Santa Maria is a little town just North of Santa Barbara on the South Central coast of California and they are famous for their Grilled Tri-Tip. This Easy Grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip Steak is super simple and tasty and the rub is great on any type of meat.  If you can’t find Tri-tip, you can substitute a sirloin roast.  You can also try flank or skirt or London broil.  You’ll need to adjust grilling times based on the thickness of the meat.

Traditionally this is served with corn tortillas, salsa, and beans or as a sandwich.  We love it grilled and sliced, served with a baked potato.  Leftovers make great tacos or steak sandwiches.

It’s very important to cut the tri-tip across the grain.  Traeger Grills has a great tutorial for slicing a tri-tip correctly.

Grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip Recipe

Course: dinner, entree, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Beef, California, Grilling, Steaks, Wine Country
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
resting time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 452 kcal

This is traditionally cooked over oak with a heavy dose of smoke.  If you have oak chips add them to your smoker box, to get a more authentic result.

I like to put the rub on the roast in the morning and refrigerate covered until an hour before cooking.  Let meat come to room temperature before grilling.



  • 3 lbs beef tri-tip roast or 2 -3 lbs top sirloin roast
  • 1 T black pepper fresh ground
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1 t chipotle
  • 1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 t fresh rosemary
  • 1 t fine sea salt
  • 1 T fresh minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cup olive oil


  1. Mix all the spices together to create a rub.
  2. Rub on the meat.
  3. Refrigerate covered for 4 - 6 hours. (I do this in the morning so that there is plenty of time for the rub to sit on the roast.
  4. Remove from refrigerator and let stand for about an hour or until close to room temperature.
  5. Heat grill to high, at least 500 degrees F, with water soaked oak or mesquite wood chips in your smoker box or directly on coals if using charcoal, oak is preferred, if you can find it. Slowly pour oil into vinegar, whisking rapidly.
  6. Add meat to grill, brush with oil immediately, reduce grill temp to medium-high (about 400 degrees).
  7. Grill the meat over direct heat, medium-high for 15 minutes, turn and baste the meat every five minutes.
  8. Move meat to the center of the grill and turn down the center burner.
  9. Grill another 20 - 30 minutes using indirect heat minutes, to 135 degrees F for rare or 142 for medium rare.  The steak will continue to cook during the resting period.

  10. Let rest, covered for 5 minutes before slicing.

  11. Slice across the grain (very important).
  12. For sandwiches or to serve with tortillas slice about 1/8" thick to serve as an entree cut to about 1/4" thick.
Nutrition Facts
Grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 452 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 124mg41%
Sodium 536mg23%
Potassium 818mg23%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Protein 49g98%
Vitamin A 450IU9%
Vitamin C 0.7mg1%
Calcium 52mg5%
Iron 4.5mg25%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

1 Comment

  1. Marshall

    Very tasty rub for steak. I put the rub on first thing in the morning and the flavor was great.


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