Barbecue Tri Tip Roast on Your Charcoal Grill!

This secret sirloin cut called Tri Tip Roast, or steak, is becoming wildly popular because it is a relatively inexpensive sirloin cut with all of the flavor.

Our tri tip roast recipe walks you through the steps for a charcoal grill, to assure your backyard barbecue fame! The "Cookin' Cousins" use the indirect cooking method to attain a remarkable, rub enhanced, smoke flavored, tender roast. We believe that ...

"Barbecue is the Mystical Communion of Fire, Smoke and Meat"

Please visit our "6 Secrets to Smoking Meat" page, for competitor level backyard barbecue tips!

Can't get Tri Tip? Tell the butcher what you want. Look at our "Tri Tip Secrets" page for the information the butcher needs to cut/order your tri tip

Got a gas grill? Go to our "Tri Tip Roast on a Gas Grill" page, and we'll show you how we barbecue tri tip roast using this fun cooker.

The Cookin' Cousins love Tri Tip Steak! These 1" cuts from the roast, and Bob's proven grilling method, will secure your backyard barbecue fame! Take a look at " Bob's Tri Tip Steak Recipe" to see how a "pro" does it.

Lets start with the stuff you'll need:

Charcoal Grill   We're rather passionate about BBQ and love the quintessential Weber Silver One-Touch 22-1/2-Inch Kettle Grill, and its outstanding brother the Weber Performer Platinum Charcoal Grill.

Charcoal   Be certain you have plenty of charcoal for the duration! The quality of charcoal is very important to stress free BBQ. Finding restaurant quality, top grade product can be a real challenge. Our preference for the best is Fogo All Natural Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal.

Storing charcoal can be a real problem for many. It will absorb moisture (very hard to light), and in general, be a pain to store without a shed or garage nearby. Well, some innovative folks came up with an outstanding solution...a Charcoal Storage Bag that is weather proof! Albeit not a critical "must have", it sure beats damp or wet charcoal.

Meat  A Tri tip roast usually weighs 1 1/2-3 pounds and is approximately 2" thick. Try to buy the freshest, "choice" grade, for maximum flavor. A tri tip roast is a lean cut, so do not trim any of the existing fat. This will serve about 4 to 6 hungry folks, and maybe enough leftover for a sandwich the next day!

Spices  Our tri tip roast recipe includes a traditional rub still most favored by the California barbecuers, and we love it. It consists of only salt, black pepper, and garlic powder, however...

Try putting together your own by adding one of these basic fresh ingredients:

  • Paprika (sweet)
  • Cayenne pepper (ground)
  • Parsley (dried)
  • Thyme (dried leaves, crushed)

Go to our Dry Rub Recipes for more on easy, great rubs.

Hardwood chunks/chips  Use only hardwood for any barbecue. Any good hardwood will work, but for our tri tip roast recipe we prefer the traditional oak wood chips. Two of our favorites, for more flavor, are Char-Broil Whiskey Wood Chips and Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips.

Aluminum pan (disposable)  This helps to prevent flare-ups and is placed under the meat.

Tongs  Always use tongs! A meat fork pokes holes in your roast and lets the juices escape. You need a darn good pair of tongs to handle a tri tip roast. We really like the OXO Good Grips 16-Inch locking tongs  or the Weber Professional-Grade Chef's Tongs. Long and strong is the secret!

Oven/Grill thermometer  This tool is the only way you will really know what's going on inside the grill! Two of our favorites are the Admetior Kitchen Oven Thermometer or the CDN High Heat Oven Thermometer. They're inexpensive, and quite accurate.

Instant-Read probe type thermometer  To ensure roast has not over cooked (the bane of all cooks), and reached its ideal temperature, we like and use the fast reading CDN ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer and the Thermoworks Super Fast Water-Resistant Digital Pocket Thermometer. They are really priced right, and have proven to be very reliable, and accurate.  Another that we know to be faster (albeit more expensive), and a choice of professionals, is the Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer

Chimney-type charcoal starter  Not mandatory, but sure makes starting and maintaining the coals much easier. Our favorite top performer is the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter. Lot of chimney starters out there, but this is the champ.

A great tri tip roast recipe starts with a rub!

The tri tip roast is first "rubbed", with a simple, dry, spice accented rub, and then seared, smoked slow, and cooked with indirect heat. All for that unforgettable tender, perfectly seasoned, eating experience!

If you keep running into the "time-crunch", you can use a professional's choice like Pappy's Choice Seasoning or...

Let's start with a classic rub that will impart all of the flavors your drooling chops are hankerin' for. You can adjust the recipe (as the "pros" do) to make it "yours".

Santa Maria Style Rub Recipe

Mix together thoroughly the following:

  • 1 tblsp Kosher or coarse Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper (we love peppercorns fresh ground!)
  • 1 tsp granulated Garlic or 1/2 tsp powdered Garlic

Now, let's prepare the meat...

NOTE: Tri tip roast should always be kept in the refrigerator (below 40°F/4.4°C) prior to preparation. We have found that for best cooking results we remove the roast from the refrigerator, and let it come to room temperature for at least an hour.

  • Tri tip is a lean cut of meat, so we leave any fat present to ensure a more flavorful, moist roast. If your tri tip has a full fat layer, you may trim it if you wish, but this is not mandatory, and simply adds a little more cooking time.
  • Sprinkle the rub liberally on the meat.

Get the Grill Ready

NOTE: Please, if you use a charcoal lighter fluid, be sure to allow the coals to burn to a gray/white ash coating (30-45 minutes) to be rid of the noxious smell/taste. There are several good "fire-starters" on the market that will not taint the meat, or impart potentially dangerous chemicals to the food. We highly recommend a good quality chimney charcoal starter because it's the quickest (and easiest) way to start the coals. Do not bother with self-lighting charcoal. It never burns "clean" and always taints the meat with that nasty petroleum flavor.

NOTE: Searing is an important step in our tri tip roast recipe. If you are new to cooking, searing is the act of cooking any meat quickly over a dry, very hot heat source. This will brown (caramelize) the meat to produce that incredible flavor we all so enjoy. Searing requires a temperature of 300-500°F/149-260°C, so you need to have sufficient charcoal to attain this temperature.

  1. Fire-up the charcoal...
    • Start with about 100 briquettes (6quarts).
    • Let them get a to white/gray color and put the same amount of unlit briquettes over the hot coals.
    • Place the coals to one side of cooker.
    • Adjust the top vent to full open, and leave it alone.Control the temperature with the bottom/side vents on your grill. Open the vent for more oxygen (heat).
    • Carefully lift the grate with your tongs, move the coals to one side and place the drip pan alongside the coals.
    • Close the lid and allow the heat to reach at least 550°F/228°C

Cook 'Em

  1. Sear the meat over the hot coals. Next, place it on a platter and quickly go to the next step. For you folks new to searing, cook the meat for about 5 minutes, turning every minute or so, until you get the dark brown (not black!) tell-tale grill marks! If you want your meat cooked "medium well" to "well", searing is not a good idea.

  2. Put a couple of large handfuls of chips/chunks of hardwood (presoaked in hot water for about 1/2 hour) on the coals. Now, close the grill and let the smoke get started. This will be the last time, during the cooking cycle, you will have anything to do with the smoke. Too much smoke makes the meat bitter tasting.

  3. Now, place the meat over the drip pan and close the lid. Adjust the bottom/side vents to maintain about 350-375°F/177-191°C.

    Cook on one side for about 20-30 minutes then flip it over and let cook until you reach the desired internal temperature.

    If you are a "rare" meat person, look for a temperature of 125-130°F/52-54°C. If you like "medium-rare", pull the meat off of the fire when the temperature reaches 125°F/52°C as the meat will continue cook to about 135°F/57°C during the "rest" period.

  4. Place the meat on your carving surface and quickly cover loosely with foil to let it "rest" for about 10 minutes. Resting is essential as this allows the juices to partially return to the center of the meat. Nobody but the dog likes hot, dried up meat!

Serve it!...

...warm, cut across the grain in thin (1/4") slices. And for the Cookin' Cousins" taste, eat it just as is, but...many folks like a "finishing sauce". This is nothing more than a warm barbecue sauce, of your choice, served as a side dish (or two), for the folks who would like to put something more on their ribs.

Lets eat!

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