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Struggling with Tri-Tip

reh111reh111 Posts: 188
edited October 2012 in EggHead Forum
I've looked at most all of the threads and suggestions and methods on here about tri-tip, but every time I try it, it turns out too tough and chewy - cutting against or with the grain.  My attempts have been mostly to marinate at least overnight and then grill like a steak, finishing in maybe 30 minutes, maybe less.  I'm getting my tri-tips at Sams and maybe the quality of the meat is the problem but I don't really have a problem with other cuts I get there.

So, I'm watching the Food Network's show, "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives", which is a great show, BTW, and I run across a segment in which the chef is doing tri-tip  with no marinade, just rubbing whatever rub he's using and letting it sit overnight.  Then it looks like he puts it on a grill direct, but not very close to the coals - raised grid - it's in a smoker type contraption - then he says that it grills for "about 2 1/2 hours" - he takes it off and slices it and it's basically medium to medium rare and fairly well charred on the outside.  He slices it (can't tell whether it's with or against the grain but it actually looks like it's with the grain) and, of course, he puts it on a sandwich and it melts in the host's mouth.

What am I doing wrong.  If I put it on the BGE indirect and keep the temp at about 250 and grill for that amount of time, am I going to get better results??
Help, please!


  • r270bar270ba Posts: 763
    edited October 2012
    I was given this recipe in the forums recently and cooked it Friday. It was excellent!


    Cook thread with pics
    Anderson, SC
    XL BGE, Father's Day Gift 2012 (Thanks Fam!!!)
    Webber Kettle and Webber Summit Gasser
    Want List: Thermapen, Small BGE, Wok, Adjustable Rig, Food Saver, More $

  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 9,860
    What internal temperature have you been cooking to?  I haven't done a tri-tip yet, but I would suspect most likely it is overcooking.  Hopefully some other more experienced tri-tip cookers will chime in.  

    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 

  • reh111reh111 Posts: 188
    What internal temperature have you been cooking to?  I haven't done a tri-tip yet, but I would suspect most likely it is overcooking.  Hopefully some other more experienced tri-tip cookers will chime in.  
    Typically 135 - 140
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 9,065
    edited October 2012
    Here is what I do and have had excellent results each time.  

    I season heavily with coarse salt, fresh ground pepper and Dizzy Red Eye Express about 15 minutes before cooking.

    I sear close to the coals till I get the desired color i'm looking for.  Usually ends up being 3-4 minutes per side.


    I then raise the grid and roast at 350-400 until I hit about 5 degrees below my desired temp.  Usually works out to about 45-60 minutes as I typically pull at about 130-135 internal temp.


    I slice against the grain and pretty much cut it just how I would cut a brisket. 



    I basically keep it very simple and have never had one turn out bad.  Good luck!!
    Just a hack that makes some $hitty BBQ....
    edited October 2012
    My guess is that you are slightly overcooking the tri tip, back it down to 120-125 IT.



    from SANTA CLARA, CA

  • ribnrunribnrun Posts: 174
    +1 for crazy's method. I have been experimenting with using the platesetter at 350 for about 70 minutes then searing at the end. It has been working really well. It should not be cooked in 30 minutes, that is too fast.
  • I dump on the lump to sear then cook indirect at dome 350 or so until 122 internal.  Lots of ways to sear and they all work.  Important thing is not to overcook, This is not "low and slow" meat. let rest awhile (I go 10-15 minutes) and slice thin across the grain. Horseradish sauce tops it off nicely.  Never missed yet.
    My actuary says I'm dead.
  • R2Egg2QR2Egg2Q Posts: 1,981
    You're probably getting 5+ degrees of carryover cooking and ending up in med well range.

    My preferred way to cook tri-tip is without marinade & do a reverse sear. Here's what I do:
    XL, Large, Small, Mini Eggs, Humphrey's Weekender, Superior Smokers SS-Two, MAK 1-Star General, Hasty Bake Gourmet, Santa Maria Grill, Thai Charcoal cooker, Webers: 18.5" WSM, 22.5" OTG, 22.5" Kettle Premium, WGA Charcoal, Summit S-620 NG

    Bay Area, CA
  • gte1gte1 Posts: 376
    Very simple. Sear then roast or roast then sear you can't go wrong either way. Here is my method. Rub, I like SuzieQ's, no marinade. Roast raised direct 350-375 to 10-15 degrees short of final temp. Pull meat, raise temp, lower grid, sear on each side. REST COVERED 10-15 min at least. Should be PERFECT every time.
  • RocEGGRocEGG Posts: 89
    yeah sounds like overcooking. I have adapted several members methods here and find that they work well, I haven't had a miss yet. I rub with DP dust or cow lick usually and let it sit overnight in the fridge, roast indirect around 350 until it hits about 105-110. Take it off and go direct and bump to 500-550 or so. Then grill direct for 3-4 minutes per side to get a nice sear. I check the temp and take off around 120-125 and let it sit covered for 10-25 minutes depending on when I get back to it.

    Slicing against grain is important too. The roasting time is dependent on how big the tri-tip is, but mine are usually around 2.5-5 lbs. I would say total cooking time is 45-75 minutes.

    Who knows it could be the quality of the meat too, you say you have been buying them at Sam's. Maybe try a choice one from another supplier? I have bought from local butcher (CAB choice, great!) and BJs wholesale (choice, hit and miss). Make sure it has nice marbling, although I don't think I have ever seen one without some marbling.
    Rochester, NY  - XL BGE
  • 733102243733102243 Posts: 38
    edited October 2012

    Just to join the fray - You can't live in California without learning (or trying) to cook tri-tip.

    Over the years, I have cooked a lot of tri-tips on various webers and, for the last 4 or 5 years on my gasser . Can't wait to try the Egg for one.

    Here are my observations:

    120 internal is about right. Make sure you're not overcooking.

    I agree with  RocEgg:

    Meat quality is everything - try one from a butcher. It's worth a few bucks to see if there's a difference. We dont' have a Sam's so we go to Costco - I get more consistent results from my local Bob's Market or Bristol Farms butcher but at a premium. Lately, I've been developed a taste for grass-fed beef which requires a little more care in choosing. Unless I'm cooking for a group, I go to the butcher.

    I use a similar technique to Cazzy's but on the Lynx (with red oak in the smoke basket).

    2 minutes a side on the sear burner then about 20 mins per side @250 over lo-med heat. I've tried reversing the process but prefer heat first. Either way, do the first part of each stage 'fat side' up.

    3 Tri-tip is associated with Santa Maria, CA but so is top sirloin. We have something here called a Santa Barbara sirloin - I think it's basically a top sirloin with the fat cap intact. If you find one, try it.... MMMM

    4 Red Oak is traditional. Lots of folks try mesquite but it overpowers the meat IMHO.

    FYI - Interesting background:



  • reh111reh111 Posts: 188
    Thanks to all - I'm going to try it indirect at 350 until 120, sear it, let it rest and slice across the grain - we'll see if it works this time - if not, I'm going to the butcher
  • Bear 007Bear 007 Posts: 343
    I usually do one every Saturday, I've done them low and slow at 250° direct with oak till they reach 127° internal, they are good. My usual method is to apply a rub then put them on at 325° with oak and just keep flipping till they reach 127° internal. I've have had tough ones too, don't know if this really matters but I have better luck with the the smaller ones.
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