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Tri-tip steak
Beef Cuts
Alternative names "triangle steak"
Type Bottom Sirloin cut of beef
Whole beef tri-tip, roasted medium rare

The tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin subprimal cut.[1] It is a small triangular muscle, usually 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. (675 to 1,150g) per side of beef.

The scientific name of this muscle is tensor fasciae latae, inserted in the fascia lata, the connective tissue covering the quadriceps femoris, also called quadriceps extensor, a group of four muscles which in turn insert in the patella, or knee cap of the animal.

United States[edit]

In the United States, this cut was typically used for ground beef or sliced into steaks until the early 1950s, when Otto Schaefer Sr. first introduced it to market in Oakland, California.[2] It became a local specialty in Santa Maria, California shortly thereafter when Bob Shutz marketed it in the late 1950s,[3] rubbed with salt, pepper, fresh garlic, and other seasonings, grilled directly over red oak wood to medium-rare doneness. Other nontraditional preparations include being roasted whole on a rotisserie, smoked in a pit, baked in an oven, grilled, or braised in a Dutch oven after searing on a grill. After cooking, the meat is normally sliced across the grain before serving.[4]

Often labeled "Santa Maria steak", the roast is most popular in the Central Coast of California, the Central Valley regions of California[1] and throughout the entire state. It has begun to enjoy increasing favor elsewhere for its full flavor, lower fat content, and comparatively lower cost. Along with top sirloin, tri-tip is considered central to Santa Maria-style barbecue.

In New York City, the Florence Meat Market has popularized the name "Newport steak" for a steak cut from the tri-tip.[5]

Tri-tip has also become a popular cut of meat for producing chili con carne on the competitive chili cooking circuit, supplanting ground beef because the low fat content produces little grease, for which judges take off points.[6]

Tri-tip is closely related to the culotte steak, which is cut from the top sirloin.

In the U.S., the tri-tip has the meat-cutting classification NAMP 185D.[1]

Tri-tip dinner with gravy, served with brown butter, parsley potatoes


In much of Europe the tri-tip is usually sliced into steaks. In France the tri-tip is called aiguillette baronne and is left whole as a roast.[7] In northern Germany, it is called Bürgermeisterstück or Pastorenstück, in Austria Hüferschwanz and in southern Germany it is called the same name as the traditional and popular Bavarian and Austrian dish Tafelspitz, which serves it boiled with horseradish. In Spain, it is often grilled whole and called the rabillo de cadera. In Central America, this cut is also usually grilled in its entirety, and is known as punta de Solomo; in South America, it is grilled as part of the Argentine asado and is known as colita de cuadril, in Chile it is a popular roast called punta de picana, in Mexico it is known as picaña, in Colombian cuisine it is a popular cut for grilled steaks and is known as punta de anca, and in Venezuela it is known as Punta trasera. In Brazil it is a common cut for the traditional Brazilian churrasco and is known as "maminha" (in contrast to "picanha", which is from the top sirloin).