These Tri Tip Street Tacos are one of my all-time favorite meals! The tri tip steaks are marinated in a Santa Maria style steak taco marinade, then grilled to your desired doneness. Served with simple street taco fixings – onions, cilantro and lime. It only takes about 15 minutes to prep the steak and marinade, and another 15 minutes to cook the steak and fix up the tacos afterward. This tri tip recipe is ideal for a busy weeknight.
My favorite thing about this recipe is that it’s SO freezer-friendly! When tri tip is on sale I’ll buy a bunch, prepare the marinade, and pack the marinated meat up in the freezer. Then on a busy weekday I can defrost the meat in the morning, let it marinate all day, and have dinner on the table in about 15 minutes. There are more details about freezer-prepping this meal in the post and recipe! I make a lot of tacos at home, and this is my favorite street tacos recipe!
Key Tips – Tri Tip Street Tacos
Prepare in bulk and freeze for later!
- My favorite way to prepare this meal is prepping the meat in bulk (only takes a few minutes), and packing up 1 lb packages for the freezer. My grocery store occasionally runs sales on tri-tip steaks for anywhere between $4 – $7 a pound, so this recipe lets me take advantage of the sale and prep some future meals!
- To prepare from frozen, just thaw the package at least 6 hours before cooking, to give the meat time to marinate.
- I don’t notice any loss in quality for the frozen steak compared to steak that is made the same or next day. In fact, the steak pictured in these photos is from a frozen batch!
Don’t skip the toppings, but it doesn’t need much else.
- You may be tempted to load up other toppings on these tacos (salsa, cheese, etc) but trust me that these really don’t need it. When properly prepared, these are loaded with flavor and don’t need anything extra to make them shine.
- The extra squeeze of lime juice on top at the end really adds a lot, so don’t skip the lime wedges!
Don’t scrape the marinade off the steaks.
- When removing the steaks from the steak taco marinade, shake off the excess, but don’t wipe them down. This will make the steaks a little more smoky when you cook them, and may result in some additional char, but it really helps keep the flavors from the marinade around.
- Don’t worry too much about some extra char on the steaks, it’s a very thin layer and once cubed isn’t really noticeable.
After slicing, toss the steak pieces in the juices
- After cubing the steak, you’ll likely have some juices on the cutting board. Toss the steak pieces in these to help keep more of that flavorful steak taco marinade with the meat.
Warm tortillas before serving, or make fresh tortillas!
- Sometimes I’ll make homemade flour tortillas to go with this meal, like those pictured in these photos. They are pretty simple to make and there are many great recipes for them available online!
- Most of the time I use Mission brand “Street Taco” flour tortillas, these come in a 12 pack and usually cost around $2 at the grocery store. They are best when warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave before serving.
Dietary Restrictions – Tri Tip Street Tacos
This dish is naturally Dairy-Free!
Make it Gluten-Free:
- Serve on corn tortillas.
A Note On Serving Sizes
Serving sizes are a very personal thing, making it very difficult for me to select a serving size that suits everyone. This recipe makes 8-10 tacos (pictures show 1 lb of meat divided across 8 tacos). One batch of the steak taco marinade is enough for about 1 lb of tri tip.
Tri Tip Street Tacos
- 1 lb tri tip steaks or similar
- ½ cup white onion diced (~¼ large onion)
- 8-10 extra small flour tortillas or 16-20 extra small corn tortillas (double up corn tortillas but not flour)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 1 lime sliced into wedges, for serving
- 1/3 cup chicken stock or water optional, used for heating corn tortillas
- Combine all ingredients of the marinade. Trim excess fat from the steaks if desired and place in a zip bag with the marinade. Marinate in fridge for at least 6 hours before cooking (preferably overnight).
- When ready to cook, remove the steak from the bag and discard the rest of the marinade (shake off excess but do not pat the steaks dry). Grill steak to desired doneness, or cook in a cast iron pan with a swirl of olive oil. I cook in mine in a cast iron pan over high heat, turning every few minutes, until an internal temp of 135°F, about 8-10 minutes. (Note, the marinade may cause some additional charring on the outside, but this contributes to the flavor and isn't noticeable after slicing)
- Let the steak rest for a few minutes, then slice into small pieces as pictured. Toss the steak in the juices after cutting.
- Meanwhile, warm flour tortillas over medium-low heat in a skillet for about 30 seconds per side, or for a few seconds in the microwave. For corn tortillas, give a pair of tortillas a quick dip in water or chicken stock then place in a pan over medium heat (still stacked). Cook for about 30 seconds, then flip the stack and cook for about 30 seconds more. Keep the pair of corn tortillas together and use them to make one taco. Tent with foil to keep warm as you work through all the tortillas.
- Divide the steak evenly between the tortillas, then top with onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime to taste.
To prepare in bulk for freezer:
- Trim steaks and prepare appropriate quantity of marinade. Package steaks, in marinade, in a freezer safe zip bag or vacuum bag. Package size should be the quantity you will want to defrost at a time (I do 1 lb).
- Place marinated steak packs in the freezer directly after preparing.
To prepare from frozen:
- Defrost steak at least 6 hours before you plan to cook it, giving the steak time to marinate. I suggest moving from the freezer to fridge the night before.
- Follow the rest of the recipe as written, preparing the topping ingredients fresh.
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