This whiskey tri-tip is a super easy marinade for an incredibly delicious and inexpensive cut of meat. You’ll even skip the steak sauce.
When you cook for big group, you learn quickly that everyone has an opinion on what to eat for dinner. And in my family, they are all opinionated and freely express these opinions to me. Lucky me!
Some dinners are a hit, others are a miss. More common is some like the meal and others grumble about it. It is difficult to find something that everyone agrees on and loves to eat.
Well, one of those always welcomed meals is a roast. I prepare a beef roast and serve it with a variety of side dishes so each person can customize their own meal. And one of our favorite and easiest roasts is this whiskey tri-tip.
What is a tr-tip?
The tri tip roast is cut from the bottom sirloin. It became popular in the 1950’s when legend has it, Bob Schutz, the then-owner of Santa Maria Market in Santa Maria, California first introduced the tri-tip roast to its patrons.
This cut of meat didn’t just evolve into cows. New cuts are discovered by butchers by continuing to cut more common meats down by muscle groups. This juicy and tender cut of meat was quickly loved and became more popularly known as “California’s Cut” or “Santa Maria Steak”.
You can easily find tri-tip roasts in major supermarkets here on the west coast, but may find it difficult to locate on the east side of the US. It is also called a Bottom Sirloin Roast or a Triangle Roast because, well it looks like a triangle. The tri-tip is growing in popularity and it is delicious roasted in the oven or on the grill.
It was for one of these weekly dinners with my niece that I first made this Whiskey Tri-Tip. She was craving red meat and I got this tri-tip on sale at the store. When she saw the empty Jack Daniel’s bottle on the counter, she looked up at me and gave her skeptical, one eyebrow up kinda look.
I reassured her that everything was fine at home, that I did not depressingly down the bottle of Jack myself, but that this bottle of Jack was my assistant for the dinner that night. And of course, that dinner was safe for her and the kids to eat.
This whiskey marinade is very simple: whiskey, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. But that whiskey and cider vinegar are big flavor, so choose a decent quality whiskey and my favorite cider vinegar, Bragg’s apple cider vinegar.
Your tri-tip needs a minimum of 3 hours of marinating time. I have also marinated it for 8-12 hours and it tastes amazing. Remember, this is still kid friendly because the alcohol is of course, burned off.
How to cook tri-tip in the oven
Tri-tips weigh approximately 2-3 pounds, depending on size and how much fat is on it. When I am roasting a tri-tip in the oven, I trim most of the fat off the roast before I marinate it. Place the tri-tip on a roasting pan with a rack and let it come to room temperature before cooking it.
I like to cook this bad boy at a high temperature, 450ºF. This creates a nice crust around the roast. The roast is done after approximately 45-minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 135º-140ºF for medium-rare and 140º-145º F for medium.
Always let your meat rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
How to grill whiskey tri-tip
This whiskey marinade also works beautifully if you are going to grill your tri-tip. I do trim the tri-tip a little bit even for grilling, especially since the grocery stores sell these roasts untrimmed and with a huge amount of fat surrounding it.
I do not cut the fat from the tri-tip as cleanly for the grill as I do for the oven. So leave some of that fat on for flavor. It will melt and burn off while on the grill.
We grill in our Big Steel Keg, which gives our tri-tip a nice smokey flavor because of the hickory chips we use. My husband likes to cook tri-tip in the grill over 275ºF temperature until the temperature of the meat reaches 135ºF inside.
Then he takes the roast off the grill and gives the outside a nice sear by placing the meat directly on the coals. He sears each of the roast this way, then lets it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving and cutting across the grain.
Despite the funny looks at the empty whiskey bottle, my tri-tip dinner passed the smell test with Nassim and the kids. It was even proclaimed a hit and became a frequently requested dinner by Nassim over the years.
So, Nassim, this Jack’s for you! I hope you can recreate it in good health. And for my dad, a long-time friend of Jack and good steak, I can’t wait to make this for you!
- 2 1/2 lb tri-tip roast
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup whiskey
- Trim off any large deposits of fat surrounding the tri-tip. For grilling you want a little bit of fat, but nothing larger than 1/2-inch thick.
- Coat tri-tip with salt and pepper and place in a large resealable plastic bag.
- Pour in whiskey and apple cider vinegar.
- Marinate in refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.
- About 30 minutes prior to cooking remove meat from the marinade and discard the marinade. Allow meat to rest at room temperature.
- For oven roasting, preheat the oven to 450º F.
- Place the tri-tip fat side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
- Roast for 30 minutes and begin checking the internal temperature on a meat thermometer: for medium-rare, 135º-140º F and 140º-145º F for medium.
- If grilling, heat grill to 275ºF temperature and place roast on the grill, fat side up. Close grill and cook until the temperature of the meat reaches 135ºF inside. Remove roast from grill and place meat directly on the coals and sears each of the roast
- Transfer roast to a platter and let rest 10 minutes.
- Slice thinly across the grain and serve immediately.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 471 Total Fat: 21g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 157mg Sodium: 877mg Carbohydrates: 0g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 49g