Santa Maria Tri Tip


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Santa Maria Tri Tip was a regular on my private chef life rotation and I’m pretty sure it’s the BEST way to feed a crowd meat without a lot of effort.

Santa Maria Tri Tip from (@whatsgabycookin)

Back in my Malibu private chef days, my clients would throw a sunday family dinner every week during the summer. You’d think that meant it was just the family… false. It was all of their friends, family, extended family etc. Basically anyone and everyone in their lives was invited over for dinner. Guests would bring a bottle of wine, a salad or a side, and I would tackle all of the mains. I’d make giant sides of salmon, burgers, pizzas, you name it. But my favorite way to feed that many people was always with a giant platter of tri-tip. It doesn’t take much to prep this and it’s pretty simple and straightforward and NOT time consuming.

Serve it up family style and then let people grab and go! I would serve it with a side of basil vin, cilantro vin, tomato confit, or a fun salsa. Today it’s going with a fun tomato and cucumber salad because it’s August and that’s what life is all about! PROMISE me you’ll make it this weekend, you’ll be obsessed.

Santa Maria Tri Tip



For the Tri Tip

  • 1 whole tri-tip about 2 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons rub see below

For the Rub

  • 2 tablespoons finely ground coffee
  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the Salad

  • 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes 5–6, sliced into ¼"-thick rounds
  • 6 Persian cucumbers sliced into ¼"-thick rounds
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • Red wine vinegar for serving
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Trim silver skin off the trip tip but leave some of the fat.
  • Massage the meat with the rub until fully covered and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Prepare a charcoal grill or gas grill to high. Place tri-tip on grill and sear one side well, 6 to 7 minutes making sure it doesn’t burn. Rotate the tri-tip and sear other side for about the same time. Reduce heat to medium-high or move the meat to a part of the grill that’s not over direct flames. Turn meat again and cook another 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and cook again for an additional 5-6 minutes. A 2-pound roast will need about 20 to 25 minutes total cooking time. Cook until an instant read thermometer reads 120°F for a rare roast, 130°F for medium-rare and 140°F for medium.
  • Remove from the grill, let rest on a cutting board 30 minutes for the juice to redistribute and for it to slightly cool.
  • Arrange tomato slices, cucumber slices, and basil along a serving board. Drizzle tomatoes and cucumbers very lightly with vinegar. Drizzle oil over everything and season liberally with sea salt and ground pepper To serve, slice against the grain. Serve next to tomatoes and cucumbers.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Monika

    What a great way to feed a large group. I usually panic with lots of people to feed, but this sounds like it would make things so much easier!

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  3. Ann

    Gaby I needed a Sunday family dinner idea for tomorrow…. Did I miss this detail….. How many people does a 2# roast serve? I LOVE your creativity❣

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  5. Heather

    Any suggestions for how to do this in the oven or on the stovetop? Unfortunately, we don’t have a grill.

  6. Margo

    So good, follows this recipe and the steak turned out beautifully!! Gaby did an amazing job of making this recipe step by step so your meat turns out just as you want!