This tri tip marinade recipe will transform this special cut of beef into something even more delicious. This easy marinade made with fresh orange and lime juice, soy sauce, and spices will not only infuse your tri tip with extra flavor, but it’ll also make it extra tender and juicy! Pair it with Brazilian rice and toasted cassava flour for the ultimate Californian Brazilian fusion barbecue!
Why I love this trip tip marinade recipe
Tri tip is massively popular here in California and rightfully so. It’s fairly tender, and very flavorful all on its own. So flavorful that in Brazil, where I’m from, we tend to keep our maminha, how we call tri tip in Portuguese, pretty simple. Just properly salted, and grilled to perfection.
Here in California, I’ve had some pretty boldly seasoned and spectacular tri tips that just blew. my. mind!!! So many flavors, so juicy and so tender, all thanks to marinades.
I’ve tried and tested a world of flavor combinations; some pretty meh, some OK, others pretty good. And this tri tip marinade recipe right here, meus amigos, is our winner!
I love it so much because it infuses the tri tip with so many bold flavors, that hit every corner of your mouth. It’s insane! And thanks to a great combination of acids from the lime and orange juice, the meat also comes out super tender.
We love this California inspired tri tip marinade recipe soooo much that for the last little while, we’ve been making it more often than my favorite grilled picanha recipe haha. That’s quite telling coming from this Brazilian girl!
I hope you love it as much I do!
How to marinate tri tip
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Prep. The only prep involved in this recipe is measuring out your ingredients, and juicing the lime and the orange! Other than that, just combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl, then whisk everything to combine – no blender or food processor needed!
Bag. Add the trip tip to a large Ziplock bag and then pour in the marinade. Close the bag and mix it around so the marinade covers the meat. If you don’t have a ziplock bag, you can use a bowl big enough to fit the meat, and ideally, have the meat submerged by the marinade. If your bowl won’t allow the marinade to cover the meat, just be sure to flip the tri tip in the bowl, every couple of hours, as often as you can, to coat it in the marinade. This will ensure the marinade flavors are distributed evenly throughout the meat.
Refrigerate. Place the bag of meat with the marinade in the fridge and let it rest for at least 4 hours, or as long as overnight, which is my recommendation. The longer it sits the better it’ll be!!
Tips for grilling tri tip
Take the meat out of the fridge about an hour before you plan on grilling it. This will ensure the meat isn’t all the way cold when it hits the grill, and will help make sure it cooks evenly.
When in doubt, use a thermometer. Since the tri tip is unevenly shaped, it’s best to cook it to medium rare, so the tip doesn’t dry out. The best way to check is by inserting a thermometer, on the the thickest part of the meat and when it reads 130F you should be good to go.
Check out the guidelines below, in case you prefer your meet less cooked, or more cooked!
Let it rest. Letting the tri tip rest after you’ve finished grilling does two really important things. First, it’ll continue to cook through with the residual heat, at least a few more degrees. Second, it allows the juices inside the meat to recirculate, making sure the meat is juicy throughout, which allows the meat to retain those juices when you slice it. If you cut it too soon, too much of those juices will ooze out of the meat, instead of making their way through inside.
Start slicing from the tip. While the acids in this marinade will work overtime to tenderize the meat, you’ll still want to cut it against the grain to make sure you get the most tender chew. In the image above, the yellow arrows show you the direction of the grain, and the white dotted lines show you how to cut “against” it.
Of course, there will be some spillage regardless, especially if you’re like me, and like your meat on the rare side.
Tri tip marinade recipe FAQ:
What is tri tip?
The tri tip is a cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin part of the cow, in the lower abdomen area. It’s a small triangular cut of beef that usually weighs 1.5 to 2.5 pounds and sometimes goes by the name of a bottom sirloin butt. Tri tip is a fairly inexpensive and flavorful cut of beef.
These delicious sides pair wonderfully with this trip tip marinade recipe:
Don’t forget dessert:
Tri Tip Marinade Recipe
- 2.5 lbs tri tip
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice about 2 oranges
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice about 2 limes
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 tsp dry oregano
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp kosher salt If you're sensitive to salt, reduce to 1 or 1.5 Tbsp
For the Marinade:
- Combine all the ingredients, except for the tri tip, in a medium bowl and whisk to combine and set aside.
- Add the tri tip to a ziplock bag large enough to fit the meat.
- Pour the marinade into the bag with the meat, close and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight.
- To ensure even cooking, remove the meat bag from the fridge at least one hour prior to firing up the grill, so that the meat doesn't hit the grill while it's still cold.
- Gently remove the meat from the bag, and discard the bag and leftover marinade. There's not need to pat the meat dry before grilling, just make sure it's not dripping prior to placing it on the grill to avoid flare-up and burning.
- Pre-heat the grill to 350F.
- Sear the meat on both sides over direct heat, for approximately 5 minutes per side.
- Move the meat to a medium section of your grill (in between burners is great!) and cook over indirect heat, turning as needed, until an instant read thermometer reads 130F when inserted in the thickest part for medium rare, or until you reach your preferred "done-ness".
- Remove the tri tip from the grill, and let it rest in a cutting board approximately 10 minutes before cutting.
- Slice against the grain and serve.