Once relegated to become ground meat, beef loin tri-tip steak has gained favor with cooks who use smokers to produce flavorful barbecue from marginally tender cuts of beef. Boneless tri-tip steak is a lean cut of beef.
According to the USDA, a 3-ounce serving of tender tri-tip provides 188 calories and 10.5 grams of total fat. Beef loin tri-tip steak has only 3.9 grams of saturated fat — the "bad" kind that can contribute to heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
This cut is best cooked medium rare with a pink center; its dense fiber dries out easily and becomes stringy at higher temperatures. While there's no one best way to cook tri-tip steak, smoking, grilling and oven roasting are good options.
Read more: How to Cook a Tender Steak on the Stove
Tender Tri-Tip Steak
The tri-tip is a triangular shaped muscle at the base of the bottom sirloin section, according to the Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association. It is positioned behind and just above the flank steak and is sometimes called triangle steak, bottom sirloin butt or Santa Maria steak.
This frequently used muscle is marginally tender but, like the flank, is very lean and flavorful. Trim the steak of fat, if present, until no more than 1/4 inch remains on the top of the steak.
Smoking Tri-Tip Roast Recipes
Rub a tender tri-tip steak destined for the smoker with salt and pepper and other spices including garlic, parsley, coriander, cilantro or paprika. Tri-tips can be tenderized by marinating them in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.
Steaks smoke on the top shelf of the smoker in medium heat for approximately 45 minutes until their internal temperature measures no more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
They should be turned only once to brown both sides and then moved to the bottom shelf near the coals and seared for about three minutes on each side. Remove the steak from the smoker and cover it with aluminum foil for 10 minutes to rest.
The meat keeps cooking after it is removed from the heat and covered. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, beef should reach a minimum of 145 F for safe consumption.
Grilling Tri-Tip Roast Recipes
Bring the tri-tip to room temperature and season or rub just before grilling. Sear the steak on a medium-hot grill at 350 to 375 F just until charred, no more than four minutes to a side.
Spritz the coals with water or adjust gas controls to 325 F and cook, turning once. Remove the steak from the grill and cover it with aluminum foil for 10 minutes before serving.
Searing and Oven Roasting
Season the room temperature steak with salt and pepper or a rub and sear it in a hot iron pan on both sides. Roast it in a hot oven at 375 to 400 F for 20 to 30 minutes until the meat reaches your desired level of doneness.
Serving Tender Tri-Tip Steak
Slice the tri-tip across the grain to serve as you would a London broil from a flank steak; you will need to turn the steak as you cut because the grain shifts.
Use pan drippings and juices that drip as the tri-tip rests to make pan gravy or a rich red wine sauce or just serve with Dijon mustard.
- USDA FoodData Central: "Beef, Bottom Sirloin, Tri-Tip Roast, Separable Lean and Fat, Trimmed to 0" Fat, Choice, Cooked, Roasted"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fats: Know Which Types to Choose"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Complete List of Cooking Temperatures"
- Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association: "Tri-Tip Steak"