If you’re wondering what to do with this odd-shaped cut of beef—you’ve come to the right place! Learn how to cook tri-tip 6 different ways! We cover pan-searing, grilling, roasting, broiling slow-cooking, and a combination of a few methods. This beefy cut of steak is fabulous when thinly sliced and piled onto a sandwich or slow-roasted and served as a cozy meal alongside mashed potatoes.

What is Tri-Tip?

What once was relegated to becoming ground beef, the tri-tip is a cut of steak is now popular thanks to the Santa Maria area of California.

The tri-tip cut, also known as bottom sirloin steak, triangle roast, California cut, or Santa Maria steak, comes from the very bottom tip of the sirloin. It can be sold as a tri-tip roast or cut down into tri-tip steaks

Tri-tip roasts and steaks are both lean cuts. The roast has a triangle shape to it, while steaks are cut down into a rectangle shape. Both cuts are juicy and flavorful and are best cooked on the grill or roasted. 

It’s important to note: due to not being incredibly marbled it’s key to cook tri-tip to medium-rare and to slice it against the grain.

Tri-Tip Roast on a white background

How to Grill Tri-Tip 

  1. Prepare a grill or charcoal grill for two-zone grilling. Start the roast or steak on the hot side of the grill and sear both sides.
  2. Move the roast or steak to the cooler area of the grill (about medium heat or between 350ºF and 375ºF) and continue grilling just until it nearly reaches your desired doneness or 125ºF for medium-rare (about 15 minutes for a steak and 30 minutes for a roast).
  3. Allow the steak to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

How Long to Grill tri-tip

For a 1 ½ pound tri-tip roast, it will take about 30 minutes to reach medium rare (125–130ºF).

For a 1 pound tri-tip steak, it will take just 12–15 minutes to reach medium-rare. 

tri-tip steak seasoned with salt and pepper, set on a white plate

How to Broil Tri-Tip

Broiling tri-tip (which starts with searing it on the stovetop) is a great cooking method for this lean, beefy cut.

Broiling Tri-Tip Roast

  1. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Also preheat your oven broiler with the rack set in the upper position.
  2. Pat the roast dry with paper towels then brush with a neutral, high-heat cooking oil (such as vegetable oil or avocado oil) and season generously with kosher salt. 
  3. Add the roast to the preheated skillet and cook until deeply browned on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes (it gets smoky, so a good vent if ideal).
  4. Transfer to the top rack in the oven and broil until an instant-read thermometer reaches 125ºF (for medium-rare); 5–6 more minutes. 
  5. Allow the roast to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Broiling Tri-Tip Steak

  1. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Also preheat your oven broiler with the rack set in the upper position.
  2. Pat the steak dry with paper towels then brush with a neutral, high-heat cooking oil (such as vegetable oil or avocado oil) and season generously with kosher salt. 
  3. Add the steak to the preheated skillet and cook until browned on the first side, about 3 minutes.
  4. Flip and immediately transfer the skillet to the top rack in the oven and broil until an instant-read thermometer reaches 125ºF (for medium-rare); about 6 minutes. 
  5. Allow the steak to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

How Long to Broil Tri-Tip

Tri-Tip Roast: Sear on both sides until browned then transfer to broiler and broil for 6 minutes.

Tri-Tip Steak: after searing on the first side, flip the steak and transfer the cast-iron skillet to the broiler and broil for about 6 minutes.

cooked tri-tip steak in a cast-iron skillet

How to Pan Sear Tri-Tip Steak

If cooking a roast, we recommend pan searing it followed by a quick stint under the broiler to get it across the temperature finish line (see above). However, if you’re cooking a tri-tip steak, you can pan-sear it from start to finish. 

  1. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels then brush them with a neutral, high-heat cooking oil (such as vegetable oil or avocado oil) and season generously with kosher salt. 
  2. Add the steaks, fat side down, to the preheated skillet (it should sizzle right away) and cook until a crust has formed on the steak and it naturally releases from the pan, about 3 minutes.
  3. Flip and cooking until a crust forms on the second side and a thermometer inserted in the center of the steak registers 125ºF for medium-rare.
  4. Allow the steak to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

How Long to Pan Sear Tri-Tip Steak

Pan sear tri-tip steaks for about 3 minutes per side over medium-high heat or until a thermometer inserted in the center register between 125–130ºF for medium-rare.

(Don’t want it medium-rare? Check out our temperature doneness chart). 

sliced steak on a cutting board

How to Oven Roast Tri-Tip Steak

There are two ways you can roast a tri-tip roast. One, you can roast it on a wire rack set inside a roasting pan. This is ideal for a classic roast dinner that’s cooked to your liking and where you use the dripping to make a nice steak sauce. 

The second way you can roast a tri-tip is to first pan-sear it and then pop it right into the oven. This is ideal for when you want slices of medium-rare steak with a nice savory crust on the outside.

Roasting Pan Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F with the rack set in the middle position. Place the tri-tip roast on a wire rack inside a roasting pan (or in an oven-proof baking dish). 
  2. Roast until an oven-safe meat thermometer (or instant-read thermometer) registers 125ºF for medium-rare. This will take anywhere from 25–45 minutes depending on the size of roast you are cooking.
  3. Allow the roast to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Sear Then Roast in Cast-Iron

  1. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Pat the roast dry with paper towels then brush it with a neutral, high-heat cooking oil (such as vegetable oil or avocado oil) and season generously with kosher salt. 
  2. Add the roast, fat side down (if the fat is still intact), to the preheated skillet (it should sizzle right away) and cook until a crust has formed on the roast and it naturally releases from the pan, about 3 minutes.
  3. Flip the roast then immediately transfer the pan to a 350ºF oven and roast until the roast reaches 125ºF, about 20 minutes per 2-pound roast (or 10 minutes per pound). 
  4. Allow the roast to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 
olive oil, spinach, cheese, pesto, red peppers, ciabatta, and steak arranged on a counter

How long to roast tri-tip

If you do not sear the tri-tip roast first, roast it for 25–30 minutes at 425ºF.

If you do sear the tri-tip roast first, roast it in the oven (in the skillet you seared it in) at 350ºF for about 20 minutes (or 10 minutes per pound).

How to Slow Cook Tri-Tip

Slow cooking a tri-tip is a great set-it-and-forget it method for busy fall nights. Here’s how we recommend slow cooking tri-tip in a crockpot.

  1. Pat the roast dry with paper towels then brush with a neautral, high-heat cooking oil (vegetable or avocado oil). Season the tri-tip generously with salt then sear in a hot skillet on all sides.
  2. Transfer the tri-tip to a crock pot. Deglaze the skillet with a bit of beef broth, scraping up any browned bits. Add the pan juices to the crockpot along with 2 cups of beef broth (and any aromatics you choose).
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 5–6 hours.

How long to slow-cook tri-Tip

Cook a 2 to 3 pound tri-tip in a slow-cooker for 6 hours on low.

Temperature Doneness Chart

DonenessPull from heat atAfter resting temp should be
Rare120ºF (49ºC)125ºF (52ºC)
Medium-Rare125ºF (52ºC)130ºF (54ºC) 
Medium135ºF (57ºC)140ºF (60ºC)
Medium-Well145ºF (63ºC) USDA recommended temp150ºF (65ºC)
Well-Done155ºF (68ºC)160ºF (71ºC)

Expert Tips for Slicing Tri-Tip

  • Slicing a tri-tip roast can be tricky. There are two grains on a single tri-tip. Essentially there are two sections of a tri-tip roast and each they have grains running in different directions. You can’t just slice the entire roast at one angle.
  • The key is to first find where the grains intersect and cut the roast in half. From there you can cut each individual section against the grain. Learn how to cut a tri-tip.

Reheating Leftovers

Reheating leftover steak can dramatically impact the steak—but it doesn’t have to! And while we firmly believe that there are no “right” and “wrongs” in cooking, there is a “best” way to reheat steak. 

Once you’ve reheated the steak, check out this extensive list of leftover steak recipes!

Reheating Steak 

  1. Heat your oven to 250ºF with a rack set in the middle position. Place the leftover steaks on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and warm the steaks until they reach and internal temperature of 110ºF on an instant-read thermometer. Account for 15 minutes per ¾-inch of thickness—though timings will vary so keep an eye on it!
  3. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel. Heat a splash of neutral high-heat cooking oil (vegetable or avocado oil) in a skillet over high heat until nearly smoking. Add the warm steaks to the skillet and sear briefly on both sides just until crisp, about 60 seconds per side. 
  4. As with a freshly cooked steak, let the reheated steak rest for about 5 minutes before serving. The reheated steaks should register between 125ºF and 130ºF for medium-rare. 

FAQs

What temperature should tri-tip be cooked to?

Tri-tip is best when cooked to medium-rare. It’s a fairly lean cut, so you want to avoid overcooking it! For medium-rare, cook the steak to an internal temperature of 125–130ºF. Keep in mind that carry-over cooking will occur. This means the meat will continue to cook or increase in temperature even after it has been removed from the pan, grill or oven. Account for an increase of about 5 to 8 degrees. 

How do you keep tri-tip from drying out?

The key is to not overcook it! Cook it to medium-rare (between 125ºF and 130ºF) and you’ll have a juicy steak! 

How to tenderize tri-tip?

It’s been proven that marinating doesn’t really tenderize meat (especially larger pieces of meat like a tri-tip roast). While they do add surface-level flavor, they don’t do a good job of tenderizing. For this reason, the best thing you can do to achieve a tender tri-tip is to cook it intentionally and avoid overcooking it.

steak sandwich on a wood cutting board with pesto and grapes set around it

What to Serve with tri-tip

No way around it, you gotta make this Italian Tri-Tip Sandwich. It’s got it all! 

There are so many great ways to serve tri-tip! First and foremost, if you’re going to make a tri-tip roast, you’ve got to make a Santa Maria-syle tri-tip! This one is made in the crockpot and from a native Californian, so you know it’ll be good. 

Enjoy a classic steak dinner and pair your tri-tip with some Healthy Cornbread and a Caesar Salad

Or top a few slices of tri-tip with our Maque Choux. Savory, bright and delicious. 

One of our favorite side dishes for steak are savory Hasselback Sweet Potatoes. They are to die for! 

How to Cook Tri-Tip

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Category Main Course
Cuisine American

Description

Learn how to cook tri-tip 6 different ways! We cover pan-searing, grilling, roasting, broiling slow-cooking, and a combination of a few methods. 

Ingredients

  • 2–3 pound tri-tip roast, trimmed OR 1–1½ pound tri-tip steak
  • vegetable oil or avocado oil
  • kosher salt
  • beef broth, if slow-cooking

Instructions

Grilled Tri-Tip Roast or Steak

  • Prepare a grill or charcoal grill for two-zone grilling. Start the roast or steak on the hot side of the grill and sear both sides.
  • Move the roast or steak to the cooler area of the grill (about medium heat or between 350ºF and 375ºF) and continue grilling just until it nearly reaches your desired doneness or 125ºF for medium-rare (about 15 minutes for a steak and 30 minutes for a roast).
  • Allow the steak to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Broiled Tri-Tip ROAST

  • Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Also preheat your oven broiler with the rack set in the upper position.
  • Pat the roast dry with paper towels then brush with a neutral, high-heat cooking oil (such as vegetable oil or avocado oil) and season generously with kosher salt. 
  • Add the roast to the preheated skillet and cook until deeply browned on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes (it gets smoky, so a good vent if ideal).
  • Transfer to the top rack in the oven and broil until an instant-read thermometer reaches 125ºF (for medium-rare); 5–6 more minutes. 
  • Allow the roast to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Broiled Tri-Tip STEAK

  • Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Also preheat your oven broiler with the rack set in the upper position.
  • Pat the steak dry with paper towels then brush with a neutral, high-heat cooking oil (such as vegetable oil or avocado oil) and season generously with kosher salt. 
  • Add the steak to the preheated skillet and cook until browned on the first side, about 3 minutes.
  • Flip and immediately transfer the skillet to the top rack in the oven and broil until an instant-read thermometer reaches 125ºF (for medium-rare); about 6 minutes. 
  • Allow the steak to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Pan-Seared Tri-Tip STEAK

  • Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels then brush them with a neutral, high-heat cooking oil (such as vegetable oil or avocado oil) and season generously with kosher salt. 
  • Add the steaks, fat side down, to the preheated skillet (it should sizzle right away) and cook until a crust has formed on the steak and it naturally releases from the pan, about 3 minutes.
  • Flip and cooking until a crust forms on the second side and a thermometer inserted in the center of the steak registers 125ºF for medium-rare.
  • Allow the steak to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Oven-Roasted Tri-Tip ROAST

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F with the rack set in the middle position. Place the tri-tip roast on a wire rack inside a roasting pan (or in an oven-proof baking dish). 
  • Roast until an oven-safe meat thermometer (or instant-read thermometer) registers 125ºF for medium-rare. This will take anywhere from 25–45 minutes depending on the size of roast you are cooking.
  • Allow the roast to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Seared Then Roasted Tri-Tip ROAST

  • Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Pat the roast dry with paper towels then brush it with a neutral, high-heat cooking oil (such as vegetable oil or avocado oil) and season generously with kosher salt. 
  • Add the roast, fat side down (if the fat is still intact), to the preheated skillet (it should sizzle right away) and cook until a crust has formed on the roast and it naturally releases from the pan, about 3 minutes.
  • Flip the roast then immediately transfer the pan to a 350ºF oven and roast until the roast reaches 125ºF, about 20 minutes per 2-pound roast (or 10 minutes per pound). 
  • Allow the roast to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Slow-Cooked Tri-Tip ROAST

  • Pat the roast dry with paper towels then brush with a neautral, high-heat cooking oil (vegetable or avocado oil). Season the tri-tip generously with salt then sear in a hot skillet on all sides.
  • Transfer the tri-tip to a crock pot. Deglaze the skillet with a bit of beef broth, scraping up any browned bits. Add the pan juices to the crockpot along with 2 cups of beef broth (and any aromatics you choose).
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 5–6 hours.

Notes

Slicing a tri-tip roast can be tricky. There are two grains on a single tri-tip. Essentially there are two sections of a tri-tip roast and each they have grains running in different directions. You can’t just slice the entire roast at one angle.
The key is to first find where the grains intersect and cut the roast in half. From there you can cut each individual section against the grain. Learn how to cut a tri-tip.

Nutrition

Serving: 8ouncesCalories: 413kcalProtein: 60gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 125mg
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestful-kitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
sliced steak on a wooden cutting board

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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