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Grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip Recipe

User Rating 4.5 Star Rating (9 Reviews)


Grilled tri-tip
Annabelle Breakey/Photodisc/Getty Images
The town of Santa Maria, California, is famous for its delicious grilled tri-tip. Tri-tip is a great piece of beef for the grill, and this West Coast barbecue favorite makes a nice change of pace from the more common Texas or Southern barbecue recipes.

Serves 6 Portions of Santa Maria Barbecue Tri-Tip

Prep Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours


  • 2 to 2 1/2 lb beef tri-tip roast
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic


Combine the black pepper, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub on to all surfaces of the tri-tip. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove and let sit out for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Add the Dijon, vinegar, vegetable oil, and crushed garlic to a jar with a lid and shake vigorously until emulsified.

Prepare your charcoal or gas barbecue grill. Place the tri-tip on the grill and brush with the oil and vinegar mixture. Turn every 3-4 minutes, basting generously each time. Grill for 25-30 minutes for medium-rare (internal temp of 135 degrees F.). The outside of the roast will get very dark and develop a charred crust, this is desired and one of the signature characteristics of this barbecue recipe.

Remove the tri-tip from the grill to a large platter. Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing in 1/4" thick pieces across the grain. Serve as you would any barbecued beef, but in California this is often served with tortillas and salsa.
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
The BEST Recipe for Tri-Tip!, Member mikeyscott13

I moved to Santa Barbara almost 4 years ago, and fell in love with the Santa Maria-style Tri-Tip sandwiches here. Although I was a little intimidated by trying to prepare it myself, I was asked to make it for a Birthday Picnic at the beach yesterday. After scouring the web for a recipe, this seemed to be the closest to what I wanted. I can honestly say that this was incredibly easy to make, and it was the best tri-tip I have ever had! I doubled the recipe because I was preparing 5lbs of meat for about 20 people, and I received compliments that it was the best tri-tip that they had ever tasted as well (one of those compliments came from someone who doesn't usually like tri-tip). It was tender, flavorful, and cooked perfectly over a hot charcoal grill. The combination of dry rub and basting created the most flavorful slices of beef I have had in years. I would recommend this recipe to all of my friends!

4 out of 4 people found this helpful.

See all 9 reviews

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