Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


Buster’s Tri-Tip

By Charles Earl “Buster” Davis of Busters Southern BBQ

  • Advance Prep: 8 to 24 hours

If you’ve never had tri-tip (if you live east of the Rocky Mountains, you have an excuse), imagine a boomerang-shaped piece of sirloin that cooks like steak, but slices like brisket, with a beef flavor that just won’t quit.


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  • 1 beef tri-tip (2 to 2-1/2 pounds)

For the rub (makes a little more than you need, but it keeps well)

  • 1 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoons MSG
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons hot red pepper or cayenne

Step 1: Place the tri-tip in a baking dish. Make the rub. Place the salt, pepper, garlic powder, MSG, and hot pepper in a small bowl and mix with your fingers. Sprinkle the meat with rub on all sides, rubbing the spices into the meat. Cover the tri-tip and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or as long 24.

Step 2: Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat it to medium-low. Ideally, you’ll be grilling over a wood (oak) fire. If working on charcoal, at very least toss some oak chips. For a gas grill place the wood chips in the smoker box.

Step 3: Grill the tri-tip until crusty and brown on the outside and cooked to taste inside, 15 to 20 minute per side for medium-rare.

Step 4: Transfer the tri-tip to a cutting board and let rest for 3 minutes. Thinly slice across the grain and serve at once with grilled garlic bread on the side.

Buster’s Southern BBQ is located at 1207 Foothill Boulevard, Calistoga, CA 94515