Today we’re talking about one of the most popular cuts of beef for grilling – tri-tip steak.
And the best part?
We’re cooking it up on a gas grill, so get those burners fired up!
If you haven’t had tri-tip steak before, you’re in for a treat. This triangular cut comes from the bottom sirloin of the cow and is known for its rich, beefy flavor and tender texture. It’s a favorite among grill enthusiasts for good reason – it’s delicious!
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of preparing and grilling tri-tip steak on a gas grill, from selecting the right cut of meat to seasoning and cooking it to perfection.
Here’s what you can expect:
- An overview of what exactly tri-tip steak is.
- Tips for selecting and preparing your tri-tip.
- Step-by-step instructions for grilling on a gas grill.
- Suggestions for serving and enjoying your perfectly grilled tri-tip.
So grab a cold beverage, get your grill tongs ready, and let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.
What is Tri-Tip Steak
Tri-tip steak, also known as triangle steak, is a flavorful and versatile cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin region of the cow.
It gets its name from its triangular shape and is a popular cut of meat for grilling, smoking, and roasting.
Here are some key facts about tri-tip steak that you need to know:
Cut and Texture
- Tri-tip steak is a triangular cut of meat that usually weighs between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds.
- It has a grainy texture with distinct strands of muscle that run through it.
- This cut has a moderate amount of marbling, which makes it flavorful and juicy when cooked correctly.
- Tri-tip steak is known for its bold, beefy flavor with a slightly sweet undertone.
- It has a good balance of fat and lean meat, making it a perfect choice for grilling.
- When seasoned and cooked properly, tri-tip steak can be incredibly tender and juicy.
- Tri-tip steak can be cooked using a variety of methods, including grilling, smoking, and roasting.
- It is best cooked to medium-rare or medium doneness to ensure that it remains tender and juicy.
- Tri-tip steak is versatile and can be seasoned with a variety of flavors and marinades to suit your taste preferences.
Tri-tip steak is a delicious cut of beef that is perfect for grilling and smoking. With its bold flavor and juicy texture, it is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next BBQ.
What to Look for When Choosing Tri-Tip Steak
When it comes to cooking the perfect tri-tip steak, it all starts with choosing the right cut of meat.
Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:
- Look for a well-marbled cut: The marbling in the steak is what gives it flavor and juiciness, so look for a tri-tip steak that has a good amount of marbling. You want to see thin, white streaks of fat throughout the meat.
- Check the color of the meat: A good tri-tip steak should be a deep, rich red color. Avoid steaks that are brown or gray, as they may be past their prime.
- Choose the right size and shape: Tri-tip steaks can vary in size, but they should be at least 1.5 inches thick. Thicker steaks will be more forgiving when it comes to cooking, as they won’t dry out as easily. It’s also important to choose one that is uniform in shape so that it cooks evenly. Look for a steak that is triangular in shape, with a thick end and a tapered end.
- Check the grade: The USDA grades beef based on its marbling and maturity. Look for a steak that’s been graded as USDA “Choice” or “Prime” for the best flavor, tenderness, and quality.
Now, let’s move on to trimming and seasoning the tri-tip to perfection!
Preparing the Perfect Tri-Tip Steak for Grilling
Trimming & Seasoning Tri-Tip | Marinating a Tri-Tip | Tips for Adding Flavor
It’s time to prepare that beautiful tri-tip steak for the grill.
But before you get too excited, there are a few things we need to do to make sure that the end result is nothing short of perfection.
How to Properly Trim & Season Tri-Tip
Before we start seasoning, we need to trim our tri-tip.
After all, we don’t want any hard fat or gristle getting in the way when we go to take a bite.
Here’s how to do it right:
- Trim the excess hard fat: Tri-tip steak is known for its marbling and fat cap, but too much fat can cause flare-ups and uneven cooking. Use a sharp knife to trim off any excess silver skin and hard fat, leaving about 1/4 inch on top for flavor. Trust us, none of these things will render during cooking, so it’s best to get rid of them now. This will not only help the seasoning penetrate the meat better, but it will also help prevent flare-ups on the grill.
- Season generously: Next up, we need to get that meat nicely seasoned, which means we need a great binder. Take some extra virgin olive oil and spread it generously across all sides of the meat. For a beefy alternative, you can use Beef Base as a binder. Then follow it up with a healthy coating of your favorite BBQ rub. If you’re looking for a recommendation, we highly recommend Plowboys BBQ Bovine Bold – it’s finger-licking phenomenal.
- Now, here comes the fun part – let it sweat: We recommend letting the meat sit for 30 to 45 minutes to really absorb all those delicious, savory spices.
Next, we’ll talk about the proper way to marinate a tri-tip.
Marinating a Tri-Tip
While marinating isn’t necessary for a great tri-tip steak, it can add extra flavor and tenderness.
Here’s how to marinate your tri-tip:
- Choose a marinade: A mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic is a classic choice, but feel free to get creative with your own blend of flavors.
- Marinate for at least 2 hours: Place the tri-tip and marinade in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor.
- Pat dry before grilling: Remove the tri-tip from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels before placing it on the grill.
Tips for Adding Flavor & Enhancing the Natural Flavors of Tri-Tip
If you’re a true flavor fanatic like me, you’ll want to take things a step further and really enhance the natural flavors of the tri-tip.
Try these tips for adding flavor and enhancing the natural flavors:
- Use wood chips for smoke: Adding wood chips to your gas grill can infuse your tri-tip with a smoky flavor. Try hickory or mesquite for a bold taste, or apple or cherry for a milder, fruitier flavor. Not sure how to add smoke with a gas grill? Check out this guide for smoking on a gas grill like a pro: How to Smoke on a Gas Grill – Simple Setup and Technique
- Baste with butter: As your tri-tip cooks, basting it with melted butter can add richness and flavor.
- Let it rest: After cooking, let your tri-tip rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful steak.
Preparing the Gas Grill
Direct Heat vs Indirect Heat | Preheating the Gas Grill | Achieving the Right Temperatures | Controlling the Temperature
The number one reason grillers choose gas over charcoal grills is that they are so simple to use.
Gas grilling offers the convenience of lighting and preheating with ease, making it an excellent choice for backyard chefs.
But before you toss your tri-tip onto those sizzling grates, there are a few things you’ll need to take care of first.
Direct Heat vs Indirect Heat
Is it better to use direct or indirect heat when grilling a tri-tip?
Direct heat is ideal for searing and creating a crispy crust, while indirect heat is better for slow cooking and maintaining a tender and juicy interior.
For a thick cut like a tri-tip, I recommend using a combination of both methods to achieve the best results.
Preheating the Gas Grill
Preheating your gas grill is a simple, three-step process that is easy to follow.
- Start by opening your grill lid and opening the gas flow from the tank.
- Next, light the grill and crank up all burners as high as they will go.
- Finally, close the lid and let the grill pre-heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat up the grill for 15 minutes or longer to create the perfect conditions for searing or cooking at higher temperatures on non-infrared burners.
However, for the best results when grilling more delicate foods like seafood or cooking with indirect heat, preheat your grill for 10 minutes or less.
Achieving the Right Temperatures
At the heart of grilling lies a technique that brings flavor and texture to your food: searing.
With the help of high heat, around 450- 500°F, searing creates caramelization, which transforms sugars into a delicious, brown crust. It only takes a few minutes and works wonders for tri-tips.
For achieving perfect sear marks, gas grills are a good option as they can maintain high heat with minimal effort. Preheat your grill on high for around 15 minutes and add oil with a high smoke point like grapeseed or palm oil to your grates for a perfect sear.
To get the best caramelization and char-grilled exterior, you need to have the right searing and cooking temperatures on your gas grill.
Here are some tips to help nail the right temperatures for searing and cooking:
- For searing, set the gas grill to high heat (around 400-500°F, or even higher if possible).
- For cooking with indirect heat, adjust the heat to medium-low (around 300-350°F).
- Use a meat thermometer to monitor the meat’s internal temperature and remove it from the grill when it reaches your desired level of doneness.
Now that you understand the best temperatures for grilling tri-tip, let’s talk about the best ways to control the temperature on a gas grill.
Controlling the Temperature
You’re more limited in your options when controlling the temperature on a gas grill compared to a charcoal grill as you don’t have the benefit of adjusting air vents.
With that said, gas grills offer the convenience of automatic temperature control, making it easier to regulate the heat compared to charcoal grills.
It’s as simple as turning the heat control knobs to adjust the heat as needed, whether you want to crank it up or bring it down a notch.
If you want to create an indirect grilling zone, turn on one burner and leave the other one or two off. Cook your food on the cooler side to achieve the best results.
Keep in mind that most gas grills reach a maximum temperature of around 550°F.
Here are some tips for controlling the temperature on a gas grill:
- Use the burners on either side of the grill to create different heat zones.
- Use a remote digital grill thermometer to monitor the temperature inside the grill.
Remember to use a combination of direct and indirect heat, preheating your grill, use the right searing and cooking temperatures, and control the temperature to achieve the perfect cook.
Grilling the Tri-Tip
Cook Times | Searing the Tri-Tip
While your tri-tips are getting all cozy with their new seasoning, set up your grill for indirect heat at 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
We’re going to start by cooking on the indirect heat side of the grill using a method called the “Reverse Sear”.
Why indirect heat, you ask? Well, with any reverse sear, we want our beginning temps to stay nice and low for adding that delicious smoky flavor. Don’t worry, we’ll crank up the high heat later to finish with that caramelized sear.
Once your grill is preheated and ready to go, it’s time to add your tri-tip to the side of the grill that is not directly over the flames.
Here’s how to BBQ tri-tip roasts on a gas grill:
Now, let’s talk cook times. Depending on the size of your tri-tip, cook times will differ before you hit it with that hot, direct flame. Your guide here will be the internal temperature, not a timer. For rare to medium rare tri-tip, you’re looking for 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit within the thickest part of the meat.
Don’t worry, the meat will continue to cook while searing and resting with an end goal of a perfect 135 degrees Fahrenheit medium rare. You can adjust the temperature to your preference. It’s best to use a remote digital meat thermometer to monitor the temperature while the meat is cooking.
Searing the Tri-Tip
Once you hit that temperature sweet spot, it’s time to remove the tri-tip, loosely cover it with foil, and convert your grill back to direct heat. Crank up all the burners as high as they will go and shut the lid. Let the meat rest for a good 10 minutes and get ready to sear them for about 2 minutes on either side flipping often.
Of course, you can reverse the sequence above, sear hot and fast first, and finish cooking on the indirect heat side until you hit your desired temperature.
After you’ve achieved that perfect sear, pull it off the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye out for the heavy grain when cutting your tri-tip steaks, as it can affect the texture of the finished product. Once your steaks are cooked, the key to perfect tenderness is slicing them into thin slices and against the grain.
More on this technique next.
Resting – Don’t Skip This Crucial Step!
After all that effort, you might be tempted to dive right in and start slicing that tri-tip. But hold your horses, cowboy!
- Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it more tender and flavorful.
- Loosely cover your tri-tip with aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 10 minutes, giving it time to soak up all those delicious juices.
Resting the meat is just as important as any other step in the process, so don’t skip it.
Slicing – The Moment of Truth
All right, now it’s time to slice into that juicy, perfectly cooked tri-tip.
Within the tri-tip, two different grains intersect: approximately half of the steak contains fibers running vertically and the other half contains long muscle fibers coming in at an angle. You can see this difference in grain easily when the meat is raw, so make a note of them before you start cooking.
Here’s our foolproof method to help you get it just right:
- Use a sharp knife: A dull knife will only shred the meat and ruin your hard work. A sharp, long-bladed knife will help you achieve those perfectly thin slices.
- Pay attention to the grain: Locate where the two grains intersect and cut vertically, splitting the roast roughly in half. You can also leave it uncut if you prefer.
- Inspect the grain of each half: Slice perpendicular to it for maximum tenderness.
- Slice thin: Aim for slices no thicker than 1/4 inch. The thinner slices help with tenderness.
- Angle the knife: Inspect the grain of each half and slice perpendicular to it.
Slicing it correctly is key to keeping this beauty tender and juicy.
Serving Suggestions – What Goes With BBQ Tri-Tip
Classic BBQ Sides | Grilled Veggies | Something Sweet
So, you’ve got a beautiful tri-tip ready to go, but what to serve with it?
Serve those beefy slices up with your favorite sides – we’re talking grilled veggies, mac, and cheese, or maybe even a baked potato.
Don’t forget the sauce – a good sauce can take your tri-tip to the next level. Try a classic chimichurri, a spicy BBQ sauce, or even a tangy horseradish cream.
Here are some more ideas for killer side dishes that’ll perfectly complement that smoky beef:
Classic BBQ Sides
Let’s start with some classic BBQ sides that are sure to please any crowd.
- Coleslaw: A tangy and refreshing coleslaw is the perfect complement to the rich flavor of tri-tip. Keep it simple with a traditional vinegar-based slaw or add some sweetness with a creamy version.
- Potato Salad: Creamy and satisfying, potato salad is a must-have at any BBQ. Go for a classic mayo-based version or mix things up with a tangy mustard dressing.
- Baked Beans: Sweet, smoky, and savory all at once, baked beans are a BBQ staple. Whether you like them spicy or mild, they’re the perfect side dish for tri-tip.
Next up, we’ll take a look at some of my favorite veggies to throw on the grill.
Grilled veggies are a great way to add some color and nutrition to your BBQ spread.
Try some of my favorites:
- Grilled Corn: Sweet and smoky, grilled corn is a summertime classic. Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper for a simple, yet delicious side dish.
- Grilled Asparagus: Tender and flavorful, grilled asparagus is a great choice for a more sophisticated BBQ. Drizzle with balsamic glaze for an extra pop of flavor.
- Grilled Zucchini: Lightly charred and perfectly seasoned, grilled zucchini is a versatile and tasty side dish. Add some garlic and herbs for extra flavor.
How about something sweet to end the day right? See my suggestions for some fun desserts next.
No BBQ is complete without a little something sweet to finish things off.
Here are some desserts that pair well with tri-tip:
- Berry Crisp: Fresh berries topped with a crispy oat topping make for a light and delicious dessert. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for extra indulgence.
- Peach Cobbler: Juicy peaches topped with a buttery crumble topping are the ultimate summer dessert. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream.
- S’mores: Nothing says summer like gooey, melty s’mores. Set up a DIY s’mores bar and let your guests create their own sweet treats.
Now, all that’s left to do is sit back, relax, and savor the flavor – you’ve earned it!
How to Store Leftover BBQ Tri-Tip
The first question you need to answer is whether you need to refrigerate or freeze your leftover tri-tip. If you plan on eating it within a few days, stick it in the fridge. But if you won’t be able to get to it for a week or longer, freezing is your best bet.
It’s important to remember that once your tri-tip has been taken off the grill and the internal temperature drops below 140°F, you’ve got to act fast!
Here are some timing tips for storing your leftovers so you can enjoy them later without any worries:
- Once your tri-tip has been removed from the heat source and the temperature drops below 140°F, it needs to be either consumed or stored within 2 hours.
- If the room or the outside temperature is 90°F or above, you only have 1 hour to eat or store it.
Next up, storage techniques.
Now, let’s get into the proper storage techniques:
- Wrap it up: Wrap your leftover tri-tip tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent air from getting in and drying it out. Don’t forget to include any leftover juices.
- Store in an airtight container: Storing your tri-tip in an airtight container is the next step after it has been wrapped. This will help keep it fresh and prevent any potential odors and bacteria from other foods in your fridge or freezer from seeping in.
- Label and date it: Be sure to label and date your leftover tri-tip so you know exactly how long it’s been in the fridge or freezer. This will help you avoid any food safety concerns.
Remember, you can refrigerate your BBQ tri-tip for up to 3-4 days. But if you can’t eat it by then, it’s time to freeze it.
Your BBQ tri-tip will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
BBQ Tri-Tip FAQ
Tri-tip is a delicious cut of meat that is perfect for grilling, but it can be a little tricky to get just right.
Here are some frequently asked questions about tri-tip and how to grill it like a pro.
If you don’t know much about gas grills but are in the market for one, we’ve got you covered there too!
For a much more comprehensive gas grill frequently asked questions and answer guide, check out my article: The Ultimate Gas Grill FAQ
Be sure to check back on this guide, as we often add questions and update the answers with new articles!
Let’s get to it!
Is Tri-Tip Steak Tender or Tough?
Tri-tip steak is generally considered to be a tender cut of beef. It is known for its rich flavor and tenderness when cooked and sliced properly. Although it is generally lean and lower in fat than other cuts, it is still very tender and full of meaty flavor.
Do You Grill Tri-Tip With Lid Open or Closed?
When you’re searing, keep the lid open so you keep an eye on your meat. Once you’ve got your tri-tip situated on the indirect heat side, that’s when you can close the lid and let the hot air and smoke work their magic.
What Side of the Tri-Tip Do You Grill First?
When grilling a tri-tip, it is best to grill with the fat side up first. This allows the fat to render and baste the meat as it cooks, keeping it moist and flavorful. This goes the same for searing.
How Long Does It Take To BBQ Tri-Tip on a Gas Grill?
Grilling a tri-tip steak by time is a big no-no! Instead, aim for the perfect temperature. You see, a number of things like the thickness of the meat, the initial temperature of the meat, and the heat level of the grill can all affect timing, which means it’s better to rely on a thermometer to determine when the meat is done to perfection.
Final Thoughts on Our BBQ Tri-Tip Steak on a Gas Grill Guide
And that’s a wrap on our BBQ Tri-Tip Steak on a Gas Grill Guide! We hope this guide has helped you become a master of the grill and given you some great tips for grilling the perfect tri-tip steak.
Before we close things up, let’s take a quick moment to review some of the key takeaways from our guide.
Remember to always start with a high-quality cut of meat and to season it well before grilling. Don’t rush the prep, it’s important to give your tri-tip steak the TLC it deserves before throwing it on the grill.
Cook by temperature, not time. Grilling a tri-tip steak on a gas grill is not a one-size-fits-all process. The thickness of the meat, the starting temperature, and even the grill temperature can all affect the cooking time. The best way to nail a perfectly cooked tri-tip is to use a meat thermometer so that it’s cooked to the desired temperature.
Don’t Forget the Sear. Searing your tri-tip steak on high heat for a few minutes on each side not only gives it a beautiful crust but also locks in the flavor and juices.
Let it Rest. Resist the urge to cut into your perfectly grilled tri-tip steak right away. Letting it rest for a few minutes allows the juices to redistribute.
While we’ve provided some tried-and-true seasoning blends in our guide, don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different flavors and marinades to find your perfect match.
Do you have a different method of grilling tri-tip? What’s your favorite BBQ tri-tip recipe?
Don’t forget to leave a comment below and rate this guide if you like it!
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A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, self-proclaimed grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!
I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!