Tri-Tip Sous Vide with 9 Hour Cooking Time

One of my favorite cuts of meat to cook with sous vide is the tri tip.  While it is not a popular cut in some parts of the country it can be found in every grocery store in California.  Above are two “choice” grade tri tips from Costco.  Most grocery store tri tips will be one grade lower, which is “select”.  The main difference will be the amount of marbling in the meat.  Most of the time I purchase select grade, but these looked to good to pass up.

Price is not bad coming in at $5.99 a pound.  These are already trimmed therefore there is essentially no waste from cutting of fat and gristle.  If the price is right, I will purchase untrimmed and cut the fat myself, however expect to loose a about a quarter of the weight of the roast.  Just recently a local grocery store had select grade untrimmed tri tips for $2.88 a pound.

The tri tip is seasoned with Pappy’s Seasoning.  I usually mix my own rubs for rib and other smoked meats, but for tri tips, I like Pappy’s.  A nice thin coat is applied on both sides.  This is plenty of seasoning for sous vide cooking, however for the grill, I add a heavier coating as much of the seasoning is carried away by the dripping meat.

The tri tip is sealed in a vacuum bag using my FoodSaver. 

The meat is placed in my homemade sous vide water bath.  Plans for the OSSV (Open Source Sous Vide) setup can be found here.

The water bath is set at 138F.  My water bath generally runs about 2F warmer than displayed on the screen, so there is an actual cooking temperature of 140C.  This offset will be fixed by adding a calibration curve in a later version of the OSSV software.

The meat cooks for about 9 hours.  This is far more than enough time to pasteurize the meat given its thickness.  Usually I would cook a roast like this for about 4-5 hours.  In this case I wanted to see the difference of a much longer cooking time.

Once taken out of the water bath, the meat is a not appealing brown to grey color.

This color is quickly fixed with a once over with the blow torch.  I like to work from one side of the meat to the other with the very tip of the blue flame touching the meat.

The tri tip now has a nice brown crust on the surface, and a much more appealing appearance.  This browning also helps to add bit of a chard smoky flavor which it would normally get from the grill.

And finally, after nine hours of cooking, the finished product.  A tri tip cooked perfectly all the way through, with a nice brown crust on the outside.  The meat looses a bit of its deep red color with the 9 hour cooking time.  A 4-5 hour cooking time leave the  characteristic medium rare red color.  The Pappy’s added a very nice flavor with just the right amount of flavor and salt.


In this case, nine hours was a bit long for this cut of meat.  It lost a bit of its tender chewness, I like with tri tips.  It started to take on the soft texture of a pot roast.  I have cooked many tri tips in the 3 to 5 hour range which provides for a much better texture.  This was a test to see the difference of a much longer cooking time.  Future tri tips will be cooked in the 3-5 hour range.


Final Score: 6 out of 10