Tri tip



Santa Maria, California style barbecue

Tri tip is a triangular shape muscle from the bottom sirloin. It is said to pretty much define Santa Maria, California style of BBQ while not being the most popular cut of beef outside the region. It certainly isn’t first in mind where I live and most often it is “not in mind” when asking local butchers.

Nevertheless, it can be found and here is the proof.

My cut was 2,65lb (1,2kg) which is on a heavier side of typical tri tips. Thickness was easily 2” (5cm).

Tri tip is a quite big chunk of meat but generally lean. Although, one side of the cut presents nice fat layer and pitmasters argue if it should be trimmed or not. I trimmed majority of the fat away and left about ¼ in (½ cm).

Low fat means high risk of getting dry BBQ. Therefore, medium 145°F (63°C) doneness was my target. Again I decided to go with reverse sear method, which has become one of my favorites. Reverse sear means indirect cooking near to target temp first and then searing with high direct heat to finish it.

Tri tip should be seasoned modestly. Salt and pepper might be the most popular ones. Just like seasoning a regular steak. I am careful with salt but crazy with black pepper.

Cooking is pretty straight forward and does not take too long either.

Here is the method:

  • I prepared my Weber Master Touch for indirect grilling. Half grate full of Black Ranch lump charcoal and half grate empty.
  • Ignited charcoal with two lighter cubes

  • Set up my iGrill with two probes for temperature monitoring
  • Closed the lid after 10 minutes when lighter cubes had done their job
  • When grill inner temp reached 450°F (230°C) I placed Tri tip on the empty half and stuck temp probe into meat

  • Once meat temp hit 143°F (62°C) I moved it on top of the high heat charcoal for searing
  • One minute for both sides was enough as charcoals were running really hot.

  • Took out the meat and wrapped in foil to rest for 15 minutes

There you go. Tri tip yourself!

Oh, here is the fourth tip, slice against the grain when serving, unless you really like chewy meat.

Temperature curves can be found below

Tri tip

Cooking time

30 Minutes

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  • Tri tip
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  1. Miikkali

    Fascinating! The term “reverse sear” was unknown to me before. In principle it sounds a lot like what many modern chefs do: sous vide -cooking up to an exact desired temp, then searing with a blow torch. The end result, flavour-wise, is probably noticeably different when you cook on charcoal, but the principle is the same, am I right?

    1. Johannes

      I never thought it that way, but I agree with you. The principle is the same! I am attracted to sous vide and I will try it some day but for the time being, I am enjoying stone age too much.


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