How to Cut a Tri Tip – All the Ways

Published Categorized as Journal

If you’ve ever wondered how to cut a tri tip, you’re in the right place. Cutting a try tip may not seem like rocket science, but honestly, there is a science to it. Although it isn’t the hardest steak in the world to carve, there are some aspects of cutting tri tip you’ll want to keep in mind if you plan on serving up a delicious and tender piece of meat. Eager to know what those aspects are? Join me and let’s explore the multiple elements of slicing a decadent tri tip to yield a tender bite.

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How To Cut A Tri Tip – All The Ways

Table of Contents

What Is a Tri Tip?

Tri tip is a piece of beef cut from the bottom of the sirloin primal. There are many ways people describe the shape, from calling it a “triangle steak” to a boomerang, and even a lopsided crescent.

No matter your opinion, tri tip steak has often been regarded for its delicious flavor but is also known for its tough and rubbery texture. Tri tip steak ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 pounds and tends to have a lot of fat on it (which is often responsible for that chewy texture we mentioned).

Other names you may find associated with a tri tip steak include:

  • Santa Maria Steak
  • Triangle Roast
  • Bottom Sirloin Roast
  • California Tri Tip Roast
How To Cut A Tri Tip – All The Ways

Do You Have to Cut Tri Tip Steak Before Cooking It?

Don’t cut your tri tip before cooking it as this will render it dry instead of juicy. Instead, consider trimming the fat off of this triangular cut meat ahead of time, as doing so will greatly improve its tenderness.

When purchasing a tri tip, it is important that you observe whether or not the meat has been trimmed. A tri tip whose fat has not been trimmed away will yield tougher and chewier meat that will be difficult to eat. And because tri tip is usually grilled or smoked (before searing) there isn’t enough time to break down the muscle fibers attached to the meat. Because of this, it is imperative that you trim the fat and silvery casing away as much as possible, to reveal a delicious piece of meat ready to be smoked or grilled.

Want more information? Stay tuned. We will revisit the topic of trimming the fat off your tr tip later in this post!

What Is the Proper Way to Cut a Tri Tip?

Believe it or not, there is a specific way you must cut a tri tip in order to achieve a tender cut of beef. Tender beef cuts are important when it comes to tri tip because, again, this meat has a reputation for being tough and chewy.

When it comes to slicing tri tip, know that the fibers in these meats run different directions. This means that the grain lines are angled in different grain directions.

Why does this matter? Because it is important to slice perpendicular to the grain in order to get the tender beef cuts you crave. 

Do You Cut Tri Tip With or Against the Grain?

Always cut your tri tip steak against the grain. By cutting perpendicular to the grain, you yield tender pieces.

But be careful. Tri tip steak has grains that run two different directions at varying places in the meat. Thus, it is easier to cut your tri tip where these two sections intersect before officially cutting your meat into thin slices. 

How To Cut A Tri Tip – All The Ways

How to Properly Cut a Tri Tip

To properly cut your tri tip steak, do the following:

  1. Cook your tri tip steak using the desired method. If you need ideas for how to prepare your steak, check out the recipe embedded in this post below.
  2. After allowing your steak to rest a bit, take the fully cooked tri tip and place it on a cutting board. Locate where the two different grain directions intersect. This is often at the crux of the “hook” of the steak; the place where the steak bends in shape.
  3. Once you have located where the two grains intersect, take a sharp cutting knife and slice the meat in half at that location. This will yield two cuts of meat.
  4. From here you will inspect the meat and cut it perpendicular to the grain. When slicing, it is important that you slice at an angle and that you cut thinner slices. A tri tip sliced thin will offer a delicious piece of tri tip that is juicy, flavorful, and isn’t chewy. 
  5. Continue cutting the other remaining tri tip piece into thin slices as well. As mentioned, always avoid thicker slices as this will make the tri tip harder to chew.

How to Slice Tri Tip

Remember that slicing a tri tip is best done against the grain. To make it tender, always slice it into thinner slices.

How to Cut Tri Tip Steak

Cutting a tri tip steak the right way is important to yield maximum tenderness without a chewy result. Cut the steak after cooking, not before, and always against the grain rather than with it.

How to Cut a Tri Tip Steak

Because tri tip steak has grains going in two different grain directions, it is very important that you locate where these two grains intersect. Typically, the grains intersect at the point where the meat bends, or hooks, in its triangular shape. Slice tri tip here first (after it’s been on the grill) in order to cut the rest of the tri tip properly.

How to Trim Tri Tip

Once the tri tip has been cut down the center, look at each piece of the resulting cuts of meat and cut it against the grain (and into thin pieces). A tender cut is the result of a thin slice, however, there are other factors, such as how it is cooked and seasoned, and whether or not it is marinated that can also affect the texture of this cut of meat.

How to Cut a Tri Tip Roast

Cutting a tri tip roast can take practice, but that’s why it can be good to get a visual representation of how to do it. If you’re wondering about how to cut a tri tip roast against the grain, follow these methods:

How Long Do You Cut a Tri Tip?

When cutting a tri tip, you should be cutting against the grain. Cut it as long as you wish, but ensure you are cutting it in the right direction. This should result in pieces that aren’t too small but aren’t too large either. Once you’ve cut against the grain and into thin pieces, feel free to cut the pieces again, especially for young children, to make this piece of meat easier to chew.

Note: Because tri tip tends to be chewy, it is often best not served to young children under the age of 3. Doing so may present a serious choking hazard.

How to Cut Fat Cap Off Tri Tip

Remember that in addition to slicing your tri tip the right way, trimming the fat off of the meat is also important.

How to Cut Off a Fat Cap From Tri Tip

When you bring a tri tip home from the store, be sure to inspect it for obvious pieces of fat on top of the meat. This “fat cap” will be white. You may also notice a silvery casing surrounding the exterior of your meat.

Both the fat cap and silver casing should be trimmed away as these elements may render your meat tough if you don’t take care of it before grilling. 

Tri Tip Steak Recipe

Has this post gotten you hungry? Great!

Try out this awesome marinade for the next time you’re craving delicious tri tip.


  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup lemon juice 
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar (can substitute maple syrup for a healthier twist)
  • 1.5 – 2.5 pounds tri-tip steak 


  1. Combine ingredients into a large bowl or gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix well to incorporate ingredients.
  2. Add the trip tip to the marinade and allow it to sit for at least one hour. Do not allow the steak to marinate longer than 24 hours.
  3. At this point, feel free to cook your steak as you wish. You may grill, smoke, broil, skillet cook, or oven roast your steak in an oven.

You can also try our recipe for a tri tip rub!

how to cut a tri tip

How to Cut a Tri Tip? It’s Simple Once You Get the Hang of It!

Sliced tri tip can be a delectable piece of meat to have for dinner, but as we’ve mentioned before, there is a science to getting the meat just right. In this post, we’ve detailed how to achieve a more tender cut of beef by slicing tri tip thinly and against the grain.

I hope this information has helped you understand the importance of how you cut tri tip. Give these methods a try! 

See you next time!


How to cut a California tri tip roast?

Remember to cut a tri tip against the grain (after locating the two different grain directions) and also into thin pieces for best results.

Do you have to cut tri tip steak before cooking it?

No, but you should trim the trip tip if there is excess fat.

How do you tell if you’re cutting against the grain?

Slice into the meat and look at the direction of the grain lines. Angle your knife perpendicular to the grain to begin slicing. Do not slice along the same direction as the grain lines. This slicing method isn’t recommended for tri tip.

Categorized as Journal

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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