Grilled Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich with Tomato Jam

Warning: This is not an ordinary steak sandwich. Between the char kissed, thin sliced tri-tip roast, the huge flavor of a scratch-made sweet tomato jam, the creamy cilantro cream cheese spread, quick pickled red onions and toasted bolillo bun, this is decidedly an extraordinary Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich. Proceed with warranted excitement!

Grilled Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich with Tomato Jam


For the pickled onions:

  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup water, plus more for boiling
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 3 dried arbol chiles
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp pickling salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the tomato jam:

  • 2 large limes
  • 2 lb tomatoes, cored and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 large jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • Kosher salt, to taste

For the cream cheese spread:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2 tbsp Greenade Green Chile Sauce


To make the pickled onions, bring a pot of water to a boil. Place the sliced red onions in a heat proof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the onions. Let sit for one minute. Strain. Discard the water. Place the onions in a pint sized mason jar, along with the garlic, arbor chiles, bay leaf, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and allspice. Combine the 3/4 cup water, vinegar, pickling salt and sugar. Whisk to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the liquid into the jar. Place the lid on the jar. Give it a shake to distribute all ingredients. Store in the refrigerator. Let sit for 24 hours before eating.

To make the tomato jam, using a microplane, remove the zest from the limes and place in a Lodge 7 Quart Enameled Dutch Oven. Squeeze the lime juice into the dutch oven, as well.

Add the tomatoes, jalapeño, brown sugar, minced ginger, garlic, ground cumin, cinnamon stick and 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to the side burner of the Napoleon Prestige 500. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have darkened in color, and syrupy mixture has formed, about 45 minutes. Watch closely. If at any point the mixture begins to scorch, reduce the heat and mix in a splash of water. When the jam is cooked, let cool, discard the cinnamon stick, taste and adjust salt level as necessary.

To make the cream cheese spread, simply combine all ingredients and mix well to combine.

You might also enjoy: Philly Cheesesteak

Load a cast iron charcoal tray into one half of the main cooking chamber. Load with lump charcoal and turn on the burners underneath the charcoal tray. When the charcoal is lit (about 5 minutes), you can turn the gas burners off. Place the grate over the charcoal tray and close the lid to preheat the chamber.

Trim excess fat and silver skin from the surface of the tri-tip roast. Season with Oakridge BBQ Santa Maria seasoning. Let the rub set up for 5 minutes.

Grill the tri-tip over the charcoal until the nicely charred. Flip to get color on all sides. Transfer to the indirect side of the grill. Close the lid. Allow the roast to continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 125ºF in the thickest part of the roast. Remove from the grill. Rest 10 minutes. Slice across the grain, very thin.

Spread the cut surfaces of the buns with mayonnaise. Toast over the hot coals until crusted over, but not burnt.

Build your sandwiches. Spread the bottom bun with the cream cheese spread. Top with the thin sliced tri-tip, then the pickled onions. Spread the top bun with the tomato jam and place on top of the onions and tri-tip.

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  1. Brian Berliner
    March 8, 2018

    Hi chef Tom.

    Thanks for teaching me so much about cooking. I was hoping you would post a video of a recipe involving pulled pork with Cole slaw and sweet pickle on a garlic bread. Done your way.


    Brian from Brooklyn

  2. Colby Riffel
    March 12, 2018

    That looks amazing! Love tri tip! Was wondering if you have a recipe for corned beef and cabbage with St pattys coming? You guys rock at atbbq!

  3. Mike
    July 28, 2019

    Made this yesterday. Outstanding. A little sweeter than I was thinking,but this one is going into my regular rotation.


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