4 Tips for the Best Tri-Tip + Recipe

Last Updated on December 11, 2023

Tri-tip, named for its triangular shape, first became popular in Santa Maria, on California’s Central Coast. If you aren’t from California and this cut is new to you, get ready for a tender, flavorful roast.

One reason why we love the tri-tip: It’s a crowd pleaser for those who like different temperatures. One side is thicker; cook the roast so that side is medium rare (our preference), and the thinner side will automatically be cooked more like medium.

Here are four tips to make the most of your ButcherBox tri-tip:

  1. There are a few different “best” ways to cook tri-tip. Grilling is a favorite; we also like to pan-sear and then finish in the oven. 
  2. Tri-tip is usually cooked whole, but you also can cut it into cubes and skewer it for delicious kebabs.
  3. A search on tri-tip will yield lots of results for “Santa Maria-style tri-tip,” as an homage to the place where it first became popularized. There are many interpretations of Santa Maria seasoning, but all have black pepper, salt and garlic. Some also include rosemary, smoked paprika, parsley and/or oregano.
  4. The grains run in two different directions on a tri-tip. Take a look before cooking. Then, after cooking and resting, cut the steak roughly in half along the line where the grain changes direction, then slice both pieces against the grain.

Spice-Rubbed Tri-Tip

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
Protein: Beef
Cut: Tri-Tip Roast
Diet: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Low carb, Paleo, Whole30
Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 ButcherBox Tri-Tip Roast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tbsp high-heat cooking fat, such as avocado oil or ghee


  • In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, smoked paprika and chili powder. Pat the roast dry thoroughly and rub all over with the spice mixture. Let stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF; place a large cast iron or other heavy bottom skillet in the oven as it preheats.
  • Transfer the skillet to the stove; place over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Place the tri-tip in the skillet and cook undisturbed until seared on one side, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the tri-tip. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until a meat thermometer stuck into the thickest part reads 120ºF for medium rare, 20 to 25 minutes (start checking after 15).
  • Transfer the roast to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Thinly slice against the grain and serve. (Note: The grain changes direction on a tri-tip, usually about halfway across the roast. Look closely to find the spot. Cut the roast into 2 pieces and slice each against the grain.)
Share on Pinterest!Pin at @Butcher_Box!

Beth Lipton is a Brooklyn-based recipe developer and writer specializing in food and wellness. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Paleo magazine, FoodNetwork.com, Well+Good, Outside, Sleep.com and more. Beth's latest cookbook, Carnivore-ish, featuring 125 animal protein-forward recipes, is available now.