How to Slice Tri Tip: The ONLY Correct Way to Carve Tri-Tip

how to slice tri tip

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So you have cooked a Trip Tip and now you are wondering how to slice this triangular piece of beef.

Carving a whole piece of meat is always a daunting task. It’s especially important to get it right with Tri Tip, as you can seriously mess the tenderness.

In this post, I’ll be sharing the correct way to slice a whole Tri Tip.

And if don’t already have a Tri Tip waiting to be sliced check out my smoked tri-tip recipe.

How to slice Tri Tip step by step

Slicing tri-tip isn’t difficult so long as you understand a few key details. Watch it done in my video below, or keep reading to get the step by step instructions.

How to Slice Whole Tri-Tip the Right Way

1. Identify the direction of the grain

This is where things can go wrong for some people. 

You need to think back to the start after you trimmed the silverskin and fat cap off the Tri Tip. Which way was the grain running? It started on the outer corner and spread out like a fan.

the direction of the grain and sliced on a raw tri tip

The grain starts on the outer point and fans out and the grain points towards the pointy end of the Tri Tip.

This end has the grain running all the way down into the tip. 

2. Start at the pointy end and slice until you reach inner corner

Remember you need to cut across the grain to achieve a tender bite, cutting with the grain will result in a tough and chewy meal, similar to biting on a rubber band.

a man slicing cooked tri tip with a chefs knife

I personally prefer to keep the slices around ¼” thick, as it tends to give a more tender bite. Or you can slice it thicker at around ½” and sear both sides and then serve as individual steaks.

3. Slice the remaining part of the Tri Tip

Once you have sliced down to the outer corner, you need to turn the Tri Tip 45 degrees and begin slicing again as the grain changes direction at this point.

a man slicing a section of the tri tip with a knife

By slicing the Tri Tip like this, you will ensure the whole piece is sliced against the grain, you will know that every piece is as tender as the last.

Do you cut Tri Tip with or gainst the grain?

It sounds like an easy question, but if you know what a Tri Tip looks like, you also know that the answer may not be as easy.

The Tri Tip gets its name from its easily recognizable shape of being triangular with 3 distinct points.

raw tri tip on a plastic board

This is where it gets tricky, the grain of the meat starts in one corner and fans out across the entire piece of meat. Unlike a full packer brisket, that has two muscles overlapped that the grains run in different directions. The Tri Tip is one singular piece of meat.

The answer is, we need to cut it against the grain.

How do you know which way the grain runs in meat?

The fibers or grain in meat can be more visible in higher-end beef. With the intramuscular fat running in between the fibers, it is quite easy to tell which way the grain is running.

In leaner meats, it is still visible but you just have to look a little closer.

the direction of grain on tri tip beef cut

Trip Tip is a unique cut, with the grain fanning out and spreading. This is where most get confused on the direction of the grain, especially when trying to slice it up after cooking it. But there is a trick to it which we will go over.

Why is my Tri Tip chewy?

The most likely reason is you cut it with the grain. The fibers cannot be pulled apart easily. Unlike when you cut across the grain, you can easily put a slice of meat apart.

But slicing meat the same way the grain is going, you are effectively making a rubber band, it will be chewy and tough. The funny thing is, the same cut of beef sliced against the grain will be a tender melt-in-your-mouth experience.

Should I cut the fat cap off Tri Tip?

The short answer is yes.

I know a lot of people feel you need to leave it on. Tri Tip cooks quickly and the fat cap has no time to render down.

a man trimming a tri tip with a knife

The other reason to remove it is because it is hiding something, that is silverskin and you need that removed as that will give your Tri Tip a chewy texture once cooked and it will not matter which way you slice it.

How thick should I slice a Tri Tip?

I feel the best thickness is around ¼” thick. It allows for a good outer crust to soft tender meat ratio. By keeping the slices relatively thin, they seem to be more tender when chewing as well. 

smoked tri-tip on a wooden board

You can also slice it thicker, to around ½” thick but I only do this if I wish to serve the slices as individual steak. I will also give the sides a very quick 30 second sear on a cast iron pan or hot plate.

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