For many years I only cooked Tri Tip on the grill, but about a year or so ago I had a Tri Tip and didn’t feel like going outside to grill it up. Instead I decided to try something new…an Oven Baked Tri Tip.
To my surprise it was actually much easier and faster than grilling it, and it came out totally perfect. Juicy and delicious! I haven’t stopped grilling them outside, because I love to grill, but since I discovered the convenience of cooking Tri Tip in the oven I have chose the indoor method at least 50% of the time. It is nice to have the option for when I don’t want to grill.
This is probably going to be a pretty short article, because it is so simple to cook a Tri Tip in the oven that it’s insane. If you are interested in grilling your Tri Tip, instead of cooking it in the oven, you can check out my Grilled Tri Tip article too. I grill as often as possible. It is a fun and interactive way to cook with friends and family, and it tastes and smells awesome!
What is a Tri Tip?
Tri Tip is a triangular cut of meat that comes from the bottom sirloin area. It is actually a small muscle that usually weighs in at around 2-2.5 pounds. This cut of meat is called different names all over the world. You can read more about this cut on wikipedia.com if you would like.
It is a really tasty cut of meat. And it is great because you can get great deals on this tender juicy cut. I typically pay $3.99 to $5.99 per pound. It is best cooked medium rare, but it is still OK at medium.
Preparing a Tri Tip
Whether I will be cooking on a grill or baking in an oven, I generally season the Tri Tip the same way. This cut of meat doesn’t usually have much fat on it, just a little on one side, but occasionally you may see a pretty thick chunk. If there is like half an inch thick or more of fat in one spot, you can thin it out if you like. For the most part, however, you should just leave it on there. It adds flavor and juiciness.
Tri Tip Marinating
You can follow the seasoning instruction below and let it soak in ahead of time. It does allow it to penetrate the meat better, but if you don’t have time for this, or just didn’t plan ahead, don’t worry about. I have let it marinate for 2 days, 2 hours, and seasoned right before I put it in the oven.
At this point I drizzle a little olive oil on the Tri Tip and rub it all over. You don’t need much of it, just enough to spread it out all over. This is a little trick I picked up a while back, really seems to help it cook more evenly on the outside and keeps it from getting dry.
Then I sprinkle some red wine vinegar (not much- maybe like 1/4 to 1/2 tsp each side) and Worcestershire sauce (3 or 4 shakes each side) on both sides and rub that all over. It helps to tenderize the meat and tastes good.
Then I add my dry seasonings. I like to stick to the basics. So I shake on salt, pepper, garlic powder (not garlic salt), paprika, and sometimes I sneak some Steakhouse Onion Burger seasoning from McCormick on there. By the way I love that Onion burger seasoning and I highly recommend it, but I can’t say that I have liked any of the other McCormick Grill Mates so far.
I put on a good dowsing of salt. The meat is so thick it doesn’t soak in very deep if you don’t get a good amount on there. You can over do it though. I did it once a while back. It was still edible, but I did end up drowning every bite in a little extra hot sauce to cover it up.
I like keep the pepper pretty light, and then try to evenly cover the meat in garlic powder and paprika.
The Hot Stuff
Now, if it were up to me, I would also use a chili powder in my dry ingredients. I really like the spicy pepper dusts that are out there. They can add spice without affecting the flavor much, if you get the right product. I was recently gifted a Habanero Seasoning Mix made by Terana, and it is terrible. The first ingredient on the label is sugar. Not a good sign. It is literally spicy sugar, not something I would put on my meat. Maybe it would be good on pie or something…hmm I will try that.
You could also rub a good hot sauce on the Tri Tip. I often do this with other smaller steaks. Because I am, of course, cooking a Tri Tip to share with others, I do not make it spicy. I did recently cut a small piece off when I was going to grill one a month or two ago. This allowed me to spice up my own piece the way I like it.
I did all the seasonings listed above, but also added a dousing of Brother Bru Bru’s African Hot Sauce to the the outside and then grilled it. Soooo, delicious! That Bru Bru Hot Sauce is perfect for adding some spice to your meat prior to cooking. I cannot sing enough praises about it. Here is a link to my Hot Sauce Shop where you can check it our for yourself.
Here is all the items in list form, for easier reference.
- Olive Oil (I use E.V.O.O.)
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Garlic Powder
- Brother Bru Bru Hot Sauce or Chili Powder (optional)
How To Cook A Tri Tip In An Oven
You can cook your Tri Tip in a glass or metal pan. I have done both. I cooked my last one in a foil lined metal cake pan. Make sure you use a pan with high sides, so you don’t spill your juices.
Temperature and Time
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. When heated put your meat in uncovered, and set a timer for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes are up, lower the temperature to 350 degress and cook it for about 12 minutes per pound. As I mentioned earlier, they are generally around 2 pounds or so, but occasionally you may come across a larger one.
If you stick to organic meat and vegetables (which I try to do), you will generally find that they tend to be smaller than ones you get at bigger chain grocery stores.
So, basically, you are looking at about 40-45 mins total cooking time for a perfect medium rare Tri Tip. Told you it was simple…Now you can sit back and enjoy with your favorite sides. I was feeling lazy and microwaved some “baked” potatoes, made some Velveeta Shells and Cheese, and opened a can of peas and called it a day. Super delicious!
Leftover Tri Tip
My favorite thing to do with the leftover Tri Tip, assuming you have any, is Tri Tip Dip Sandwiches. What I do is get some good hoagie rolls, an onion, and a packet of au jus powder if I don’t have enough leftover juice from the Tri Tip itself.
Slice up the leftover Tri Tip. I like to cook up some grilled onions for my sandwich. Sometimes I cook the meat for a couple minutes in the pan with the onions to heat it up. Other times I do not.
After the onions are cooked I generally put the meat and onions on a hoagie, and add provolone if I have it and stick it in the oven at 400 degrees for about three minutes. You can make the au jus in the microwave while your sandwich is heating.
In Summary: Oven Baked Tri Tip
Tri Tip is a truly wonderful, tender, flavorful, and inexpensive cut of meat. Whether you grill or bake it, I highly recommend it. I hope you get a chance to try this recipe out very soon.
I actually just took a break and ate a Tri Tip sandwich while writing this article, made from a Tri Tip I baked a couple days ago. Yummy stuff!
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or you can reach me through the contact form in the main menu at the top of the page.
Update–4 years later
I originally published this in Nov 2017…It is now almost October 2021. I thought I should let you all know that since posting this article nearly 4 years ago, I have probably only cooked a tri tip on the grill 2 or 3 times. It is just so easy in the oven. It comes out exactly right every delicious time.
Tri tip used to always come with me on camping trips. It just requires a longer cooking time than thinner cuts. After so many issues with wind and maintaining the heat over the years, I have just pretty much totally switched tri tip to home cooking only.
I give it a go every so often again, but I find that the outcome of carne asada or just a nice steak is so much more predictable when out camping.