Just the tip – Sous Vide Tri-Tip

I hail from Santa Maria, CA and the one thing we are best known for (besides single mothers and teenage pregnancy) is the Santa Maria style tri-tip.  So what better idea, I thought,  than to master the art of  sous vide’ing a tri-tip! Unfortunately, it turns out I am still a mere Padawan.

A standard Santa Maria tri-tip is seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper then grilled over an oak flame.  This is an obvious over-simplification but this is a Sous Vide blog, not a Santa-Maria style tri-tip grilling techniques and best practices blog…  Anyway, here is how my experiment went and my opinion of the end result.


  1. Removed most of the fat blanket.
  2. Marinated the tip in Allegro Tenderizer & Marinade for 6 hours in the frig in a Ziploc Sous Vide bag.
  3. Before vacuum-sealing the bag, drained out about 75% of the marinade, leaving a little bit in for flava.
  4. Vacuum-sealed the bag and placed it in  SV contraption for 24 hours @ 133F.
  5. After the alloted time,  removed the tip, patted it down and seared it in a cast iron skillet for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Slice and Serve.

Now, before I discuss the taste I’d like to talk about texture.  It was phenomenal!  Hands down, the most tender tri-tip I have ever had.  The temperature was just above med-rare and I could cut through it with a butter knife.

As for the flavor???  Decent.  That’s right, it was decent.  Not amazing, not horrible.  Just ‘pretty good’.  Now please know that I am not, by any means, comparing the flavor of the tip to the style of cooking.  I definitely think I could make a rockin’ tip Sous Vide style.  I just think that next time I will use the traditional dry rub and finish it on an oak pit!

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2 Responses to Just the tip – Sous Vide Tri-Tip

  1. Aaron says:

    I see that you have built your own Immersion circulator, I have been attempting this for the past few weeks using the plans from seattle food geek. I ran into some snags. Did you use the JLD612? If so did you have to use an SSR. Would you be able to help me figure out how to program this damn thing? Any help would be great!!!

  2. Tom says:

    There is a small chain of restaurants called StoneFire grill that cook very moist and tender tri-tips. They won’t say how they cook them, but it’s an all night process that cooks them to ‘rare’. They then finish the tri-tips to order, cooking to the final degree of doneness. They serve these with a garlic and pepper compound butter or a barbeque sauce.

    I suspect they use the Sous Vide method. The tri-tips are a lot like you described yours. They are definitely moist and tender, surprising so for a cut that is fairly tough. But the flavor is lacking. Most of it comes from the compound better. It’s good, but not the same as a good smoked or grilled steak.

    I think your idea of finishing it over wood will help. I also wonder if smoking the tri tip in a smoker for maybe half an hour either prior to or after the sous-vide would work.

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