Dry-rubbed tri-tip steak. You know, the kind that’s beautifully seared and crisp on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, and restaurant quality through and through? Here’s how to make it at home.–-Angie Zoobkoff


The following are the temperatures at which you should remove tri-tip from the heat to achieve a desired level of doneness. Bear in mind that meat will continue to cook about 5°F after being removed from the heat, so we’ve accounted for that in the below.

To properly check the temperature, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the cut of meat and leave it inserted while the meat rests so you can accurately and continuously track the temperature.

Rare: Remove the meat at 125°F/51°C. Done at 130°F/54°C.
Medium-rare: Remove the meat at 130°F/54°C. Done at 135°F/57°C.
Medium: Remove the meat at 140°F/60°C. Done at 145°F/62°C.
Medium-well: Remove the meat at 155°F/68°C. Done at 160°F/71°C.

Tri-Tip FAQs

What is tri-tip?

Tri-tip is a small cut of beef from the bottom sirloin with a fairly lean, quintessentially “beefy” flavor. It ranges from 1 1/2 to 3 pounds (680 g to 1.4 kg) and is magnificently easy and inexpensive to make for a large party. Its triangular shape yields slices of beef in varying degrees of doneness—some are rare, others are well done, and most are perfectly in between.

Why should meat be cut against the grain?

Slicing meat against the grain reduces the length of the muscle fibers, making the meat juicier, more tender, and easier to chew.

How can I tell which way the grain runs in meat?

Look for those parallel muscle fibers running through the meat, and slice perpendicular to them. You may find that some cuts have fibers running in several different directions, so you’ll need to pay attention to those and adjust as you go.

What should I serve with tri-tip?

Summer sides like sweet corn, tomato salad, and roasted potatoes on the grill pair perfectly with this cut of meat.

A person slicing a dry-rubbed tri tip on a wooden board.

Dry-Rubbed Tri-Tip

5 / 3 votes
This easy recipe for pan-seared tri-tip relies on a simple dry rub and a hot skillet.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories207 kcal
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Chilling time3 hours
Total Time4 hours


For the dry rub

  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón)

For the tri-tip


Make the dry rub

  • In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, cumin, and pimentón.

Cook the tri-tip

  • Coat all sides of the meat with the dry rub, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
  • If your tri-tip is thicker than 1 inch (2.5 cm), preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C). Place the tri-tip on a rimmed baking sheet and warm in the oven for 30 minutes to bring the internal temperature to 100°F (35°C).
    If your tri-tip is thinner than 1 inch, simply remove the meat from the refrigerator 45 minutes before you want to cook it and let it come to room temperature.
  • If your tri-tip weighs more than 1 pound (454 g), preheat the oven or increase the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). In a large heatproof skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until very hot but not smoking. Add the room-temperature tri-tip and cook on all sides until well browned. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the desired level of doneness is reached, about 10 minutes per pound for medium-rare.
    If your tri-tip weighs less than 1 pound (454 g), warm the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the room-temperature tri-tip and cook on all sides until desired level of doneness is reached, about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare.
  • Place the beef on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and let the beef rest, loosely tented with aluminum foil, for at least 10 minutes. Slice the meat against the grain and serve immediately.
Tartine All Day Cookbook

Adapted From

Tartine All Day

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 207 kcalCarbohydrates: 0.3 gProtein: 32 gFat: 7 gSaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gCholesterol: 83 mgSodium: 379 mgFiber: 0.1 gSugar: 0.05 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Elizabeth Prueitt. Photo © 2017 Paige Green. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

The simplicity of this dry-rubbed tri-tip recipe fits perfectly with the meat since tri-tip can take the flavor and still maintain its juicy beefiness.

The dry rub—a simple mix of salt, cumin, smoked paprika and black pepper—gave the outside of the meat a nice tangy, smoky bite. One of the other nice things about tri-tip is that because of its shape, one piece will make everyone happy, including those who like it well-done, those who like it medium, and those who like it rare.

We had planned to tweak this recipe for the grill from start to finish, but Mother Nature had other plans, so we followed the recipe, searing the meat on the stove and sticking it in the oven to finish. Our handy instant-read thermometer helped us pull it out right at the 130°F mark for its 10-minute rest. The results were spectacular.

Summer wraps this dry-rubbed tri-tip steak in its warm smoky juices. Rich with beef flavor, this recipe is one to make midweek or weekend. The simple spice rub adds just enough exoticism without challenging the flavorful cut of meat.

And should you have leftovers, a slice of steak out of the refrigerator is a cool little bite on a hot windy day. My steak was about 1 3/4 pounds so could serve 2 with leftovers.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


    1. Diane, you may find it labeled as Newport Steak, Santa Maria Steak, or Triangle roast. If you can’t find it, I’ve had success making this recipe with top sirloin roast.

  1. 5 stars
    The dry rub gives this tri-tip a mild but very good flavor. The tri-tip was moist and had good flavor. There was a skinny side and a thicker side. The thinner side was done to medium-rare and got rarer as I sliced closer to the thick side. This made it wonderful so the leftovers could be warmed up without being overcooked when reheated.