Are you thinking of cooking tri-tip for dinner sometime soon? This is a delicious, succulent, and popular meat, but you need to make sure you are cooking it completely to make it safe and tasty. If you cook it for too long or not long enough, it simply won’t have such a superb taste and texture, and could even be dangerous to consume.
Depending on the size of your tri-tip, you’ll usually want to cook it for between 25 and 75 minutes – which is quite a range. Small tri-tip, weighing around 1 lb, can be cooked for about 25 minutes or half an hour, but if your tri-tip weighs 3 lb, you’ll want it in the oven for well over an hour.
Determining how long to cook this meat can be tricky, because of the variances in size and temperature. With that in mind, we’re going to look at how long to cook tri-tip in the oven at 350ºF, so you can enjoy meat that has been cooked to perfection every time.
How Long To Cook Tri-Tip In Oven At 350ºF
You will need to judge the cooking time of the tri-tip based on the size and thickness of the meat. Larger and thicker pieces of meat have to be cooked for longer, while small, thin pieces should require less time.
That means a 3 lb tri-tip will usually need to be cooked for about 75 minutes at 350ºF to ensure it is fully cooked through. Make sure you allow enough time for this when making dinner preparations.
A smaller piece of tri-tip, such as a 2 lb one, will probably only need to be cooked for about 50 minutes and may burn if you leave it in the oven for much longer.
If your tri-tip is smaller still, say around 1 lb, it will probably only need around 25 or 35 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
As an approximate rule of thumb, you should add 30 minutes of cooking time for every pound of meat. This isn’t a perfect science and you should still use a meat thermometer (which we’ll discuss in more detail later) to check that your meat is properly cooked, but it can be a useful guide to have.
Remember, the thicker the meat, the more slowly it will cook!
How Do You Control The Rarity Of The Meat?
The internal temperature of the tri-tip should be at least 145ºF to ensure it is absolutely safe to eat. This will give you medium-rare meat that is safe to consume. If you want medium meat, wait for the temperature to reach 160ºF before taking the meat out of the oven.
Note that some sources recommend removing the meat from the oven when its internal temperature is between 135 and 140ºF for truly medium-rare meat. This meat will be closer to raw. However, this doesn’t comply with the current safety guidelines, and many experts say that you should cook the meat to a minimum internal temperature of 145ºF.
It is worth noting that your meat will continue to cook for a short time after being removed from the oven, because of residual heat trapped inside the cut. This can lead to the temperature reaching 145ºF even if you remove it early, and it’s one of the reasons that the resting period is so key.
Different people will have different feelings about the temperature they are comfortable with eating. If you like very rare meat and you’re happy with your food handling practices, you may wish to take the meat out of the oven before it reaches 145ºF. However, be aware that there is a higher risk of food poisoning if you do this.
It’s therefore usually best to cook the meat to 145ºF, and not take the risk with lower temperature meat.
How to Tell If Tri-Tip Is Cooked
Because meat carries a high risk of food poisoning, you need to make sure you are completely cooking it before you serve it.
The best way to tell if your tri-tip is fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer. This is the most reliable means of checking whether the meat has reached a safe internal temperature for consumption, regardless of its size and thickness.
A meat thermometer will help to prevent your meat from getting overcooked or undercooked and reduces the risk of food poisoning. If your meat doesn’t reach a sufficiently high internal temperature, dangerous bacteria could survive in it and might make you ill.
Food poisoning can be very serious and may result in vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and – in severe cases – even hospitalization or fatalities. It’s therefore important to be extremely careful about food preparation and ensure you are cooking the meat thoroughly.
Overcooked tri-tip isn’t likely to be dangerous, but you will ruin the meat, leaving it dry, charred, and unpleasant. It’s therefore best to use a meat thermometer and the timing recommendations above to get your meat cooked to perfection every time.
You shouldn’t judge whether a piece of meat is done simply by looking at it. Meat can be charred on the outside and completely raw in the middle. This is not a safe way to approach it. To minimize the risk of cooking issues, get a reliable meat thermometer and use it every time you cook tri-tip.
What Factors Affect Cooking Time
As you’ll have already seen, the weight of the tri-tip makes a difference to the cooking time, but another important factor is the thickness. A piece of meat that is very thick will take more time to cook than a thinner piece of the same weight.
This is because it takes time for the heat to penetrate the center of the meat and cook it, killing the bacteria there and making it tender.
You should always judge your cooking time based on the meat’s thickness, therefore. If you’re cooking very thick pieces, you will need to give them at least a few more minutes in the oven. A thin piece may need less than the recommended time above, so keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t get overcooked.
This is partly why a meat thermometer is so key when you’re cooking tri-tip. It lets you precisely measure when the center of the meat is cooked, so you can get it exactly the way you like it.
You should make sure that you are inserting the thermometer into the very thickest part of the meat. This part will cook the slowest, so it’s important to make sure that the meat has reached the desired temperature here. If you measure the temperature in a thinner part of the meat, you may mistakenly think that your tri-tip is ready to eat before it is.
Remember, if any part of your meat has not yet reached 145ºF (at least), it might not be safe to eat – so use your meat thermometer to maximize safety.
Do You Need To Let Tri-Tip Rest?
Yes, you need to let the tri-tip rest for a minimum of 10 minutes before you cut into it. Some people recommend much longer resting times, so don’t rush to slice the meat open. Resting for half of the cooking time (e.g. a resting time of 20 minutes for a 40-minute cooking time) can be a good rule of thumb.
The resting time is important because it lets the juices in the meat redistribute themselves and spread throughout the fibers.
If you cut the meat too soon, the juices will flow out and be lost. This leaves you with dry, unappetizing meat. It would help if you let the muscles in the meat relax so that the water can be reabsorbed. Your tri-tip will be far more succulent and delicious if you take this approach to it and allow plenty of resting time before you serve it.
Resting also allows your meat to finish cooking completely.
How Do You Get Perfect Tri-Tip Every Time?
There are a few things you can do to make sure the meat shines every time you cook it. The first, as we’ve discussed, is using a proper meat thermometer so you can get the temperature precisely to your liking, and avoid overcooking or undercooking issues. However, there are other steps you should be taking, too!
Remembering to season your tri-tip thoroughly is key. Salt, pepper, and your preferred herbs and spices should be added before the meat is put in the oven, so it has time to absorb the flavors from them. If you don’t season the meat, it will end up bland and flavorless – so this is an important step. Try out different herbs to see what you enjoy.
You could also marinate your meat, or create a rub using garlic and herbs for additional flavor. Don’t be afraid to experiment; you want your meat to be rich and tasty.
If you like your meat to be crispy on the outside but you want to cook it slowly, it’s a good idea to sear the outside in a pan before you begin the cooking process. This has several advantages. Most obviously, it provides a crispy exterior. However, it also helps to lock in the juices and prevent them from being lost as the meat cooks.
To sear your meat, you should oil and heat a skillet, and then brown each side of the meat in the skillet for a few minutes. Don’t keep it in long; you’re not cooking the tri-tip, you’re just crisping up the exterior.
This trick is great for those who prefer crispier meat on the outside. If you’d rather your meat stay tender and succulent, skip it and just opt for baking the tri-tip in the oven as described above.
How long does it take to cook a tri-tip in the oven?
As you’ve seen above, this varies depending on how thick and heavy the tri-tip is. It can take as little as half an hour to cook a small piece, but over an hour for a large one. Make sure you are using a reliable meat thermometer to check your tri-tip is ready before you serve it.
How long do you cook a tri-tip in the oven at 325?
Again, this will vary depending on the size and thickness of the meat, but you should generally be allowed around 30 minutes per pound of flesh – sometimes a little more. Lowering the oven temperature to 325ºF shouldn’t make a significant difference to the overall cooking time; it may just need a few more minutes.
At what temperature do you cook a tri-tip?
Opinions on this vary, and how you like your meat will affect the temperature you should choose. Cooking your tri-tip slowly can make the meat more tender and succulent, so some chefs recommend cooking it between 200 and 250ºF. This takes a lot longer, but prevents overcooking and can improve the texture of the meat.
How long do you cook a 2 lb tri-tip?
If you are cooking at around 350ºF, you’ll only need to cook a 2 lb tri-tip for between 30 and 50 minutes (depending on the thickness of the cut). If you’re cooking at lower temperatures, the meat could take between 1 and 2 hours. Use a meat thermometer for accurate cooking.
As a rule of thumb, you should cook tri-tip for 30 minutes for every pound of meat if you’re cooking it at 350ºF. However, bear in mind that thicker cuts of meat will inevitably take longer to cook than thinner ones, and make sure you use a good meat thermometer to check the meat’s internal temperature before determining that it is ready to eat.