If you love steak as much as I do, then this Perfectly Tender Tri-Tip recipe is for you. The trick to a Tender Tri-Tip is not necessarily the seasoning or cooking process, its how you slice it post cooking! So be sure to continue reading for how to handle and slice after cooking for Perfectly Tender Tri-Tip every time!
Tri-Tip is on regular rotation at our house. This boomerang-shaped cut of beef just keeps coming back. (Pun intended here!) Tri-Tip has great beef flavor, a tender texture with the right methods and best of all a much lower price tag than similar cuts of meat. In my opinion tri-tip is the best, most underrated steak.
In our house smoking on the Traeger is the preferred method of cooking a Perfectly Tender Tri- Tip. Grilling or roasting are also great methods. For this recipe I will be sharing the smoker method. Check out the Tips and Tricks below for details on grilling as well!
Preparing you Tri-Tip…
First step is to set your Tri-Tip out on the counter and allow it to come to room temperature. This should take about 30 minutes. This helps ensure even cooking from edge to center. Don’t skip this step.
While you are waiting for the meat to come to room temperature you can prepare your spice blend. I like to keep it simple, and savor the true flavor of the tri-tip by using a blend of equal parts Salt and Pepper. I start with ⅛ cup of each and add more if needed. If you have a special rub recipe or spice blend you have purchased go for it. Tri-tip holds up well to almost any steak rub/blend.
Cooking your Tri-Tip
Set your smoker to 225 and allow it to preheat. Hickory or Alder pellets are my perferred woods for cooking tri-tip but Mesquite or Cherry would work well too. Hickory and Alder woods work well with both beef and vegetables. I usually cook my vegetables on the smoker while the tri-tip rests.
On the smoker Tri-tip takes about 60-90 minutes. But the important thing is getting your internal temperature correct based on the doneness you are looking for. DISCLAIMER: The USDA recommends steaks and roasts be cooked to 145° (medium) and then rested for at least 3 minutes. Now with that out of the way, I personally like my steaks medium rare and cook mine until the internal temperature is 130°. Remember the cooking process will continue after you remove it from the heat by about 5°. Pulling your tri-tip at 130° internal temperature will result in a perfect 135° Medium Rare Tri-Tip. This is where your meat thermometer will come in handy. I use one like this!
Once your steak has reached the internal temperature of 130° or your desired doneness, remove from the heat, wrap in foil and rest for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute and absorb into the meat. Another step you should not skip.
Slicing your Tri-Tip…
Finally we get to the most important and final step, slicing your Perfectly Tender Tri-Tip! I included pictures and guides. Incorrectly slicing the meat can make a perfectly cooked tri-tip steak tough and hard to chew.
On a Tri-Tip steak approximately half of the fibers run vertically. The other half contains long muscle fibers at an angle. The best way to see these fibers is when the meat is raw and unseasoned. When slicing the tri-tip you are looking to slice perpendicular or against the grain. I often cut mine where the fibers intersect (in half) and work each section individually. Angle your knife slightly or “cut on a bias” for maximum tenderness!
I am a huge fan of Rada Cutlery. Check out these two knives for cutting your Tri-Tip Perfectly. Rada also makes easy to use sharpeners so your never left with a dull knife! (I have been using the same Rada Knives for 20 years, and they still look brand new!)
Tips and Tricks…
If using a smoker and looking for a good sear on your meat, return to heat after it has rested. Turn the heat on your grill or smoker to high (500°) and return the tri-tip to the heat. A hot cast iron skillet would work as well. Cook on this high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. I personally skip this step. If you love a good sear or crust on your steaks then I recommend you give this a try.
If you are using a Grill I recommend cooking, fat side down and let it cook for about 5-8 minutes on each side. This may take more or less time depending on size of Tri-Tip. Once you see a dark brown crust give it a flip. Pull the meat when you have achieved an internal temperature reflective of your preferred degree of doneness.
You can also use a cast iron skillet much like the grilling method or your oven following the smoker method.
Invest in a good meat thermometer. I use mine regularly and can’t imagine cooking without it! When measuring the temperature of a Tri-tip be sure to go into the thickest section of the meat. Because of the shape and varied thickness of a Tri-Tip there wil be varying degrees of doneness. A Medium Rare might have sections of Medium to Medium well as your reach the thinner tip of the meat.
Following these steps to prepare and slice your tri-tip will result in fork tender perfection, you might not even want to go out for steak again, this is so good!
If your looking for a side dish to prepare along side your Perfectly Tender Tri-Tip, I recommend my Mashed Cauliflower, some grilled asparagus or even Keto Broccoli Salad to make it a complete meal! – Hope you enjoy this Perfectly Tender Tri-Tip! – The Scrambled Eggs.
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Perfectly Tender Tri-Tip
- Smoker, Grill, Roaster or Cast Iron Skillet
- 2-3 lb Tri-Tip
- 1/8 Cup Salt
- 1/8 Cup Pepper Or Seasonings of choice!
- Set Tri-Tip out on counter and allow to come to room temperature. (Approx 30 minutes)
- Prepare your spice blend. Combine Salt and Pepper and rub onto Tri-Tip. If you have a special rub recipe or spice blend you have, sub the Salt and Pepper for your own. Tri-Tip holds up well to almost any steak rub/blend.
- Set your smoker to 225° and allow to preheat.
- Once Smoker is headed add your Tri-Tip and close the lid.
- Cook for about 60-90 minutes at 225° or until the internal temperature is 130° or your desired doneness – the cooking process will continue after you remove from the heat by about 5°
- Remove from Heat and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes
- Slice/Carve the tri-tip perpendicular or against the grain.