We love a good tri-tip in our family, but it’s normally a warm weather indulgence because we’ve only ever prepared it out on the grill. For obvious reasons, grilling outdoors in the dead of winter in Utah isn’t my idea of a good time!
But I recently came across a way to cook tri-tip that makes it possible to enjoy all year round! After some trial and error, this new method of cooking it in the oven produces a tender, flavorful, and perfect tri-tip roast every time, and it’s quick and easy enough to make any night of the week!
What Is Tri-Tip?
Tri-tip is a triangular cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin subprimal cut. It first gained popularity in my home state of California, but its reputation as an affordable and flavorful cut is making it increasingly popular across the country.
You can buy tri-tip as both a roast or as steaks, but the cooking method I’ll be sharing with you below is for a tri-tip roast. But I did borrow a tip from this post about tenderizing steak with salt, which is one of the keys that makes my oven-baked tri-tip roast super tender!
So now that we’re all on the same page about tri-tip, let’s get to cooking! :-)
How To Make Perfect Tri-Tip In The Oven
2-3 lb tri-tip roast*
2 Tbsp oil
Kosher salt or coarse salt, plus other seasonings to taste
*Note: The tri-tip roasts I normally buy are trimmed, meaning the thick layer of fat that is attached to the cut has been removed by the butcher. If you can only find untrimmed tri-tip, you may want to get a larger roast to account for the additional weight of the fat. You can trim the fat off yourself or leave it intact—up to you!
Step 1 – Generously Salt The Roast
The first step is to salt your roast and let it rest for at least 1-2 hours before cooking, or up to overnight. (It does require a bit of planning, so I wanted to mention it right up front!) To do this, simply sprinkle kosher or coarse salt generously onto all sides of the roast, then wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
As it rests, the salt will draw out moisture from the meat, dissolve into the liquid creating a “brine,” then the brine will be re-absorbed into the roast. This process will help break down the lean muscle proteins in the meat, making it deliciously juicy and tender. It’s science of the tastiest kind, and totally worth the wait! :-)
Step 2 – Season And Sear
Preheat your oven to 425°F and remove the roast from the fridge. Discard the plastic wrap, trim any silver skin away from the bottom of the tri-tip, then season the roast as desired. (I usually go with salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic powder.)
Next, add a couple tablespoons of cooking oil to a large oven-safe skillet (cast iron is perfect here) and place in on your stove over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, place the tri-tip in the pan with the side the most fat facing down. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the roast to sear for about 4 minutes, or until browned.
Step 3 – Finish It In The Oven
Once you’ve achieved a nice sear on one side, flip the roast over and move the pan from the stovetop into your preheated oven. The roast need to cook for 10-15 minutes per pound, so you’ll want to start keeping an eye on the internal temperature after about 20 minutes of cooking.
The roast is finished when the thickest part of the meat reaches 135°F (that’s for a medium-rare roast—for medium, let it reach 145°F). Using a digital thermometer with an oven-safe probe makes this part super easy, and they aren’t terribly expensive to buy.
Step 4 – Rest And Serve
Once your tri-tip is cooked to your liking, pull it out and tent the skillet with tin foil to keep it warm. Allow it to rest there for 10 minutes before cutting into it to prevent all the juice from leaking out.
And speaking of cutting, the tenderness of your tri-tip depends a great deal on how you slice it! Slice your roast against the grain by cutting it in half at the center, then slicing it across the grain on each end.
This is particularly important with tri-tip, because two different grains intersect within the cut. About half the cut contains fibers that run vertically, while the other half contains long muscle fibers at an angle. (Keep in mind that the grain is easiest to see when the meat is raw, so you may want to make note of it before you salt and season!)
So there you have it: simple, perfect tri-tip you can enjoy any time of year! Not only easier than firing up the grill, but it’s also easier to achieve consistently delicious results. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean!
Do you have any foolproof methods you use in the kitchen?
Perfect Oven-Roasted Tri-Tip
- Cast iron skillet
- 2-3 lb tri-tip roast trimmed
- 2 Tbsp oil
- Kosher salt or coarse salt
- Sprinkle kosher or coarse salt generously over all sides of the roast, then wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, or overnight.
- Remove the roast from the fridge and preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Discard the plastic wrap, trim silver skin away from bottom of the tri-tip, then season the roast as desired.
- Add cooking oil to a large cast iron skillet and place it over over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, place the roast fat-side down into the pan and sear for 4 minutes.
- Flip the roast over and move the pan to your preheated oven.
- Cook the roast for 10-15 minutes per pound, or until the thickest part of the meat reads 135°F for medium-rare, or 145°F for medium.
- Slice the finished roast against the grain and serve.