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Sous Vide Tri Tip

Perfectly cook a tri tip roast to the exact temperature you choose every single time. That’s what you can expect with sous vide tri tip. Remarkable consistency, excellent texture and definitely a delicious cut of steak. 

A tri tip roast has a rich beef flavor and generally good marbling, but it is still fairly lean with less than 3 grams of fat per ounce. So it can be a bit tough and chewy if not cooked properly. With sous vide cooking, you don’t have to worry about tough meat. It will guarantee a melt-in-your-mouth meal – tender, flavorful and never overcooked. A thing of beauty. 

sliced tri tip on plate

Tri tip is a wonderful cut of beef that is generally less expensive than other steak cuts like ribeye. Cooking it with the sous vide method will give it a high-end taste and feel. If you love sous vide steak, you will love this tri tip recipe.

Unfortunately, tri tip is not always widely available and goes by different names, making it a bit confusing to buy. If you find one, grab it. You’ll be happy you did.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

raw tri tip seasoned on plate
Ingredients: tri tip steak and seasonings

Tri tip: A tri tip steak or roast is also referred to as bottom sirloin, Santa Maria style or California cut (in California), sirloin tri-tip roast, Newport steak (in New York or east coast), triangle tip or triangle steak. If you can’t find a tri-tip roast, alternatives with similar texture and timing are flank steak, London Broil, strip steak and sirloin steak – about 2 inches/5 cm thick. 

Seasonings: I use salt, pepper, garlic powder and sprigs of thyme or rosemary. Other options are Montreal steak seasoning or other steak seasoning blends. You can also try adding a tablespoon of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce in the bag or a tablespoon of miso paste (a suggestion from a reader he says was excellent). 

No sous vide equipment? Food & Wine has a recipe for a sous vide style tri tip roast using hot water and a sous vide process without the equipment. Very cool cooking method!. 

Cooking Time and Temperature

As always, the best thing to do is to experiment to find your ideal temperature and texture. Check the recipe notes for guidelines on different levels of doneness. 

My preferred sous vide cooking temperature and time for a medium-rare tri tip roast is 132F/55.5C for 8 hours. 6 hours is pretty good too (if you have a good cut of beef) or up to 10 hours.

If you google some of the larger sous vide food blogs, you will find a large variation for times and temps. For medium rare, anywhere from 129-134F (54-56.6C) for 2-24 hours. I don’t think the really long times are necessary since tri tip doesn’t have a ton of connective tissue and fat to break down. 

Step by step instructions

raw tri tip seasoned on plate
Season the tri tip roast with kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme sprigs.

Heat water bath to your desired temperature. Place tri tip in a zippered sealable sous vide bag (or vacuum sealer). Lower the bag into the water bath and cook sous vide for 6-10 hours.

grilled tri tip after sous vide on cutting board
Grill or pan sear on high heat for a minute or two on each side.
grilled tri tip on cutting board with knife
Do you see the grain of meat going from top left to bottom right? You will need to cut the tri tip roast in the opposite direction (as the knife is pointing). The grain will change toward the tip and so should your knife.
sliced tri tip on cutting board 4
Slice thinly across the grain (i.e. perpendicular to the grain). This is important for tender meat.

What to serve with sous vide tri-tip

Tri tip is a perfect canvas for a flavor-enhancing condiment. And, like any steak, there are so many options for sides and salads. Here are a few of my favorites. 

Condiments and sauces

Side dishes

Salads

FAQ about tri tip

What is tri tip? 

Tri tip is a flavorful cut of beef, triangular in shape, from the bottom tip of the sirloin. Thus it’s name. Typically a tri tip roast weighs 1.5-3.5 pounds (0.68-1.59 kilograms) and is about 2.5 inches/6.4 cm thick. It can also be cut into a tri-tip steak. The best cuts to buy are Prime, Certified Angus Beef or AAA, but Choice will be great too. You might find tri tip at Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods, other grocery stores or your local butcher shop. 

How much tri tip per person do I need?

Figure about 1/2 pound (0.23 kg) per person. If the tri tip roast has a thick fat cap, you might need a bit more per person. 

How should I cut a tri tip roast?

This is important! To maximize tenderness, a tri tip roast (like all meat) must be cut across the grain, meaning perpendicular to the grain. The tri tip is a little trickier to cut because the grain runs one way on two thirds of the meat and another way on the rest. Look at the long muscle fibers of the meat when it’s cooked and let your eyes guide you. Here’s an excellent visual for how to cut a tri tip roast

Make Ahead

  • To make tri tip a few days ahead: Cook the tri tip sous vide. Cool it in an ice bath for 10 minutes (half water, half ice) and place it in the fridge in the bag for up to 3-4 days. To rewarm it, place in a sous vide water bath at 120F/49C for about an hour. Then pat dry with paper towels and finish on grill or pan as per the recipe. 
  • To freeze cooked tri tip: Cool the cooked tri tip in an ice bath and place it in the freezer for up to 1 month. Rewarm as above – it may need an extra 30 minutes or so. 
  • Leftovers: can stay in the fridge for 2-3 days. 

Good leftover tri tip recipes

Leftover tri tip is great in sandwiches, quesadillas, tacos, fajitas, French dip, pad Thai, steak crostini with horseradish aioli and Chinese vegetable fried rice. 

sliced tri tip on plate p1
Serve with a condiment of your choice. Pictured is horseradish sauce.

Love sous vide cooking? 

Then be sure to check out our best sous vide recipes (and tips).

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Sous Vide Tri Tip

Perfectly cook a beef tri tip roast to the exact temperature you choose every single time. That's what you can expect with sous vide tri tip. Remarkable consistency, excellent texture and definitely delicious. 
Prep Time3 minutes
Cook Time8 hours 3 minutes
rest time10 minutes
Total Time8 hours 16 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Sous Vide
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Sous Vide device (sous vide machine or immersion circulator); Grill or skillet (cast iron pan if you have)

Ingredients

  • 2 pound tri tip roast, Note 1 approximately 2 inches/5 cm thick
  • kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, Note 2 (or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary or thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise or olive oil (for pan sear or grill in last step)

Instructions

  • HEAT SOUS VIDE WATER BATH to: 132F/55.6C for medium rare (this is what I use). Note 3 for other temps and doneness.
  • SEASON AND BAG TRI TIP ROAST: If the tri tip has a thick fat cap, trim off the fat leaving just a thin layer. Remove any silver skin as well. Season tri tip generously on both sides with kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place in large zipper lock bag if using the water displacement method along with a sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme. If using a vacuum sealer, seal the bag.
  • COOK SOUS VIDE: Submerge bag with tri tip into sous vide bath. See Note 4 for how to use displacement method with ziploc bag. Cook for 6-10 hours. I cook it for about 8 hours.
  • SEAR TRI TIP: Remove tri tip from water bath and plastic bag. Discard juices. Pat meat dry with paper towels and rest it for 10 minutes. It's perfectly cooked and ready to eat (with an internal temperature of about 130F/54.4C), but if you want to add flavor and looks, sear it in a hot cast iron skillet. Here's how. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise (or oil) over the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sear on grill or in skillet (cast iron if you have one).
    To pan sear: Heat a cast iron skillet to high (8-9/10). Add a tsp of vegetable, grapeseed or avocado oil. Sear tri tip for 1-2 minute per side..
    To grill: Heat grill to high (~500-550F/287C). Spray or rub tri tip with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on the very hot grill for 1-2 minutes per side.
  • CUT AND SERVE: Transfer meat to cutting board and cut across the grain. Note 5. Serve with condiment of your choice, Note 6.

Recipe Notes

  1. Substitute for tri tip roast: flank steak, London Broil, strip steak and sirloin steak – about 2 to 2.5 inches (5-6.3cm) thick
  2. Seasoning options: Try Montreal steak seasoning or other steak seasoning blends instead. You can also try adding a tablespoon of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce in the bag or a tablespoon of miso paste.
  3. Choose temperature for the doneness you prefer (you might have to experiment a bit):
    1. Medium rare: 129-135F (53.3-57.2C) I use 132F/55.5C
    2. Medium: 136-145F (57.8-62/8C)
    3. Medium-well: 139-155F (59.4-68.3C)
    4. Well done: 156-160F (68.9-71.1C)
  4. Seal bag with displacement method: Place unzipped bag of tri tip into water until top of bag is just above water line. Air will be pushed out. Then zip up bag. Let bag go – it should sink below water line. If bag doesn’t sink, clip to side of container or add a metal spoon inside bag. 
  5. How to cut a tri tip roast. This is an excellent visual on how to cut it.
  6. Condiment options:
  7. Make Ahead:
    • To make tri tip a few days ahead: Cook the tri tip sous vide. Cool it in an ice bath for 10 minutes (half water, half ice) and place it in the fridge in the bag for up to 3-4 days. To rewarm it, place in a sous vide water bath at 120F/49C for about an hour. Then pat dry with paper towels and finish on grill or pan as per the recipe. 
    • To freeze cooked tri tip: Cool the cooked tri tip in an ice bath and place it in the freezer for up to 1 month. Rewarm as above – it may need an extra 30 minutes or so. 
    • Leftovers: can stay in the fridge for 2-3 days. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 999mg | Potassium: 728mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 3mg
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