Tri tip is a triangular muscle cut from the bottom sirloin, with 3 tips (tri). It’s a unique cut that is part steak and part roast but it doesn’t take as long to cook as a full roast. It’s also cheaper than if you were to buy the same amount of steak.
A tri tip is the perfect cut to share since it usually weighs about two pounds. It has a good amount of marbling throughout, but is actually quite lean without fat caps, so it can be tough if not cooked properly.
Tri tip is also different because the grain runs in two different directions. You can’t slice it in the same direction all the way across and you should cut the roast in two separate pieces where the grain changes direction. Make sure to take a look at the raw meat and determine which direction the strands of muscle fiber are running on each section of the beef. After you remove the tri tip from the sous vide bath, cut the roast in two separate pieces where the grain changes direction; then slice each piece separately against the grain.
Special Note: Cooking tri tip steak became popular in the 50s in Santa Maria, California. It’s becoming more popular nationwide, but some still haven’t heard of it. Sometimes outside of California it’s called a triangle roast or California cut.
Cooking Time and Temperature
Tri tip steak should cook in a sous vide bath for at least two hours; however, the longer it cooks, the more tender it will be. The temperature at which you cook your tri tip depends upon how well done you like your steak. To give the steak a seared effect you’ll need to pan sear it in a skillet (cast iron if you have one) or with a torch.
Here are temperature ranges by doneness:
- Rare: 122°F – 128°F
- Medium Rare: 129°F – 135°F
- Medium: 136°F – 145°F
- Medium Well: 146°F – 155°F
- Well Done: 156°F +
Garlic Clove Tri Tip Recipe
I am a sucker for a good marinade and this one is oh so good. One beauty to sous vide cooking is that the meat doesn’t need to marinade outside of the time it’s in the sous vide bath to lock in the flavor.
- 1 (2 and 1/2 pound) tri tip roast
- 6 cloves garlic, pre-roasted, crushed
- 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried or fresh parsley
- ¼ cup olive oil
Prepare the marinade
In a small bowl, combine all the spices: garlic, seasoning salt, kosher salt, pepper, sugar, and parsley. 1 tablespoons of dried parsley is fine, you can use 2-3 tablespoons if you are using fresh parsley.
Step 1 – Set sous vide cooker to the desired temperature based on how well done you want the steak.
Step 2 – Generously season both sides of the tri-tip with seasoning. Place the tri-tip in a zipper lock bag. Add the ¼ cup olive oil to the bag. Massage the meat to ensure it’s evenly covered with spices and oil.
Step 4 – Remove and dry tri tip thoroughly. Rest for 10 minutes.
Step 5 – Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat, or prepare a torch. Sear steak until golden brown, about 1 minute per side.
Step 6 – Slice each section of the tri tip against the grain. Serve alone or with your favorite sauce.