Tri-tip is a type of beef cut that can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as grilling, smoking, and oven-roasting. These cuts can also come in a variety of sizes and can range in weight from 1.5 to 2.5 lbs per cut. Some butchers will cut them into smaller steak cuts to make them easier to cook and serve. Use this guide to help you achieve the perfect cook by getting the tri-tip temp right, no matter how you choose to prepare it.
What Is the Best Tri-Tip Temp When Done?
Due to the nature of this cut, the tri-tip temp when done is relatively similar to that of a steak. You can cook it to 130 to 135 °F (54 to 57 °C) for medium rare and 135 to 145 °F (57-63 °C) for medium.
You can, therefore, adjust your cooking times and temperature based on your preferred level of doneness of your tri-tip. Most cooks recommend a slow cooking process for tri-tips at 200 °F (104 °C). When that is done, you can finish it off on the grill with a reverse sear.
Tri-Tip Temp Cooking Chart
If you want to achieve the perfect tri-tip temp when done, you need to adjust it based on the cooking method used. As mentioned above, there are a variety of ways to prepare this cut of meat. The different ways to cook it will also determine the recommended temperature with which you must cook it in order to achieve your desired level of doneness.
Use this guide to help you achieve the ideal internal temp and enjoy this piece of meat however you want it done.
- Rare – The ideal internal tri-tip temperature is 120 °F (48 °C)
- Medium rare – The ideal internal tri-tip temperature is 130 °F (54 °C)
- Medium – The ideal internal tri-tip temperature is 140 °F (60 °C)
Tips for Cooking tri-tip
The preparation that goes into cooking tri-tip is also a crucial element to help you achieve the right level of doneness. Make sure you take note of the steps below when cooking tri-tip so you can get the temperature and the texture of the meat right.
- Trim the Tri-Tip
Trimming is an important step before you begin cooking the tri-tip. Make sure you trim the outer fat because it not only ensures that you have lean meat, but also ensures even cooking. The thick membrane of the fat outside of the tri-tip cut can act as a shield from the heat, which makes it difficult to control the cooking time and temperature.
It does not take long for tri-tip to cook so trimming the fat is a vital step. Otherwise, the fat won’t have enough time to break down and it will affect the cooking result. Make sure that you trim the fat out evenly all the way around the meat.
- Season the Meat
Once you have trimmed the fat off, the next step to prepare the tri-tip for cooking is to season the meat. This step will be up to your preference on what kind of spices or dry rub you want to use on your meat.
Make sure to coat the dry rub or spices all over the meat to ensure that every slice is well-seasoned.
- Set the Right Cooking Temperature
Tri-tips are mostly sold in one large slab when you buy them from the meat shop. The cut is typically triangular or boomerang in shape, and approximately 8 inches long. In terms of thickness, the average is 3 inches at the thickest part (at the center). Tri-tips, as the name implies, also have tapered ends.
Essentially, a tri-tip is a large piece of meat – like a boneless steak. You have to set the right cooking temperature to ensure even doneness on all parts of the meat. If the heat is too high, the ends will be burnt while the center remains undercooked.
Due to the uneven thickness of this piece of meat, using indirect heat is one of the best ways to cook tri-tips. In fact, there is a specific type of grill known as the Santa Maria style grill that is designed to maximize the use of indirect heat for grilling this meat and ensure doneness. This type of grill uses a wheel and pulley mechanism that enables you to adjust the intensity of the heat when cooking by raising or lowering the grill grate. The meat is cooked over hot coals over a specific period of time.
The ideal cooking temperature for a tri-tip cut is 200-250 °F or 93-121 °C (for indirect heat). This will enable you to cook the meat slowly over low temperature. It ensures an even cook helps avoid overcooking the outside of the meat. Whatever type of grill you are using to cook, make sure to place the meat away from the highest heat zone.
Temperature control is one of the most essential skills you have to possess if you are going to cook the perfect tri-tip.
- Check/Monitor the Internal Temp
Using a probe meat thermometer is essential if you want to achieve the ideal tri-tip temperature when cooking. It is difficult to guess just by looking at the meat from the outside if you have achieved the right internal temperature.
The best kind of thermometer to use for this type of meat is an oven or grill safe thermometer. Insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat – the center – and you will be able to track the internal temperature of the meat while it cooks.
If possible, choose an instant-read thermometer since timing is crucial in getting the perfect cook on tri-tips. On average, it takes about 15 minutes to reach 130 °F (54 °C) for tri-tips (grill or oven).
- Let It Rest
Resting is an important step when you are cooking any kind of meat, including tri-tips. Resting allows the protein in the meat to retain moisture so you won’t lose any of that when you slice it.