The Best Tri Tip Recipe, it’s flavorful, easy, and some of the best meat you will ever eat.
For this recipe I want to share a classic tri tip rub recipe- the Santa Maria Rub. It’s easy to make and super flavorful.
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However, I’ve been known to just salt and pepper a tri tip and enjoy it that way too. The meat, when cooked properly is the tastiest thing about this dish- so tasty rub or no- you will love it!
What is tri tip?
Tri tip also known as a Bottom Sirloin Tip or a Santa Maria Cut. Tri Tip is considered a California cut and up until recently was hard to find anywhere but California.
Thankfully its popularity is growing and can now be found at most supermarkets across the US.
I grew up in CA and had tri tip baked, smoked, grilled, or even barrel cooked for almost every birthday or graduation party.
When I first came to NM none of friends had heard of Tri Tip but everyone raved about brisket (which I was not very family with!) Funny how different cuts of meat can be so regional!
How is tri tip supposed to be cooked?
You can bake, bbq, smoked, or even cook tri tip in a crock pot. My favorite way is to smoke it!
Why is Santa Maria the classic tri tip rub?
The tri tip cut originated in Santa Maria, CA in the 1950’s. So cool!
How to make the best tri tip:
- Mix together rub and then massage into the tri tip
- Allow tri tip to sit with the rub on it at room temperature 1 hour before cooking
- Smoke/Grill/Bake tri tip until internal temperature is 135-140°F
- Allow tri tip to rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting
Tips for making the best tri tip:
- Cut against the grain of the tri tip for the juiciest meat- but if the tri tip is cooked properly it will be juicy regardless of how you cut it.
- If you don’t have a good thermometer you can estimate ~10 minutes per pound baking @ 350°F
- I recommend this smoker thermometer- it’s great for smoking and for use when baking in the oven (affiliate link)
What makes tri tip so good?
Tri tip has a good amount of fat marbled throughout and is typically less expensive piece of meat the is so full of flavor. It is also very tender and juicy when properly cooked.
Other ways to season a tri tip:
- Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
- Marinate the tri tip in some Worcestershire sauce, Lime Juice, Onion and Garlic Powder
- Use a premade rub like Kinder’s or something similar.
What to serve tri tip with?
Homemade French Fries, Hot Artichoke Dip, Stuffed Mushrooms, Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Homemade Limeade, and tasty salad all work well!
What to do with tri tip leftovers?
I love to make leftover tri tip sandwiches, making them into tacos, loaded nachos, and burritos.
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Watch how to make this recipe!
Best Tri Tip Recipe
- 2-3 lb Tri Tip
Santa Maria Seasoning
- 2 Tbs paprika
- 1 tbs chile powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tbs garlic powder
- 1 tbs onion powder
- 1 tbs salt
- 2 teaspoon pepper
- Mix all the seasoning in a small bowl. (2 Tbs paprika, 1 tbs chile powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tbs brown sugar, 1 tbs sugar, 1 tbs garlic powder, 1 bs onion powder, 1 tbs salt, 2 teaspoon pepper)
- Rub seasoning all over the tri tip. Allow tri tip to rest at room temperature for an hour. *
- Preheat oven to 350°F and bake tri tip in an oven safe baking dish for ~25-40 minutes. I prefer to go off internal temperature so I remove the tri tip from the oven when it reaches 135-140°F. If smoking or grilling the tri tip see notes below.
- Cut tri tip and enjoy!
- *You can mix and add the rub to the tri tip the day before, refrigerate overnight and then pull out the tri tip an hour before cooking.
- If smoking the tri tip heat smoker to 200-220°F. Smoke tri tip until the internal temp reaches 135-140°F (1.5-2 hrs approximately) then remove from smoker and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- If grilling the tri tip preheat the grill on medium heat then grill for 10 minutes on one side and flip and grill until the internal temp is 135-140°F- about 15 more minutes.
- My favorite smoker thermometer that I use for baking too: Thermoworks Smoker Thermometer (affiliate link)
- Different size tri tips will cook at different speeds because of their size and how hot the grill/smoker is.
- If your tri tip has a layer of fat you can trim it off but you don’t need to. The extra fat can help baste the meat when cookie- simply place in the oven with the fat end up.
- Everyone says cut against the grain of the meat for the juiciest meat- and I usually try to. However, if cooked correctly the meat will be delicious, tender, and juicy regardless how you cut it.
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