I know a lot of folks struggle to correctly slice up a tri tip so I put together this cutting diagram to help you get this figured out.
The fundamental part of carving up a tri tip roast is that you want to slice the meat against the grain. Slicing the meat against the grain will result in more tender pieces than if you slice with the grain. The problem is that the grain structure changes in the middle of the roast and is hard to see once the tri tip has been cooked.
For example, the tri tip pictured below has a beautiful crust and, unless you know what you are looking for, finding the grain pattern is tough!
Keep reading and I will show you exactly how to slice this roast so you can get the most tender tri tip possible.
Identify the Grain Pattern on the Uncooked Tri Tip
Things get easy if you look at the grain pattern of the tri tip BEFORE it gets cooked.
Looking at the tri tip pictured below you can see that the muscle fibers on the left side of the roast tend to run North to South while the fibers on the right side of the roast tend to run East to West.
If you are having problems seeing the grain structure then the diagram below makes it more obvious.
The blue arrows on the left side of the roast shows the “North South” structure while the yellow arrows on the right show the “East West” structure. I placed a big red arrow in the middle of the two sections that I call the Dividing Line.
Make note of where the dividing line is because that is where we will make our first cut. If this is your first time cooking a tri tip then you might want to insert a few toothpicks along the dividing line so you can easily find it later.
Sharpen Your Slicing Knife
Before we start slicing we need to make sure that we are using the right hardware. Specifically, you are going to want to use a sharpened slicing knife so you can get the thinnest slices possible.
I like to use a 16 inch granton edged carving knife for slicing roasts. If all you have is a standard chef’s knife then go ahead and work with that but make sure you give it a few passes through a knife sharpener first.
Trust me, working with a sharp knife is going to make this job so much easier!
Slice the Tri Tip Down the Dividing Line
After the tri tip has been cooked you will use your sharp knife and make the first slice down the Dividing Line that separates the two grain structures.
Slice all the way through the roast to create two sections of meat. Don’t worry if you are off from the Dividing Line a little as this cut does not need to be exact.
Once the tri tip has been sliced down the Dividing Line you will have two pieces of meat, each with the grain running in slightly different directions.
The yellow arrows in the diagram below show you which way to slice the meat so you are going against the grain for each section.
Finish Slicing the Tri Tip
Now that the meat is in two sections and the direction of the grain has been established for each it is time to finish slicing the meat.
Slice the meat as thinly as possible to maximize tenderness.
You will end up with different shaped slices from the two sections of the roast.
Use a grooved cutting board to catch as much of the juices as possible and reserve to pour over the meat or use in a pot of tri tip chili.
I like to serve the slices of tri tip side by side and let people pick and choose what they want.
To get slices that are thinner, and even more tender, let the tri tip rest in the refrigerator for a few hours before attempting the first slice as it will be much easier to cut the meat thinly when it is cold.
How to Cut Tri Tip
- 1 Slicing Knife Granton Edged Preferred
- 1 cooked Tri Tip Roast
- Sharp Knife
- Steady Hand
- Start by identifying the grain pattern on the uncooked roast and mark the Dividing Line between the two grain structures.
- Cook the tri tip any way you like. A Reverse Sear is always nice.
- Make the first slice of the tri tip along the Dividing Line identified earlier to create to sections.
- Slice each section of tri tip against the grain as indicated in the diagram.
- Slice the tri tip as thin as possible to maximize tenderness.