How To Marinate Tri Tip + 3 Tri Tip Marinade Recipes

Follow my easy tips for marinating tri tip and turn this lean cut of beef into the star of the BBQ + Try one of my 3 Tri Tip Marinade Recipes

How to Marinate Tri Tip | Follow my easy tips for marinating tri tip and turn this lean cut of beef into the star of the show + Try one of my 3 Tri Tip Marinade Recipes | A Sweet Pea Chef

If you’ve ever been to a barbecue anywhere across Texas or California, you’ve probably stumbled upon the lean, tasty gloriousness of beef that is the tri tip. With the grilling season in full bloom, there’s no better time than to throw some on the grill yourself.

But, first things first – in order to make your tri trip steak wonderfully tender and tasty, before searing it on the grill, we need to marinate it.

While you can use different types of rubs to add some extra flavor to your meat such as dry rubs, wet rubs and spice pastes, I almost always go for marinades. Why’s that?  Well, I do like to keep it simple and easy when it comes to cooking and nothing takes much effort than just leaving your meat in the fridge to soak up all those beautiful juices.

Next time you’re hosting a barbecue, try one of my 3 favorite tri tip marinade recipes and follow my easy tips for marinating tri tip to turn this lean cut of beef into the star of the show!

An overhead image of a tri tip steak on a kitchen counter ready to be marinated in a Tri Tip Marinade.

Tips for How To Marinate Tri Tip

  • If you don’t see tri tip at the store, you can always ask the butcher to cut it for you – they don’t even charge you extra and they usually know what ti tip is.

  • Marinate your food in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.  You can use either a sealable bag or a sealed container to make sure all the liquid is safely inside.

  • For best results, you’ll want to let the marinated ti tip set in the fridge for at least 6 hours but no more than 24 hours – any longer and the muscle fibers break down too much and the texture becomes mushy.

  • If you can’t get to cooking your marinated tri tip within 24 hours, you can also freeze the meat in the marinade to be used later.  That’s a benefit of using the freezer ziplock bags – you can just toss them right into the freezer for later.  Then, when it’s time to cook, thaw the meat and cook.

  • Make sure to discard the unused marinade once it’s time to cook the meat and don’t use it as a sauce unless you cook it first because it will have raw meat juices in it and to keep other foods away from the raw meat and marinade to avoid contamination.

IS TRI TRIP TENDER?

Tri tip in a fairly-tender, lean cut of beef that’s sometimes also known as triangle steak because of its triangular shape. You can smoke it, grill it or roast it in the oven.  Just like flank steak, tri tip is very flavorful.  To make sure the meat comes out tender and juicy, you can marinate it for a few hours. My favorite way to tenderize the meat is marinating it. Not only is it super easy and mess-free but the meat turns out perfectly juicy and tasty!

An overhead image of three tri tip steaks in sealable freezer bags on a kitchen counter ready to be placed in the fridge to marinate, each in a different kind of tri tip marinade including Santa Maria Tri Tip Marinade, Balsamic Tri Tip Marinade and Sesame Ginger Tri Tip Marinade.

HOW LONG DO YOU MARINATE A TRI TIP?

My favorite thing about marinades is that not only do they add a flavorsome punch, but they also tenderize the meat. Marinating is magic, I tell you! Marinating time varies depending on the meat and the ingredients in your marinade.

For tri tip, I usually try to marinate the meat for 8 hours at least but not for more than 24 hours. Leave the tri tip marinating for too long and the muscle fibers start to break down too much, leaving your steak mushy. And that’s the last thing you want your steak to be!  If you don’t get to cooking your tri tip after 24 hours. just toss it in the freezer for later.

HOW LONG DO YOU COOK A TRI TIP?

After the meat has soaked up all the wonderful flavors from your marinade, it’s time to cook it! Total cooking time depends on how big your steak is. Tri tip takes roughly 15 minutes per pound to cook. So, for a cut that’s about 3 pounds, expect it to cook for a good 40 minutes at least.  You’re looking for the internal temperature to reach 145 degrees F.  When cooked, allow the meat to rest as well for about 5-8 minutes. This part is crucial in making your steak tender because it gives time to the juices to freely flow through the meat. After the meat had rested, you’re ready to serve your steak!  Just cut across/against the grain and serve!

3 Tri Tip Marinade Recipes

I’ve put together my 3 favorite tri tip marinades for you to try — they are all super easy and very flavorful.  I hope you love them!

SANTA MARIA TRI TIP MARINADE

Make this California classic for your next barbecue. This easy Santa Maria Tri Tip Marinade will make your tri tip steak lip-smackin’ good!

An overhead image of all the ingredients for the Santa Maria Tri Tip Marinade on the kitchen counter including sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, dried rosemary, cayenne pepper, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and olive oil. An overhead image of a sealable freezer bag with a tri tip steak in Santa Maria Tri Tip Marinade with sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, dried rosemary, cayenne pepper, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and olive oil.

BALSAMIC TRI TIP MARINADE

All you need are a few basic ingredients to make this Balsamic Trip Tip Marinade that will make your tri tip steak the hit of the party!

An overhead image of all the ingredients for the Balsamic Tri Tip Marinade on a kitchen counter including reduced sodium soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, crushed garlic cloves, rosemary and ground black pepper. An overhead image of a sealable freezer bag with a tip tip steak in the Balsamic Tri Tip Marinade with reduced sodium soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, crushed garlic cloves, rosemary and ground black pepper.

SESAME GINGER TRI TIP MARINADE

This Sesame Ginger Tri Tip Marinade sure packs a punch that will spice up your tri tip the right way and it is so easy to make!

An overhead image of all the ingredients for the Sesame Ginger Tri Tip Marinade on the kitchen counter including sliced green onions, minced garlic, rice wine vinegar, raw honey, freshly grated ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, low sodium soy sauce, low sodium beef broth, olive oil and sesame oil. An overhead image of a sealable freezer bag with a tri tip steak in Sesame Ginger Tri Tip Marinade with sliced green onions, minced garlic, rice wine vinegar, raw honey, freshly grated ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, low sodium soy sauce, low sodium beef broth, olive oil and sesame oil.

So now you know how to marinate ti tip and you have three great tri tip marinade recipes to get you started this summer.  Look out because your tri tip is gonna taste amazing and be so flavorful and tender!

Check out my chicken marinades and steak marinades video for tons of great marinade recipes, too! 

You can also enjoy any of these tasty marinated tri tips with a little homemade Sweet BBQ Sauce!

4.38 from 8 votes
How to Marinate Tri Tip | Follow my easy tips for marinating tri tip and turn this lean cut of beef into the star of the show + Try one of my 3 Tri Tip Marinade Recipes | A Sweet Pea Chef
How to Marinate Tri Tip + 3 Tri Tip Marinade Recipes
Prep Time
10 mins
Marinating
8 hrs
Total Time
10 mins
 
Follow my easy tips for marinating tri tip and turn this lean cut of beef into the star of the BBQ + Try one of my 3 Tri Tip Marinade Recipes
Categories: BBQ, Grill, Marinade, Sauce
Difficulty: Easy
Keyword: tri tip marinade, tri tip recipe, tri tip recipes
Servings: 3 marinades
Calories: 144 kcal
Author: Lacey Baier
Ingredients
For the Santa Maria Tri Tip Marinade:
  • 3 lbs tri-tip roast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
For the Sesame Ginger Tri Tip Marinade:
  • 3 lbs tri-tip roast
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
For the Balsamic Tri Tip Marinade:
  • 3 lbs tri-tip roast
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Instructions
For the Santa Maria Tri Tip Marinade:
  1. In a sealable 1 gallon freezer bag or airtight container, add trip tip, followed by the remaining marinade ingredients. 

  2. Using your hands, press the marinade all around the ti tip, then press the air out of the bag and seal tightly, making sure to press the marinade around the ti tip to coat.
  3. Place in the fridge to marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably 8-24 hours.

For the Sesame Ginger Tri Tip Marinade:
  1. In a sealable 1 gallon freezer bag or airtight container, add trip tip, followed by the remaining marinade ingredients.

  2. Using your hands, press the marinade all around the ti tip, then press the air out of the bag and seal tightly, making sure to press the marinade around the ti tip to coat.
  3. Place in the fridge to marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably 8-24 hours.

For the Balsamic Tri Tip Marinade:
  1. In a sealable 1 gallon freezer bag or airtight container, add trip tip, followed by the remaining marinade ingredients.

  2. Using your hands, press the marinade all around the ti tip, then press the air out of the bag and seal tightly, making sure to press the marinade around the ti tip to coat.
  3. Place in the fridge to marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably 8-24 hours.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Nutritional info is for Santa Maria marinade and does not include tri tip, just the marinade.

Nutrition Facts
How to Marinate Tri Tip + 3 Tri Tip Marinade Recipes
Amount Per Serving (1 cup marinade)
Calories 144 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Sodium 789mg33%
Potassium 53mg2%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Vitamin A 880IU18%
Calcium 4mg0%
Iron 0.7mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post contains affiliate links for kitchen products I use often and recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

12 thoughts on “How To Marinate Tri Tip + 3 Tri Tip Marinade Recipes

  1. 5 stars
    Made the Santa Maria for last nights Tri-tip. I only had about 4 hours to marinade, but it was still delicious! I used fresh Rosemary since it’s in my garden, and I didn’t have onion powder so I chopped half an onion instead. Had nothing but complements!! Can’t wait to try it when I can marinade it for the appropriate amount of time.

    1. 5 stars
      Traditional: 1. Prepare charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Place roast on grill and sear one side well, 6 to 8 minutes, checking for flare-ups. Turn the roast and sear other side for about the same time. Then lower gas to medium-high or move the meat to a cooler part of the charcoal grill.
      2. Turn meat again and cook another 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and cook again. A 2-pound roast will require about 20 to 25 minutes total cooking time. The roast is ready when an instant-read thermometer reaches 130 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the meat.
      3. Rest roast on a cutting board 10 to 20 minutes. Slice against the grain. The roast is shaped like a boomerang, so either cut it in half at the center of the angle, or slice against the grain on one side, turn the roast and slice against the grain on the other side.
      OR
      To oven-roast a tri-tip, prepare meat with rub and refrigerate as instructed. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or other cooking oil to a large, heavy ovenproof pan. On stovetop, heat on high until pan is very hot, then add tri-tip, fat side down. Turn heat to medium-high and sear roast for about 4 minutes. Turn the roast and put it in the oven. Cook it for about 10 minutes a pound, checking with an instant-read thermometer until it reaches 130 degrees for medium-rare.

  2. 5 stars
    Forgot to rate this! Told you I don’t write reviews! I am sorry to say, the person who gave this post one star is just wrong. She, or he, may not have marinated their meat, but it was probably sitting on the side, not marinating as it soaked up whatever seasoning, while preparing the grill. Just saying! Just remember anyone can prepare this beautiful piece of meat anyway each individual wants. It is the love that goes into it that counts!!!❤️🦋😀

  3. I should have rated this a long time ago, but I don’t write reviews! Breaking a rule. Back in California we did a lot of tri-tip for bbqs and company picnics. With the help of a lot of people Santa Maria became one of my favorite grilled meats. It is definitely better the longer you can marinate it, but can be done with just an hour or two. I use white or apple cider vinegar, definitely not Dijon mustard, good old yellow mustard, NO balsamic vinegar, and plenty of pepper and garlic (fresh or powder! May take experimenting, but when it is right you’ll know it!! Enjoy experimenting because it will always be great. Any questions about my comments on this posting, just ask me! Love to all, be safe!!!😘🌴🦋

  4. 1 star
    Sorry, but I grew up in Santa Maria and true Santa Maria style tri tip I NEVER marinated! Garlic salt and pepper and grilled over red oak. And that method along with the name is registered as true Santa Maria Style. I’m sure your recipe is good but not the original.

  5. 5 stars
    We tried the Santa Maria marinade and then reverse-seared the tri-tip on our Traeger. We live in Fresno so have had dozens of tri-tips over the years (it used to be advertised as “Santa Maria style”!), and this one was AMAZING! I may never use another recipe, this one was so good!

  6. 5 stars
    Greetings Lacey,

    Found your site looking for tri-tip marinade recipes. Enjoyed the presentation… however one suggestion is that upon printing the recipe, the gray scale font is very difficult to read on the final print copy. Perhaps using a bold black font would be easier for those of us with “older” eyes?

    Thanks,
    Geoffrey

  7. 4 stars
    I used the Santa Maria marinade for a tri tip last night and it came out excellent! I subbed fish sauce for the salt and chipotle powder for the cayenne to mimic grill smoke and let it soak 20 hours. I’ll def make it again!

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