It is no secret we love Oven Roasted Tri-Tip for its steak-like texture and perfect blend of tenderness and flavor!
We’ll show you how to master tri-tip with the 5 TOP TIPS perfected over 30 years so you can easily make a juicy, tender steak-like dinner at home in your oven!
Oven-roasting tri-tip delivers a memorable meal without much fuss, but it’s not like the usual Sunday roast—it should not be long-simmered. This cut of beef is best when cooked to medium-rare.
A quality tri-tip roast should be well-marbled (intermuscular fat), contributing to flavor and juiciness, making it an ideal choice for the dry heat of the oven or grill.
Check out our Grilled Tri-Tip Roast recipe for more info about selecting the perfect tri-tip. In that post, we go into more detail about the different names of this cut of beef, the importance of marbling, grilling tips, and when to use dry rubs or marinade.
TIP: A tri-tip roast can also be sliced into steaks, making it a great economical cut for summer grilling.
How is tri-tip supposed to be cooked?
A tri-tip roast isn’t a long-simmered fall-apart roast like a chuck. It is a 2-3 pound muscle cut from the Sirloin Primal and is best cooked to medium-rare so it maintains a texture more akin to a steak.
You can easily make a juicy, tender steak-like dinner at home with a few simple steps.
- Measure and MIX the steak rub.
- TRIM any thick layer of fat to slightly less than 1/4″ thick and remove any silverskin.
- RUB the spices evenly over the meat and let it REST for at least 45 minutes, or refrigerate with the rub for up to 24 hours.
- PAN-SEAR each side of the roast for 2-3 minutes in a heavy oven-safe skillet (like cast iron) with oil over medium heat until browned on both sides.
- DRIZZLE oil over the seared roast and transfer to the oven to COOK for 20 minutes or until the thickest part of the roast is 128ºF.
- REMOVE it from the oven, TENT loosely with foil, and REST for 10 minutes. CARVE by slicing across the grain and serve.
Our Top Tips for the BEST Oven-Roasted Tri-Tip
1. Trim and Season before Cooking
Some tri-tip roasts are sold untrimmed, meaning a fairly thick layer of fat can be left on one side. Trim this layer until slightly less than 1/4″ thick for a little protection in the oven, but it does not contribute to flavor.
Like our grilled tri-tip recipe, we prefer a dry steak rub when oven-roasting! When using a dry rub (like this recipe), it’s important to let the meat sit with the rub on it for at least 40 minutes (up to 24 hours) before cooking. This allows the salt to penetrate and flavor the meat before it ever hits the skillet for searing.
If you prefer marinade over dry rub, try our Pro Tips for marinating meat outlined in our grilled tri-tip post. Whether you season with marinade or dry rub, do so before roasting.
2. Pan-Sear, Then Roast
Browning the roast before it goes in the oven caramelizes the spices and begins the Millard effect, enhancing the flavor.
When grilling isn’t an option, we go with the next best choice: a cast iron skillet and a hot oven.
We love cast iron for browning meat, but any oven-safe frying pan with 2” sides will do. (If you do not have an oven-safe skillet, transfer it to a baking dish before it goes into the oven.)
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3. Cooking Time and Temperature
Cooking tri-tip at 350°F for approximately 10 minutes per pound will get you close to medium-rare doneness. However, for the most accurate doneness, use an instant-read thermometer and test the center of the roast for an internal temperature of 128°F for the perfect medium-rare tri-tip.
I cannot stress enough the importance of not relying on timed doneness and investing in an instant-read thermometer to ensure it is not overcooked.
Important note: Generally, a tri-tip has a thicker center and two tapered points. The points/tips will cook faster than the center. Cooking the roast so the thicker portion is at 128°F will help ensure the tips do not cook beyond medium doneness.
4. Resting and Slicing
Once the roast is done cooking, tent loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute and retain moisture instead of pouring out onto the cutting board.
To slice the roast, hold it with a fork and position the knife across the grain (long strands/lines) of the meat. Cut 1/4-inch slices across the grain and on a slight bias—this shortens the long strands of the muscle, making it more tender to chew.
TIP: Remember, the tri-tip roast has three points, and the grain may change direction within the roast (each roast is different). Simply turn the roast to keep the knife slicing across the grain.
5. How To Serve Oven Roasted Tri-Tip
Serving tri-tip with a sauce is always a good idea! But what kind? It all depends on the marbling and fat content of the roast or steak.
- If the roast is lean, serve it with a rich sauce like this Mushroom Ragout (in photo) or Tomato-Basil Compound Butter, so the creamy sauce helps compensate for the lack of fat in the meat.
- If the roast is well-marbled, like a ribeye or a Wagyu-type quality, serve it with Santa Maria salsa, gremolata, or chimichurri so the acid can balance the meat’s richness.
This is true for grilled steaks, too—that’s why filets are served with rich sauces and ribeyes are not.
The Best Side Dishes to Serve with Tri-Tip
- Green Bean Almondine with Crispy Prosciutto (shown in photos)
- Caesar Salad
- Oven Roasted Vegetable Medley
- Arugula Watermelon Salad
- Spinach and Strawberry Salad
- Caprese Salad
Oven Roasted Tri-Tip
- 2.5 pound tri-tip roast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Steak Rub Mix
- 1.60 ounces hickory smoked sea salt
- 1.30 ounces coconut palm sugar
- .40 ounce black pepper
- .40 ounce smoked paprika
- .35 ounce granulated garlic
- .35 ounce granulated onion
- .15 ounce ground cumin
- .10 ounce chipotle chile powder
- Using a digital scale, measure and mix the steak rub. (See notes for measurements in teaspoons and tablespoons.)
- Trim any thick layer of fat to slightly less than 1/4" thick and remove any silverskin. (Some tri-tip roasts are sold untrimmed, meaning a fairly thick layer of fat or silverskin can be on one side.)
- Coat the roast evenly with the spices and let it rest for at least 45 minutes, or refrigerate with the rub on for up to 24 hours. (Depending on the size of the tri-tip, you may have some of the rub leftover.)
- Heat oven to 350°F and pan-sear each side of the roast for 2-3 minutes in a heavy oven-safe skillet (like cast iron) with oil over medium heat until browned on both sides. Transfer the roast to a baking dish if the skillet is not oven-safe.
- Drizzle roast with olive oil and transfer the roast to the oven to cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check the internal temperature in the thickest part of the roast. Continue to roast until the thickest part is medium-rare (128ºF). The exact time will depend on the thickness of the meat, but the roast is usually done within 30-40 minutes total cooking time. (The tips of the roast will cook more quickly than the center.)
- Remove it from the oven, tent loosely with foil, and rest for 10 minutes. Carve by slicing across the grain and serve.
Video Displays Here or In Post
• 2 3/4 tablespoons hickory smoked salt — or 3 tablespoons flaked kosher salt
• 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar — or 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
• 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
• 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion
• 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Meal Prep Ideas for Tri-Tip
- Make-ahead—for best results, only cook the steak to 120°F (rare) when making in advance and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat gently in a skillet over low heat with a tablespoon of water and cover with a lid until warmed, but still pink in the middle. NOTE: If you need to freeze the steak, plan to serve it with a sauce as freezing cooked steak tends to make the texture dry. Learn more about meal prep and freezer meals through our Monthly Cooking Online Course.
- Cut tri-tip into strips for Skillet Fajitas or Stroganoff
- Cube tri-tip for Steak Chili
- Slice into steaks and grill.
- Use leftover steak for Nachos, Stuffed Peppers, or slice thin for sandwiches.