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According to R.H. Tesene’s definitive book titled Santa Maria Style Barbecue, “In the 1950s, a local butcher named Bob Schutz perfected the tri-tip, which is a two to three pound triangular shaped cut off the top sirloin.”. And thus a new tradition was born, with tri-tip joining top block sirloin as a signature cut of Santa Maria BBQ. Prior to tri-tip being popularized in the Santa Maria Valley, the cut was mainly disregarded by butchers as something to be used for ground beef or stew meat. In fact, even today, many butchers outside of the Central Coast still don’t know what “tri-tip” is. Pair with California Cabernet Sauvignon or California Zinfandel.

Santa Maria Tri Tip


Tri Tip and Santa Maria Seasoning 

  • 2 teaspoons (4g) kosher salt 
  • 2 teaspoons(4.6g) black pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) garlic powder 
  • 2 teaspoons(4.6g) paprika or piment d’espelette 
  • 1 teaspoons(2.4g) onion powder 
  • 1 teaspoons(1.2g) dried rosemary, ground or chopped 
  • ¼ teaspoons(.45g) cayenne pepper 
  • 1 2-lb (907g) tri-tip roast, patted dry 


  • 3 cups (75g) finely chopped parsley 
  • ½ cup (15g) finely chopped cilantro 
  • ½ cup (113.4g) extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoon (29.8g) red wine vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon (21g) honey 
  • 2 lemons, juiced 
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated 
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste 


Mix together the kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, dried rosemary, and cayenne. Rub the seasoning mix all over the tri-tip, then let the meat sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Gas grill: Preheat the grill to medium-high, leaving 1 to 2 burners off to create an area with indirect heat. 

Charcoal grill: Bank warmed coals on one side of the grill to create an area with indirect heat. 

Grill the tri-tip slowly over indirect heat, flipping once to cook evenly. Once an instant-read thermometer reads 115°F (46.1°C) in the middle of the steak, move it to direct heat and continue grilling for 2 minutes per side, until charred and cooked to 125°F (51.6°C). Remove from the grill and allow the tri-tip to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing–it will continue to cook to a medium-rare temperature. 

Meanwhile, whisk together the parsley, cilantro, olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, lemon juice, and grated garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

Once the tri-tip has rested, slice it against the grain. Top with chimichurri to serve.  

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