How to Grill a Tender and Juicy Tri-Tip

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Grilling tri-tip is an easy and delicious method for preparing the meat! All you need in order to prepare grilled tri-tip is a good spice rub or marinade, a grill, and tongs. Follow the simple instructions in this tutorial using either a gas grill or a charcoal grill. Note that if you use a charcoal grill, you'll get a smokier flavor; no matter the type of grill you use, the process should take the same amount of time.

How to Grill the Perfect Tri-Tip
How to Grill the Perfect Tri-Tip (Image: Julia Mueller)

Things You'll Need

  • 1 (2 to 3-pound) tri-tip
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Step 1: Prepare the Spice Rub (or Marinade)

Stir together 1 ½ tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, and and 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a small bowl. You can use your favorite spice blend or dry rub, or use a marinade. If using a marinade, allow the meat to marinate for 4 to 12 hours.

(Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 2: Apply Dry Rub to the Tri-Tip

Take the meat out of its packaging and set it on a cutting board or in a casserole dish. Sprinkle on the spice rub and use your hands to gently rub it over the whole surface of the meat. Allow meat to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it comes to room temperature. Allowing meat to come to room temperature ensures it cooks evenly on the grill.

(Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 3: Grill the Meat

Preheat the grill to medium or medium-low (about 350 to 375 degrees F). Brush off the grill if there are any leftover food particles on it. Once hot, place the meat on the grill and close the cover. Cook for 15 minutes on one side.

(Image: Julia Mueller)

Flip the meat using tongs and cook another 15 minutes. Poke the meat to test for doneness. Meat should feel firm, yet juicy and springy. Grill to desired doneness, flipping as necessary. Note: Tri-Tip takes roughly 12 to 15 minutes per pound to cook.

(Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 4: Allow Meat to Rest

Transfer the tri-tip to a plate or a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This allows the juices in the meat to travel throughout the meat and seep out, making it tender, and helping to make cutting the meat easier. The meat will continue cooking while it's sitting, and the internal temperature will increase about 6 to 10 degrees.

Allow the meat to rest
Allow the meat to rest (Image: Julia Mueller)

For rare tri-tip, the internal temperature should be 120 degrees F. For medium-rare, the internal temperature should be 130 degrees F, and for medium, the internal temperature should be 140 degrees F. To check the internal temperature, poke a meat thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the tri-tip and let it sit until the needle stops moving.

(Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 5: Slice and Serve!

After the meat has rested and juices have seeped out, slice the meat using a sharp knife.

(Image: Julia Mueller)

Serve with your choice of sides.

(Image: Julia Mueller)
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