Tri-Tip- What is it and How do I Cook it?

An intro to tri-tip

A Tri-tip roast is also known as a “Beef Bottom Butt Sirloin.” But I doubt you will ever hear anybody call it that!


So, the Tri-Tip is a triangular shaped piece of meat that comes on the Hindquarter near the Sirloin Tip, the Top sirloin and the Fillet Mignon. The Tri-tip ranges in size from just under 2lbs to as big as 4lbs or so. The secret to a great Tri-tip is two main things; proper marbling and proper cooking. Never buy a USDA Select Grade Tri-Tip. Any money you might save will be spent on marinades, meat tenderizers, steak sauce or other additives. A top quality USDA Choice Tri-tip costs a little more, but you will only need a little dry rub and pepper to create an awesome meal. A good “Seasoned Salt” will do just fine. You should also never buy “peeled” Tri-tips with the fat cap removed; that would be as ridiculous as removing the skin from a thanksgiving Turkey before cooking it. The “Fat Cap” provides great flavor and bastes the meat during cooking. Put your pepper and seasoned salt, or rub all over the red meat. Don’t bother to season the fat. The seasonings will generally cook or drip off during the grilling process.

The key to cooking a Tri-tip, like most roasts, is to cook it low and slow, usually over indirect heat. Low and slow cooking keeps your roasts from turning gray around the edges and drying them out. The technique of cooking the Tri-tip depends on which type of grill you have.

Whether Charcoal or gas grilling, the secret is to keep the Tri-Tip completely away from direct heat or flames. This can be done by putting your coals on one side and Tri-tip on the other side of the grill. By turning on one burner on a two burner gas grill, or by putting the tri tip up, over and away on a top rack of either a charcoal or gas grill. Some people split the charcoal, putting a row of coals on both sides with a space over the middle for the Tri-tip. That works, but I believe it works better to put your coals on one side of the grill, (or turn on that one gas burner) sear the Roast meat side down over direct heat for about five minutes or so, and then put the Tri-tip completely on the other side of the grill, fat-side down, with the thinnest parts of the Roast facing away from the heat.

Whether you are using gas or charcoal you never want the temperature inside your grill to get any higher than 250 degrees, Remember, water boils at 212 F and anything much over 250 degrees will likewise “boil” the moisture out of your tri-tip or any roast for that matter.
Now insert a thermometer in the thickest part of the roast, being careful to put the probe in the center of that thickest part. With the heat (medium is best) on one side and the roast on the other you should be able to safely leave the lid down for 25-30 minutes or so. A small Tri-tip takes about 30-35 minutes while a large 3-½ lb roast can take nearly an hour or more. I like my roast at 125 in the middle when I remove it. After it rests for about 5 minutes or so, the meat is perfect for most people. If you like your meat less rare, try 130 or 135, but remember the three corners will all be much more done.

Buying a great Tri-tip for a great price is easy at Lakeview, since Tri-tips are always on sale when you buy two or more! You will generally save around $5 or $6 when you purchase two Tri-tips. If you need only one, throw one in the freezer, or better yet, we can cut one Tri-tip into culotte steaks. Culotte steaks usually cost $2 to $3 more per pound than Tri-Tips and they cook in a fraction of the time. And remember, we can always season up your culottes or Tri-tips so they are ready to grill or roast. For extra large groups ask about buying a bag of 5 Tri-Tips and you can save even more…

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