Tri-tip Roast


Perfectly cooked! The thicker parts are medium rare, the thinner parts are medium. This was a great cut of grilled meat!

A California classic. When I lived in California, I worked for a couple of great caterers. One thing that we frequently served was tri-tip…

I happened to see some in our local IGA, something I haven’t seen in a long, long time!


  • 1 tri-tip roast (2 to 3 lbs. total)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoons Adobo or garlic salt
  • a very hot lump charcoal fire,
  • or traditionally,
  • 5 or 6 logs red oak; or, if using another type of wood, or cooking over charcoal or gas, add 2 cups red oak chips, soaked in water at least 20 minutes.  Red oak is what they had available; I would suggest you use what you have available.
  1. Trim away all but 1/4 in. fat (set trimmings aside).  Most tri-tips come already trimmed by your butcher.  Mix salt, pepper, and garlic salt, then sprinkle pieces generously with it. Let meat sit 1 hour at room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your fire If using charcoal, prepare grill for indirect medium-high heat and sprinkle chips directly on coals. When chips start smoking, you’re ready to cook.  If using other types of fire, refer to the Sunset link below.
  3. I placed my meat on the grill while the flames were high.  Since I do not have the adjustable type of grill called for, I wanted those flames to lightly char the meats.  Each side cooked for about 8 minutes on each side.  I was so impressed with tri-tip after this time; My roast was lightly charred, and still squishy.  Well, it turns out, it was too squishy.  I cut it in half to check it, and was raw, raw, raw.  So, by this time the flames had died down and the charcoal had that white-ash covering the coals by that time, perfect for indirect cooking.  Each side spent another 10 minutes on the grill, for about 28 minutes total.  Perfectly cooked medium to medium-rare tri-tip.
  4. Slice meat 1/2 in. thick across the grain and serve hot.

*Order ahead from your butcher–unless you live along California’s Central Coast, where it’s easier to find.


All seasoned up! Some salt, pepper, and adobo…that’s it!

I checked out a lot recipes online, but the article above at Sunset magazine interviews the original tri-tip grillers.  Salt and pepper are the only seasoning that’s really needed.  Can’t find tri-tip?  Use a sirloin.  Check out their great article for more tips.  I also made the traditional macaroni and cheese and Santa Maria Beans using the Pinquito beans, which are indigenous to that area.


A flaming fire…


Place the meat on the grill while the fire is still has flames…about 5 to 7 minutes on each side.


After the initial searing, I thought it looked pretty good! Until I cut into it, and it was very, very rare. Return to fire (which has now lost it’s flames, but very, very hot) for about 8 minutes on each side, in the cooler part of the grill.


After some time back on the grill. See the difference in the point? It’s brown. I always go by the finger-touch test; this was still squishy, but not with too much give.

One thought on “Tri-tip Roast

  1. Pingback: Santa Maria Pinquito Beans | icookforleftovers

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