How to Grill Tri Tip – Tips for BBQ Beginners

Summer is nearly upon us! Hot weather, chilling beside the pool, eating ice cream – these all go hand in hand with the regular summer experience, and one more thing that’s inseparable from a great summer’s day is a good ol’ BBQ! Prepare yourself to find out how to grill tri tip!

Barbecuing burgers, pork chops, chicken, and/or steak is the go-to choice for poolside cookouts.

But today, we offer you tips on how to prepare another cut of meat, Tri Tip, along with a recipe you can try out the next time you fire up your grill.

What Part of Beef Is Tri Tip?

You might know tri tip under names like triangle steak, triangle tip, or Newport steak.

Tri tip is a triangular cut of the bottom sirloin cut. Before the cut is trimmed, it can weigh up to five pounds.

As to how tri tip became popular and who the first cook was that chose to grill tri tip, this still remains a point of contention in BBQ history books.

Some say tri tip became popular during WWII when there was a need to portion meat more effectively, which meant army cooks had to be creative with what they had.

Others say half a dozen restaurateurs and fast food managers came up with the idea to grill this particular cut of beef, making it a popular choice.

Whatever the case may be, tri tip found its way into BBQ cookbooks worldwide. Let’s see the ins and outs of how to grill tri tip.

How to Grill Tri Tip

To give our readers a nice visual reference point, we chose to use this video to help showcase how to grill tri tip.

Season the Meat and Grill

Your grill needs to be hot and ready, with seasoned grates that will give additional flavor to the meat.

Before putting the tri tip on the grill, season the cut in any way you find preferable. Just using salt and pepper is completely fine.

Some people use various dry rubs. However, when using them, it’s important to know how to prepare them and apply them to your meat. Just remember to season your cut on both sides!

If possible, make it so that one side of your grill has hot charcoal while the other has none. That way, the tri tip can be cooked on indirect heat.

Sear the Meat

It’s always good to read up on charcoal grills before you start grilling thick cuts such as tri tip, especially if you’re a beginner.

First, however, the tri tip is seared directly over the hot coals, so that we get a good char on both sides of the cut.

Tip: during the searing stage, use a grill lid to cover your grill and ensure a good searing.

Grill the Meat on the No-Coals Side

Once you see a nice looking char, move the tri tip to the cooler side of the grill where you’ll finish cooking it.

Again, if your grill has a lid, use it to cover the tri tip after you’ve moved it to the cooler side of the grill: this gives it an oven-like quality.

Periodically, you’ll want to check the temperature just to make sure the tri tip has the right amount of heat necessary and is not being overcooked.

Another tip for those that love a good char is to turn the tri tip on its side and sear it that way as well. However, you might want to do this on the cooler side of the grill, after the tri tip has been cooked to your liking.

To know when your tri tip is done and ready to eat, use a meat thermometer – once it’s at around 130 degrees, it should be ready to go! This ensures a cut that is done medium rare, but if you prefer it more well-done, you can hold out a bit longer.

After grilling to your liking, let the tri tip rest for around 10 minutes before slicing it.

If you pay close attention to the grain direction, slice the tri tip once in half with the grain. The grain on a tri tip changes directions, so it’s good to have two separate parts for the different grains.

Once you have your two halves, slice them against the grain. And voila – you’re ready to enjoy your tri tip any way you want, either as the main course or as an additive in your sandwiches, tacos, or other food combos!

Step-by-Step Tri Tip Grilling:

  1. Pre-heat and season the grill
  2. Have hot coals on one half of the grill, and none on the other
  3. Season the tri tip (both sides)
  4. Sear the tri tip (again, both sides) on the side with the hot coals
  5. Move the tri tip to the no-coals side, and finish it there using indirect cooking (until the internal temperature is around 130 degrees, for a medium rare)
  6. Rest for 10 – 20 minutes then slice and enjoy.

Closing Remarks

grilled tri tip steak on a plate

Grilling tri tip is not rocket science by any means, but grilling tri tip properly can make people think you’re the NASA engineer of BBQing.

As with any other cut of meat, it is important to season the meat before you start to grill it.

And since tri tip is a rather thick cut, be generous with your seasoning so that it can penetrate deep into the meat.

Whether you like it medium rare or well done is entirely up to you!

We held up our end of the bargain – we showed you how to grill tri tip! Now, it’s time for you to fire up the ol’ BBQ, and amaze everyone with a well-charred, juicy tri tip!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is tri tip and why should I grill it?

Tri tip is a popular cut of beef known for its rich flavor and tenderness. Grilling it enhances the natural smoky taste, giving you a deliciously charred exterior and juicy interior.

How do I choose a good tri tip at the store?

Look for a tri tip that has a nice marbling of fat throughout, as this will help keep it moist during grilling. Also, ensure that the meat is dark red in color and avoid any pieces with an excessive amount of fat on one side.

Should I marinate my tri tip before grilling?

Marinating your tri tip can add additional flavor and tenderness. It’s recommended to marinate it for at least 4 hours or overnight in your favorite marinade to let the flavors seep into the meat.

How long should I grill my tri tip for?

Grilling time can vary depending on the thickness of your tri tip and desired doneness. As a general guideline, grill each side for about 5-7 minutes per pound over medium-high heat until the internal temperature reaches 130°F (medium-rare) or 135°F (medium).

Is there a specific way to prepare the grill for cooking tri tip?

Yes! Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (around 450°F). For added flavor, you can also use hardwood charcoal or wood chips to create some smoke while grilling.

Do I need to rest my grilled tri tip before slicing?

Absolutely! Allow your cooked tri tip to rest for around 10 minutes before slicing into it. This allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful bite.

Can I cook tri tip using indirect heat on a gas grill?

Yes, you can! If you prefer using indirect heat, simply turn off one burner on your gas grill and place the tri tip on the unlit side. Close the lid and cook until it reaches your desired doneness, flipping halfway through.

Any tips for achieving those picture-perfect grill marks?

To achieve those beautiful grill marks, preheat your grill grates well and make sure they’re clean. Once you place the tri tip on the hot grates, resist the temptation to move or flip it too soon. Let it sear for a few minutes before rotating it 90 degrees for that classic crisscross pattern.

Written By


Hi there, I'm Greg (also known as Herbie) and like most Aussies enjoy a good BBQ. I want to share with you some tips and recipes, along with gear that I like, to help you with your backyard barbecue and grilling hobbie.Anyway, have a look around and let me know what you think and happy BBQing. Cheers Herbie.

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