The Best Ways to Grill a Buffalo Tri-Tip Roast

by Jackie Lohrey

Grill a buffalo tri-tip roast using a combination of grilling methods.

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While retail cuts of the bison are similar to beef, its nutritional value far exceeds beef. After cooking, the National Bison Association reports a 3 1/2-oz. serving contains about 2.42 g of fat, 28.44 g of protein and 3.42 mg of iron. In comparison, one serving of choice beef contains 18.54 g of fat, 27.21 g of protein and 2.72 mg of iron. This low-fat content makes choosing the right way to grill a buffalo tri-tip roast important to ensure a your roast comes off the grill tender and tasty.

The Facts

Buffalo tri-tip roast is a very lean meat, and the lack of insulating fat means it cooks faster than a similar cut of beef. It is easy to overcook using the wrong grilling method, with the result being a dry and chewy piece of meat. This lack of fat can also affect the flavor of the meat as it has little to no marbling, or streaks of fat that, for example, run through beef, adding both flavor and tenderness to the meat. As a result, the steps you take while preparing a tri-tip roast for grilling are as important as the right grilling method.


There are two basic ways to grill meat and buffalo tri-tip roast can make use of both. The first is a method called direct heat grilling. In the case of a buffalo tri-tip roast, this means cooking the roast for a short time, directly over hot coals or with burners on a gas grill set to high heat. This is similar to oven broiling, serves to brown the roast and is important for adding flavor. The second method involves a longer cooking time over indirect heat. Indirect heat uses lower temperatures to cook the roast in a fashion similar to roasting meat in your oven. The heat source lies to the side of the roast rather than directly underneath the meat.


When first starting to grill a buffalo tri-tip roast, the coals lie in one pile in the middle of the grill. Grilling begins when flames die off and the coals are a light gray to white ash color. The direct heat portion of grilling a buffalo tri-tip roast lasts about seven to 10 minutes, with an equal browning time for each side of the roast. Once browning is complete, divide the coals on a charcoal grill into equal piles, move them to the sides of the grill and place an aluminum foil drip pan directly underneath the roast. On a gas grill, you turn the burner immediately under the roast off and turn the remaining burners to a medium heat setting. Total cooking time depends on the size of the roast, as well as whether you enclose the roast in aluminum foil prior to grilling in order to trap meat juices. Regardless, you should grill the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of about 180 degrees Fahrenheit. With a 3-lb. buffalo tri-tip roast, this will take about 30 to 40 minutes if you do not wrap and up to five hours if you do.


Seasoning prior to grilling is important for additional flavor and tenderness. Options include a dry seasoning rub or liquid marinade. Take steps for whichever method you choose anywhere from one to 24 hours before grilling the meat. Experimenting with different dry rub and marinade seasonings and ingredients can also help you vary the flavor your roast.

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About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.