The Ultimate Tri-Tip Marinade

The Ultimate Tri Tip Marinade enhances the flavor and tenderness of this popular cut of beef. Perfect for grilling, reverse sear, or smoking.

The Ultimate Tri-Tip Marinade

Tri-tip (Tritip, Tri tip), is a popular and flavorful cut of beef that deserves a special treatment to enhance its natural flavors and tenderness. Here's what you need to know about marinating and cooking tri tip to perfection.

Is a dry rub or marinade better for tri-tip?

Both dry rubs and marinades have their merits. Dry rubs can create a flavorful crust on the meat, while marinades penetrate deeper, imparting flavors and enhancing tenderness. For tri-tip, given its robust flavor and texture, a marinade, like the one shared below, can be particularly effective in ensuring tenderness.

Why is my tri-tip tough?

Tri-tip can become tough due to overcooking, not marinating, or cutting it improperly. It's essential to cut tri-tip against the grain when serving to ensure tenderness in every bite. Additionally, allowing it to marinate overnight can help break down tougher muscle fibers.

Is it better to cook tri-tip fast or slow?

As with most things in life, it all comes down back to preference.

The reverse-sear process is a very popular method for cooking tri-tip. Essentially, you slow-cook so the internal temperature rises gradually, ensuring a more even cook throughout the meat. Once the meat hits your target temperature, you finish the process with searing the meat over a direct heat source or in a cast iron skillet.

Personally, I am a fan of cooking tri-tip hot and fast. Tri-tip doesn't have the intramuscular fat that benefits from rendering over a long, slow cook like brisket or pork shoulder.

Does tri-tip get softer the longer you cook it?

Not exactly. While slow cooking helps in achieving an even temperature, overcooking the tri-tip can make it tough and dry. It's crucial to monitor the meat's internal temperature and remove it from the heat source once it reaches the desired level. Letting it rest for a few minutes after cooking also helps in retaining its juices and tenderness.

Tri-tip after overnight marinade

What is the best way to make a tri-tip tender?

Tenderness in meats, especially tri-tip, can be achieved through a good marinade, cooking technique, and cutting it properly.

A marinade breaks down muscle fibers, making the meat softer and more receptive to flavors. Our top-recommended marinade for tri-tip includes:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 whole bay leaves


  1. Combine soy sauce, oil, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk well.
  2. Add in the garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves.
  3. Place the tri-tip in a gallon-sized sealable bag or sealable container.
  4. Pour the marinade over the meat, ensuring it's fully covered.
  5. For best results, let the tri-tip marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Prior to cooking, remember to take the meat out of the marinade at least an hour before cooking to allow the meat to come to room temperature. And don't forget to season it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste before grilling or smoking.

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