This super easy and flavorful grilled tri-tip takes less than an hour of active cook time. Using the reverse sear method on the grill, the steak is first cooked low and slow over indirect heat before getting a quick sizzling hot sear for a crusty exterior. With just 5 ingredients and a 2-step cooking process, this recipe yields insanely tender, juicy and beefy tri-tip steaks, bursting with flavor from garlic, herbs and spices.

Unlike other quicker-cooking cuts, tri-tip does best with gentler initial heat to keep it tender, before hitting it with high heat. The combination of smoky, savory grill flavor with a spice-crusted exterior takes this affordable cut to the next level. Tri-tip on the grill is one of the more forgiving and enjoyable beef cuts to master.

The Ingredients

  • Beef tri-tip steak – This “tri”angular shape steak from the bottom of the sirloin is usually around 2 to 3 pounds, which will feed 4 to 6 people. If it comes with a fat cap, that’s totally fine. You can trim the fat cap down to about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Kosher salt – Diamond Crystal brand is what I use and recommend. I like to keep the salt separate from the rub so you can better control the seasoning.
  • Olive oil or canola oil – Use a little for drizzling over the meat before seasoning, which helps the spices adhere.
  • Dry rub seasoning – A combination of black pepper, garlic powder and dried thyme and or rosemary leaves rubbed over the meat complements the flavor of the tri-tip. You can optionally add some paprika, onion powder and cayenne pepper as well, but I keep it basic and don’t like to add a lot of heat. This is similar to a Santa Maria style seasoning.

See the full recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

The Reverse Sear Grilling Method

For perfectly cooked tri-tip, we use a low-and-slow reverse sear technique utilizing a two-zone grill setup. This means having both an indirect, low heat area as well as a high direct heat area. Due to the irregular shape and thickness of tri-tip, reverse searing ensures even, tender results without overcooking the thinner parts.

First, the seasoned tri-tip is placed over gentle indirect heat to slowly come up to about 10-15°F under the final target temp. Then, it is seared directly over high heat to develop a flavorful, caramelized crust without drastically raising the interior temp. This reverse sear method is the key to achieving tender, juicy grilled tri-tip with a nicely seared outside full of flavor.

Another cooking option is to sous vide the tri-tip before searing in a skillet, or if you want some extra smoke flavor, make smoked tri-tip in smoker with some delicious oak for smoke.

How to Grill Tri-Tip

Step-by-step instructions for grilling this full-flavored and tender steak.

tri tip seasoned with salt and rub
  1. Season the tri-tip with kosher salt, covering all surfaces generously. Refrigerate uncovered on a baking sheet for 1-24 hours. This dry brining helps flavor and tenderize.
  2. Coat with dry spice seasoning – Take out of the fridge 1 hour before cooking. Apply a coating of the seasoning blend to all surfaces. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest section.
reverse sear tri tip grill setup horizontal
  1. Setup grill for indirect cooking – Preheat to around 225° F (107° C).
  2. Grill over indirect heat – Place tri-tip over indirect heat, and close grill lid. Cook for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, flipping halfway, until the center reaches 115°F (46° C).
tri tip in front of grill horizontal
  1. Rest and raise grill temp – Transfer to plate and tent with foil to rest for 10-15 minutes. Open vents to increase grill temperature to high heat.
searing tri tip on grill 2 horizontal
  1. Sear over direct heat – Place tri-tip over hot direct flames. Sear 2-3 minutes per side to get a nice brown crust.
  2. Check doneness and rest – Internal temp should reach 130-135°F (54-57° F) for medium-rare after searing. Let rest for 5 minutes.
how to cut a tri tip illustrated
  1. Slice – Separate the two sections. Then slice each against the grain to the desired thickness (I prefer 1/4″ slices for the most tender bites).
close up grilled tri tip 4

Top Tips for The Best Results

  • Dry brine overnightSalting the meat ahead of time will allow the salt to penetrate all the way through, rather than just the surface.
  • Reverse sear – Using a two-zone grill setup, you gently cook the tri-tip and then sear it at the end.
  • Cook to temp – With all the variables of cooking time, it is best to rely on internal temp and verify with a meat thermometer, rather than a time for when the tri-tip is finished cooking.
  • Slice it against the grain. It can be easier to see the grain direction before you cook it. With tri-tip, it’s super important to slice against the grain for optimal tenderness and there are two different directions on this cut.

Sides and Sauces

Bright and zesty chimichurri pairs wonderfully with the beefy grilled steak. Use a crusty loaf of French bread to soak up the juices. Also, serve with some crispy potatoes or go with creamy mashed potatoes. While tri-tip is traditionally served with pinquito beans, smoked baked beans can be made right on the grill as the tri-tip cooks, and are wonderful along with some fresh grilled broccolini as a veggie side dish.

Once you have your grilled tri-tip, be sure to try making a tri-tip sandwich.

close up of reversed seared grilled tri tip 3
reversed seared grilled tri tip horizontal

Grilled Tri-Tip

This flavorful, grill-friendly cut delivers tender, juicy results with little fuss. Learn the simple secrets behind cooking the perfect tri-tip steak every time.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 whole beef tri-tip steak (2 to 3 lbs) fat cap trimmed down to 1/4" if it has one.
  • Diamond Cystal kosher salt
  • olive or canola oil

Dry Rub Seasoning

  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional for heat)


  • Season the tri-tip with salt 1 to 24 hours in advance. Drizzle lightly with oil over all surfaces then generously season both sides with salt. If dry brining overnight, refrigerate uncovered on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Remove the tri-tip from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Apply the seasoning rub generously onto all surfaces. Insert a leave-in probe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.
  • Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking and add dry rub. Place a leave-in probe thermometer in the thickest part of the tri-tip.
  • Set up your grill for two-zone cooking – indirect heat on one side and high direct heat on the other. Bring grill temperature to 225-250°F (107-121° C).
  • Place the seasoned tri-tip on the indirect heat zone of the grill. Cook, flipping halfway through, until the internal pull temperature reaches 115-120°F (46-58° C) for medium-rare doneness.
  • Transfer the tri-tip to a plate and tent loosely with foil. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Increase the grill heat to high.
  • Place the tri-tip over direct high heat. Sear for 2-3 minutes per side, until nicely browned and crusty on the outside.
  • Remove from grill and check the internal temperature, which should reach 130°F to 135° F (54°-57° C) for medium-rare doneness after searing.
  • Slice against the grain and serve.


  • Oak wood chips or chunks can be added for a smokier tri-tip if desired
  • The pull temp for the reverse sear step will be 10 to 15 degrees F below the desired finished doneness.
  • Medium-rare is recommended, see steak temperature guide for more options:
Finished Temperatures (after resting)
Rare 120 to 130° F
Medium-Rare 130 to 135° F
Medium 135 to 145° F
Medium-Well 145 to 155° F
Well-Done 155° F +

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