Santa Maria-style Grilled Tri-tip

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.


8 servings
Total time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes

Recipe from

Oxmoor House

Recipe Time

Total: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes

Nutritional 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


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


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.



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

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.


The Sunset Cookbook,

Oxmoor House

October 2010
My Notes

Only you will be able to view, print, and edit this note.

Add Note