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A plate of Santa Maria barbecue with tri-tip, salad, beans, and garlic toast.

Grilled Tri-Tip

Today I'll let you in on a California secret: Grilled Tri-Tip. It's part steak, part roast, and 100% delicious. This little-known cut of beef is the star of Santa Maria barbecues and is sure to impress at yours.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Cook Time 40 minutes
Marinading time 1 hour
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 387kcal


  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds tri-tip roast (see note 1)


  • In the bottom of a zipper-top plastic bag, add oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.
  • Pat the tri-tip dry with paper towels and score the fat layer with a sharp knife (cut through the fat but not meat).
  • Add steak to the bag with paste and turn to coat. Marinate at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before grilling.
  • Preheat grill over high heat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil grate. Grill tri-tip over direct heat, turning occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until browned and charred.
  • Move tri-tip to indirect heat and continue cooking to desired doneness temperature, about 20 to 30 minutes longer: 120 to 125 degrees F for rare, 130 to 135 degrees F for medium rare, 140 to 145 degrees F for medium, 150 degrees F for medium well, and 160 degrees F for well done.
  • Transfer tri-tip to a cutting board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.



  1. Tri-Tip: The tri-tip is a small, boneless, triangular cut from the sirloin. It usually weighs about 1 1/2-2 pounds. It resembles a thick, slightly lopsided boomerang that is laced throughout with just the right amount of marbled fat. Even though it’s a lean cut, the marbling contributes to its flavor and tenderness.
  2. Yield: This Grilled Tri-Tip recipe makes enough to generously feed 6 adults with five to seven slices of smoked beef.
  3. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  4. Freezer: Pack sliced, cooled tri-tip into freezer-safe bags. Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.


Serving: 6slices | Calories: 387kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 101mg | Potassium: 643mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.02g | Vitamin A: 196IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 4mg