How to Cut Tri Tip (Just 5 Simple Steps)

Tri Tip steak is a great addition to any cookout. 

It’s well priced, tender, and has an incredible flavor (some even call it poor mans brisket)

But what about when it comes to slicing it up?

Cutting tri-tip can be a confusing process.

So we’ve broken down the steps so that you can cut and cook with ease. 

Check out this handy guide below for how to cut a tri-tip steak. 

tri tip on the grill

What Is A Tri-Tip Steak?

Tri-tip is a sirloin steak that comes from the bottom of the sirloin.

It has a triangular shape, which is where it gets its name.

Other alternative names for this cut include the Santa Maria Steak or the Triangle Roast.

It is also known as the Bottom Sirloin Roast.

Size

Tri-Tip weighs on average 2-3 pounds. 

Generally, butchers will offer to cut the meat into 5 oz. tri top individual steaks.

Alternativity you can serve them whole as a tri-tip roast. 

The Marbling of Tri Tip

This cut of meat has a large amount of marbling, that melts when it’s cooked.

This makes it juicy, tender and gives it a delicious buttery taste. 

Why Cut it in a Certain Way?

Tri-Tip is incredibly tender meat, but it’s also better when it’s broken down into smaller slices. 

If cut correctly, you will have a delicious melt-in-your-mouth experience.

Cut it incorrectly and the meat ends up tough and chewy. 

The Grain of The Meat

To get the most out of your tri top you need to cut it in the right direction. 

Tri top has two grains: one horizontal and one vertical.

For simplicity, cut the two grains in half where they meet, then cut against the grain for both slices. 

slicing tri tip on my cutting board

Should I Cut Trip Tip Raw?

You definitely can, but many people find it easier to cut after cooking. 

By letting the steak cook whole, the meat will retain additional moisture.

This will make it an especially juicy steak, compared to pre-sliced meat. 

8 Easy Steps to a Perfectly Grilled Tri-Tip

Below we have the steps to grilling your tri-tip, it’s also worth trying a smoked tri-tip recipe, we find it is also the same texture as brisket when smoked properly.

1. Look at the distinct grain patterns on your steak and make note of where they change. 

2. Season your meat with your favorite marinade or dry steak rub. 

3. Let the cut of meat sit for at least an hour. 

4. Fire up your grill (between 350-375 degrees)

5. Place the tri-tip on the grill and sear on both sides for 10-15 mins. 

6. Continue to grill steaks until they have reached your preferred level of doneness. 

7. Check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer (we recommend 130-135 degrees). 

8. Let the meat rest for at least 10 mins. 

Be very careful not to overcook tri-tip.

If cooked for too long it loses its tenderness and becomes tough. 

5 Steps to Cutting Tri-Tip Like a Pro 

cutting tri tip

We’ve talked about cooking and cutting against the grain, but there are still some areas we need to cover.

Here are the steps for slicing your tri-tip. 

1. Trim off the fat cap if there is one. 

2. Cut the steak in half from the top point to the opposite end. 

3. Rotate the long half 30 degrees towards you. 

4. Slice across the grain on both pieces of meat. 

5. Keep slicing until you’ve completed it. 

Slicing up tri-tip can be pretty confusing. We recommend looking at the grains before you start cutting.

Watching video tutorials beforehand might also help.

 This is a great tutorial about carving. 

How Thick Should My Slices Be?

This is entirely based on personal preference.

For a standard slice we recommend 1/4-1/2 of an inch per slice.

But, thinner slices are also great if you want to use tri top in for other recipes or as sandwich meat. 

Tri-Tip Recipes 

There are plenty of different ways of cooking and flavors that you can bring to a tri-tip steak.

Here are some recipes if you’re looking for inspiration. 

Marinades and Rubs

Tri-tip tastes best when it’s been rubbed or marinated.

There are plenty of options for seasoning your steak.

Have a look at some of our suggestions below. 

Marinades

Rubs

If you weren’t interested in doing a heavy marinade or rub, consider a steak sauce after cooking. 

Price

The tri-tip cut is relatively inexpensive.

It is a great alternative to pricier options such as ribeye or strip. 

The average price for tri-tip is $5.99 per pound but can vary from season to season. 

Where To Buy Tri-Tip

Tri top steak is not the most common meat at the butchers or supermarkets.

That being said, you may need to check with your butcher to see if it’s in stock, or order beforehand. 

Tri-tip is particularly popular in Southern California.

You can often find it being served there. 

Cutting tri-tip no longer has to be complicated, just follow our easy steps!

What are your favorite tri-tip steak recipes?

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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