Blog Recipes/ Main Dishes

Santa Maria Tri Tip Recipe

Santa Maria Tri Tip barbecue is about family, and gatherings with friends. This style of barbecue is very specific to the Central California Coast, and it’s delicious! This is the Godfather’s recipe. 

Santa Maria Tri Tip Barbecue is California BBQ at its best! Learn how to make it at home (gas or charcoal grill) and enjoy central coast California cuisine no matter where you are! * GoodieGodmother.com

I’m a little emotional about sharing this recipe today because it means so much in our little family. Not only is it a delicious reminder of the few years we spent on the California Central Coast, Santa Maria tri tip was the gateway recipe for the Godfather’s barbecue “hobby”. If he hadn’t decided to try making tri tip at home to create his own version of the tri tip rub recipe, he wouldn’t have gotten into barbecue and we wouldn’t have all his delicious barbecue recipes on the blog. With Mother’s Day being this weekend, this seemed like a fitting recipe to share because tri tip, like most barbecue, is about family, friends, and spending time together.

Santa Maria Tri Tip Barbecue is California BBQ at its best! Learn how to make it at home (gas or charcoal grill) and enjoy central coast California cuisine no matter where you are! * GoodieGodmother.com

While we lived on the Central Coast, we had plenty of restaurants that made tri tip, and some were very very good. But the best tri tip was almost always had on weekends, driving down a main street in Lompoc or Santa Maria, looking for the charity or church fundraisers. They’d all set up tents next to huge open grills and for $8-10 you’d get a plate of tri tip or chicken, pinquito beans, salad, and garlic bread. People made tri tip at home on weekends, and every single Mother’s Day or Father’s Day (or Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, birthday, sunny day… you get the picture), families would be firing up the barbecue and making tri tip at home to enjoy with friends and family and a local bottle of Santa Maria wine. L loved this idea of community around food, and so once he mastered his tri tip recipe, we’d make it for friends and block parties.

Santa Maria Tri Tip Barbecue is California BBQ at its best! Learn how to make it at home (gas or charcoal grill) and enjoy central coast California cuisine no matter where you are! * GoodieGodmother.com

The tri tip cut of beef (sometimes also called the triangle cut) is part of the bottom sirloin and is called tri tip because the grain goes in three different directions. You can purchase trimmed or untrimmed, but it can be a bit difficult to find depending on your location. Most grocery stores out East seem to like to cut it into steaks for some reason, so you may have to request that one be kept whole for you. The whole roast is only about 2-3 lbs, so it’s a good beef cut to barbecue for a small gathering or a family. When we make one for our family of 2 adults and a toddler, it feeds us about 3ish meals. Make multiple if you’re hosting lots of people.

Santa Maria Tri Tip Barbecue is California BBQ at its best! Learn how to make it at home (gas or charcoal grill) and enjoy central coast California cuisine no matter where you are! * GoodieGodmother.com

Santa Maria Tri Tip Recipe
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Author: The Godfather
Ingredients
  • lb - 3-4 beef tri-tip untrimmed
  • - sea salt
  • - ground black pepper
  • - garlic powder
  • - paprika
Instructions
  1. On a cutting board or flat pan, generously apply sea salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder to all sides of the tri-tip.
  2. Lightly apply paprika to the fattiest side of the tri-tip.
  3. Set up the grill while allowing the tri-tip to come to room temperature. Set the coals directly below the meat's intended place, but set as flat as possible. If you have a gas grill, you can mimic the charcoal treatment by soaking some wood chips in water, placing them in foil shaped like a paper boat, and placing the foil in between the burners. Allow the grill temperature to reach at least 250 degrees, but no more than 300 degrees.
  4. Place the tri-tip on the grill with the fattiest side up, and grill for 20 minutes.
  5. Flip the tri-tip with the fattiest side down, and grill for 15 minutes.
  6. Flip the tri-tip twice more and grill for 5 minutes each time. This will result in the meat being cooked medium to medium-well. If you desire rarer-cooked meat, omit this step.
  7. Remove the tri-tip from the grill and place it on a plate or flat pan. Cover the meat with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  8. To best serve, remove the foil after resting, and be sure to cut across the grain of the meat. This can be done by cutting the tri-tip where the two visibly different grains meet, which is off the center of the tri-tip. Cut across the grain on each side, with your knife pointing down at a slight angle.

 

Santa Maria Tri Tip Barbecue is California BBQ at its best! Learn how to make it at home (gas or charcoal grill) and enjoy central coast California cuisine no matter where you are! * GoodieGodmother.com

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Neil
    April 15, 2018 at 1:47 am

    There is no way that the grill time and temperature will result in little more than overly rare meat.

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      April 26, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      The Godfather has been making this recipe – as written – for years now, and the meat is not overly rare. This cooks a tri-tip cut to a medium well/well done at the ends with a solid medium in the middle. Following these instructions, the meat would only end up overly rare if one started the cooking process with very cold meat (which prevents even heating and temperature control no matter what method used) and didn’t rest the meat after (not allowing it to slowly reduce heat which brings you to the correct “done-ness” and helps seal in the juices).

  • Reply
    Nicole @Little Blog on the Homestead
    May 9, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    YUM! This looks amazing, I love a good piece of meat off the grill, it definitely signifies summer for me! Next time I’m at the store I’m going to see where the midwest falls on the tri-tip, most likely closer to the East coast style. Shucks, guess that means a trip to the butchers 😉

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      May 16, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      We have 2 stores near us that sell it whole… one is crazy expensive, the other is more reasonable. Call around, you might just be surprised at what you find and where! 🙂

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