You'll Love Tri Tip Roast from Your Gas Grill!

Our step-by-step tri tip roast recipe is fun and easy. It's low in fat, tender, flavorful, relatively inexpensive, and it's sirloin!

Beef Tri Tip has a robust beef flavor, but for many years was often just thrown in the hamburger grind. Barbecuing this sirloin cut has been a well kept secret of the Santa Maria Valley (Southern California) folks, and their visitors, since the late 1950's. But when the Valley's guest went home...

They couldn't find it! If you have this problem, please look at our Tri Tip Secrets page, for the info you can share with your butcher. This is all she'll need to cut, or order, your secret sirloin cut.

One of the "Cookin' Cousin's" favorite ways to barbecue Tri Tip is to cut the roast into steaks. Follow Chef Bob's Tri Tip Steak Recipe grilling method, to ensure your backyard barbecue fame with your steak loving gang!

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!

Got a charcoal grill? Go to our "Tri Tip Roast on a Charcoal Grill" page, and we'll show you how we barbecue tri tip roast using the world's favorite cooker.

The Cookin' Cousins also love Tri Tip Steak cuts from the roast, and for you steak lovers, 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:

Gas Grill   Cooking tri tip roast on a gas grill is simple if the grill has at least two burners, and can maintain 350-375°F/177-191°C. Use an oven thermometer to assure an accurate reading. The one included on the grill is not accurate enough for good barbecue results.

Be certain you have plenty of gas for the duration!

Meat  A tri tip roast usually weighs 1 1/2-3 pounds, and is approximately 2-3" thick. Buy "choice" grade as "select" does not have the marbling (fat in the muscle) to cook properly. Prepacked tri tip roast is generally a lean cut, so do not trim any of the existing fat. This will serve about 4 to 8 hungry folks, and with any luck, enough leftover for a sandwich the next day!

Spices  We "rub" our tri tip roast with the traditional rub still most favored by the Santa Maria barbecue aficionados, and we love it. It consists only of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder, however...

Have fun and add one or more of these basic fresh ingredients:

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

Please visit our Dry Rub Recipes page for more great, easy rubs.

Hardwood chunks/chips  Traditional tri tip barbecue is flavored with Red Oak (indigenous to the coastal California area), but we've found that any good quality oak wood will work just fine. In fact, a couple of our favorites, for the price, are Char-Broil's Whiskey Wood Chips or Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips.

Aluminum pan (disposable)  To prevent flare-ups a drip pan is placed under the grate, over a "cold" burner. If you don't have the convenience of a "Big Box" store to get inexpensive, quality pans, we suggest Weber  Small 7-1/2-Inch-by-5-inch Aluminum Drip Pans.

Smoker box, or pouch   If your grill came with a built in barbecue smoker box for the wood chips, great. But if your cooker doesn't have one, just make a pouch from heavy-duty aluminum foil (about 18x18"), and put a couple of handfuls of chips (soaked in water for about 20-30 minutes) on the foil. Fold into an envelope/pouch shape, and poke several holes in the top to release the smoke. We much prefer the cast iron models like the GrillPro Cast Iron Smoker Box, for durability and superior chip burning.

Tongs  Please don't use that pokey fork thing included in most bbq tool sets. Holes in roast let the juices escape! You'll need a long, strong pair to handle a tri tip roast. Two great choices we found to keep your paws out of the heat, and sturdy enough to handle any BBQ chore, are the Oxo Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs and the Weber Style 6441 Professional-Grade Chef's Tongs.

Oven/Grill Thermometer  For top results, you have to know the correct grill tempurature. By far, our two favorites are the Admetior Kitchen Oven Thermometer, or the CDN High Heat Oven Thermometer. They are accurate, inexpensive and good insurance.

Instant-Read probe type thermometer  Use this indispensable tool to ensure your meat is cooked exactly the way you like your meat. The "pros" do. Our three favorites (in order of price) are the CDN Proaccurate Stainless Digital Thermometer, the faster Thermoworks Super Fast Water-Resistant Digital Pocket Thermometer, or the really fast Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen - Instant Read Thermometer.

Let's rub the tri tip...

The barbecue folks from "the valley" got it right. They start with a simple dry rub that truly brings out the best from the tri tip roast. Here's the classic rub still used in southern California barbecue competition.

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

Want an extra "kick" for that roast? We love Pappy's Choice Seasoning for a magic spice combination for tri tip. Yes, the bottle is a little large, but we use it often for quite a few recipes!

Let's prep the meat the meat...

NOTE: Keep the Tri tip roast in the refrigerator (below 40°F/4.4°C) until at least 3 hours prior to preparation. For the best cooking results, let it come to room temperature for 1-3 hours.

  • Tri tip is very lean, so leave the fat cap (about 1/4") to ensure a more flavorful roast. If your tri tip has a heavy fat layer, trim it to 1/4".
  • Apply the rub liberally! You can cook it immediately, or let it sit for up to an hour.

Get the Grill Ready...

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. This does not "seal in the juices" as some would have you believe. Searing requires temperatures of 300-500°F/119-260°C.

  1. Fire-up all burners initially.

    - After about 10-15 minutes, clean the grate thoroughly with your wire brush.

    - Oil the cooking surface with your tongs, and a folded piece of paper towel soaked in peanut/vegetable oil, Be careful! Oil can ignite if towel is over soaked.

    - Close the lid for a few more minutes to build, and hold, the heat to 350-375°F/177-191°C.

  2. Sear the meat. 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, checking it every minute or so, until you get the dark brown (not black!) tell-tale grill marks! If you want your meat cooked "medium well" or "well", searing is not a good idea.
  3. Shut off all but one of the burners, and leave the remaining burner on "high". You want to maintain a temperature of 350-375°F/177-191°C.

  4. Use your tongs to carefully lift the grate and place the aluminum drip pan opposite the direct heat of the "on" burner (in other words, over the cool burner next to the hot burner). Replace the grate.

  5. Place the chips (soaked in warm water for 20-30 minutes) in the smoker-box, or the prepared smoker pouch, directly on the "hot" burner. Close the grill and let the smoke get started.
  6. Once you see/smell the smoke start, place your roast(s) over the drip pan (remember to use your tongs).

  7. Close the lid and let the meat cook for about 20-30 minutes then...turn it over and continue to cook until you reach the desired meat temperature.

    - If you prefer your beef "rare", look for a temperature of 120-125°F/49-51°C. "Medium-rare", pull the meat off at 125-130°F/55-57°C. These temperatures may seem a little low but, be aware that the meat will continue cook some during the "rest" period. Experience wins!
  8. 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 return to the center of the meat. Nobody but the dog likes hot, dried up meat!

Serve it!...

....warm, cut at a 45° angle across the grain in thin (1/4") slices. As for the "Cookin' Cousins" taste, we eat tri tip with the wonderful rub flavors, as is, but...

Some folks may 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 meat.

Lets eat! 

Custom Search

Return from Tri Tip Roast on a Gas Grill to Home Page

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.