Grilled Tri Tip with Arugula Pesto

Grilled Tri Tip with Arugula Pesto

A peppery, bright arugula pesto is a great accompaniment to beefy whole grilled tri tip.


The tri tip is the tensor fascia latae – given the name because of three distinct point on the muscle. It’s somewhere between a roast and a steak in size – and can function as both. Though some people do cut them into steaks before serving, I prefer to cook them whole to retain maximum juiciness. The tri tip is also unusual because the grain (or direction) of the meat changes halfway through the muscle.  So for maximum tenderness you need to know how to cut it properly. Don’t worry – I have you covered with this super detailed video tutorial.

My usual go-to for tri tip is this smoked recipe, but the grill produces a whole range of different flavors from the charcoal and maillard reactions. Grilling the tri tip is also faster, so it’s a great option for a weeknight meal solution. And if you can manage not to eat it all in one sitting- the thinly sliced leftovers make for incredible beef sandwiches.

This recipe will absolutely cover the basics for grilling this tasty cut, but what makes it really special is the arugula pesto. I use this just like a chimichurri and spoon in straight over the meat for the perfect bite. It’s packed with rich flavors like parmesan and textural crunch from walnuts, but the best part is the arugula itself with is fresh and peppery when paired with the beef.

Additional recipe notes:

  • For best results, make sure when you grill your tri tip you rotate it on the grill to sear the thick end and the edges, not just the two main sides
  • To get the gorgeous color and seasoning you see in the photo, I used Hardcore Carnivore Red. You can sub this out for 1 teaspoon of kosher salt (but if you like flavor, grab a bottle!)
  • The trick to cooking this thicker cut is a two zone grill setup. You can find it described in the recipe below, but for more details and a visual, check out this guide.
  • To check when the tri tip is cooked, I recommend using an accurate meat thermometer. Please note – though this recipe calls for a final temperature of 135f, the USDA recommends steaks be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F.
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Grilled Tri Tip with Arugula Pesto

Grilled Tri Tip with Arugula Pesto

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Jess Pryles



1 x whole tri tip steak

2 teaspoons Hardcore Carnivore Red seasoning

3 oz argula (about 2 cups)

2 oz grated or shaved parmesan (1/3 cup)

2 oz chopped walnuts (1/3 cup)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Prepare a grill for high heat, two zone cooking. This means you should have one hot/direct area, and one cooler/indirect area.
  2. Pat the tri tip dry with paper towel, then season well on all sides with the Hardcore Carnivore Red seasoning (or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt if not using seasoning).
  3. Lay the tri tip over the hot side of the grill to start cooking, and flip it every 30 seconds. Make sure to flip it onto the thick edges, too. Once you have developed a color or crust (about 5-7 minutes), move the tri tip to the indirect side of the grill and close the lid.
  4. Finish cooking the tri tip over indirect heat until the internal temperature reaches 135f. This will take between 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the cut and heat of your grill, so keep monitoring it.
  5. While the steak cooks, make the pesto by combining the arugula, parmesan, salt and walnuts in a food processor. Blitz until all ingredients turn into a coarse paste. Add the olive oil and pulse a few times to blend, but to not over mix or the oil with emulsify.
  6. Once the steak is at temperature, remove it from the grill and rest under foil for 10 minutes.
  7. Slice the tri tip across the grain, and serve with the arugula pesto.


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