A Diamond in the Rough: Costco Tri Tip

August 26, 2022

I have to admit that I get pretty excited whenever I get my hands on a Costco tri tip. The cut is affordable but there is just so much flavor to be extracted as long as you know how to prepare it.

In this post, I will be showing you just what this cut is and how to prepare it to perfection. Let's begin!

Costco Tri Tip

What is Tri Tip?

Tri tip is gaining more popularity but there are still a lot of people who don't know too much about this cut. The tri tip roast, is a part of the sirloin subprimal cut. The steak is cut from the tri tip roast.

Although it is a cheaper cut, the tri tip boasts an incredible flavor. It has great marbling and when cooked properly it is lovely and tender.

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Understanding the Costco Tri Tip

When most people think of tri tip, they don't automatically think of Costco. So:

Is Costco Tri Tip Good?

Well, this does depend on the grade of the meat being offered by the chain store. You are most likely going to find USDA Choice and Select, with Choice being the better option here. In some cases, you may even find Prime grade. If you can get your hands on this, then you are sure to have a lovely cut of meat.

In general, though, the tri tip is pretty good and affordable here. As long as you prepare it in the right way, the results will be well worth the cost of the meat.

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The only issue I have with Costco's tri tip is that it is blade tenderized. This process is also known as mechanically tenderized or needled. Here, a machine uses small blades or needles to puncture the tri tip. This breaks up connective tissue and muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender cut.

The problem with blade tenderization is that the blades can potentially transfer foodborne illnesses throughout the cut of meat. Thus, to ward off any sickness, you have to cook the blade tenderized meat to 165°F - which is well done.

The thing is, tri tip tastes best when it is cooked to medium rare or medium. Personally, though, I feel like you can get away with cooking the blade tenderized tri tip steaks to 145°F. You will need to consider whether this is a risk that you are willing to take, however.

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How to Cook Tri Tip?

There are two main ways to cook your tri tip beef cut. The first is the sous vide method and the second involves smoking. I will outline both of these methods for you, below:

Sous Vide Tri Tip

Ingredients

  • 2lb tri tip
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs. of fresh thyme
  • 4 tbs. of unsalted butter, cubed
  • Olive oil
juicy tender steak loaded with flavor

Method

Step 1

Season the tri tip with salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme.

Place the tri tip in an airtight bag and seal.

Step 2

Fill a pot with water and set up the immersion circulator for 135°F.

Place the bag so that the tri tip is submerged. Keep the bag clamped to the side of the pot.

Cook for three hours. Take out when the thickest part of the tri tip registers 135°F.

Step 3

Take the cut out of the bag, scrape off the thyme and garlic, and pat dry.

Preheat a grill or a skillet. In the meantime, brush the Costco roast with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper.

Once the pan is hot, add the roast and cook on each side for 5 to 7 minutes or until the internal temperature is at 145°F.

Take off the heat and rest before cutting.

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Smoked Tri Tip

Ingredients

  • 2lb tri tip
  • 1 tbs. of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of beef rub

Method

Step 1

Preheat the smoker to 225°F. Use wood chips such as apple or oak.

Step 2

Brush the entire roast with olive oil. Then, liberally sprinkle the rub over the entire cut.

Place in the smoker and cook until the internal temperature registers 140°F.

Take off the heat and rest.

How Long Does It Take to Cook a Costco Tri Tip?

With the sous vide method, it can take up to 3 hours to cook the meat, while with smoking it can about two hours to prepare the beef.

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Slicing the Tri Tip

The manner in which you slice the meat can determine how tender it will be. This is why it is important to slice against the grain. Before you start slicing, take a moment to examine the cut of beef and figure out how you should be cutting it.

You should also be aware that the direction of the grain can change midway through slicing it. Thus, carefully watch how you cut through every slice.

Don't be thrown off by the Costco brand, this can be a really good cut of meat as long as you know how to prepare it. Now that you do, you can have a budget meal that tastes absolutely exquisite!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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