How to Grill Tri-Tip on a Charcoal Grill?

How to Grill Tri-Tip on a Charcoal Grill?

Greetings, grill enthusiasts! As a professional copywriting journalist and avid grilling enthusiast, I’m excited to share some tri-tip grilling tips with you today. There’s something special about cooking over charcoal, and when it comes to grilling tri-tip, it’s no exception. In this article, I’ll be sharing some of my tried and true charcoal grill recipes and techniques for achieving the perfect texture and flavor.

Key Takeaways:

  • Grilling tri-tip on a charcoal grill requires proper preparation and technique.
  • Seasoning and marinating the tri-tip steak before grilling enhances its flavor.
  • Setting up the charcoal grill with the right temperature and heat zones is crucial.
  • Consistent heat and monitoring the internal temperature of the meat are essential for optimal results.

Preparing the Tri-Tip Steak

Before grilling the tri-tip steak, it’s important to properly prepare it to ensure maximum flavor and tenderness. Here are some grilling techniques and seasoning options to consider:

Seasoning Options

When it comes to seasoning a tri-tip steak, there are many options available. Some popular choices include:

  • Rubbing the steak with a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • Marinating the steak in a mixture of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and herbs such as rosemary and thyme
  • Coating the steak with a dry rub made of paprika, brown sugar, and cumin

Experiment with different seasoning options to find your favorite flavor combination.

Marinating Techniques

If you choose to marinate your tri-tip steak, it’s important to do it properly to ensure maximum flavor. Here are some tips for marinating:

  • Use a large zip-top bag or a shallow dish to marinate the steak
  • Make sure the steak is fully submerged in the marinade
  • Marinate the steak in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to overnight
  • Remove the steak from the marinade and pat it dry before grilling

Remember, the longer you marinate the steak, the more intense the flavor will be.

Letting the Steak Rest

Before grilling the tri-tip steak, it’s important to let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This allows the steak to cook more evenly and results in a juicier, more tender steak.

During this time, you can also season the steak with your preferred grill seasoning for tri-tip, ensuring that the flavors are fully absorbed before grilling.

By following these preparation steps, you’ll be on your way to grilling a delicious and flavorful tri-tip steak.

Setting Up the Charcoal Grill

Before grilling a perfect tri-tip steak, it is crucial to set up the charcoal grill correctly. I always start by lighting the charcoal in a chimney starter. This method ensures even distribution of heat and eliminates the need for lighter fluid, which can add harmful chemicals to the meat.

Once the charcoal is lit, I pour it onto one side of the grill to create direct heat. On the other side, I place a drip pan filled with water to create indirect heat and ensure the meat stays juicy. It is also important to control the airflow by adjusting the vents on the lid and bottom of the grill for optimal temperature regulation.

To achieve the perfect charcoal grill temperature, I use a digital thermometer to monitor the heat level. The temperature should be around 225-250°F for slow cooking and 350-400°F for higher heat and faster cooking.

For longer cooking times, I recommend adding more charcoal every hour, as the coal burns out and loses heat over time. By doing this, you can maintain a consistent grill temperature and prevent the steak from taking longer than necessary to cook.

Charcoal Grilling Methods

There are two primary charcoal grilling methods: direct heat and indirect heat. Direct heat means placing the meat directly over the hot coals, while indirect heat requires placing the meat next to, but not directly over, the hot coals. Indirect heat is ideal for longer cooking times, as it avoids burning the meat and ensures even cooking throughout.

Another useful charcoal grilling technique is the two-zone fire, which involves creating a hot and a cooler side on the grill. This technique is ideal for searing the meat over high heat and then moving it to the cooler side for slower cooking. This technique results in a perfectly cooked steak with crispy grill marks and juicy, tender meat.

Grilling the Tri-Tip Steak

Now that we have prepared the tri-tip steak and set up the charcoal grill, it’s time to start grilling. Here are some best practices to ensure a perfectly grilled steak:

  • Preheat the grill to high heat.
  • Oil the grill grates to prevent sticking.
  • Place the steak on the hottest part of the grill to sear the outside.
  • Avoid moving the steak too much or pressing down on it, as this can cause the juices to escape.
  • Use tongs or a spatula to flip the steak only once, after it has developed grill marks on one side.
  • For a medium-rare steak, grill for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 130-135°F.
  • Let the steak rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing, to allow the juices to redistribute and prevent dryness.

To achieve perfect grill marks, follow these steps:

  1. Place the steak on the hot grill at a 45-degree angle to the grates.
  2. After 2-3 minutes, use tongs to rotate the steak 90 degrees without flipping it, to create crosshatch marks.
  3. After another 2-3 minutes, flip the steak and repeat the process on the other side.

Remember to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak and adjust grilling times accordingly. With these techniques, you’ll be able to impress your guests with a perfectly grilled tri-tip steak.


In conclusion, grilling tri-tip on a charcoal grill is a rewarding experience that requires essential preparation, proper charcoal grill setup, and effective grilling techniques. By following the tips and techniques shared in this article, you will have the knowledge to achieve a perfectly grilled tri-tip steak with the desired flavor and texture.

Remember to season your tri-tip before grilling, allow it to rest at room temperature, and set up your charcoal grill for direct and indirect heat zones. Always monitor the temperature of the meat and adjust the airflow as needed to maintain consistent heat levels. And don’t forget to create those beautiful grill marks!

With these tips and techniques, you can elevate your grilling skills and impress your guests with delicious tri-tip meals. So fire up that charcoal grill and enjoy the taste of perfectly grilled tri-tip steak!


Q: How do I grill tri-tip on a charcoal grill?

A: To grill tri-tip on a charcoal grill, follow these steps:

Q: What are some tips for preparing the tri-tip steak?

A: Before grilling the tri-tip steak, consider these preparation tips:

Q: How do I set up a charcoal grill for grilling tri-tip?

A: Setting up a charcoal grill for grilling tri-tip involves the following steps:

Q: What are some best practices for grilling tri-tip on a charcoal grill?

A: When grilling tri-tip on a charcoal grill, keep these tips in mind:

Michael Davis
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