Grilled Tri Tip with Sweet & Spicy Rub

written by

Cara Noble

posted on

August 16, 2021

Steak is one of the first things we think of when it comes to summer cooking on the grill, but every once in a while I just need a good roast to mix things up. But when the temps are high, turning on the oven is the absolute LAST thing I want to be doing. If the house isn’t cool, I can’t sleep. And if I can’t sleep, ain’t no one want to be around me…so yeah, keeping the oven off is a priority most of the summer.

Grilling roasts can be a bit tricky, depending on your BBQ and the size of the roast. More than doable for sure, but sometimes you just gotta keep a bit more of an eye on it. A tri tip roast though, is a godsend for that summer roast fix – it’s the roast that cooks like a steak. Easy peasy.

So what is a tri tip roast? It comes from the sirloin and is triangular in shape, which is what gave it its name. A tri tip has honestly become one of my absolute favourite cuts of beef since we started getting it. It’s flavourful and tender and easy to cook. What more can you ask for in a cut of beef?!

So when you start with your tri tip, you’ll want to trim it up a bit. I usually remove the fat cap – honestly I primarily do this because then it leaves more meat surface to cover in seasoning, rather than fat that might end up being trimmed off. Then trim any straggly bits of fat and silver skin. Under the fat cap will be some silver skin, but I generally leave it on because it can be a pain to trim – if you can see the meat through it, it shouldn’t be too chewy. But if any of it’s opaque, trim it off.

Now that you’ve got the tri tip trimmed up, take a good look at it and you’ll be able to see how the grain goes – this will give you an idea of how to slice it once it’s cooked. The elbow of the roast is sort of the gathering point of the muscle, and it flares out to the furthest tip. It makes it a bit tricky to slice, but we’ll get to that.

You can marinate the tri tip for a day or two with your favourite steak seasoning, or just a mixture of salt, pepper and garlic powder, but if you don't have the time this step isn't a deal breaker.

Ok now onto how to cook it! First mix up the dry rub – it goes SO GOOD with beef, I use it almost exclusively for roasts now. With the sweet of the brown sugar and the spice of the paprika, it really can’t be beat. You can also use this rub for other things! A bit of an accidental discovery happened at my house…I repurposed an old spice container and put my dry rub in there so I wouldn’t have to mix this up every time (highly recommend by the way!) and the container I chose was an old seasoning salt one. Someone from my household likes to put seasoning salt on popcorn…yeah, you know how this story ends. But it led to a great discovery! This rub is delicious on popcorn, so make sure you make some extra so you can try it out there!

So drizzle your tri tip with a bit of oil, and season liberally with the rub. Since it has a brown sugar base, it really crisps up on the grill and gives a nice bark to the outside of the roast.

Then, put the tri tip on the grill (medium to medium-high heat). Since the tri tip is pretty thin, you don’t have to fuss with direct and indirect heat – just grill it like a thick steak. I cooked this one for 10 minutes on one side and 7 minutes on the other (it was probably around 2.5lbs) in order to get it to that 140 degree internal temperature. Don’t forget to use a meat thermometer, as always!

Once you get that perfect medium cook, pull it off the grill, tent it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. When you start cutting, start at the thinnest end and slice it normally, working your way towards the elbow and the thick end. Once you get about three quarters of the way towards the elbow, stop and take a look at the grain. Somewhere around here, the grain will begin to change and you will have to turn your knife 90 degrees in order to ensure you keep cutting against the grain.

Where the knife is in the picture is approximately where the grain starts to change - maybe a bit further to the right. So on the right side of the knife I cut vertically, and on the left side I cut horizontally.

Serve and enjoy! Another great thing about the tri tip is it’s great for when you have a variety of opinions on how well beef should be cooked – since it’s thinner on one end, you’ll have some pieces a bit more well done than the thicker section. It really is the perfect cut of beef, sure to please everyone!

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