Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip on the barbecue grill is a delicious sirloin, with a simple rub and cooked to perfection on the Barbecue Grill. If it’s raining outside, use your Air Fryer or Mealthy Crisplid on your Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi or Pressure Cooker.
Tri-Tip is a triangular piece of beef from the bottom sirloin. Up until the early 1950’s Tri-Tip was used for ground beef.
It often times was tossed aside by butchers and wasn’t cooked whole until the early 1950’s.
It became popular in Santa Maria, California and is traditionally cooked over a wood fire with a cast iron grate that can be lifted up and down by a pulley. The locals used their native coast live oak, which is often referred to as red oak wood. The seasoning is very basic, salt, pepper, garlic.
I’ve tried making tri-tip with so many different seasonings, spices and marinades and I always come back to this very simple recipe.
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Ingredients for Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip
- Garlic Powder
The instructions on the recipe card below are for using a Charcoal Grill, an Air Fryer and a Mealthy Crisplid!
Remove some of the fat, but leave some on one side. Mix together seasonings and rub it into both sides of meat.
(If you prefer an Argentine flair, prepare my Argentine Chimichurri Sauce and use instead of the seasonings listed here.) I like to use garlic with parsley, Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper. If you would like a stronger smoky flavor, try the Rachael Ray Applewood Smoked Sea Salt.
It gives a great smoked taste that many people, including my husband, love. I’m not a fan of smoked meat, so it’s a bit too much for me when we cook on the grill, but I do love it on rice and on meat cooked inside.
Some people like to add extra pepper, so if you like pepper, use a bit more. It helps make a nice crust while searing.
Another recipe to try on the grill is my Baby Back Carolina Style BBQ Pork Ribs. It is my favorite recipe when cooking St. Louis and Baby Back style ribs on the grill!
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect (one side of grill) heating. We mostly use our Extra Large Charcoal Grill for all of our grilling and a Weber Chimney Starter to light the coals.
A delicious paring for a side dish is my Instant Pot Pasta Cheese and Peas Salad, Pressure Cooker Basic Risotto Recipe with Peas and Carrots, or my incredible Instant Pot Colcannon recipe.
Dump the hot coals on top of the cold coals. Since we use a Weber Chimney Starter, rather than lighter fluid, the hot coals will start to spread and heat the cold coals, as opposed to all the coals turning white right away.
Place the Tri-Tip on to the Charcoal Grill, fat side up and give it a good sear, about 4 minutes. Flip over the meat and sear the other side for about 4 minutes.
Move the Tri-Tip over to the other side of the Charcoal Grill (in my case, to the left) and close the lid for ten minutes. Open the lid and flip over the Tri-Tip. Close the lid again. After ten minutes, insert a thermometer into the meat.
For rare to medium rare, the Digital Meat Thermometer should read 120-130 degrees.
Cover the meat and allow it to rest for 15 minutes, so that the juices will redistribute and not all leak out when you slice the Tri-Tip.
Slice the meat thin and against the grain.
Garnish with Argentine Chimichurri Sauce or Gremolata, if desired and serve with Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote), Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Whipped Potatoes, or Mushroom Risotto and a green vegetable.
Finish off your meal with a cool bowl of my Creamy Grapes Salad.
Kitchen Equipment and Essentials
- J.A. Henckels Classic 7-inch Hollow Edge Santoku Knife
- Amco Advanced Performance 18/10 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
- Alton Brown Salt Box
- My FANTASTIC Teak Cutting & Charcuterie Board & Compartments
- Microplane Stainless Steel Zester
- OXO Stainless Steel Tongs
- Digital Meat Thermometer
- Extra Large Charcoal Grill
- Weber Chimney Starter
- Rachael Ray Applewood Smoked Sea Salt
Kitchen Equipment and Essentials
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Here is the handy printable recipe:
- 2 Tablespoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper freshly ground
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
- 3 pounds Tri-Tip
- Mix together seasonings and rub into both sides of meat.
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect (one side of grill) heating.
- Add soaked wood chips to fire, if using.
- Place tri-tip over fire, fat side up and brown well, about 4 minutes.
- Turn over and brown the other side.
- Move meat to the other side of the grill, without the fire and close the cover.
- Turn over meat every 10 minutes until thermometer reads 125-130 degrees for medium rare.
- Remove from grill and rest for 15 minutes. Slice across the grain.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees. Place tri tip into air fryer basket and cook for 3 minutes on each side.
- Turn temperature down to 340 and cook for 10 minutes on each side for medium rare.
Mealthy Crisplid Instructions
- Place trivet and Crisplid basket into Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker.
- Place tri tip into basket fat side up.
- Place Crisplid over cooking pot. Set temperature to 500 degrees and cook for 3 minutes each side (6 total).
- Reduce temperature to 330 degrees and cook for 10 minutes, flipping over after 5 minutes.
- Check temperature and continue cooking until your desired doneness.
True Santa Maria style! Though it is supposed to be served with green salad, grilled garlic bread amand d the most amazing beans ever! Pinquito beans are the ones they use. Special to the Santa Maria Valley. Also they drench the tri tip in beer to keep it moist while on the grills. I miss driving down Broadway on a Saturday morning with the window down smelling all the bbqs! There is one at least every few blocks! Thanks for keeping the recipe true to it’s roots!