ArrowDownFill 1arrow-small-lineFill 1Cooking Light - EasyCooking Light - FastCooking Light - So GoodCooking Light - How-ToCooking Light - Staff FaveCooking Light Badge - Wow!GroupClose IconEmailEmpty Star IconLike Cooking Light on FacebookFull Star IconShapePage 1 Copy 3Page 1 Copy 2Grid IconHalf Star IconFollow Cooking Light on InstagramList IconMenu IconPrintSearch IconSpeech BubbleFollow Cooking Light on SnapchatFollow Cooking Light on TwitterWatch Cooking Light on YouTubeplay-iconWatch Cooking Light on Youtube

Santa Maria-style Grilled Tri-tip

Total time 1 hr, 30 mins
Yield 8 servings
On California’s Central Coast, this is the most popular way to cook meat—simply seasoned and over aromatic local red oak. There, the grill of choice is the Santa Maria-style barbecue, which has no lid but a cooking grate that raises and lowers, and a bed to hold the red oak logs. Even if you are using a gas or charcoal grill, you can get pretty close to the right flavor by using red oak chips.


  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 beef tri-tip (2 to 2 1/2 lbs.), preferably with some fat on one side
  • 2 cups red oak chips (optional; see Quick Tip below), soaked in water for at least 20 minutes

Nutrition Information

  • calories 290
  • caloriesfromfat 50 %
  • protein 32 g
  • fat 16 g
  • satfat 6.1 g
  • carbohydrate 1.8 g
  • fiber 0.3 g
  • sodium 558 mg
  • cholesterol 72 mg

How to Make It

  1. In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parsley together; rub all over and into meat. Let stand at least 1 hour at room temperature and up to several hours if chilled (bring to room temperature before grilling).

  2. Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect medium-high heat and add chips, if using, to grill (if it’s gas, put them in a small disposable aluminum pan and set it on the lit burner; if charcoal, sprinkle them on the coals). Set tri-tip over direct heat, fat side up, and sear until nicely browned (close lid on gas grill), 3 to 5 minutes; turn over and sear other side.

  3. Move tri-tip over indirect-heat area and grill, turning every 10 minutes or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 125° to 130°, 25 to 35 minutes.

  4. Transfer tri-tip to a cutting board and let rest at least 15 minutes. Slice meat across the grain as thin or as thick as you like.


Cook's Notes

Quick tip: Find red oak chips online from Susy Q's Brand (

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.


The Sunset Cookbook