Whether you’ve got leftover tri-tip from the weekend’s BBQ or you fired up the grill just for the occasion, these beefy sandwiches are mega-satisfying. Tender smoked, grilled or sous vide tri-tip gets stacked with melty cheese, caramelized onions, crisp greens, and a zingy BBQ mayo sauce – all tucked into a fresh baguette.

Prep and cook time takes just 15 minutes, and you can change it up with garlic aioli, crispy fried onions, or roasted peppers. This messy, meaty masterpiece delivers big flavor in every bite.

I had some bacon gouda cheese that I used on these, which was the perfect melty complement giving an In-and-Out “animal style” vibe but California tri-tip style.

Ingredients for the Tri Tip Sandwich

Fixin’s, Condiments & Toppings

The tri-tip is the true star of this sandwich, but the right accompaniments elevate this sandwich. A tangy BBQ Mayo Sauce complements the rich beef, with a melty cheese and sweet onions provide contrast. Each component plays a supporting role to the savory tri-tip, creating a harmonious blend of tastes and textures in every bite.

  • Tri-Tip – Grilled, smoked or cooked sous vide, sliced thinly against the grain for tenderness. Tri-tip is a flavorful and lean cut from the sirloin.
  • Onion – Use either yellow or red onions. The sauteed onions provide a wonderful texture and sweetness to the sandwich.
  • Melty Cheese – Options like pepper jack, smoked gouda (bacon gouda if you can find it) or sharp cheddar add creaminess and tangy notes. Use your favorite variety. I had some bacon gouda that went so well.
  • French Baguette or Loaf Bread – A crusty exterior with a soft, chewy interior is ideal for steak sandwiches.
  • Arugula or Butter Lettuce – Fresh greens add a crisp, peppery (arugula) or mild (butter lettuce) contrast.
  • BBQ Mayo Sauce – A zesty spread made with your favorite BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, and optionally Dijon mustard for tang.

Jump to the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

cheese onions bread in skillet

Quick Tip

Slicing the Tri-Tip correctly is key to easy-to-cheek bites. Slice across the grain.

Variations and Substitutions:

  • Swap the BBQ Mayo Sauce for Chimichurri or a Garlic Aioli for a different flavor profile
  • Add crispy fried onions or shallots for a crunchy topping
  • Sauté sliced bell peppers along with the onions for extra veggies
  • Substitute baby spinach, coleslaw, or add some tomato for the lettuce
  • Replace the tri-tip with smoked brisket, pulled pork, grilled chicken or portobello mushrooms.
Tri-Tip Sandwich close up
Tri-Tip Sandwich horizontal

Tri Tip Sandwich

Piled high with tender, smoky tri-tip steak, melty cheese, caramelized onions and a zesty BBQ mayo, this loaded sandwich delivers bold, beefy satisfaction.
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Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 sandwiches


  • 8-10 oz cooked tri-tip (grilled, smoked or sous vide), sliced thinly against the grain/
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion , thinly sliced
  • 4 slices melty cheese (such as pepper jack, smoked gouda, or sharp cheddar)
  • 1 French baguette or loaf bread , 12-inches long
  • arugula or butter lettuce

BBQ Mayo Sauce

  • 2 tbsp bbq sauce
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)


  • Cook the onions: In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sliced onions and cook until softened and lightly golden, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the sliced tri-tip to the skillet with the onions and gently warm through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Make the BBQ Mayo Sauce by combining the mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, and Dijon mustard (if using) in a small bowl. Mix until well blended.
  • Slice the French baguette or loaf bread horizontally, cutting about 3/4 of the way through to create a pocket. Optionally, you can lightly toast the bread halves in a skillet, toaster oven, or oven.
  • While the bread is toasting, add the cheese slices to the warm tri-tip and onion mixture in the skillet, allowing the residual heat to melt the cheese.
  • Assemble the sandwiches: Spread the BBQ Mayo Sauce evenly on the inside of the toasted bread. Layer with the sliced tri-tip, onion and melted cheese mixture, and top with the arugula or butter lettuce.
  • Turn off the heat and place the cheese slices over the warm onions to melt the cheese.
  • Assemble the sandwiches. Spread the sauce on bread, then layer the sliced tri-tip, the onions with the melted cheese and then some lettuce.
  • Use a serrated knife to slice the sandwich into portions.
  • Serve warm, with favorite sides such as potato chips, arugula salad, potato salad, coleslaw, or baked beans.


  • This recipe yields 1 large 12-inch sandwich or 2 smaller 6-inch sandwiches.
  • Optional add-in: Thinly sliced bell peppers can be sautéed along with the onions for extra flavor and veggies.
  • For meal prep, the cooked tri-tip, sautéed onions/peppers, and BBQ mayo sauce can be prepared and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead. 
  • Substitute smoked brisket, picanha steak, or pulled pork for the tri-tip if you have some on hand.

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