Tri-Tip Roast on the Grill

January 20, 2012

Rubbed down with a simple rub or marinated all night in something delicious. Sliced thin for fajitas or enjoyed by itself with a nice baked potato. The tri-tip roast holds its own as one of the most tasty and also under-appreciated cuts of beef.  The term "tri-tip" is derived from the fact that the tri-tip roast is triangular-shaped and it is the tip of the sirloin. So, if you have your cow map handy (who doesn't?), then you know where this cut come from. Up until the 1950's, this very lean cut of beef was typically made into ground beef. If not sliced thin and against the grain, it can be quite chewy, so it was just easier to ground it up into burgers.  Our friends out in California are credited for changing all of that when the tri-tip itself became a local specialty in Santa Maria. They loved it so much that the tri-tip roast is still occasionally labeled the "Santa Maria Steak".  Since there are only 2 tri-tips on each cow, it actually is a little harder to come by in some supermarkets these days.  Another sign that the tri-tip has come a long way since its ground meat days.

Although tri-tips soak up marinades like a sponge, I like to keep it simple most of the time and prepare a simple rub. A simple, rubbed down grilled tri-tip is really hard to beat by itself.  In fact, I usually stick with the same method that made this cut so popular in Santa Maria. Tri-tips are great with a simple rub or salt, garlic powder and fresh ground pepper and then cooked slow over an indirect heat source. This simple rub allows for the taste of the tri-tip roast to shine through. I also love rubs like this because I can actually remember them without looking them up and I usually have the ingredients in the spice cabinet at all times! Lets take a look at how to grill the perfect tri-tip roast.

  • Prep: 1 hr
  • Cook: 25 mins


1 Tri-tip roast

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1Mix the rub ingredients together throughly and then rub a generous amount over all of the surfaces of the tri-tip.

2Leave the rubbed-down roast on the counter at room temperature for about 45 minutes before cooking. As an aside, we are going to test this theory one of these days. Most people recommend letting a large cut of meat warm to room temperature before roasting. I've done this for a while now and never questioned it, but I wonder if it really makes a difference? I feel a science experiment coming on...

3Light your grill and prepare for indirect grilling. This means lighting one side of the grill on high, while leaving the other side unlit. If you are using a charcoal grill, pile the coals to one side of the grill.

4Once the grill is hot and ready, place the tri-tip roast on the hot side and sear for a few minutes on each side. Our goal during the sear is to create a nice dark crust on the outside of the roast. Not to seal in the juices (doesn't really seal them in), but rather to create some delicious caramelization out of the rub and surface juices of the tri-tip.

5After you have seared all sides of the roast and have the color you like on the outside, move the tri-tip over to the cool side of the grill and then close the lid.

6We are going to now roast the, well, roast on the cooler side of the grill, much like an oven. How long is it going to take?  The real answer is "it depends", but a total time of 25 - 30 minutes for a smaller tri-tip is usually a good starting guess.  Each tri-tip roast and grill is different though, so you really need to use a meat thermometer to make sure the roast is cooked to perfection. To most, that means medium-rare, or around 140 degrees. We want to remove at 140 degrees, which will allow the temperature to rise about 5 degrees while we rest. If you have a remote probe meat thermometer, this is a perfect use for it, so that you don't have to open the lid each time.

7Once the tri-tip roast has reached your desired doneness, remove it from the grill and let it rest on a platter for 10 minutes.

8Slice the roast thin and against the grain for maximum tenderness.

There you have it, fool-proof tri-tip roast.  I'm sure once you try it for the first time, I'm betting you will wish you discovered this great cut of meat a long time ago.


24 Reviews


September 22, 2019

Very nice article – will try tonight – One question I had- There is almost an inch thick layer of fat on the bottom surface of the tri tip roast – I plan to trim most of that. How do you folks feel about the fat layer in this situation?

Veselka Yordanova

July 18, 2019

Thank you for the recipe, it turns out amazingly delicious. My son loves it too.

Bob McDaniel

October 28, 2018

Bob McDanniel. Sep. 27,2018
Thank you for sharing your rub recipe. BBQ’d 12 tri tips last night, and your rub was a great success.

Bob McDaniel

October 28, 2018

Bob McDanniel. Sep. 27,2018
Thank you for sharing your rub recipe. BBQ’d 12 tri tips last night, and your rub eas a great success.


July 22, 2018

I lived in Santa Barbara county for 40 years, tri tip was abundant. Not so here in NC, but I found a butcher with the cut. Going to make some fresh salsa, bbq some fresh corn, some Santa Maria beans and do my first tri tip is several years. I have done hundreds of these and the tips in this post are good ones for beginners. Simple is good. Salute!


June 29, 2018

I ate one at my nephews house and it was marvelous. He used the Worcester shire and soy sauce method. I am on my way home and I have got to try on my own. I only have a propane grill. Can I cook with propane instead of live coals?

Mo Merrier

June 13, 2018

Been cooking Tri Tip on Charcoal Grills since the 1990s. This is my new favorite, go-to recipe. First, because it come out to be delicious and tender. Second, as the writer suggests, it is easy to remember. We us half of the called for salt for personal reasons, but I am sure it is delicious with 1/2 – 1 tblsp of kosher salt in the rub. Made this recipe twice so far and both times came out tender and tasty. Upped my game several years ago and started using a digital temperature probe. Pulled tri tip off the grill yesterday at 140 degrees internal temperature. It was so good! cut against the grain and remember there are two parts of the tri tip and each part has grain going a different direction. Thank for this post!

Jeff H

May 15, 2018

If you ever get the chance and your in Cardiff, CA. Stop by the Seaside Market and pick up some Burgundy TriTip. The locals call it Cardiff Crack (it’s also listed in Wikipedia). Its not cheap, the last time I bought some it was $18lb. But it will be the BEST piece of meat you will ever eat.

Sandrareed Booker

April 24, 2018

I have been home sick the part he passed away and for the first time and I decided to do it myself as today is my son’s birthday and I wanted to do something special I followed a recipe but something went wrong along the way it has nothing to do with you it was my mistake everything caught on fire in the try tip is a ball of ta I have been on set the part he passed away and for the first time ever I decided to do it myself as today is my son‘s birthday and I wanted to do something special I followed your recipe but something went wrong along the way it has nothing to do with you it was my mistake everything caught on fire in the try tip is a ball of Charco my ground on fire and my house almost caught on fire to, I’m done I give up I don’t think I ever want to touch that grill again I’m still shaken up, and sad. But ty ur awesome

Sandrareed Booker

April 24, 2018

My husband always did the bbq. He passed away and today being my sons birthday I decide to try it out, sadly my grill coughs on fire and it was a major ball of charcoal. But thank u, I won’t give up u til I master this, but for now I’m good, still shaken up and scared to ever turn that grill on again. Nothing to do with your tips it’s me who messed up.

Scott W Furman

March 24, 2018

Great tips. Marinated with a porter beer, garlic, carne asada seasoning and Smokey Montreal steak for 24 hours. Topped with Smokey Montreal steak seasoning while grilling on each side. Grill temp was about 400. Very tasty


March 11, 2018

Ive grilled many times but never done a tri tip so will be a first for me.
But with you tips i should have no probelms,
thank you


January 7, 2018

Never did Tri-Tip until a friend asked me to grill for his Super Bowl Party two years ago. Like many of you I have grilled for over 30 years and never did a Tri-Tip til then. We do it now at least once every other month. My friend taught me to use Montreal Steak Seasoning rub and put in fridge for 3-4 hours. Let it set out of fridge for one hour and then grill as above. Great flavor. Save the juice after you cut up the Tri-Tip and pour over meat for and extra dose of great flavor!!!!

Peter Jebo

November 6, 2017

Should be rated a 10. First time BBQ a tri-tip and had 15 people from 2 1/2 to 74 for dinner. Everybody said it was excellent. (Well, the 2 1/2 didn’t say that but asked for and ate seconds). A simple recipe thats simply the best. Thanks!

Bill Shumway

October 29, 2017

I have been grilling tri-tip for some time now. Always a favorite! I might suggest that the roast can be pulled of closer to 125 to 135 for a little more color and flavor. While medium and more still offer great flavor those of us who like rare and medium rare this cut of meat is delightful.


October 18, 2017

Tri Tips have been a favurite grilling meat in my family for years. Great for large gatherings.On the Weber 40 to 45 mins. Enjoy!

Brenden Bergman

September 30, 2017

wow i’m so amazed how well this worked thank you to everyone’s input on here you guys are the real mvps


August 30, 2017

Doing it
Wish me luck

Jim H

August 21, 2017

Make a marinade of chopped garlic, soy, Worcestershire and hot sauces and toasted sesame seed oil. Marinate over night. Dry off and roast with hickory chips.

Karen Hart

May 27, 2017

I just tried this and it was FABULOUS!!!! It looks the BEST I’ve ever seen at a home bbq. It is only my second time to use a grill because my husband and/or son always did it! Thanks to you we have a yummy meal ahead!


August 13, 2016

Your right about one thing for sure. I wish I knew about this cut a long time ago. One of my favorite cuts

Mikey Parko Parkinson

August 4, 2016

I was taught to put coals on both side and cook roast in the middle !!! Turns out perfect and we like left overs on the tri tip so we get big ones and in 45 minutes shes done……rest for 10 minutes and you’re in heaven….sometimes i like using Italian dressing for marinate !!!

Bob Hammel

September 1, 2015

Outstanding! First tri-tip in 50 yrs of grilling; I expect at least monthly tri-tip from now on.

Bob Hammel

September 1, 2015

Never grilled tri-tip until two days ago although I have been grilling over 50 yrs. tried your recipe and will have this roast at least monthly from now on. Great!!

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