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Seared Sous Vide Tri Tip with Thyme

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This sous vide tri tip recipe is delicious and easy. The tri tip steak is tender, delicious, and juicy. Finish it on your grill or in a cast iron skillet for a perfectly cooked and seasoned steak dinner.

slices of sous vide tri tip on a plate

Using a sous vide for cooking is an excellent way to make perfectly cooked meats every single time. In sous vide the food is cooked in a hot water bath, so it cooks to exactly the temperature you desire.

This is especially useful for cuts of beef, because there is no risk of things being overcooked. Sous vide rib eye and sous vide beef tenderloin are two of the tasty beef dishes I have made in the past, and this sous vide tri tip is just as good and has become one of my favorite sous vide recipes.

sliced, cold tri tip steak

What is Tri Tip

Tri tip is a cut of beef which comes from the bottom of a sirloin roast. It is called tri tip because it is triangular.

Tri tip is popular because it is both relatively inexpensive and very flavorful. It has a nice beef taste, some fat running through it, and can be cooked to be very tender. This cut is very popular in California and is sometimes called Santa Maria style BBQ.

tri tip sliced across the grain

The only issue with tri tip is that it is more difficult to cook. It is frequently grilled, but easy to over cook on the grill.

If tri tip is over cooked it becomes chewy, but with sous vide you can cook it long enough to break down all the connective tissue for perfect, tender steak that isn’t overcooked.

I have made this recipe a lot this summer. My husband loves steak but beef prices seem to keep going up. Tri tip gives me a way to serve steak without blowing the grocery budget!

Another advantage of tri tip is that it is a great size for my family of five. It usually weighs 2-3 pounds which means everyone can enjoy some for dinner and there will usually be some leftover for a couple sandwiches.

How Long to Sous Vide Tri Tip Steak?

Once you buy some tri tip and start researching it becomes obvious that everyone has a different opinion on how long it should be cooked in a sous vide. I’ve seen times suggested from 2 hours to 24 hours.

I’m going to go on the shorter end and come down in favor of a 5-8 hour sous vide time for tri tip. This is mainly because of the science behind the cooking.

slicing the tri tip

To make the meat tender you need to break down the collagen fibers in it. But if you cook it too much it will turn mushy. Tri tip doesn’t have a lot of connective tissue and fat to break down like brisket does, so the hugely long cooking time just seems like over kill to me.

However Tri tip is thicker than most rib eye, at around 2 inches, so it makes sense it needs longer to cook than a steak would. I have been cooking my tri tip for 6 hours and it comes out amazing with that cooking time.

Temperature for Sous Vide Tri Tip

When deciding on what temperature to use for tri tip it is just like any other steak. If you like your steak medium rare you will probably want your tri tip to be medium rare.

However you also have to consider food safety. Tri tip takes longer to cook than thinner steaks. Cooking it at temperature below 130 F for more than 2 hours can be dangerous and tri tip needs more than 2 hours to cook.

I can’t recommend cooking tri tip below 130 F for this reason, and in fact I’d use 132 F as a minimum just to have some margin.

Which means rare isn’t an option for tri tip cooked in the sous vide. I recommend medium rare and I cook my tri tip at 134 F. Here is table with the suggested temperature ranges.

DonenessTemperature
medium rare132 – 135 F
medium136 – 145 F
medium well146 – 155 F
well done156 F+
ingredients for tri tip

Ingredients

  • Tri tip steak
  • Seasoning – thyme, salt, pepper

That’s it!

Step by Step Instructions

1. Set Up the Water Bath

Set the water bath with the sous vide cooker to 134 F, or whatever temperature you have decided on. It will take some time for the water to reach this temperature.

2. Prepare the Tri Tip

I seasoned the tri tip with salt, pepper and sprigs of thyme. I have also used Spicy Montreal steak seasoning in the past. Both are delicious!

If your tri tip has a thick fat cap it is a good idea to cut some of it off before cooking. At 134 F the sous vide isn’t hot enough to really render the fat, so it won’t add much flavor. A thin layer of fat is plenty.

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Once it is seasoned put it in a bag for sous vide cooking. If you have a vacuum sealer use that to seal it in the bag.

If you don’t have a vacuum sealer you can use the water displacement method. For this method put the tri tip in a zippered bag, pushing out as much of the air as possible, and leave it open just a little bit.

tri tip in a vacuum bag for sous vide cooking

Then lower it into the heated water, keeping out the end that is still open. The water pressure should force any remaining air out of the bag. Once the air is completely out of the bag seal it closed the rest of the way.

3. Cook the Tri Tip Steak

Cook the tri tip in the 134 F water bath for 6 hours. Make sure the bag doesn’t float up to the top, and if it does weigh it down to keep it submerged.

tri tip in sous vide water bath

One of the great things about sous vide cooking is that you can just set it and forget it. I love low effort cooking, especially in the summertime.

4. Sear the Tri Tip

After 6 hours the steak will be done. But to make it look and taste best it needs to be seared over high heat.

A hot grill or a cast iron pan are perfect for searing the tri tip. Before searing the steak take it out of the sous vide cooker, open the bag and pat it dry with paper towels.

searing the tri tip on the grill

If the outside is damp it will not sear as well. You want it to get very brown, very fast. If it takes too long to brown the meat will continue to cook, which means the internal temperature might rise.

Preheat the grill or a cast iron pan for 3-5 minutes. Then quickly brown the meat, turning it so it browns on all sides. If find it easier to sear it quickly on a hot grill.

tri tip after browning before slicing

5. Slice the Tri Tip

This steak will be best when it is sliced thinly, across the grain of the meat. I don’t usually even make a pan sauce with tri tip and just slice it thin and serve it.

How to Store

If you have leftover tri tip it makes delicious sandwiches or tacos. After cooking it will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

a plate with a half sliced tri tip

Find More Sous Vide Recipes

Yield: 6

Sous Vide Tri Tip

a plate with a half sliced tri tip

This sous vide tri tip recipe is delicious and easy.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pound tri tip
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 sprigs of thyme

Instructions

  1. Set the sous vide water bath up with a sous vide cooker. Set the temperature to 134 F and wait for the water to reach the temperature.
  2. Season the tri tip with salt, pepper and sprigs or thyme. If you have a vacuum sealer seal the tri tip in a bag. If not use the water displacement method for the meat.
  3. Put the tri tip in the water and let it cook for 5-8 hours. I usually use 6 hours.
  4. When you are almost ready to eat heat a grill on high or a cast iron pan on medium-high. If using a cast iron skillet add 2 Tablespoons of oil to the skillet.
  5. Once the meat is cooked take it out of the water, remove it from the bag, and pat it dry. Sear it on the grill or in the cast iron pan for 2-3 minutes per side to quickly brown it.
  6. Slice the tri tip thinly across the grain and serve.

Notes

Using 134 F for the sous vide will give you medium rare tri tip. You can cook it a higher temperature if you prefer. Temperature ranges are:

  • 132 - 135 F for medium rare
  • 136 - 145 F for medium
  • 146 - 155 F for medium well
  • 156 F + for well done

For food safety reasons I wouldn't cook the tri tip at a temperature lower than 132 F.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 480Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 188mgSodium: 297mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 59g

Nutrition facts are estimates.

slices of beef on a platter with herbs
This sous vide tri tip recipe is delicious and easy. The tri tip steak is tender, delicious, and juicy. Finish it on your grill or in a cast iron skillet for a perfectly cooked and seasoned steak dinner.

By on August 6th, 2020

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