Eats: Grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip

Eats: Grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip

Tri Tip is often referred to as Santa Maria steak because it was made famous at the town’s annual barbeque festival!

A good tip for carving tri-tip is to go against the grain, which can change directions. Before roasting and rubbing, look at the meat and look to see which direction the muscle fibers are running. After cooking, slice the roast in half where these muscle fibers change direction and then carve individually. 

The tri-tip can sit in the dry rub for up to 3 days, so get started early for a more intense flavor. 


  • 3 pounds tri-tip

Dry Rub (1/2 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper


Dry Rub 

  1. Combine all dry rub ingredients in a small container and set aside.


  1. Trim the silver skin and fat layer from the trip tip and place on plastic wrap. 
  1. Coat the tri-tip with about 4 tablespoons of the dry rub, 2 tablespoons on each side. 
  2. Wrap the tri-tip in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Allow the rub to settle into the meat for 4 hours to 3 days. 
  3. After the rub has settled into the tri-tip, remove the tri-tip from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  4. Using your Baseball BBQ Splitfinger Tongs, grab a couple of paper towels and dip in vegetable oil and lightly coat the grates of your grill.
  5. Heat the grill to medium-high if using a gas grill.Once the grill is heated, put tri-tip on the grill and sear on one side for 10 minutes with the lid open.
  6. Turn tri-tip over and sear for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and close the lid.
  7. Leave the meat to cook for 15-25 minutes, while checking the temperature until the thickest part reaches 120-125°F (medium-rare) or 130-135°F (medium).
  8. Stop cooking a few degrees lower than the desired temperature as the meat will cook for a few minutes after it is taken off the grill. 
  9. Remove the tri-tip from the grill and allow it to rest wrapped loosely in foil for at least 15 minutes before carving. Add the juices from the foil back to the tri-tip after carving.