How to Sous Vide Tri Tip

I am a huge fan of cooking tri tip using the sous vide method and finishing it off in a screaming hot cast iron skillet. As the name implies, this cut of beef is triangular in shape with 3 points. A tri tip roast is from the bottom sirloin portion of the steer. It is fairly well marbled with fat making it tender and flavorful.

So, why would you want to sous vide this roast? The tri tip has grain running in 2 directions that requires some attention to detail when carving it. The sous vide process cooks the beef slowly and for a long time so that it softens the tissue and infuses the meat with an enormous amount of flavor. Even if you aren’t precise when cutting against the grain, the meat will still be tender and juicy when cooked in this manner.

Why Sous Vide?

What-is-Sous-Vide

Sous Vide Machine

When you first hear Sous Vide, it sounds like a complicated process, where you need to do a lot of things to get good results.

But, sous vide is a method of cooking in which you place food in a plastic pouch and cook in a water bath for longer period of times than usual cooking, at an accurately regulated temperature.

It is also known as low temperature long time cooking (LTLT) and the temperature used us much lower than typical cooking, at around 131-155°F for meat and vegetables.

The purpose of this cooking method is to properly cook the inside of the meat, without overcooking the outside, while still maintaining the moisture.

Should You Sous Vide Tri Tip Steak?

Sous Vide is always a good idea for cooking meat, especially steak cuts like Tri Tip.

This low temperature slow cooking method will break down the tough fibers of the meat, creating a tender, flavorful steak. After you finish sous vide the meat, you can give it a finishing sear using grill or your preferred searing method, so you will end up with a melt-in-mouth texture steak in the inside and a nice looking brown crust on the outside.

What is Tri Tip Steak?

Raw-Tri-Tip-Steak

Raw Tri Tip Steak Cut

Tri tip is a cut of beef from the cow, shaped in a triangular fashion, with one side being shorter than the other.

It’s exact location in the animal is the bottom sirloin sub primal cut, from the main Loin Primal Beef cut.

What makes this cut complicated is that its grains run in three different directions, against each other, making it a little bit difficult to serve and cut.

Tri-Tip-Grains

Tri Tip Grain Directions

We have even published a complete guide to learn how to cut tri tip.

Overall, this steak cut is a very good option and you will have impressive results if you cook it properly.

Where to Buy Tri Tip Steak?

It depends on your location because being in the west coast is easier to find than the other areas. You can always ask your local butcher shop if you can’t find it at the grocery store.

If either has this cut available, you can give the several online shops a try and see if you like it. 

How to Select the Best Tri Tip Cut for Sous Vide

Since sous vide will break down the steak’s fibers, any meat grade will work great but I think that Choice Beef Grade would be the best option since you get the most marbling for price ratio.

If you want to go a little bit extra, you can go for Prime Grade but I think it is not worth the price.

As for selecting, you should go for a 1 ½ - 2-inch steak cut, since this is the ideal thickness where your meat is not thin enough to overcook during the finish searing process and is thick enough to maintain an even interior and exterior.

Everything You Will Need for This Recipe

Here's a list with all the equipment you will need to cook this recipe. A few of them may be optional for some and you can easily replace with other equipment or just choose to not use.

  • Disposable Pouch: The process begins with placing your roast and seasonings in a special bag that is vacuum sealed. Just be sure the bag is large enough to contain a 2 to 3 pound roast.
  • Vacuum Sealer: Once all the ingredients are placed inside the bag, you will need to remove the air and vacuum seal the bag with a dedicated appliance.
  • Sous Vide Machine: This item is obviously imperative. It is an appliance that allows you to cook just about anything low and slow in a warm water bath. The temperature of the water needs to be precisely regulated. It is best to purchase a sous vide machine with a built-in water container for ease of operation.
  • Cast Iron Skillet: After the sous vide process is completed, you will be searing the roast in a cast iron skillet right before serving. This takes the beef to a higher level with a lovely exterior and even more flavor.
  • Tongs: It can’t be stressed enough that a fork is not the way to turn a piece of protein. You don’t want to pierce it so that the juices run free. Tongs work best.
  • Digital Meat Thermometer: it would be a crime to overcook the beef. Medium rare is what we are going for. You will want to check the internal temperature of the roast while it is in the skillet. You are looking for 125°F for medium rare and 145° for medium.
  • Cutting Board: A clean cutting board is necessary for resting and slicing the meat. If you don’t rest your beef, the juices will escape and it will become dry and chewy.
  • Aluminum Foil: It is always a good idea to tent the roast with aluminum foil for a few minutes while it rests to keep it warm.
  • Sharp Carving Knife: Make sure your knife has been sharpened so you can easily and cleanly slice against the grain of the beef.

Sous Vide Tri Tip Recipe

Sous-Vide-Served-Tri-Tip

Credits: AnovaCulinary

Servings:

4

(2-3 Pound Roast)

Preparing Time:

5 Minutes

Sous Vide Time:

4-5 Hours

(Depending on doneness)

Searing + Resting:

5 + 10 Minutes

Since tri tip is a cut of meat which doesn't require any special rubbing and seasoning, the ingredient list couldn’t be any easier. All you need is:

Ingredients



  • 2 - 3 Pound Tri Tip Roast (4 Servings)
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • More Salt and Pepper to Taste

How to Rub Tri Tip for Sous Vide


Since tri tip has a nice beefy flavor, I think that you don’t need to do any major rubbing and seasoning when cooking it.

A simple seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic powder will work great. You can even put some rosemary inside the vacuum bag if you want.

This cut of steak can weigh up to 2 pounds, so if you have picked a large cut, you can be a little generous with seasoning.

If you don’t like to use a simple seasoning mixture, then any beef rub will work great. We have previously published a best brisket rub recipes, and most of them will work great with any beef cut, including tri tip.

Preparing and Cooking the Tri Tip


Preparing-Tri-Tip-for-Sous-Vide

Credits: Anova/Author/Cole

Now it is time to get to making the perfect sous vide tri tip recipe. The directions are fairly simple. The rewards are awesome. I would start the process mid-afternoon so that the beef will be ready for dinner. Follow these step-by-step instructions.

  • Quick Tip: Take a good look at your roast before starting the recipe so that you know the direction of the grain in each half. Don’t be shy about snapping a pic for reference.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, salt, and pepper. Rub this all over the roast.
  • Place the roast inside the pouch/bag. Squeeze out all of the air by vacuum sealing the bag.
  • Fill the sous vide container with water and set the temperature to 131°F for Medium-Rare, which is the ideal doneness for this cut. Place the bag with the roast in the water bath and cook for 4 hours for medium-rare. I recommend checking the meat every hour, as each machine differs.
  • Remove the bag from the sous vide bath. Take the tri tip out of the bag and pat it dry.
  • Take your skillet and heat to high. Add the butter and olive oil. As soon as the fat begins to smoke, add the tri tip roast to the pan. Sear for 2 minutes on one side. Turn the roast over and sear until brown on the other side, approximately 1 to 2 more minutes. Check the internal temperature with your digital meat thermometer. You are looking for 125°F for medium rare and 145° for medium.
  • Remove the roast to a clean cutting board. Season both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Tent with foil. Allow the roast to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Slice the rested tri tip roast and serve with your favorite sauce, such as chimichurri, a starchy mash of potatoes or winter squash, and a crisp green salad. See the section down below for how to properly slice a tri tip.

How Long to Sous Vide Tri Tip

Sous-Vide-Tri-Tip

Medium-Rare Sous Vide Tri Tip - Credits: Anova/author/Cole

When it comes to steak doneness, it depends a lot on personal preference.

I think that for maximum results, the Medium-rare doneness level is perfect. You can go up to a medium doneness but anything higher than that will dry-out the meat since it’s a lean cut.

For medium-rare doneness, you should sous vide it for 4-5 hours, at 130-135° Fahrenheit temperature.

Down below you can find a detailed graph and table with all the cooking times and temperatures for sous vide tri tip.

Sous Vide Tri Tip Temperatures and Time Tables

Doneness Level

Cooking Temperature

Cooking Time

Rare

125°F

1-4 Hours

Medium-Rare

129°F

1-4 Hours

Medium

133°F

1-4 Hours

Medium-Well

138°F

1-4 Hours

Carving a Tri Tip Roast

Hopefully you followed the tip to take a good look at the direction of the grain in the raw steak. If not, just slice the rested roast in half at the widest mid-section. This will reveal the muscle fibers and how they are crossing the meat.

Sous Vide Tri Tip

Sliced Sous Vide Tri TIp

Once you have a good look at the direction of the muscle fibers in each half, you are going to want to slice the meat across the grain to ensure each portion is pleasant to chew and not tough. What that means is that you are carving perpendicular to or through the short ends of the strands of meat.

Some Final Thoughts

Sous-Vide-Machine

Credits: Anova/Author/Cole

We find that the sous vide method of preparing certain proteins results in softer and more flavorful meat dishes. A tri tip roast can be a tricky cut of beef to prepare properly. While it is really delicious, you do need to take care in preparing it, cooking it, and carving it.

Tri tip can be tender and juicy when slow cooked in a sous vide appliance. Finish it off in a hot skillet. Then, carve it against the grain and serve it with some awesomely tasty sides that compliment beef.

About Kendrick

Kendrick is an outdoor cooking enthusiast, currently living in Kansas. He loves to share his knowledge and passion about cooking with everyone online (Read More)

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