Ball Tip vs Tri Tip – Which is One Better?

Both the ball tip and the tri tip are excellent cuts of beef that are quite popular among beef eaters. The choice of meat highly depends on personal taste and preference.

 If you like your meat leaner and have the right experience to prevent overcooking, then the ball tip will be a good option. On the other hand, if you enjoy well-marbled, flavorful and forgiving meat during the cooking process, the tri tip will be the most appropriate option for you. Therefore, it is about knowing what works best for you or your guests.

 When you have to choose between the ball tip and the tri tip for the first time, there are several questions that you might find yourself asking. Read on for everything you need to know about these amazing steaks.

Ball Tip vs Tri Tip – Comparisons

Ball Tip (also known as Round Tip) Tri Tip Tri Tip (also known as Triangle Steak or Santa Maria Steak)
This cut is a small, triangular muscle located inside the bottom sirloin, close to the hip joint. This cut comes from the bottom sirloin as well, but it is larger and more triangular in shape.
It is a relatively lean cut with less marbling, making it less juicy compared to other cuts. Tri Tip is more marbled with fat than Ball Tip, which contributes to its juiciness and flavor.
Ball Tip can be tender if cooked properly, but it can also become tough if overcooked due to its leanness. It is known for its rich, beefy taste and tenderness when cooked correctly.
It is suitable for grilling, roasting, or broiling, and it is best cooked to medium-rare or medium doneness to maintain tenderness and juiciness. Tri Tip is often grilled or roasted and is best cooked to medium-rare or medium doneness to retain its juiciness and flavor.

What is Ball Tip Steak?

A ball tip is a popular boneless cut obtained from the top of the hip bone of a cow. It is lean and less tender compared to various parts of quality steaks. Even with that, you can still prepare a delicious meal out of it. You can prepare a delicious meal with some culinary skills, such as tenderizing the meat or slow cooking.

Is ball tip better than tri-tip?

The preference between ball-tip and tri-tip steak often comes from personal taste and cooking preferences. Both cuts come from the round primal of the cow, but they are slightly different in flavour, tenderness, and shape.

However, the tri-tip is more flavorful due to its excellent network of marbles, coupled with fats, which contributes to its juiciness and flavour.

How do you Cook a Ball Tip?

Here’s a simple recipe for cooking a ball tip using the oven:


One ball tip roast (approximately 2 to 3 pounds)

Two tablespoons of olive oil

Two cloves garlic, minced

One teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)


  • Preheat the oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Prepare the marinade (optional): While not necessary, marinating the ball tip can enhance flavour and tenderness. Mix the olive oil, minced garlic, salt, black pepper, paprika, and dried thyme (if using). Coat the ball tip evenly with the marinade, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Bring the ball tip to room temperature: If you marinate it, take it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. This helps to ensure even cooking.
  • Prepare a roasting pan: Place the ball tip on a roasting pan or a baking sheet with a rack to elevate the meat. The rack helps air circulate the roast, promoting even cooking and allowing excess fat to drip away.
  • Roast the ball tip: Place the roasting pan with the ball tip in the preheated oven. Roast for about 25-30 minutes per pound. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast should read around 135°F (57°C) for medium-rare or 145°F (63°C) for medium. Remember, the temperature will continue to rise a few degrees after removing the roast from the oven due to carryover cooking.
  • Rest the meat: Once the ball tip reaches your desired doneness, remove it from the oven and tent it loosely with aluminium foil. Allow the meat to rest for about 10-15 minutes before slicing. Resting helps the juices redistribute throughout the roast, ensuring a juicy and tender result.
  • Slice and serve: After resting, slice the ball tip against the grain to maximize tenderness. Serve it as a main dish with your favourite sides, such as roasted vegetables, salad, or mashed potatoes.

How to Cut Ball Tip Steak

To cut a ball tip steak, follow these steps:

  • Start with a sharp knife to ensure clean cuts.
  • Place the steak on a cutting board and identify the grain direction.
  • Slice against the grain: Position the knife perpendicular to the grain lines and make smooth, even cuts across the steak’s width.
  • For thinner slices, apply gentle pressure to the knife while maintaining a steady motion.
  • Repeat the process for the entire steak, ensuring each slice is uniform in thickness.
  • Serve and enjoy your delicious ball-tip steak, which will be tender and easy to chew when sliced against the grain.

What is Tri-Tip Steak?

Tri-tip steak is a popular and flavorful cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin section of the cow. It is a triangular-shaped cut, where it gets its name “tri-tip.”

Here are some key facts about tri-tip steak:

  • Cut and Location: Tri-tip comes from the bottom sirloin primal cut at the back of the cow, just above the rear leg. It is specifically taken from the subprimal called the “bottom sirloin butt” or “triangle roast.”
  • Shape and Size: As the name suggests, the tri-tip is triangular and relatively lean compared to other cuts. It typically weighs around 1.5 to 2.5 pounds (0.7 to 1.1 kg).
  • Flavour and Texture: Tri-tip is known for its rich, beefy flavour and tender texture when cooked and sliced correctly. It has a lot of marbling, contributing to its taste and juiciness.
  • Versatility: Tri-tip can be cooked in various ways, making it versatile. It is commonly grilled, roasted, or smoked but can also be prepared as steaks or cut into cubes for kebabs.
  • Regional Roots: Tri-tip is closely associated with California, particularly the Santa Maria Valley region, where it originated. It has been a popular cut in the Central Coast area since the 1950s. However, it has gained widespread popularity and can now be found in many other regions and countries.
  • Seasoning and Marinades: Tri-tip is often seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and other spices. It can also benefit from marinating to enhance its flavour and tenderness.
  • Cooking Temperature: Tri-tip is best cooked to medium-rare or medium doneness. Overcooking can result in a tougher and less flavorful steak.
  • Resting and Slicing: After cooking, it’s essential to let the tri-tip rest for a few minutes before slicing it against the grain. This helps retain the juices and ensures tenderness.
  • Popular Serving Style: In Santa Maria-style barbecue, the tri-tip is traditionally seasoned with a dry rub, cooked over red oak wood, and served with salsa or a special tomato-based sauce called “Santa Maria Salsa.”

Also Read: How To Cook Tri Tip Roast: [Everything You Need]


When choosing between the Ball Tip vs Tri Tip, it is important to consider your taste and preferences. If you love lean and healthier meats, the ball tip will be your best option. On the other hand, the trip tip is highly marbled, making it quite flavorful. 

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