Total Time
4hrs 35mins
Prep 4 hrs
Cook 35 mins

Santa Maria is a town in central California, north of Santa Barbara. Grilled tri-tip is a local specialty. It's traditionally served with corn tortillas, Santa Maria-Style Salsa and Santa Maria-Style Pinquito Beans.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Mix together the black pepper, garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne, rosemary, and salt and rub on the meat. Let stand at 1-4 hours.
  2. Prepare the barbecue grill, using water-soaked oak chips (preferred, if you can find them) or mesquite chips on the charcoal to produce smoke.
  3. Drizzle the oil slowly into vinegar, whisking rapidly. Brush on the meat as soon as you put it on the grill.
  4. Grill the meat over direct heat, medium-high. Turn at least 3 times, basting every time. Grill 30-35 minutes, to 140 degrees F.
  5. Slice about 1/8" to 1/4" thick across the grain and serve with corn tortillas and salsa.
Most Helpful

Living in San Luis Obispo, just to the north of Santa Maria, where it's reported that the cut of meat "tri tip" was originated at Cal Poly, it's a staple, even in the winter months. What gives the Santa Maria style tri tip it's true great flavor is a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder and most importantly it is bbq'd/smoked over oak and only oak.

slo_cook June 26, 2009

I use this rub and oil mixture at least once a month, either on steaks (flank, skirt, or filet mignon) we grill or on roasts (twice tri tri and once bottom round). It is delicious and easy to prepare! Be sure to not use the rub without the oil mixture because the rub has a tendency to burn in parts if it's not protected by oil.

Resilient June 26, 2009

No way could we not give this a 5!! Better than Moe's in Pismo Beach! Followed your recipe exactly but we did use smoked paprika. What a perfect flavorful crust on the outside & so juicy throughout. Thanks Mary and by the way "central coastal" might be a more accurate description of the region in CA where you will find beautiful little Santa Maria.

ZONA FOODIES May 15, 2011