Ranch to Table Tri Tip

Santa Maria Tri-Tip

byElizabeth Poett
Total 2 hours and 20 minutes (includes marinating and resting time)
Active 50 mins
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Grilled tri-tip is the centerpiece of Central California barbecue. It’s an easy, flavorful way to feed a crowd, and we often grill the meat (a triangular cut from the bottom of the sirloin) when we have friends and neighbors over helping with work on the ranch. Around here, tri-tip is cooked over oak and served in thick slices, often with a side of beans. I like to have it with some grilled vegetables and garlic bread and top it with some freshly made salsa. If you can’t find a tri-tip, ask your local butcher; he or she can probably cut it for you. You can get a similar result if you make this dish using the tip of the sirloin or the top block.
TIP: When cooking with beef—especially a big piece such as a tri-tip—you should always let the meat sit out and come to room temperature before you cook it. That way, the meat will cook evenly and you won’t end up with a piece that is charred on the outside and too rare on the inside.
Special Equipment
a wood, charcoal, or gas grill, a meat thermometer
Special Equipment
a wood, charcoal, or gas grill, a meat thermometer
  • One 2- to 3-pound tri-tip
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  1. Remove the tri-tip from the refrigerator and let it sit out to come to room temperature, at least 1 hour (see Cook’s Note).
  2. Using a paring knife, cut small slits in the tri-tip and tuck the garlic slices into them with your fingers. Put the salt, garlic powder, pepper, parsley, and paprika in a medium bowl and mix them together, then pour them onto a baking sheet.
  3. Place the tri-tip on top of the seasoning mix and flip the meat until every side is lightly coated. (Discard the remaining seasoning mix.) Set the meat aside for 15 minutes to marinate or wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. (If you refrigerate the meat, make sure it comes back to room temperature before you cook it.)
  4. Prepare wood or coals in your grill or heat a gas grill to medium. Grill the tri-tip, flipping it every 10 to 15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 130°F (for medium rare), about 45 minutes. Take the meat off the grill and let it rest for 15 minutes while the temperature continues to rise a bit and the juices settle. Slice and serve.