What is the Tri-Tip Steak? [Guide To Cooking, Smoking And Grilling]


The Beef Tri-Tip is a delicious cut of meat that has a growing army of fans. But what exactly is it and what is the best way to enjoy it? Our steak guide tells you everything you need to know about tri-tip steak.

Meat guide with three prongs

The tri-tip steak is unlike any other cut of meat you’ve ever tasted. Originally from Southern California, the Tri-Tip has grown in popularity and become a mainstay in barbecue competitions across North America.

It’s not difficult to understand why. With a rich, meaty flavor, it’s just as delicious as barbecue staples like rib eye, but at a much lower price.

But what exactly is a tri-tip steak? Where does it come from? And what is the best way to prepare it? Find out everything you need to know with our guide to three beef tips.

raw tri-tip seasoned in BBQ Dry Rub

What is triple tip?

This is a cut of beef originally from California. It became famous in California and hence many people call it Santa Maria Steak or California Cut. It has many other names which we will look at. Its intense flavors are the standard in a highly recommended steak. 

When it comes to pricing, it’s also on the lower end of pricing and cheap. This is a significant advantage for a sizeable steak. Compared to other similar cuts that carry you similar tastes, this one stands out as a winner. However, for the best flavor, don’t overcook it. It goes well on the grill. 

Beef cuts cow chart
Tri-Tip comes from the tip of the bottom fillet of beef.

The hint is in the name. Tri-Tip is a triangular cut of beef with three tips. It is cut from the lower sirloin subprimal cut. It is a boneless steak that is usually about 1 inch thick. It’s also quite heavy, weighing around 1 ½ to 2 pounds and will do for more than one person. If you also share your food on a date, this is a great excuse for it! 

It has several different names, which sometimes confuses people. You may have a hard time finding Tri-Tip, in part because of the many names it goes by: Newport steak, sirloin steak, triangle tip, Newport steak, Santa Maria steak, or triangle steak. In France, Aiguillette is called Baronne; in Northern Germany is called Pastorenstück. In Spain it is called Hip Corner. 

One may wonder why it is such a popular cut in so many regions of the world. The answer is quite easy. It’s a lean cut with just the right amount of fat, works great on the grill, and won’t break the bank. Few cuts can be described as lean and tender, tasty and cheap. But the Tri-Tip cuts through all of those departments. 

How does it taste?

Tri-Tip has a rich beef flavor. It has a good amount of restricted fat, giving it a juicy and tender flavor even though it’s a lean cut of meat and has no covering fat. The rich flavor you get from the Tri-Tip is similar to what you get from more expensive cuts, but the Tri-Tip is more affordable. 

It has to be cooked properly. Otherwise it can get pretty hard and tough. Another advantage is that it is easy to marinate and so absorbs the necessary aromas quickly. 

Tri tip vs flank steak

Flank steak comes from the cow’s abdominal muscles and isn’t even a steak. While it may appear that the area under consideration is where the tri-tip came from, namely the bottom roast beef, this is not the case. The triple tip sits just above the flank steak.

The two dishes also differ in shape. The tri-tip is naturally triangular, while the flank steak is not.

Flank steak is best cooked in thin slices when it is meant to be cooked through and is often used as a stuffing, folded or rolled.

The flank steak is a long, flat steak, while the tri-tip is triangular and ghastly.

Flank steak should be cut against the grain for best results, while this is not the case with Tri-Tip. 

Tri tip steak vs tri tip roast

Seems like something YOU really shouldn’t be asking because it’s probably the same thing, right? Not correct! Yes they are both Tri-Tip but they are not the same. The difference is that the tri-tip roast IS the whole roast while the steak IS not. Instead, the tri-tip steak is cut from the roast. A roast can weigh up to 5 pounds, while a steak can weigh anywhere from 1 to 2 pounds.

Cooking methods


Smoked Tri-Tips recipe

While grilling is the go-to choice for most people when it comes to this cut of meat, there’s nothing quite like smoked tri-tip. Originally made on a Santa Maria grill, it easily converts to an offset or pellet smoker thanks to its simple pull-wheel mechanism.

Prepare by removing excess fat and silver skin from underneath. Then marinate it with a dry massage. Let sit in the fridge for about an hour before placing in the 225°F smoker.  


Tri-tip steak skewers recipe

Another method you can choose is grilling. You can die in an oven or do it on a gas, charcoal, or pellet grill. Season your meat first, then sear at 250˚F until the internal temperature reaches the proper doneness. Try our grilled three-pronged skewers for something truly unique.

Sing headlong

To sear a tri-tip steak upside down, use a skillet to retain moisture in it and sear the meat without burning it. You want the meat to be a nice shade of brown, possibly with signs of abrasion. 

Nutritional values

Tri-Tip is high in Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Iron, Riboflavin, Phosphorus, Selenium and Choline. To be precise, for every 3 ounces of meat you get:

110 calories from fat, 4.8 g unsaturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 7 g monounsaturated fat, 0 g CLA fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 60 mg sodium, 25 g protein, 3.05 mg iron, 365 mg potassium, 0.24 mg riboflavin, 0.37 mg vitamin B6, 2.37 µg vitamin B12, 222.6 mg phosphorus, 5.92 mg zinc, 8.65 µg selenium and 95.92 mg choline.

Times and temperatures

There are many recipes that tell you to cook until done. But what does that mean? Is it until it looks finished or until the timer rings? The best way to tell if the meat is done is to look at the internal temperature. This saves you the hassle of poking around and getting a perfect cut just to see if the inside is up to your class. 

Getting the internal temperature right is crucial as it tells you how long you need to keep the meat on the grill or in the oven. It helps you know when meat is now safe to eat without the potential danger of causing disease. There are foodborne illnesses that can be caused by improperly cooked foods. Your eyes won’t be enough to tell when it’s safe enough to eat, either. 

When food does not reach the correct internal temperature, there is a risk that harmful bacteria can cause infection. You must use a meat thermometer. For Tri-Tip, internal temperature must be at least 145˚F for Medium, 130˚F for Rare Tri-Tip and 140˚F for Medium Rare.  

Roast meat

Sometimes, YOU may want to opt for a smoky flavor. You can achieve this by cooking the steak in a smoker. The key to a tasty cut of meat is that it is well seasoned. That’s helped the battle. Once a place IS, SHE can preheat the smoker and ready it for the meat. 

Place the meat in the smoker and cook until the meat is 5° cooler than the selected internal temperature. This happens because when the meat is allowed to rest, it spreads. To grill it effectively, you need to set the smoker to 225˚F. You can allot about 30 minutes for each pound of meat. 

Intense interrogation

If you prefer to grill your meat, you can start by preparing the meat, whether you’re marinating it or using a dry rub. Then light the grill. At this point, you can decide on a specific wood to bring that flavor into your food. 

One of the useful tricks of using wood chips is to soak them in water for about half an hour before putting them on the grill. You should have it on the grill for 1 to 1 ½ hours until the meat has reached an internal temperature of 130°F if you prefer your meat rare. 

Do you have to be a mariner? 

When marinating meat before smoking or grilling it is necessary to impart different flavors to the meat. Before grilling, SHE can use a dry seasoning consisting of spices or just salt. Or you can use a wet marinade, which can be made up of a variety of sauces, either store-bought or homemade. Here’s all the fun, where you can make your meat taste different than your neighbors because your marinade is different. 

If you don’t marinate it, you risk adding spices to the meat, which is often not very effective. When marinating, you let the juices soak in for the right amount of time and become part of the meat. 

Tri-Tip is lean meat, and that means it’s likely to be dry. Marinating meat can also make it more tender, juicy, and add flavor. There are sauces like Worcestershire sauce, a double-edged sword that infuses flavor and tenderizes it.

Marinating works similar to salting. Also bring moisture into a part that may have been dry before, such as B. a tri-tip. The meat doesn’t have to have excess fat; To make it juicy, you can marry different flavors and cook it the right way and still have the flavors you need. 

When you marinate meat, you also change the texture for the better. Use a combination of ingredients to ensure you get that melt-in-the-mouth texture that might otherwise be missing when the meat is cooked. Marinating meat can also shorten the cooking time. It is important to find the right balance of salt, sugar and acid in the marinade. Otherwise, you risk drying out the meat. 

If your marinade contains sugar, it can burn quicker on the grill, so you need to be careful while cooking to avoid burning it. If you can’t do this, marinating with a sugar-based mix might not be a good idea.

You’ll need about 24 hours to marinate the meat in the refrigerator. Ultimately, the decision is yours. Marinades go well with tough cuts of meat like tri-tips and can mean the difference between a flavorful cut of meat and a bland one. 

How to store Tri-Tip after smoking or grilling

When you’re done cooking Tri-Tip, whether smoked or grilled, you should let the meat rest, but remember it will continue to cook. Also make sure you remove it from the heat when it is 5° from done. But what do you do now when everyone has their share and you have to keep it?

You can cool down. To do this, you need to make sure that the meat is put in the refrigerator 2 hours after the meal is prepared. This is when the weather is cool. If it is warm, after 1 hour you can put the meat in the fridge. Be sure to transfer the meat to a refrigerator-safe container. It lasts a few days and can be reused in many clever ways. Check out our Three Leftovers Tips Recipe post for inspiration!

Where to buy tri-tip

You can buy Tri-Tip from your local butcher or supermarket. However, you may not find meat marked Tri-Tip. In most cases it WILL be sold as part of a larger piece and will need to be cut. The branch manager may not even know what he is talking about. It goes by many different names, so it helps to know its features and what to look for. 

You can’t get an ordinary steak. You can find it under the names Santa Maria Steak, California Cut, Newport Steak, Sirloin Tip, Sirloin Butt, Culotte, Bottom Sirloin or Top Sirloin. This is in addition to the other names we’ve mentioned. It’s hard to find but worth the effort. 

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