How to Cut Tri-Tip the Right Way: Tips and Tricks

One of the most popular US beef cuts is the Tri-Tip. However, this versatile cut can be intimidating to prepare for anyone who isn’t familiar with it. Tri-Tip has a unique triangular shape, a thick layer of fat, and a muscle structure that can make it challenging to cook evenly and carve correctly. In this blog post, we’re going to share some tips and tricks to help you master the art of cutting Tri-Tip so that you can get the most flavor and tenderness out of this delicious cut of beef. So, whether you’re a seasoned cook looking to up your game or a beginner who’s just getting started, read on to learn how to cut Tri-Tip the right way!

Introduction To Tri-tip

How to Cut Tri-Tip the Right Way: Tips and Tricks

Tri-tip is a highly sought-after cut of meat that has gained popularity in recent years. It originates from the bottom sirloin region of the beef and is characterized by its unique triangular shape. The meat is lean and marbled with fat, making it flavorful and juicy when prepared correctly.

Tri-tip is a versatile cut that can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, roasting, or smoking. It can also be sliced thin to use in sandwiches or served as a standalone main dish. Understanding the characteristics of tri-tip and how to cut it correctly is crucial in achieving the desired tenderness and flavor.

In this blog, readers will learn all about the history of the tri-tip, why cutting against the grain is essential, the tools needed for tri-tip cutting, how to prepare the meat, and tips and tricks for the perfect tri-tip cut.

The History Of Tri-tip

The tri-tip is a cut of beef that originated in California. Its history can be traced back to the early 1950s when it was relatively unknown outside the Santa Maria area. It gained popularity in the 1960s due to the increasing popularity of barbecuing.

The tri-tip is a triangular-shaped muscle that comes from the bottom of the sirloin, and it owes its tenderness and flavor to its marbling. It’s also a relatively lean cut of beef, making it a healthier option for beef lovers.

Tri-tip was considered a relatively inexpensive cut of meat in the past, but nowadays, it enjoys a higher price tag due to its growing popularity. The tri-tip has become a ubiquitous part of West Coast barbecues, and it’s often served with garlic bread and salsa.

As a versatile cut of meat, it can adapt to many different flavor profiles, and it’s a favorite among home cooks and professional chefs alike.

Why Do You Cut Tri-tip Against The Grain?

Cutting tri-tip against the grain is important because it results in more tender meat. Tri-tip comprises two different grain directions, and the steak’s tenderness is heavily reliant on how it is sliced post-cooking.

By cutting against the grain, you break up the muscle fibers and shorten them, making it easier to chew. When you cut with the grain, you leave long muscle fibers intact, which can be tough and chewy.

It’s also important to inspect the grain of each piece of severed tri-tip and slice perpendicular to it. By doing this, you are cutting through the shortest muscle fibers, resulting in a tender and juicy cut of meat.

It’s all about maximizing tenderness and ensuring that every bite is enjoyable. Remember, thinner slices are ideal, and an angled knife is recommended for cutting on a bias.

These tips and tricks for cutting tri-tip against the grain will help you achieve a perfectly tender and delicious meat dish.

Tools Needed For Tri-tip Cutting

Cutting tri-tip can be tricky, but it can be a breeze with the right tools on hand. Here are some tools you’ll need for a perfectly cut tri-tip:

1. Chef’s Knife – A sharp chef’s knife is a must-have for cutting tri-tip. It should be at least 8 inches long and have a comfortable grip to avoid accidents.

2. Cutting Board – A large wooden or plastic cutting board will provide a stable surface for cutting and prevent slipping.

3. Meat Thermometer – A meat thermometer is necessary to ensure the tri-tip is perfectly cooked. It should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat to check its internal temperature.

4. Tongs – Tongs are essential for handling the meat while on the grill or when removing it from the heat to rest.

5. Paper Towels – Drying the meat with paper towels before seasoning will help the rub stick better and prevent moisture buildup during cooking.

With these tools in hand, cutting tri-tip will be a breeze. Don’t forget to let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting to allow the juices to redistribute evenly and ensure that each slice is tender and juicy. Happy cutting!

How To Prepare The Tri-tip For Cutting?

Preparing the tri-tip is an important step before cutting it. Marinating the tri-tip in your preferred marinade overnight in the fridge is recommended to get the best results. Bring the tri-tip to room temperature before starting to cut it. Make sure you have a sharp knife, cutting board, and towel handy.

First, trim any excess fat or silver skin from the tri-tip. To remove the silver skin, use a sharp knife to separate it from the meat and pull it off with your fingers. Make sure to remove as much silver skin as possible, as it can be tough and chewy when cooked.

Then, pat the tri-tip dry with a towel to remove any excess moisture. This will make it easier to handle and cut.

Next, locate the grain of the tri-tip. The grain is the direction of the muscle fibers that run through the meat. Cutting against the grain is important, as this will result in more tender and juicy slices.

To locate the grain, look for the lines running through the meat. They should be easy to see on the surface. Once you have located the grain, position the tri-tip on the cutting board so that the grain is running perpendicular to the knife.

Finally, you are ready to start cutting the tri-tip. Follow the instructions in our step-by-step guide to achieve perfectly cut slices. With these preparation tips, you will be on your way to a delicious tri-tip meal.

How To Cut Tri-tip: A Step-by-step Guide?

Cutting a tri-tip correctly is crucial for achieving a tender and juicy result. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to cut tri-tip:

1. Start by letting the cooked tri-tip rest for around five to ten minutes before cutting to allow the juices to redistribute evenly.

2. Locate where the grain direction changes by looking for the tri-tip’s distinctive “Y” shape. The grain direction changes where the grain lines intersect.

3. Cut the tri-tip in half vertically along the “Y” shape.

4. Slice each half against the grain by cutting perpendicular to the lines of the meat fibers. Slice the meat thinly, as thinner slices are more tender and flavorful.

5. To make the slices more visually appealing, consider cutting them at a slight angle by tilting the knife about 45 degrees.

6. Repeat the slicing process on the other half of the tri-tip.

By following these simple steps, you can create a perfectly sliced tri-tip every time. Remember to use a sharp knife and take your time to ensure it even slices against the grain. With these tips, you’ll be a pro at cutting tri-tip in no time!

How To Remove The Silver Skin?

How to Cut Tri-Tip the Right Way: Tips and Tricks

Removing the silver skin from a tri-tip is essential in preparing this cut for cooking. The silver skin, also called the fascia, is a thin, silvery membrane that covers the meat. If left on, it can impede the seasoning from penetrating the meat and can also become tough and chewy when cooked. Here’s how to remove the silver skin:

1. Locate the silver skin by running your fingers over the surface of the meat. The silver skin will feel slightly tougher and more rigid than the surrounding meat.

2. Use a sharp knife to cut under the edge of the silver skin, being careful not to remove too much meat. Hold the knife at a shallow angle and work slowly to avoid cutting too deeply.

3. Once you have lifted the edge, grip it with a paper towel or kitchen cloth and pull it back. If it does not come off easily, use the knife to gently separate more of it from the meat before trying again.

4. Repeat on all sides of the tri-tip until all the silver skin has been removed.

Removing the silver skin may take some practice, but achieving a perfectly seasoned and tender tri-tip is well worth the effort. With a little patience and a sharp knife, anyone can master this technique.

How Long Should Tri-Tip Set Before Cutting?

When cooking tri-tip, it is crucial to let the steak rest before carving it. This allows the juices to redistribute back into the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful steak. Unless you have reverse-seared the steak, it is recommended to let it rest for about 5 minutes. This resting period is important to ensure a tender and enjoyable eating experience. So, be patient and resist the temptation to immediately carve into your delicious tri-tip. Taking the time to let it rest will pay off in the end.

Why Does My Tri-Tip Come Out Tough?

One of the challenges with cooking tri-tip is ensuring that it doesn’t come out tough. Tri-tip is a flavorful cut of meat, but it can be chewy if not handled correctly. The texture of the tri-tip can be attributed to its long muscle fibers. If these fibers are not properly tenderized, the meat can end up stringy and tough to chew.

To achieve a tender tri-tip, it is important to cook it properly. Grilling is often the preferred method for this cut, as it allows for the development of a nice crust while maintaining a medium-rare to medium doneness. Slicing the tri-tip against the grain when serving also helps with tenderness.

Another factor to consider is the quality of the tri-tip. Angus beef is known for its tenderness, so opting for an Angus tri-tip can increase the chances of a tender outcome. Also, choosing a tri-tip with good marbling can produce a more tender and flavorful result.

If you’ve followed the cooking guidelines and selected a quality cut but still find your tri-tip to be tough, you might consider using alternative cooking methods or techniques. Sous vide, for example, can help break down the muscle fibers and result in a tender tri-tip. It involves vacuum-sealing the meat and cooking it in a water bath at a precise temperature for an extended period of time before searing it to finish.

In summary, the texture of tri-tip can be tough if not cooked properly or if a lower quality cut is used. By using the right cooking methods, selecting a quality cut of meat, and slicing against the grain, you can enjoy a tender and flavorful tri-tip steak.

How Do I Make My Tri-Tip Not Chewy?

When it comes to making tri-tip tender and not chewy, you can take a few steps to achieve the desired texture. One important factor is the way you slice the tri-tip. Slicing against the grain is crucial for a tender bite. To do this, you need to identify the direction of the grain after trimming off the silverskin and fat cap. The grain starts on the outer point and fans out towards the pointy end of the tri-tip. Start slicing at the pointy end and continue until you reach the inner corner. The slices should be about ¼ inch thick for a tender bite. Once you reach the outer corner, turn the tri-tip 45 degrees and slice again as the grain changes direction at this point. Slicing the tri-tip this way ensures that every piece is tender and not chewy. Additionally, you may want to consider cooking the tri-tip at a slightly lower temperature and for a longer time to make it more tender. Sous vide is another method that can help achieve a tender tri-tip. Experiment with different cooking techniques, and don’t be afraid to try different cuts of tri-tip, such as black angus, which tend to be more tender and flavorful.

How Thick Should Tri-Tip Be Cut?

When it comes to slicing tri-tip, the thickness of the cuts plays a crucial role in the overall eating experience. The ideal thickness for slicing the tri-tip is around ¼ inch. This thickness allows for a good balance between the meat’s outer crust and tender center. Thin slices of tri-tip tend to be more tender and easier to chew, providing a melt-in-your-mouth experience. However, if you prefer a slightly thicker slice, around ½ inch, you can sear the slices on both sides to add a delicious crust before serving them as individual steaks. Ultimately, the choice of thickness depends on personal preference, but keeping it around ¼ inch ensures a tender and flavorful bite.

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Tips And Tricks For Perfectly Cut Tri-tip

1. Find the Grain: One of the most important things to do when cutting tri-tip is to find the grain. Tri-tip has two different grains that intersect, which can make it tricky to slice. Make sure to identify where the two grains meet and cut them perpendicular to them.

2. Allow it to Rest: Before cutting into your tri-tip, allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes. This will help the juices redistribute throughout the meat, making for a tastier and more tender cut.

3. Slice Thinly: To ensure maximum tenderness, slice your tri-tip as thinly as possible. Thinner slices are easier to chew, allowing for a more even cooking.

4. Cutting on a Bias: Cutting your tri-tip on a bias’s a good idea. This means slicing at an angle, which can help to break up any tough, connective tissue and make for a more tender bite.

5. Use a Sharp Knife: Having a sharp knife is essential when cutting tri-tip. A dull knife can cause jagged cuts, which will make it more difficult for the meat to retain its juices.

6. Carve Against the Grain: When slicing your tri-tip, make sure to carve against the grain. This will help to break up the muscle fibers and make for a more tender and flavorful bite.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to cut tri-tip like a pro and enjoy a delicious and tender meal every time. Happy grilling!

Grilling Suggestions For Tri-tip

1. Marinade: Marinate it overnight with your favorite marinade for juicy and flavorful tri-tip. This will add a depth of flavor and tenderize the meat for a better eating experience.

2. Seasoning: Keep it simple with a sprinkle of salt and your favorite pepper blend, or experiment with different rubs and spices to find your perfect pairing.

3. Searing: Sear the tri-tip over high heat for a few minutes on each side before roasting it to add a crispy crust and seal in the juices.

4. Temperature: Roast the tri-tip at a low temperature (around 225-250°F) until it reaches your desired internal temperature (125°F for medium-rare). Use a meat thermometer for accuracy and consistency.

5. Resting: Allow the tri-tip to rest for at least 10 minutes after roasting before slicing. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender steak.

6. Slicing: When it comes to slicing, follow the grain and cut against it in thin, diagonal pieces. This will result in a more tender and flavorful slice.

7. Serving: Serve with your favorite side dishes, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a fresh salad. Don’t forget to top it off with a drizzle of chimichurri or barbecue sauce for extra flavor.

Grilling a tender and juicy tri-tip is easy with these tips and tricks. Experiment with different marinades, seasonings, and side dishes to find your perfect combination. Happy grilling!


Q: What is a tri-tip cut of beef?

A: Tri-tip is a flavorful and tender beef cut taken from the sirloin primal’s bottom. It weighs between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds and has a triangular shape, which is how it got its name.

Q: Why is it essential to cut tri-tip steak against the grain?

A: The grain of meat refers to the direction in which muscle fibers run. Cutting against the grain ensures that the meat is tender and easy to chew. Tri-tip has two different grain directions, and it is crucial to find where they intersect to slice the meat correctly.

Q: Do I need special equipment to cut tri-tip?

A: No, you do not need any special equipment to cut the tri-tip. All you need is a sharp knife and a cutting board.

Q: Should I trim the fat cap before cooking tri-tip steak?

A: It is up to personal preference. Leaving the fat cap on while cooking adds juiciness and flavor to the steak, but some people prefer to trim it off before cooking. Use a sharp knife and remove it slowly.

Q: Can I cut tri-tip steak before cooking it?

A: While it is possible to cut tri-tip before cooking, it is easier and creates juicier steaks if sliced after cooking. Maintaining the integrity of the cut during cooking holds moisture inside, resulting in tender and juicy meat.

Final Thought

Cutting tri-tip steak can be a little tricky because of its unique shape and two different grain directions. However, cutting it against the grain ensures the meat is tender and flavorful. With the help of a sharp knife and a little detective work, you can slice and serve the perfect tri-tip every time.


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