How to Grill and Cut tri-tip: The Newbie’s Ultimate Guide

​Do you know what a trip tip is? It’s one of the most popular cuts of beef sold in the market today. Cooks and chefs love using it for steaks because of its full-bodied flavor and low-fat content.

However, despite its popularity, it is also one of the trickier meats to grill. Cutting it the proper way sounds a little complicated, too.

But don’t worry! I am here to teach you how to grill a juicy and tender piece of tri-tip. Not only that, I will also teach you how to cut tri-tip in 2 very easy steps.

Things You Need

  • 1 (1 to 1 ½ pounds) beef tri-tip

Spice rub:

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

You can add other spices to the rub, depending on your taste. If you want a spicier meat, I suggest you add 1 teaspoon chili powder into the mix.

For the grill:

  • 1 bag of lump charcoal or briquettes
  • Matchstick or grill starter
  • Crumpled sheets of newspaper or pieces of cardboard


  • Charcoal grill
  • Chimney starter (optional)
  • Oven thermometer
  • Meat thermometer
  • Tongs
  • Carving knife
  • Chopping board


Grilling the tri-tip

Step 1: Prepare the meat.

​Combine the ingredients of your spice rub in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Rub the mix all over the meat, making sure to cover both sides so that the flavor comes out even.

Let your tri-tip sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This makes it easier to grill the meat later.

Step 2: Prepare the grill.

​If you’re using a chimney starter, place a few crumpled sheets of newspaper under the wire rack. Then place your lump charcoal or briquettes over the rack. Light the newspaper with a matchstick or fire starter. Once the charcoal starts turning the color of ash, you can transfer them into your grill.

If you don’t have a chimney starter, you can light your charcoal directly in the grill. Just add the briquettes or lump charcoal into the grill, add a few pieces of cardboard, and light with a matchstick or grill lighter.

Bring the grill to medium heat, or roughly 350-375°F (177-191°C). Use your grill thermometer or an over thermometer to check the temperature. 

Step 3: Place the meat on the grill.

Cooking tri-tip is a little tricky because the meat is very thick. You don’t want to burn the exterior before the interior has the chance to warm up.

To do this, make sure you place the meat in between the grill’s burners. This will prevent flare-ups when the fat starts to drip all over the charcoal.

Cover your grill for 15 minutes, keeping an eye on the temperature and making sure it stays within the 350-375°F range.

Step 4: Flip the meat.

After 15 minutes, open the grill’s cover and flip your tri-tip so that the other side can start cooking.

Make sure you use a pair of tongs and not a barbecue fork or any other pointed cooking utensil. You don’t want to accidentally pierce the meat and cause a flare-up. Doing this will also make your meat less juicy.

Step 5: Check the internal temperature.

Cook the meat for another 15 minutes before checking its internal temperature. To do this, just stick your meat thermometer in the thickest portion of your tri-tip. (Yes, you can pierce your meat at this point.)

Remember that the longer you cook the meat, more well-done it comes out. Medium rare is usually about 130-135°F (54-57°C). I like my meat medium, so I usually remove the meat from the grill once it reaches 140-145°F (60-63°C). 

Higher than that and the meat becomes well done. Just make sure you don’t grill the meat too long so that it doesn’t lose its juiciness and becomes hard to chew.

Step 6: Remove the meat from the grill and let it rest.

​Once you get your desired doneness, remove the meat from the grill and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

I highly recommend that you don’t skip this step. Letting the meat rest allows the juices inside to spread throughout the meat and not spill on the cutting board.

Cutting the tri-tip

Now that you’ve finished grilling, you can now start cutting the meat into your desired serving sizes. Chris Allingham of The Virtual Weber Bullet gives a fantastic demonstration on how to carve grilled tri-tip in this video:

I love this video because aside from giving basic instructions on how to cut the meat, Chris also explains exactly what a tri-tip is, and how its grain is different on each side.

Step 1: Cut the meat in half.

Once the meat has had enough time to rest, you can now start cutting it. Cut along the seam or the curved portion of the meat. Remember to cut along the area where the grain (or the parallel stripes along the meat) changes.

Step 2: Rotate one-half and cut across the grain.

​Take the first half and slice across the grain. This is important because it makes the meat easier to chew.

Hold the carving knife at a slight angle, to make the meat tenderer and juicier after each slice. Repeat this step for the other half.


I love serving tri-tip with tomato relish, a slice of French bread, and a side serving of green salad. Feel free to experiment on different sides to see what you like best. Just make sure you make the meat the star of the dish. It certainly deserves it.

Is this article helpful? Do you have other tips on how to cook and cut tri-tip? Write them down in the comments’ section. I’d love to hear them. Also, please take the time to share this article with your family and friends. Happy eating!

Jack Smith

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