Cooking up this steak for dinner? You’ll want to learn how to cut tri tip before throwing it on the grill for the most tender meat possible. There’s a simple trick to slicing this cut of beef that makes all the difference in taste and texture!

Raw tri tip steak on a cutting board with rosemary, garlic and a chef's knife.
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WHY TRI TIP IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER STEAKS

Let’s get right to it. Tri tip is an interesting cut of beef because unlike most other cuts, it has two different grain patterns.

This boomerang shaped meat (sometimes called the “triangle steak” because of its appearance) is comprised of a longer thinner section with the grain running parallel to the meat and a smaller triangle section where the grain runs at angle.

While it’s not easy to see once the steak is cooked, it’s very evident in the raw meat. You can see it clearly in these pictures.

Since the tenderness of most steaks is reliant upon the way in which it’s sliced, knowing this about the tri tip is incredibly important.

Raw "triangle steak" known as tri tip on a cutting board.

IDENTIFY WHERE THE GRAINS INTERSECT

When it comes to tri tip, not only do you need to know which way to slice the steak (with or against the grain), but you also have to figure out where the two different grains intersect so you can change the way you carve appropriately.

This is easiest done while the steak is raw to get a good visual.

In the picture below, I’m holding my knife right at the point where the two differing grain patterns intersect.

Each steak will be different depending on size and how the butcher cut it but it should be pretty obvious to the naked eye when in its raw state.

Once you’ve done this, you can either choose to cut the steak raw and cook up the two parts separately. Or, you can simply make a mental note for carving after it’s been cooked.

Knife demonstrating where to cut a tri tip steak in half in order to cut it properly against the grain.

HOW TO CUT TRI TIP STEAK

The trademark tenderness of a tri tip steak is due to 3 things:
-cutting against the grain
-thinly slicing
-cutting on the bias

First and foremost, let the steak rest after cooking before carving it. Unless you’ve reverse seared the steak, this is important in order to let the juices redistribute back into the meat after cooking. If you want a juicy steak, don’t rush the carving!

Once rested (5 minutes should do), locate that intersection point again (if you haven’t already split the steak into two pieces) and slice the steak into two large sections. You’ll be left with a thinner, longer piece and the other that looks a bit like a triangle.

Now, thinly slice the tri tip against the grain on the bias.

On the bias simply means with a slight angle to your knife.

Cutting against the grain is pretty standard for almost any steak (especially cuts like skirt steak or flank steak) and the tri tip is no different. The tricky part is just knowing about the two different grain patterns and how to adjust your slicing appropriately.

Sliced tri tip steak on a cutting board.

TOOLS NEEDED TO CARVE TRI TIP

There’s no fancy equipment needed for slicing this steak. Keep it simple with a sharp chef’s knife and a large cutting board.

If you have a cutting board with a channel around the perimeter to catch any of the juices, that’s a bonus. Make sure to pour those back over the meat when serving!

TRI TIP RECIPES

Now that you’re all set and ready to carve a tri tip properly, you’re probably wondering how to cook it!

We’re a bit partial to the reverse sear lately and this reverse seared tri tip, is tender, juicy steak perfection.

What’s a reverse sear? Well, it’s simply cooking the steak low and slow until about 10 degrees under the desired doneness then pan-searing it at the end to finish off the cooking and get a wonderful golden brown crust on the meat. It’s a very simple method and wonderful if you aren’t in a rush.

Another popular cooking method is to smoke the meat. This smoked tri tip recipe is simple and tasty!

Grilled tri tip is also delicious. A low indirect flame is the key to getting a tender tri tip on the grill.

Alternatively, throw out these new carving skills and make the tri tip in the slow cooker! It’s such a versatile cut that it’s equally delicious cooked low and slow and then shredded for sandwiches or served with rice, mashed potatoes, etc.

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5 from 35 votes

How To Cut Tri Tip

Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep: 2 minutes
Total: 2 minutes
How to cut tri tip steak.
Learn how to properly cut a tri tip roast with this unique cut of beef so that the results are juicy and tender!

Ingredients 

  • 1 Tri Tip steak or roast, any size
  • sharp chef’s knife
  • large cutting board

Instructions 

  • Place the tri tip on a large cutting board.
  • Determine the intersection point where the grain in the meat changes. There are two grain patterns to tri tip: one that goes straight across and one that lays at an angle.
  • Cut the tri tip at this intersection point either before or after cooking.
  • Once cut into two sections, slice the tri tip against the grain in thin slices on the bias.

Notes

*On the bias simply means with your knife at a slight angle against the meat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 200kcalProtein: 25gFat: 11gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 50mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Guides
Cuisine: American
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Web Story – How to properly cut tri tip.

Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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12 Comments

  1. I didn’t realize there was a proper way to cut the steak and it did make a big difference on how I cooked my steak. It’s more juicy and well-seasoned. Thanks for this pro tip!~

  2. Wow I learned so much from this. I grew up mostly vegetarian and am a total newbie to cutting and cooking meat. I recently gave it a try and it came out great!