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Santa Maria Tri-Tip Rub

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Our Santa Maria Tri-Tip Rub, inspired by the famous California dish, is the perfect dry rub to use at your next barbecue. I absolutely love the Santa Maria tri-tip steak that goes along with this recipe. This delectable lean, triangle-shaped cut is perfect for grilling and works perfectly with our spice blend.  

If you like this seasoning blend you will also like our cajun seasoning, barbecue seasoning, or taco seasoning blends.

Tri tip rub in a jar.

This peppery, garlicky seasoning with subtle hints of sweet and spicy flavors is absolutely to die for. It makes sense why this style of cooking has remained popular for so long.

Originally smoked over red oak chips, Santa Maria style barbecue is packed with flavorful ingredients. This recipe is a must try if you appreciate and love a great steak. 

What We Love About This Santa Maria Tri Tip Rub Recipe: 

This dry rub is delightful and definitely gained popularity for a reason. Here are some of the reasons why we love to make this unique seasoning:

  • The smoky yet spicy flavors make for the perfect grilled steak.
  • Easy to make and is a great staple to add to your spice collection 
  • This spice rub will last for months if you store it in an airtight container. Make a large batch and keep it handy for all your grilling.
  • Add some oil and vinegar or lemon juice to make a quick marinade.

This seasoning isn’t just for grilled meats either. Use it when you cook indoors too. Try it on a ribeye steak in the oven or a cast iron chicken.

Spice ingredients needed for a tri tip rub with coffee.

Ingredients Needed For This Santa Maria Tri Tip Rub:

This dry rub is so flavorful, it is packed with healthy ingredients that you may already have on hand in your spice cabinet, which are:

  • Garlic Powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Onion Powder
  • Aleppo Chili Flakes
  • Cumin Powder
  • Ground Oregano
  • Espresso Coffee
  • Brown Sugar
  • Kosher Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
Spices for tri tip rub in a bowl getting ready to be mixed together.

How to Make Santa Maria Tri Tip Rub: 

This simple recipe takes just a few minutes to make! Here are the steps to make your own Santa Maria style dry rub:

1. Measure all the ingredients into a small dish and whisk together.

2. Transfer the combined ingredients into a lidded jar and store in a cool cupboard.

Chef’s Tips & Tricks for Recipe Success: 

  • Don’t stop at tri-tip steak! This rub is also delicious on a variety of chicken, pork, lamb, and beef dishes. This recipe would also taste great on some grilled shrimp skewers. It has a smoky flavor with a pinch of spice that tastes great on grilled meats. 
  • Feeling a little adventurous? Turn this dry rub into a marinade by adding a bit of cooking oil and lemon juice. 
A tri tip steak covered in a spice rub.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Can I substitute Aleppo Chilli Flakes? 

If you can’t find Aleppo chili flakes you can substitute it with crushed red chili flakes or ancho chili powder. However, there is a complex and robust flavor that the Aleppo chili adds to this spice blend that makes this recipe so special.

How Do I Store Santa Maria Tri-Tip Rub?

This recipe makes enough rub for three, 2-1/2 to 3 pound tri-tip roasts with a measure of 1/3 cup each. If you don’t plan to make your meal right away, this seasoning can easily be stored in your spice cabinet.

Plus, if you plan to grill up some of your very own Santa Maria Tri-Tip steak more than once, make this recipe in bulk and preserve this spice blend in a container to use as needed. 

Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

  • Lamb and Beef Shawarma Spice Rub: This spice rub has the perfect balance of flavors for a traditional lamb or beef shawarma. Use as a dry rub or mix it with olive oil.
  • Cajun Seasoning Mix: This is an all-purpose dry rub that has a little heat, a little sweet and a smoky finish. Try this on your next grilled chicken or pork.
  • Spicy Blackened Tilapia: This blackened tilapia is moist and big on flavor! The cajun spices gives the fish a dark caramelized color as it cooks.

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Tri tip rub in a jar with a spoon in front.

Santa Maria Tri-Tip Rub

This Santa Maria rub is the perfect flavor combination for any cut of beef.  With a mix of spices, brown sugar and espresso coffee and a little kick from Ancho chili flakes.  
4.50 from 54 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 Cup
Calories: 87kcal
Author: Pat Nyswonger


  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  • 1 tablespoon espresso coffee
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Measure all the ingredients into a small dish and whisk together.
  • Transfer to a lidded jar and store in a cool cupboard.


This recipe makes enough rub for three, 2-½ to 3-pound tri-tip roasts with a measure of cup each.


Serving: 1/3 Cup | Calories: 87kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2132mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g

Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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