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How to: tri-tip

How to barbecue a tri-tip.

  • beef-tri-tip
  • Cut:Bottom Sirloin
  • When it’s Done:
    • 57°C rare
    • 60°C medium-rare
    • 63°C medium

A Central California staple since the 1950s, tri-tip has become increasingly popular across the nation for its low cost, lean meat, and bold flavor. Follow these six simple steps for a perfectly barbecued tri-tip using Kingsford® Charcoal.

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    Prep the tri-tip

    Remove the tough, chewy “silver skin” from the tri-tip. Using a sharp knife, cut just below the skin and work your way across the meat. Next, trim the excess fat down to about an 1/8-inch layer. Tri-tips love advance seasoning. Either marinate the tri-tip or sprinkle on about two to three tablespoons of rub evenly on each side. Place the tri-tip in a plastic bag or large dish and let it refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

    You can find a selection of rub and marinade recipes for your tri-tip here.

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    Fire up the grill

    Light a full chimney of Kingsford® Original Charcoal or a pile of about 100 briquets. When the coals are ready, arrange them in a medium-hot [two-zone] fire and place a drip pan next to the coals. Replace the grate, allow it to heat up—all vents should be fully open—then pour cooking oil on a folded paper towel and oil the grate using long-handled tongs.
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    Add a bit of smoke flavor (optional)

    A great option for tri-tip is adding a bit of smoke taste. If you like, add about two cups of Kingsford® hickory or mesquite wood chips. Be sure to soak the chips for at least 30 minutes in water before spreading on the coals.
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    Grill, then sear

    Unlike a steak, with tri-tip you’ll want to sear it after barbecuing to better allow the charcoal-barbecued aroma—and smoke flavor if you added wood chips—to penetrate the meat. Place it on the warm side of the grate (not directly over the coals), close the lid, and barbecue it for about 20 to 30 minutes, then turn it over and repeat. When the tri-tip is close to your desired meat temperature, remove the lid and sear both sides directly over the coals.
  5. 5

    Testing for doneness

    Using a meat thermometer, cook the tri-tip to your desired temperature: about 57°C for rare, 60°C for medium rare* (the recommended temperature for optimal taste and texture), and 63°C for medium. Keep in mind that the tri-tip will continue to cook after it’s been removed from the BBQ — internal temperatures will rise, sometimes by as much as 1º during resting.
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    Rest and slice

    After the tri-tip comes off the BBQ, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes, then cut thin slices across the grain and serve. Because of its tapered shape, the narrower section will be more cooked than the butt end, giving you a range of doneness to serve your guests.

*USDA Safe Minimum Internal Temperature recommendation is 63 degrees

Because of its low fat content, tri-tip is typically marinated and/or seasoned with a rub, then served with a sauce.
The traditional tri-tip rub is salt, pepper, garlic salt and sugar.
Too much smoke can make grilled meats taste bitter. Use restraint with the chips.