When you’re in the mood for steak but don’t want to heat up the grill, oven-cooked steak is an excellent alternative. Specifically, oven-cooked tri tip steak could become one of your new go-tos after reading this guide and learning to cook it successfully.
If you’re unfamiliar with tri tip, you’re not alone. This cut of steak isn’t plentiful, and you may not find it at the butcher unless you ask for it. It accounts for a tiny portion of meat from a cow, as it’s cut from just the triangular tip of the bottom sirloin. But trying it is a must. It’s full of flavor and, when appropriately cooked, yields a tender and satisfying steak.
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Preparing Tri Tip for the Oven
Tri tip steak or roast doesn’t require much different preparation than other types of steak. Start by salting it on both sides and leaving it at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. This sparks the brining process, letting salt into the meat to draw some moisture to the outside. Once the steak is in the oven, this new outer layer allows the meat to crisp on the outside.
Then, before you’re ready to place the steak in the oven, brush some oil on all sides, followed by a sprinkle of your favorite steak seasonings. We recommend ground black pepper or a steak seasoning blend for a bolder flavor.
Tri Tip Temperature Chart
It’s helpful to know what to look for when you’re trying to achieve a specific cook on your steak. Although we often tout the benefits of medium-rare steak, we also know that medium-rare isn’t preferred by everyone. With the right cooking techniques, you can eat a medium well or even a well-done tri tip that’s still flavorful and juicy.
The following chart can guide you as you prepare tri tip steak. In the chart, we outline the differences between each doneness level, the final temperature range for the steak at each level, and the temperature before removing it from the oven.
|Temperature to Remove from Heat
|Cool to warm red center
|120 – 125° F / 49 – 52° C
|Warm light red center
|130 – 135° F / 54 – 57° C
|Warm pink center with less pink around the edges
|140 – 145° F / 60 – 63° C
|Light pink center with little color on the edges
|150 – 160° F / 65 – 71° C
|Little to no pink in the center
|160 – 170° F / 71 – 77° C
Tri Tip Oven Cooking Tips and Tricks
The following tips and tricks for cooking and serving tri tip steak will make you an expert in no time.
Looking for a good piece of tri tip in the store can be difficult if you’re unsure about how much you need for each person you’re feeding. Here’s a rule of thumb to follow: Buy about ½ a pound for each person. So, for four people, you’ll need about 2 pounds.
Searing Tri Tip Steak
Not all ovens cook the same, so you may not get the sear you were hoping for from the oven alone. This is especially true if your oven does not have a broiler. If you want a sear that your oven isn’t achieving, consider searing the tri tip steak before putting it in the oven. Just heat up a skillet with a drizzle of oil and sear the steak on each side for 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, you can do the same after it comes out of the oven.
What to Do with Tri Tip Fat
Does your tri tip have a piece of fat on the top? Some people like cutting the fat off, but others keep it intact when cooking. The choice is yours, but we recommend leaving it in place for oven cooking. While your steak cooks in the oven, the fat renders down slowly, seeps into the meat, and gives it extra juiciness and flavor.
What to Serve with Tri Tip Steak
Treat tri tip steak as you would most steaks you enjoy. This cut goes well with common steak side dishes, like mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, or sauteed onions and mushrooms. You can also serve a garden or Caesar salad, a pasta side, or a sauteed blend of fresh veggies.
How To Slice Tri Tip
Many people prefer slicing tri tip steak after cooking it rather than placing a whole steak on a plate. Not only is it a little more pleasant to look at in terms of presentation, but it can also make your dish a bit easier to eat. This cut also works well for slicing because it helps tenderize it.
But you need to make sure you’re slicing it the right way. To slice a tri tip steak, wait for it to be done resting at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Then, use a steak knife to slice the steak against the grain in the opposite direction of the lines going across the steak. This cuts down muscle fibers, which makes tri tip steak easier to chew.
Oven Cooked Tri Tip Recipe
If you’re interested in trying to make tri tip steak in the oven yourself, look no further than this simple, 5-step recipe that’s perfect for beginners.
- 2-3 pounds of tri tip steak
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- Ground black pepper and other seasonings (optional)
- Season the steak with salt on all sides and leave it at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. When you have about 10 minutes left, preheat the broiler to 500 degrees.
- Brush olive oil on all sides of the steak or roast. Then, season with your choice of herbs and spices, like black pepper, garlic powder, or steak seasoning.
- Move the steak to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and transfer it to the oven directly under the broiler. Cook for 2 minutes on each side until browned, flipping only once.
- Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Move the baking sheet to the middle rack and continue cooking the steak for another 10-15 minutes for medium-rare. You may need an extra 3-5 minutes for each higher doneness level. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature before removing the steak from the oven.
- Rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes on a plate loosely tented with foil before slicing and serving.
Conclusion: Cooking Tri Tip Steak in the Oven
Tri tip steak isn’t the most common steak to find, but you can probably succeed in finding one from a local butcher. If possible, ask for the butcher to leave the fat cap on the meat if you plan to cook it in the oven. That way, you get all the flavor and tenderness benefits the piece of fat provides as the steak oven cooks. Want to learn more about tri tip steak? Read our guide comparing tri tip and top sirloin.
Oven Cooked Tri Tip
- 2-3 lbs tri tip steak
- salt, to taste
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- ground black pepper and other seasonings (optional)
- Season the steak with salt on all sides and leave it at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. When you have about 10 minutes left, preheat the broiler to 500 degrees
- Brush olive oil on all sides of the steak or roast. Then, season with your choice of herbs and spices, like black pepper, garlic powder, or steak seasoning
- Move the steak to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and transfer it to the oven directly under the broiler. Cook for 2 minutes on each side until browned, flipping only once
- Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Move the baking sheet to the middle rack and continue cooking the steak for another 10-15 minutes for medium-rare. You may need an extra 3-5 minutes for each higher doneness level. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature before removing the steak from the oven
- Rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes on a plate loosely tented with foil before slicing and serving