This Sweet Garlic Soy Tri-Tip Marinade recipe is perfect for barbecues, cookouts & family dinners. It makes the most tender and flavorful steak!
This recipe was originally published on June 25, 2020. It was updated with new recipe information on May 10, 2021.
Sweet and salty, garlicky, and full of umami, this Tri-Tip Steak Marinade is a balanced and flavorful marinade. It makes perfect grilled or stove-top steak and is delicious with so many different side dishes.
The timing of this tri-tip marinade post is uncanny.
Even though I scheduled it in a few months ago, I don't think I could have scheduled it at a more apropos time if I tried.
You see because I first tried tri-tip was with my cousin Kirk. I had just moved to the Bay Area and was down with my brother Kirk and my aunt Lea in San Luis Obispo for the weekend. He had some friends over as well and grilled us up some of the most delicious steak I had ever had: tri-tip.
He topped it with a chimichurri sauce (also a first!) that blew my mind. Never had I had either growing up in the Midwest.
Kirk was so generous -- always -- with his time, himself, his attention, cooking, and other little things he did to show he cared. He just made you feel known without even having to entirely explain yourself. And he was so. much. fun. to be around.
This particular trip, he made a special point to encourage me in my career and personal life. Coming out of college into the real world was jolting and somehow he knew I needed a little support.
And this meant a lot coming from a man who achieved as much as he did. It gave me perspective and the long game to remember. And it always helps to have someone else believe in us, even when we don't believe in ourselves, doesn't it?
This Monday morning, I was rocked with the news that Kirk had suddenly, yet peacefully, passed over the weekend.
It had been a bit over 4 years since I had last seen him -- losing that proximity with a cross country move made it that much harder to meet up -- but he had been on my mind a lot these past few weeks.
Most frequently, I thought of the good times we had together, how he knew how to make the most of any situation, his sincerity and freedom in being 100% himself, the way he always encouraged me, and of course -- the tri-tip.
I've now learned that I need to reach out to someone whenever they're on my mind that persistently. The energy I'm picking up is certainly a sign, an indicator, that I need to respond to.
Because I can't go back, and because Kirk deserves this and so much more, I'm dedicating this post to him. May we all seek to live life and love other people to the fullest like he did. To say "buzz off" to fear and live our full selves, because that's what the world needs the most from us.
Love you, 'Cuz! 💗
To skip straight to the recipe, just click "Jump to Recipe" at the top left of this post. To browse the post quickly, just click the headings in the table of contents below.
Table of contents
- This grilled steak marinade is...
- What is tri-tip?
- Where do you find tri-tip?
- What other cuts of steak work in this marinade recipe?
- How do marinades work?
- How long do you need to marinate the steak?
- Tips for grilling the best steak every time:
- Can you also grill this steak on the stovetop?
- How to slice tri-tip:
- How to make this steak marinade and grill the steak:
- What tools do you need to make this marinade?
- A note on cooking the used marinade before serving:
- Why do you need to let steak rest?
- Can you use this recipe for meal prep?
- Can you double or triple this recipe?
- Can you freeze this marinade?
- What do you serve this grilled steak with?
- More delicious steak and cookout recipes you'll love!
This tri-tip marinade recipe is...
- Full of umami
This marinade is the best of both worlds: flavorful enough for 4th of July barbecues and other get-togethers while being easy enough to throw together on a weeknight or for a family Sunday dinner.
Marinated trip tip ingredients:
- Sherry vinegar
- Low-sodium soy sauce
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- Ginger powder
- Onion powder
- Minced garlic
- Sherry vinegar - red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar can work in place of the sherry vinegar
- Olive oil - avocado oil or even sesame oil will work in place of the olive oil, though the sesame oil will add a nutty flavor to the marinade.
- Soy sauce -full-sodium soy sauce will also work, but omit the pinch of salt from the recipe; to make this recipe gluten-free, se liquid coconut aminos or gluten-free soy sauce
- Honey - maple syrup or raw agave syrup can work in place of the honey
- Ginger - substitute dried ginger with freshly grated ginger
- Shallot - don't have onion powder? A small diced shallot will also work in its place.
What is tri-tip?
Tri-tip is a triangular cut of beef that comes from the bottom portion of the sirloin. It's generally a thicker cut of meat that's moderately marbled.
Where do you find tri-tip?
You can find tri-tip at Whole Foods across the United States. It's also at some major grocery stores, but is most commonly found in the American West and Texas here in the States.
Where do you buy sherry vinegar?
Sherry vinegar can be found at most major grocery stores in the United States, at Whole Foods, or on Amazon.
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How do marinades work?
Marinades penetrate meat with flavor in a few different ways:
- Salt -- the salt acts almost as a brine, infusing juiciness and moisture into the meat.
- Fat -- adds flavor to the meat while also protecting the juiciness and helping prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill.
- Acid -- breaks down the meat proteins, making the steak more tender.
- Seasonings -- bring the flavor.
How to make this steak marinade:
- Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, olive oil, pepper, salt, ginger, onion, and garlic until combined in a large bowl.
- Add the steak to the bowl and turn until covered in the marinade. Marinate the steak in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
How to make grilled tri-tip:
- Preheat the grill to 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the steak to the grill, reserving the marinade. Cook the steak for 10-15 minutes, turning it occasionally, or until the steak is cooked through to your desired degree of doneness.
- Move the steak to a clean dinner plate or cutting board and rest.
- While the steak rests: move the reserved marinade to a microwave-safe bowl. Whisk in a cornstarch slurry and microwave the marinade until the marinade has reduced down and thickened up.
- Slice the steak into ½ inch thick pieces and serve with the marinade sauce with desired garnishes.
- Let the grill come to full heat before adding the steak.
- Clean the grill off with a grill brush before cooking your meat.
- Keep an eye on the meat as it cooks -- if the meat is cooking faster, flip it more frequently, if it is cooking slower, flip it less frequently and consider turning the heat up a bit.
- Keep an eye out for grill hotspots -- most grills have hotspots, or spots on the grill that run warmer than others. If you find that one area is hotter than the others, move the meat to other areas that have similar temperatures.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the meat temperature -- it's the most accurate way to gauge how done (or not) your steak is.
- Let your steak rest before slicing -- this lets the meat juices settle and stay in the steak, instead of on your cutting board.
Can you also grill this steak on the stovetop?
Yes, you certainly can grill this steak on the stovetop. A grilling pan would be perfect for this.
Preheat the non-stick pan to medium-high heat and turn the steak every 3-4.5 minutes, or until sear marks start to form. Cook for 10-13 minutes, or until the steak is cooked through to your desired degree of doneness.
You can also make this recipe in a cast iron skillet, also turning the steak as you cook.
Recipe pro- tips:
- Give the steak ample time to marinate - this will penetrate the steak with the best flavor
- Cook down the marinating sauce before serving - In this recipe, we will be reusing the marinade as a finishing sauce for the steak, but we will need to cook it before to make it safe for consumption. So, be sure to reserve your marinade after putting the steak on the grill and cook it down before serving it again.
How to slice tri-tip:
You generally want to slice tri-tip against the grain-- or the way that the muscle fibers flow. For most of the steak, this will be perpendicular.
The tri-tip is interesting, however, because it actually has two grains. If you want to slice accordingly, follow this infographic, or you can just slice the whole steak perpendicular to the length of the cut of meat.
This steak marinade also works on flank steak, sirloin steak, strip steak, or even flat iron steak.
Marinate trip tip for 8-12 hours. The longer the better, but even a few hours in the marinade gives the steak great flavor. To penetrate this steak with flavor in the shortest period of time, you can cut the tri-tip into quarters before marinating. Whatever you do, I recommend against marinating the steak for longer than 24 hours, as it will over-tenderize the steak.
Yes, you definitely can make this marinade recipe ahead of time. Just whisk it together and store covered in the fridge for 3-5 days before marinating the steak int.
Certainly. Just freeze the steak in the marinade in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours, or until the steak is thawed through, before grilling.
We need to let steak rest because it allows the steak the chance to redistribute its juices. If we cut the steak immediately after coming off of the grill, all of those delicious juices will end up on our cutting boards and plates, not in the steak.
Grilled tri-tip steak serving suggestions:
There are so many delicious sides and drinks you can serve this juicy grilled steak with. Here are some of my favorites:
- Grilled corn
- Mashed potatoes
- Roasted broccoli with lemon
- Air fryer green beans
- House special fried rice
- Steamed brown rice
- A glass of Pino Gris or Pinot Blanc
- An Asian lager, like Sapporo, Singha, or Asahi beer
You can also serve this tri tip grilled recipe for meal prep: on quinoa bowls or salads, with grilled vegetables, in wraps, and more.
Can you double or triple this recipe?
Yep, you can easily double or triple this recipe. Just multiple all the ingredients by your desired amount and follow the rest of the recipe as directed.
- Gluten-free: make this recipe gluten-free by substituting coconut liquid aminos for the soy sauce.
- Processed sugar-free: keep this recipe processed sugar free by using raw honey or maple syrup
What tools do you need to make this marinade?
- Medium-sized & microwave-safe mixing bowl
- Measuring spoons
- Meat cutting board (or a cutting board with wells for the juices)
- Slicing Knife
- Grill or grill pan
- Grilling tongs or heat-safe spatula
- Food or meat thermometer
More delicious steak and cookout recipes you'll love!
- Grilled Garlic Steak with Cream Chimichurri Pasta
- Spicy Honey Chicken Marinade
- Mexican Chicken Marinade
- 5 Bean Salad
- Broccoli & Raisin Salad
- Italian Tuna Pasta Salad
- Blueberry and Avocado Spinach Salad
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Sweet and salty, garlicky and umami, this Tri-Tip Steak Marinade is a balanced and flavorful marinade that may just change the way you think of marinated steak!
Marinate the steak as long as you can -- up to 24 hours -- for the best flavor. To still get great flavor on a time crunch, cut the steak into smaller pieces before marinating for 30 minutes - 2 hours.
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce or liquid coconut aminos (for gluten-free)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large pinch salt
- ¾ teaspoon ginger powder or 2 tablespoons of fresh grated ginger
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ¼ - 1 ½ lb. tri-tip steak
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Green onions, baby sweet peppers, or peanuts to garnish (optional)
- In a medium or large-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, olive oil, pepper, salt, ginger, onion, and garlic until combined.
- Add the steak to the bowl and turn until covered in the marinade until covered.
- Cover and marinate the steak in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
- 10 minutes before grilling, preheat the grill to 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Brush off the grill and add the steak to the grill, reserving the marinade. Cook the steak for 10-15 minutes, turning it every 3-4 minutes, or until the steak is cooked through to your desired degree of doneness (see notes below).
- Move the steak to a clean dinner plate or cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil or another clean dinner plate and rest the steak for 5 minutes.
- While the steak rests: move the reserved marinade to a microwave-safe bowl. Whisk together the cornstarch and 1 teaspoon cold water in a separate small mixing dish or cup. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the marinade and microwave the marinade for 3-4 minutes, serving every minute or so, or until the marinade has reduced down and thickened up.
- Slice the steak perpendicular to the triangular shape or follow this infographic in ½ inch thick pieces. Serve the steak with the cooked marinade sauce and green onions, peppers, and peanuts, if desired. Enjoy!
- For best flavor, marinade this steak as long as you can. Overnight ideally, but 8 hours also gives the steak great flavor. If you are short on time, cut the steak into ¼ pound pieces and marinate for 30 minutes - 2 hours. The extra surface area to marinade ratio will help the marinade better penetrate the steak in less time.
- You can also marinate the steak in a resealable plastic bag. Just pour the marinade over the steak while in the bag. Seal the bag and move the steak around in the bag until it's covered with the marinade.
- To make this recipe gluten-free, substitute gluten-free soy sauce or liquid coconut aminos for the traditional soy sauce.
- You can freeze the steak in the marinade in freezer-safe containers for up to 2 months.
- Leftover steak lasts in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days in an airtight container. I don't recommend freezing leftovers.
- You can also grill this steak on a stovetop grilling pan. Cook the steak on medium to medium-high heat and turn the steak every 3-4.5 minutes, or until sear marks start to form. Cook for 10-13 minutes, or until the steak is cooked through to your desired degree of doneness.
- Use a meat thermometer to get the most accurate read on your steak's doneness: 125 degrees Fahrenheit for rare; 135 degrees is for medium-rare; 145 degrees for medium; 150 degrees for medium-well and 160 degrees for well (source).
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Serving Size⅙ of marinade, without steak
Amount Per Serving Calories 52Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 622mgCarbohydrates 7gFiber 0gSugar 6gProtein 1g
This nutrition breakdown is just an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dieticians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.