The tri-tip is a delicious cut named for its general triangular shape and is thick and requires cooking at lower temperatures. Although it can be cut into steaks, it is at its best when roasted whole. When cut into steaks, a tri-tip is often menued as Newport Steak. In France, tri-tip is known as aguillote baronne, but when in Brazil, ask for maminha.

The tri-tip is cut from the bottom of the sirloin primal. This cut consists of the tensor fasciae latae muscle and is trimmed to be free of any connective tissue. It is located near the bavette and ball-tip roast, so it has the lean characteristics of these items. 

The city of Santa Maria, located in California’s Central Coast region is known for making the tri-tip a local specialty. Some of the early settlers were vaqueros, Mexico’s equivalent of the cowboy, and the local cuisine is influenced by their culinary background.

Meat mythology says the tri-tip was discovered by Bob Schutz, a local butcher, in the 1950s. The cut was generally thrown into the grinder for hamburger, but there was plenty of ground beef in the store and Bob put it on the shop’s rotisserie oven. It became an instant hit and he started labeling it as a grilling specialty.

In Santa Maria this crescent shaped roast is prepared using salt and pepper and grilled to an ideal medium rare. Our tri-tip has the rich juicy taste that only comes from American Wagyu beef. Serve it in the classic California style with garlic toast, salsa and pinquito beans or use your favorite method to grill, braise or rotisserie cook this delicious roast.

The tri-tip is easy to prepare on the grill and makes a memorable meal. It is important to slice this cut properly so it is tender and not chewy. The grain of the tri-tip runs the short side of the cut. It’s natural to cut it along the short side, but cut the roast in half, turn it and cut against the grain. Take a look a the tri-tip before cooking and it’s easy to locate the grain. This will jog your memory when it’s time to serve the final grilled tri-tip



Remove any large sections of silver skin. There is a fat cap and if it’s thick, it’s fine to trim it however do not remove it all. Fat equals flavor and the melting cap will infuse the meat with juicy flavor.


If using a charcoal grill, set it up for two-zone cooking. To do this, arrange all the lit charcoal on the “hot side” and leave the “cold side” empty.

If using a gas grill, heat it to high and allow to come to temperature.


The traditional Santa Maria method is to use coarse salt and pepper. You can also use your favorite rub or one of the Snake River Farms dry seasonings. If you have time, cover and refrigerate for an hour to allow the seasoning to set into the meat. After an hour, let the tri-tip rest at room temperature for another hour to temper.


Set your tri-tip on the grill. Use the hot side of the charcoal grill or place in the center of the gas grill. Sear one side so it is golden brown. This takes about 5 to 8 minutes depending on your grill.

Turn the roast and sear the other side in the same way.

When both sides are seared, move the tri-tip to the cool side of the charcoal grill. If using a gas grill, turn the heat to medium.
Flip the tri-tip about every 10 minutes. Use a quick read thermometer to monitor the internal temperature, checking the thickest part of the roast. The target temp is 130 for medium rare. The tri-tip is a large cut of beef and the cook time can take about 30 minutes.

When the tri-tip hits 130, remove it from the grill and allow to rest, loosely covered with foil.


Many grilling pros prefer the reverse sear method for the tri-tip. This is like reverse searing a steak, where the beef is brought to the target temp on the cool side of the grill, the final seared before serving.


The tri-tip has is a crescent shaped muscle from the sirloin primal. Slicing against the grain is extremely important in order to serve the tender pieces of tri-tip. Slicing with the grain will result in a very chewy serving.

The grain runs across the short side of the tri-tip. Cut the roast in half and rotate each piece 90 degrees. Cut slices to your desired thickness (we like slices about 3/8” thick). Use a cutting board with a gutter to catch the juices. They are worth saving to serve with the tri-tip.


The tri-tip is traditionally served with thick slices of grilled crusty bread, fresh salsa and slow-cooked pinquito beans, but we think it’s delicious served with just about anything!