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How to Slow Cook a Tri-Tip on the Barbecue

by Irena Eaves, studioD

Tri-tip is wonderful when cooked slowly over low heat, then quickly seared over high heat to lock in juices and create and nicely-browned crust. With its odd shape and tapered end, this cut is perfect for large groups who like their meat cooked to varying degrees of doneness. This triangular cut of beef was originally popularized in central California, where it is often seasoned simply with nothing more than salt, pepper and garlic. Tri-tip has a relatively mild flavor, so try serving the meat with salsa for a flavorful kick.

Soak the tri-tip in a marinade or rub it with your favorite spice blend, if you wish. Allow the meat to absorb the flavors for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Remove the tri-tip from the refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking to allow the meat to warm up slightly and cook more evenly.

Prepare your grill for indirect cooking over medium-high heat. For charcoal grills, light the coals until they are just grayed over on one side of the grill grate. For gas grills, set the burners to medium-high on one side of the grill.

Place the tri-tip on the cold side of the grill and cover. Close all grill vents halfway to maintain a low temperature during cooking.

Allow the tri-tip to cook until it is about 5 degrees Fahrenheit under your desired level of doneness, flipping once during cooking.This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour for tri-tip cooked to medium. For best results, use an instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature of the roast as it cooks. Aim for 125 F for medium-rare, 135 F for medium and 145 F for medium-well.

Quickly sear the meat on the hot side of the grill until it is nicely browned, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the tri-tip to a large plate and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. The roast's temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees during this resting period. Cut the meat against the grain in thin slices and serve immediately.

Items you will need
  •  Instant-read thermometer


  • If necessary, add more charcoal to the grill as the tri-tip cooks to maintain an even cooking temperature.


  • Although some prefer their meat cooked to lower temperatures, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking tri-tip to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F to guarantee safe consumption.

About the Author

Irena Eaves began writing professionally in 2005. She has been published on several websites including RedPlum, CollegeDegreeReport.com and AutoInsuranceTips.com. Eaves holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Boston University.

Photo Credits

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