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This Grilled Tri-Tip with Salsa Rossa Piccante is charred on the outside, juicy in the middle, and loaded with flavour. The roast is marinated in a combination of herbs & spices, grilled whole in the style of Santa Maria BBQ, and basted with a garlicky, oil and vinegar. Try serving it with a spicy tomato salsa studded with roasted peppers, some roasted sweet potatoes and a peppery arugula salad to complete the meal.

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What You Need for Grilled Tri-Tip

  • Tri-Tip Roast: This recipe calls for grilling a whole tri-tip roast, sometimes called bottom sirloin roast, Newport roast or Santa Maria roast. It’s an affordable and easy to cook cut of beef and usually weighs between 2.5 to 3 pounds, which should be enough for 4-6 servings.

    If tri-tip is unavailable, you can substitute a whole picanha (top sirloin roast), or even a prime rib roast.
  • Herbs: For best flavour, I like to use a combination of fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and dry oregano to marinate the tri-tip before grilling. You can definitely substitute with all dry herbs if that’s what you have. Just be sure to use around half the amount called for in the recipe.

    One benefit of using fresh herbs is you can tie any of the leftover sprigs of rosemary and thyme to the end of a wooden spoon and use it as a brush to baste the grilled tri-tip. It will impart a beautiful and subtle flavour.
  • Spices: The rest of the marinade includes some garlic powder, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper for a bit of heat.
  • Oil and Vinegar Baste: As the tri-tip grills, try basting it with a combination of extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and fresh garlic.
  • Shallot and Garlic: Sautéed shallot and garlic form the aromatic base for the salsa rossa piccante. You can substitute a small onion for the shallot. Feel free to use as much garlic as your heart desires.
  • Fresh Red Chile: The variety of chile pepper you use will obviously impart more or less spice into your salsa rossa. For a mild spice, try using a red finger or Anaheim chile. Remember, you can always control some of the heat level by removing or adding the seeds. You can also substitute with dry crushed red chiles if that’s what you have available.
  • Canned Whole Tomatoes: The salsa rossa picante can be made with just about any type of canned or jarred tomatoes. I personally like to use canned, whole, Italian tomatoes, ideally San Marzanno variety, because they’re slightly sweet, less acidic and cook down to a beautiful texture that is neither too chunky nor too smooth. If using fresh tomatoes, you can grill them whole and peel the skins along with the red peppers.
  • Roasted Red Peppers: To make life a bit easier, you can use jarred roasted red peppers, but you can’t beat the wood-fired flavour of peppers freshly blistered and charred on a Traeger Grill. It will completely transform your salsa rossa, so give it a try if you can.
  • Cinnamon Stick: Adding a small cinnamon stick to the salsa rossa picante will infuse the sauce with a subtle flavour and aroma. I wouldn’t say it’s overpowering, but you’ll definitely notice it’s there so if you are not a fan of cinnamon, simply omit it.
Grilled Tri-Tip Salsa Rossa Picante Paleo Whole30 Gluten Free Recipes Primal Gourmet

What is Tri-Tip?

Tri-tip steak is a cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin section of the cow. It is a triangular-shaped cut of meat that has a moderate amount of marbling, making it flavourful and tender. Tri-tip steak is also relatively lean, making it a nice option for those who aren’t fans of fattier cuts like ribeye.

It’s also much more affordable than select cuts, like ribeye, striploin or tenderloin, making it a great option for more casual lunches or dinners.

Tri-tip is not very popular in Toronto, where I live. In fact, this is probably the first time I’ve ever seen it displayed without having to put in a special order. It’s much more common in the western United States, particularly in California and the Santa Maria Valley.

Make Some Salsa Rossa Piccante

Salsa rossa, or “red sauce”, is a versatile and flavourful sauce that can be used in a variety of dishes. This particular version leans more towards Italian flavours and is inspired by an old Jamie Oliver recipe. It’s as easy as sautéeing some shallot, garlic, and chile peppers along with a stick of cinnamon in some olive oil before adding a can of tomatoes and some roasted red peppers. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar. It goes incredibly well with roasted or grilled meats, like this grilled tri-tip.

Grilled Tri-Tip Salsa Rossa Picante Paleo Whole30 Gluten Free Recipes Primal Gourmet

Best Ways to Cook Tri-Tip?

Tri-tip is a versatile steak and can be seasoned and cooked in a variety of ways. Pan-searing it and finishing with a butter baste is probably not as common of a technique, but it is absolutely worth trying. It’s actually a much more forgiving steak to cook than something like a striploin because of the amount of intramuscular marbling that keeps it juicy.

More popular methods include marinating tri-tip whole in a mixture of spices and herbs, grilling it over high heat, or slow-roasting it in the oven. It is also a popular choice for smoking and barbecue, as the combination of the meat’s natural flavour and the smoke produces a rich and juicy steak that is hard to beat.

Whether you’re grilling, roasting, or smoking, tri-tip steak is a delicious, flavourful, underrated and affordable cut of beef.

Grilled Tri-Tip Salsa Rossa Picante Paleo Whole30 Gluten Free Recipes Primal Gourmet

What is Two-Zone Grilling?

For this grilled tri-tip recipe, I like to cook the roast using two-zone heat. Two-zone grilling is a cooking technique that involves setting up a grill with two different heat zones, one direct and one indirect, which allows for more control over the cooking process and the ability to cook a wide range of foods.

On a Traeger grill, start by grilling the tri-tip on the lower grate where the heat is higher and then moving it to one of the top grates to finish.

On a conventional grill, the direct heat zone is created by igniting burners or placing charcoal on one side of the grill and then leaving the other side of the grill off. When the grill door is closed, the heat inside will circulate similar to an oven, allowing for a wider range of cooking options.

Two-zone grilling is a versatile cooking technique that is great for cooking a variety of foods, from steak and burgers to chicken and vegetables. By having two heat zones, you can sear and cook food quickly on the direct heat zone, and then move it to the indirect heat zone to finish cooking at a lower temperature, which helps to prevent overcooking and burning.

Grilled Tri-Tip Salsa Rossa Picante Paleo Whole30 Gluten Free Recipes Primal Gourmet
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Grilled Tri-Tip with Salsa Rossa Piccante

This Grilled Tri-Tip with Salsa Rossa Picante is charred on the outside, juicy in the middle, and loaded with flavour.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
marinating time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4 servings


For the Salsa Rossa Piccante:

  • 3 red bell peppers, substitute red shepherd peppers, substitute jarred roasted red peppers
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red finger chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 can whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper, plus more to taste

For the Basting Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme

For the Grilled Tri-Tip:

  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 2.5 to 3- pound whole tri-tip roast, fat cap on


For the Salsa Rossa Piccante:

  • Preheat the Traeger grill to 500F. Place the red peppers on the bottom grate of the grill and cook, flipping occasionally, until charred and blackened all over, around 20 minutes total. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover and set aside until cooled.
  • Peel and discard the charred skins, stems and seeds of the peppers, and roughly chop the flesh. Set aside.
  • Preheat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shallot, garlic, chile and cinnamon stick. Season with the salt and cook, stirring, until the shallots are translucent, around 4 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and use a wooden spoon to break them apart. Add the roasted peppers and vinegar and cook, stirring, until the sauce has slightly thickened, around 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper and vinegar as desired. Cover with a lid and place over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve. Can be made in advance and refrigerated up to 5 days.

For the Basting Sauce:

  • In a bowl, combine the vinegar, olive oil and garlic and stir to combine. Cover and set aside.
  • To make the basting brush, use some butcher’s twine to tie the rosemary and thyme sprigs to the handle of a wooden spoon.

For the Grilled Tri-Tip:

  • In a large bowl, combine the avocado oil, vinegar, rosemary, thyme, salt, garlic powder, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Using a sharp knife, score the fat cap of the tri-tip in a crosshatch pattern. Transfer the tri-tip to the bowl and massage with the marinade to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
  • 30 minutes before cooking, remove the tri-tip from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the Traeger Grill to 500F.
  • Transfer the tri-tip to the bottom grate of the Traeger, fat side-up, and cook, undisturbed with the grill door closed, until well charred but not burned, around 10 minutes. Flip, baste with the basting sauce and grill the other side, undisturbed with the grill door closed, until charred but not burned, around 10 more minutes.
  • Transfer the tri-tip to the top rack of the grill, fat side-up, baste with the basting sauce and cook, with the grill door closed, until the thickest part of the tri-tip registers 135F internally for a medium-rare center, or 145F for a medium center, around 15 more minutes. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain. Serve with the Salsa Rossa Picante and sides of choice, such as roasted sweet potato and arugula salad.


Tried this recipe? Leave a comment below!

About the Author

Hi, i’m Ronny! In 2013, after a lifetime of struggling with my weight and body issues, I rehabilitated my relationship with food, lost over 40 pounds and completely changed my life.

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