heartier, consider serving your tri tip steak alongside roasted vegetables like asparagus or Brussels sprouts. These veggies can be seasoned with garlic and herbs for an extra burst of flavor.

Another popular option is grilled corn on the cob brushed with butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper – this sweet treat pairs perfectly well against the savory flavors of your grilled tri-tip.

And let’s not forget about potatoes! Whether they’re mashed, baked or fried into crispy fries; potatoes make an excellent addition to any meal featuring beefy goodness like Tri Tip Steak!

Storage and Reheating Tips

To keep the meat fresh, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container. Store the container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

When reheating your leftover tri tip steak, avoid using a microwave as this can dry out the meat quickly. Instead, preheat your oven or grill on low heat and warm up slowly until heated through.

You can also add some moisture by placing a small dish of water next to the meat while reheating.

Another great way of repurposing leftover tri-tip is by slicing them thinly for sandwiches or salads; they make excellent additions!

Troubleshooting Common Mistakes

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some common troubleshooting tips to help you avoid any mishaps.

One of the most common mistakes is overcooking or undercooking your steak. To prevent this, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness and remove it from the heat at around 130-135°F for medium-rare or 140-145°F for medium.

Another mistake is not letting your steak rest before slicing into it. This will cause all of those delicious juices to escape and leave you with a dry piece of meat.

Letting it rest for about five minutes after grilling will allow those juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender bite.

Lastly, be sure not to overcrowd your grill as this can lead to uneven cooking temperatures and longer cook times. Give each piece enough space on the grill so that they cook evenly without touching each other.

Grilled Tri Tip Steak Recipe Ideas

There are countless ways to enjoy this delicious cut of meat, from classic seasoning blends to unique marinades and rubs. One popular option is a garlic herb butter tri tip steak that combines savory herbs with rich butter for an indulgent flavor experience.

Another tasty recipe idea is a spicy chipotle lime tri tip that adds some heat and tanginess to the mix.

If you’re looking for something more traditional, try marinating your steak in soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic before grilling it over high heat until perfectly charred on the outside but still juicy on the inside. Or go for a simple yet flavorful dry rub made from paprika, cumin, chili powder and salt.

No matter what recipe you choose or how you decide to season your grilled tri-tip steak – one thing is certain: You’ll be enjoying one of the most delicious cuts of beef out there!


How long do you cook tri-tip on the grill?

Cook tri-tip on the grill for about 25 minutes, checking the internal temperature and ensuring it reaches about 130°F.

How do you grill tri-tip on a gas grill?

To grill tri-tip on a gas grill, sear both sides for 5-7 minutes each over direct heat, then move to indirect heat and cook for 15 minutes, turning as needed, until the thickest part reaches medium rare at 130-135ºF.

How do you keep tri-tip tender on the grill?

To keep tri-tip tender on the grill, prepare the grill for indirect heat using a drip pan, place the roast over it, cover and grill for 35-40 minutes for medium rare or 40-45 minutes for medium.

What is the optimal temperature for grilling a tri-tip steak?

The optimal temperature for grilling a tri-tip steak is around 135°F for medium-rare doneness.

Are there any specific marinades or spice rubs recommended for enhancing the flavor of tri-tip on the grill?

Recommended marinades or spice rubs for tri-tip on the grill include garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil, as well as Santa Maria-style seasoning consisting of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

What is the best method for checking the doneness of a grilled tri-tip steak without cutting into it?

The best method for checking the doneness of a grilled tri-tip steak without cutting into it is using a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches the desired level.