The Internal Temperature For Tri-Tip Steaks When Done

Tri-Tip Steaks
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Tri-tip steak is a great cut of beef that can be prepared in many different ways. A whole tri-tip cut can weigh anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 lbs, so they are often cut into smaller steaks by butchers.

These smaller steaks are more manageable to cook, taking less time than the whole tri-tip would take to cook.

So, at what internal temperature are tri-tip steaks done? Generally, tri-tip steaks are at their juiciest at a final temperature between 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That is considered medium to medium-rare and is a great temperature to serve them at.

Tri-tip is an excellent beef cut that can be prepared in so many ways. You can grill it, pan fry it, cut it into strips for stir fry, or cook it in the oven.

For this article, I’m going to show you how to prepare tri-tip steaks in around 2o minutes. But first, let’s take a look at how the cut of beef known as tri-tip became so popular.

Santa Maria Tri-tip

If you’ve spent any time in California or are familiar with the world of grilling, you may have heard of Santa Maria tri-tip. As the story goes, the tri-tip got its start in Santa Maria, California in a Safeway grocery store back in 1952. Back in those days, the triangular tip of the top block sirloin was trimmed away and used for ground beef or stew meat.

One day the meat department already had enough hamburger and stew meat to sell, so they decided to rotisserie cook the excess tri-tips. It turned out to be a stroke of genius as the rotisserie was a great way to cook this cut of beef. Cutting it across the grain made it even more tender. The rest is bbq history. It gradually spread its way across central California and is synonymous with bbq in that area.

The traditional way to cook tri-tip Santa Maria style is on a Santa Maria grill. These are open-air grills with heavy gauge gates that are raised and lowered by pulley to adjust the distance your meat is from the heat.

MCP Island Grills Black Outdoor Charcoal BBQ Parrilla Santa Maria/Argentine Grill Spit, with Stainless Steel #304 Grates, Wheels, Handle

But, if you don’t have a few thousand dollars lying around to buy an authentic Santa Maria grill, don’t despair, you can cook tri-tip other ways as well. Like in the oven.

Cooking Tri-Tip Steaks in the Oven

Tri -Tip steaks in oven

Tri-tip steaks transferred to the oven to finish cooking

The best preparation for cooking tri-tip steaks indoors is starting them in a hot skillet, then transferring them to the oven to finish.

There are two ways to do this: Either cooking the steak whole or using the butterfly technique. Because most trip tip steaks are quite large at 1.5 to 2.5 pounds, a good way to cut down the cooking time is the butterfly technique.

To butterfly the steak you will need to cut into the long side of the tri-tip, basically cutting into the side of it.

Put the steak on a cutting board and carefully cut the steak in half horizontally stopping short of the other side.

You can then open the steak up flat like a book.

If you decide to cook the tri-tip and leave it whole, it will just take a little more time.

Ok, now that we have our two different techniques, butterflied and whole Tri-tip, on to the recipes!

Tri-Tip Steaks in the Oven Recipe (Butterfly Technique)

  • 1 whole tri-tip steak (1.5 to 2.5 lbs) butterflied (see technique above)
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Saute the tri-tip for 4 minutes on each side, then transfer to the oven.

If I’m busy doing other things I’ll take a few extra seconds and stick my SmokeBloq probe in the Tri-tip and set it for 123 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tri Tip Steaks at 123 degrees Fahrenheit

Tri Tip Steaks at 123 degrees Fahrenheit

This frees me up to prepare side dishes or entertain guests. Read my review here.

When the tri-tip reaches 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit, pull it out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.

The carryover heat will raise the temperature to a nice medium rare around 130 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature that tri-tip steak is at its best.

If you like your tri-tip a little more done, simply leave it in the oven a little longer.

Slice against the grain of the meat and serve!

Tri-Tip Steaks Medium Rare at 130 degrees Fahrenheit

Tri-Tip Steaks Medium Rare at 130 degrees Fahrenheit

Whole Tri-Tip Steaks in the Oven Recipe

  • 1 whole tri-tip steak
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the oven is heating, heat a large heavy skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil, over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering.

Brown the tri-tip on all sides in the skillet.

Transfer the tri-tip, in the skillet, into the oven to finish.

Start checking the temperature at around the 10-minute mark with an instant-read digital meat thermometer.

For medium-rare, pull the tri-tip out of the oven between 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Let the tri-tip rest for about 10 minutes, the carryover heat will raise the meat’s internal temperature to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice against the grain and serve!

Chili- Rubbed Tri-tip Steaks in the Oven
Chili-rubbed Tri-Tip Steaks

Chili-rubbed Tri-Tip Steaks

  • 1 whole tri-tip steak (1.5 to 2.5lbs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin

Follow the recipe above for cooking a whole tri-tip steak in the oven.

This recipe is great when the tri-tip is sliced, then served with warm tortillas and pico de gallo salsa.

For more tips and information about cooking all food at and to the proper temperatures, check out our other articles here. Happy cooking!