Grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip (from our archives)


I made this a couple weeks ago and it was incredible.  I have had grilled Tri-Tip in California but had never seen the cut of meat around here until just before Memorial Day. It was on sale at Adams Fairacre Farms so I bought one and followed this New York Times recipe pretty much to a T.  I used the rub recipe they suggest as well…made all the difference and gave it a nice brown crust. ENJOY!



Note from the New York Times:  You might need to ask your butcher (assuming you have one) or even a store meat manager to order in a tri-tip roast. Two pounds is a good size, but if you come across a larger one, by all means grab it as the extra meat makes amazing sandwiches. The trick is to carve the tri-tip against the grain, which can change directions in this cut. So before you rub it and roast it, take a look at the raw meat and see which direction the long strands of muscle fiber are running on each part of the roast. After the roast has been cooked, and it has rested for 15 minutes or so, slice the roast in two at the place where the fibers change direction. Carve each piece separately.




  • 1 whole tri-tip, about 2 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons beef rub of your choice (see recipe below)




1. Trim silver skin. The meat may have a thick layer of fat, some of which can be sliced off, but keep a good amount to help baste meat.


2. Sprinkle meat with rub and massage lightly all over. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour or as long as overnight. Remove from refrigerator an hour before cooking.


3. Prepare charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Place roast on grill and sear one side well, 6 to 8 minutes, checking for flare-ups. Turn the roast and sear other side for about the same time. Then lower gas to medium-high or move the meat to a cooler part of the charcoal grill.


4. Turn meat again and cook another 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and cook again. A 2-pound roast will require about 20 to 25 minutes total cooking time. The roast is ready when an instant-read thermometer reaches 130 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the meat.


5. Rest roast on a cutting board 10 to 20 minutes. Slice against the grain. The roast is shaped like a boomerang, so either cut it in half at the center of the angle, or slice against the grain on one side, turn the roast and slice against the grain on the other side.


How to oven-roast a tri-tip: Prepare meat with rub and refrigerate as instructed. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or other cooking oil to a large, heavy ovenproof pan. On stovetop, heat on high until pan is very hot, then add tri-tip, fat side down. Turn heat to medium-high and sear roast for about 4 minutes. Turn the roast and put it in the oven. Cook it for about 10 minutes a pound, checking with an instant-read thermometer until it reaches 130 degrees for medium-rare.


All-Purpose California Beef Rub

Photo by Rikki Snyder for The New York Times


From the New York Times:  A good rub makes grilling or roasting easy. This one combines the best of the salt-pepper-garlic notes of Santa Maria-style barbecue with the depth of coffee and clove. Diners will be hard-pressed to place its complex flavor until you tell them the components. The rub is easy to double and keeps for a long time in a jar or a zipper-lock bag. It should stay on the meat for at least two hours, but overnight is best.




  • 2 tablespoons finely ground coffee
  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 1 heaping teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon




Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

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