Delicious Santa Maria Style Tri Tip Recipe

Looking for a mouthwatering recipe to impress your friends and family? Look no further! This delicious Santa Maria Style Tri Tip recipe is sure to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Originating from the Central Coast of California, this recipe is a classic American barbecue dish that is packed with flavor and easy to make. Whether you want to grill it to perfection or slow-cook it to juicy tenderness, this recipe will have you hooked from the first bite. To get started on your culinary adventure, let’s dive into the details of this delectable dish.

Delicious Santa Maria Style Tri Tip Recipe | 101 Simple Recipe
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The History of Santa Maria Style Tri Tip

The origins of the Santa Maria style tri tip can be traced back to the Central Coast of California. This unique cooking style has become a beloved tradition in the region, with locals and visitors alike embracing its delicious flavors and rich history.

The Roots of Santa Maria Style

Santa Maria style cooking is deeply rooted in the ranching and cowboy culture of the area. It emerged in the mid-19th century when ranchers would gather around a fire pit to cook their meals using the only resources available to them – local ingredients and open flames. This rustic and communal way of cooking eventually developed into the Santa Maria BBQ tradition we know today.

The centerpiece of any Santa Maria style BBQ is the tri tip – a triangular cut of beef from the bottom sirloin. Traditionally, this cut was not highly valued and often considered a lesser cut of meat. However, the ranchers in Santa Maria discovered a way to transform it into a tender and flavorful delight.

The Legend of the Tri Tip

According to legend, the tri tip gained prominence and popularity when a butcher in Santa Maria, Bob Schutz, decided to start selling it as a separate cut of meat in the 1950s. Up until then, it was often mixed with ground beef and used for making hamburgers. However, Bob recognized its unique qualities and realized it deserved recognition on its own.

As the story goes, Bob Schutz marinated the tri tip in a special blend of seasonings and slow-cooked it over an open fire. The result was a revelation – a juicy and tender piece of meat with a distinct smoky flavor. People flocked to his butcher shop to get a taste of this newfound delicacy, and the Santa Maria style tri tip quickly became a local sensation.

Celebrating Tradition with Santa Maria BBQ

Today, the Santa Maria style tri tip is not only a beloved dish, but it represents a longstanding tradition and a sense of community. It is often cooked over a red oak wood fire, which imparts a unique flavor that is central to the Santa Maria style. The tri tip is typically seasoned with a simple rub of salt, pepper, and garlic, allowing the natural flavors of the meat to shine.

Whether you’re enjoying the tri tip at a local barbecue or trying to recreate the experience at home, the Santa Maria style is all about simplicity, quality ingredients, and the joy of gathering with loved ones. So next time you’re in the Central Coast of California, be sure to savor the rich history and flavors of the Santa Maria style tri tip.

The Perfect Cut: Choosing and Preparing Tri Tip

When it comes to creating a mouthwatering Santa Maria-style tri-tip recipe, selecting and preparing the perfect cut of meat is essential. The tri-tip, also known as the bottom sirloin or triangle roast, is a flavorful and versatile cut that is well-suited for grilling or roasting. To ensure the best results, pay attention to the following key factors when choosing and preparing your tri-tip:

Selecting the Right Tri Tip

Begin by finding a high-quality tri-tip from your local butcher or grocery store. Look for a well-marbled cut with a bright red color, as this indicates superior flavor and tenderness. Additionally, consider the size of the tri-tip, aiming for one that is around 2 to 3 pounds to ensure even cooking.

Important! Always opt for USDA Choice or Prime grade tri-tip, as these cuts are known for their exceptional quality.

Trimming and Seasoning the Tri Tip

Before seasoning your tri-tip, it’s important to trim away any excess fat or silver skin. This will prevent the meat from becoming tough or chewy during cooking. Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the fat cap, making sure to leave a thin layer of fat intact to enhance flavor and juiciness.

Note: Trimming the fat is a personal preference, and some might prefer to leave it on for added flavor. However, removing the silver skin is crucial as it can hinder the absorption of marinade or rub flavors.

Once trimmed, it’s time to season the tri-tip. This is where you can get creative and tailor the flavors to your liking. A popular choice for Santa Maria-style tri-tip is a simple rub of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sprinkle the rub evenly over all sides of the meat, gently pressing it into the surface.

Pro Tip: For an extra kick of flavor, you can add smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, or other spices of your choice to the rub.

The Art of Santa Maria Style Marinade

The Santa Maria-style tri-tip is well-known for its flavorful marinade, which brings out the natural richness of the meat. The traditional recipe typically consists of simple yet robust ingredients such as red wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and a hint of black pepper.

Note: While there are countless variations of the Santa Maria-style marinade, it’s best to stick to the basics to truly capture the essence of this classic recipe.

To create the marinade, combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Place the tri-tip in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish, then pour the marinade over the meat, making sure it is coated on all sides. Allow the tri-tip to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but if time allows, overnight marinating will yield even better results.

Remember: The longer the tri-tip marinates, the more flavorful it will become.

By carefully selecting the right tri-tip, properly trimming and seasoning it, and marinating it in the Santa Maria-style marinade, you’ll be well on your way to creating a delicious tri-tip recipe that will impress your family and friends. Enjoy the mouthwatering flavors and tender texture that Santa Maria-style tri-tip is famous for!

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, you’ll love our Peanut Butter Cup Recipe. These homemade treats are a delicious combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

The Cooking Process: Grilling Santa Maria Style

Learn how to master the art of grilling tri tip using the Santa Maria style method, which guarantees optimal flavor and tenderness. This traditional cooking technique has been passed down from generation to generation in Santa Maria, California, and is now beloved by grill enthusiasts worldwide.

The Santa Maria Grill Setup

To achieve the authentic Santa Maria style, you’ll need a special grill setup. This typically consists of a large, open-air grill with an adjustable crank to raise and lower the cooking grate. The key element is the wood fire, which adds a distinct smoky flavor to the tri tip. Traditional woods used include red oak, almond, and fruitwoods such as apple or cherry. The grill should be preheated to medium-high heat, around 450°F (232°C), creating the perfect environment for a flavorful sear.

Seasoning and Cooking Techniques

The seasoning is crucial in creating the mouthwatering flavor of Santa Maria tri tip. Begin by generously coating the tri tip with a dry rub consisting of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for around 30 minutes to let the flavors penetrate. For added flavor, you can also marinate the tri tip overnight in a mixture of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and spices. When the grill is hot, place the seasoned tri tip directly over the flames, allowing it to sear for around 5 minutes on each side. After searing, move the meat to a cooler part of the grill and continue cooking over indirect heat until it reaches your desired level of doneness.

Important: For a perfectly tender and juicy result, it’s recommended to cook the tri tip to a medium-rare to medium level of doneness, which is about 135°F (57°C) to 145°F (63°C) in internal temperature. Cooking it beyond medium can result in a dry and less flavorful outcome.

Monitoring the Temperature and Cooking Times

Properly monitoring the temperature of the tri tip is vital to achieving the desired level of doneness. Make sure to use a meat thermometer to accurately measure the internal temperature. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding contact with any bones. As mentioned earlier, aim for a medium-rare to medium level of doneness for the best result.

Note: Keep in mind that cooking times can vary depending on the thickness of the tri tip and the heat of your grill. As a general guideline, it takes around 25-30 minutes to cook a 2-3-pound tri tip. However, it’s always crucial to rely on the internal temperature rather than the cooking time alone.

During the cooking process, it’s essential to resist the temptation to constantly flip or press down on the tri tip. This can result in the loss of juices and create a less tender final product. Instead, simply let the meat cook undisturbed, allowing the natural juices to redistribute and enhance the flavor.

By following the Santa Maria style grilling method, you can ensure a delicious and tender tri tip that will impress your guests and leave them craving for more. So fire up the grill, gather your ingredients, and get ready to embark on a culinary journey with this iconic California recipe!

If you’re looking for more delicious recipes, check out our Santa Maria Style Tri Tip Recipe! It’s the perfect dish for any backyard barbecue.

Accompaniments and Side Dishes

Complete your Santa Maria style tri tip experience with delicious accompaniments and side dishes. These flavorful additions will perfectly complement the smoky and savory flavors of the tri tip. From the classic Santa Maria salsa to traditional side dishes and wine pairings, enhance your barbecue feast with these enticing options.

The Classic Santa Maria Salsa

One of the iconic accompaniments to Santa Maria style tri tip is the classic Santa Maria salsa. This simple yet vibrant salsa adds a burst of freshness to your meal. Made with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, garlic, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice, it adds a tangy and zesty flavor profile. The combination of chopped vegetables creates a colorful and appetizing salsa that brings a refreshing contrast to the rich and smoky flavors of the tri tip. ️

Traditional Side Dishes for Tri Tip

When it comes to traditional side dishes for tri tip, there are a few timeless favorites that you simply can’t go wrong with. First up is the classic Santa Maria-style beans, which are slow-cooked with bacon, onions, garlic, and a hint of spices. These savory and rich beans perfectly complement the tri tip, adding depth of flavor to every bite.

Another popular side dish is grilled corn on the cob. Sweet and juicy, corn on the cob takes on a smoky and charred flavor when grilled, providing a tasty and satisfying accompaniment. Slather it with some butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper for a truly irresistible treat.

No Santa Maria style tri tip meal is complete without garlic bread. Buttery and garlicky, this toasted bread pairs perfectly with the succulent tri tip, adding a crispy and flavorful element to the overall dining experience.

Pairing the Perfect Wine with Santa Maria Style BBQ

When it comes to pairing wine with Santa Maria style BBQ, there are a few options that complement the flavors of the tri tip and enhance the overall dining experience. One popular choice is a bold and robust red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel. These wines have enough power and depth to stand up to the smoky and savory flavors of the tri tip. They also offer rich fruit flavors that complement the meaty texture.

If you prefer white wine, a Chardonnay with buttery and oaky notes can be a great choice. The creamy texture of Chardonnay complements the richness of the tri tip, while the oaky flavors add a delightful complexity. For those who enjoy a refreshing and light wine, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc with its citrusy and herbaceous notes can be a fantastic option.

By incorporating these delicious accompaniments and side dishes into your Santa Maria style tri tip meal, you’ll elevate the flavors and create a truly memorable dining experience. Whether it’s the classic Santa Maria salsa, traditional side dishes, or the perfect wine pairing, these additions will enhance the enjoyment of your barbecue feast.

Tips and Tricks for a Stellar Santa Maria Style Tri Tip

When it comes to cooking a mouth-watering Santa Maria style tri tip, there are a few tips and tricks that can take your dish to the next level. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice cook, these expert techniques will ensure that your tri tip is nothing short of perfection.

Resting and Slicing the Tri Tip

Resting your tri tip after it comes off the grill is crucial for locking in the juices and allowing the flavors to meld together. Once the meat is done cooking, remove it from the heat and let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful tri tip.

When it’s time to slice the tri tip, make sure to cut against the grain. This helps to break up the muscle fibers and create a more tender and enjoyable eating experience. Aim for thin slices, around 1/4 inch thick, to ensure each bite is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Enhancing the Flavor with Wood Chips

If you really want to take your Santa Maria style tri tip to the next level, consider adding wood chips to your grilling process. The smoke from the wood chips infuses the meat with a rich and smoky flavor that is simply irresistible.

When using wood chips, it’s important to choose the right type of wood to complement your tri tip. Oak, hickory, and mesquite are popular choices that pair well with the bold flavors of Santa Maria style seasoning. Soak the wood chips in water for about 30 minutes before placing them on the hot coals or in a smoker box to create the perfect amount of smoke.

Impressing Guests with Presentation

While the taste of your Santa Maria style tri tip is undoubtedly the most important aspect, don’t overlook the power of presentation. The way your dish looks can greatly impact the overall dining experience and leave a lasting impression on your guests.

When plating your tri tip, keep it simple yet elegant. Garnish with fresh herbs, such as parsley or thyme, to add a pop of color and freshness. Consider serving the tri tip alongside roasted vegetables or a bed of wild rice to create a visually stunning and delicious meal.

Remember, presentation is all about attention to detail. Make sure your plates are clean and free of smudges or spills. Arrange the tri tip slices neatly on the plate and add a final sprinkle of Santa Maria style seasoning for an extra touch of flavor.

In conclusion, by following these expert tips and tricks, you can elevate your Santa Maria style tri tip to a whole new level. Resting and slicing the tri tip properly, enhancing the flavor with wood chips, and impressing your guests with a beautiful presentation are all key elements to creating a stellar tri tip that will have everyone coming back for seconds.

For another tasty recipe, try our Ranch Oyster Crackers Recipe. These crunchy bites are a favorite snack among both kids and adults.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have some questions about Santa Maria Style Tri Tip recipe, check out these FAQs:

No. Questions Answers
1. What is the cooking time for Santa Maria Style Tri Tip? The cooking time for Santa Maria Style Tri Tip depends on the thickness of the meat. As a general rule, you should cook it for about 15-20 minutes per pound. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 130-135°F for medium-rare doneness.
2. What is the best wood for smoking Santa Maria Style Tri Tip? The traditional wood used for smoking Santa Maria Style Tri Tip is red oak. It imparts a mild smoky flavor that complements the beef perfectly. However, you can also use other hardwoods like mesquite or hickory for a different flavor profile.
3. Do I need to marinate the tri tip before cooking? While it is not necessary to marinate the tri tip, marinating can enhance the flavor and tenderness of the meat. You can use a simple marinade with ingredients like garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Marinate the tri tip for at least 2 hours or overnight for best results.
4. Can I grill Santa Maria Style Tri Tip instead of smoking it? Yes, you can definitely grill Santa Maria Style Tri Tip instead of smoking it. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and cook the tri tip for about 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare doneness. Remember to let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.
5. What are some popular side dishes to serve with Santa Maria Style Tri Tip? Some popular side dishes that pair well with Santa Maria Style Tri Tip are grilled vegetables, garlic bread, baked beans, and a fresh green salad. You can also serve it with salsa or chimichurri sauce for added flavor.
6. Can I freeze leftover Santa Maria Style Tri Tip? Yes, you can freeze leftover Santa Maria Style Tri Tip. Allow it to cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Thanks for Reading and Visit Again!

We hope you enjoyed learning about the delicious Santa Maria Style Tri Tip recipe. Now that you have all the knowledge and tips to prepare this mouthwatering dish, it’s time to fire up your grill or smoker and get cooking. Don’t forget to invite your friends and family to share in the deliciousness. Remember, the key to a perfectly cooked tri tip is patience and attention to detail. Keep exploring our website for more amazing recipes and cooking inspiration. Happy grilling!

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Delicious Santa Maria Style Tri Tip Recipe | 101 Simple Recipe

Santa Maria Style Tri Tip

Learn how to make the classic Santa Maria Style Tri Tip with this easy-to-follow recipe. Juicy and flavorful, this iconic California barbecue dish will impress your family and guests.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 -6 servings
Calories 350 kcal


  • 2 pounds tri tip roast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  • In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, and salt.
  • Rub the tri tip roast with olive oil, then generously sprinkle the spice mixture on all sides.
  • Preheat your grill or smoker to medium-high heat.
  • Place the tri tip roast on the grill or smoker and cook for about 20 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 130-135°F for medium-rare.
  • Remove the tri tip from the grill or smoker and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!
Keyword santa maria style tri tip recipe, tri tip, barbecue, grilling, smoking