The Best Way to Cook a Tri-Tip


Paying Homage to Santa Maria for the Best Tri-Tip Steak

Sometimes the simplest cooking methods are the best. Such is the case with tri-tip, a naturally tender beef cut that does so well when simply seasoned and grilled to medium rare that an entire festival is built around it. The Santa Maria Valley Barbecue Festival, which celebrates Santa Maria-style tri-tip along with a few other local specialties, attracts foodies throughout California. Although the mystique of Santa Maria-style tri-tip doesn't reach far outside of California – you might have to ask for it by name if you don't find it in the display case at the market – you can apply its high-temperature, quick-cooking technique no matter where you are.

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6


  • 1 tri-tip, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Slice off any connective tissue or hanging pieces of fat from the steak. Liberally season the tri-tip with kosher salt, and let it sit in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 1 up to 12 hours.
  2. Set up the grill to cook with high heat. Rub the minced garlic over the both sides of the tri-tip and season it to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Grill the tri-tip for 6 to 8 minutes on each side, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 125F to 130F.
  4. Rest the steak on a carving board for 5 minutes. Slice the tri-tip across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices.