Classic Santa Maria Tri-Tip

A California classic, this tri-tip is perfect for a summer barbecue! Smokey and spicy, it’s best with the traditional sides of stewed pinquito beans and fresh salsa. Though it’s traditionally made on a Santa Maria grill, we think it’s just as good on a charcoal or gas grill!

  • Serves: 1 Tri-Tip
  • Prep Time: 25.5 hours
  • Cook Time: 30-35 minutes


  • Basting Sauce
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 c. Canola Oil
  • 1/2 c. Red Wine Vinegar
  • Meat
  • 1 (3 lb.) Choice Trimmed Tri-Tip
  • 2 tbsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
  • Tomato Salsa & Pinquito Beans (for serving)


  1. To make the basting sauce, smash the garlic with flat of a knife then sprinkle with salt. Crush garlic into a rough paste using the flat of a knife, then whisk together with oil and vinegar in a non-reactive bowl. Cover tightly and refrigerate for a t least 24 hours or up to 5 days.

  2. When ready to grill, mix salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and rosemary in a small bowl. P[lace tri-tip in a large non-reactive bowl and baste all over with 1/4 cup of basting sauce, then sprinkle with spice mixture. Massage spices into meat, then refrigerate uncovered for 1 hour followed by 20 minutes at room temperature.

  3. Preheat grill on high on one side only. Lightly oil grate, then place tri-tip on hottest part of grill to sear, turning once. Move tri-tip to unlit side and cover. Allow tri-tip to roast on grill for 30 to 35 minutes, basting every 5 minutes with basting sauce. Allow finished tri-tip to rest for at least 5 minutes.

  4. To serve, thinly slice rested tri-tip against the grain and plate with pinquito beans and tomato salsa.

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