We’re making classic tri-tip sandwiches even better with garlic aioli, fried onions, provolone cheese, and peppery arugula. These sandwiches are next-level and great for using up leftover steak. Serve these at a BBQ or as a casual dinner party meal. They’re so delicious!

A brown plate with a tri-tip sandwich and potato chips on a beige background next to glasses of beer, a plate with a sandwich, and white and brown bowls of frizzled onions and garlic aioli.

At this point, between my smoked tri-tip and tri-tip dry rub, you’re probably thinking that I’m trying to solicit some kind of steak sponsorship. Which, ok, maybe I am! But also, as a west coast kid and a person with a general love for grilling, it’s always been a favorite of mine.

After testing a million tri-tip recipes, I ended up with quite a bit of leftovers. And what’s a girl to do with an abundance of steak? Sandwich it, of course.

This is truly the ultimate steak sandwich. It has melty provolone, garlic aioli (the best sauce!), crispy fried onions, and fresh arugula. Together, these elements work to create a savory, borderline decadent, sandwich situation. Here’s a few highlights!

  • This recipe is the perfect way to use up leftover tri-tip.
  • These sandwiches are savory, creamy, crunchy, & peppery.
  • They go with all kinds of sides from potato chips to pasta salad.
  • Serve them at a dinner party or for a casual weekend dinner.

What is tri-tip?

As a culinary school graduate, tri-tip is the cut of steak I always serve to guests. It’s an L-shaped cut of steak that comes from the bottom of the sirloin. It has a similar taste and texture to brisket. But, brisket comes from the lower chest area, and tri-tip comes from the hindquarter. Even through tri-tip is usually found in west coast supermarkets, it’s also starting to make its way across the states!

Ingredients & substitutions

White and brown bowls of rolls, steak, provolone, frizzled onions, arugula, mayo, salt, garlic, and lemon juice on a beige table.

Steak sandwiches

  • Tri-tip – you can use any tri-tip recipe you like. Or, use leftover steak instead! This recipe would be amazing with ribeye, sirloin, or even New York strip steak.
  • Rolls – any hoagie-style roll will work. I like Dutch crunch! But sourdough, Kaiser rolls, or garlic bread is lovely too.
  • Provolone – go for thin slices so they get nice and melty. I also recommend buying provolone from the deli so it’s fresh. If you want another cheese, try white cheddar or pepper Jack.
  • Fried onions – I like my homemade frizzled onions. But you can also add caramelized onions or store-bought fried onions from the freezer.
  • Arugula – this will add a fresh, peppery bite to the sandwiches. Spinach or micro-greens are good too.

Keep a batch of fried onions in the freezer for easy sandwich making. I like to make a double or triple batch of the onions so I have them on hand for all kinds of recipes!

Garlic aioli

  • Mayonnaise – we will use this as a base for the aioli. It’s a nice little shortcut!
  • Garlic – use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
  • Lemon juice – fresh lemon juice will add acidity and tang.
  • Salt and pepper – I like Morton’s Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

How to make these sandwiches

Garlic aioli

Three steps to making garlic aioli. In photo 1, mayo is in a wood bowl on a beige counter next to brown and white bowls of lemon juice, garlic, and salt. In photo 2, the mayo is topped with garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. In photo 3, the aioli is whisked.
  1. First, combine the mayo, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Whisk until the aioli is combined.

Steak sandwiches

Six steps to making steak sandwiches. In photo 1, a hand uses a gold knife to spread garlic aioli on a roll placed on a gold sheet pan. In photo 2, the hand uses wood tongs to lay steak on the roll. In photo 3, the steak is topped with provolone. In photo 4, he provolone is melted. In photo 5, the sandwich is topped with frizzled onions. In photo 6, the sandwich is topped with arugula and a bun.
  1. To make the sandwiches, start by halving the rolls. Spread both sides with garlic aioli.
  2. Layer the bottom of the roll with steak and provolone cheese.
  3. Broil the sandwiches until the cheese is melty.
  4. Then, top the cheese with fried onions, arugula, and the top of the roll. Slice and enjoy!

If you like a saucier sandwich, add the garlic aioli after you toast the sandwich. The bread will soak up a bit of the aioli when you broil it.

Tri-tip cooking methods

Leftover steak works great in this recipe, but you can also make it fresh just for these sandwiches! Just make sure to marinate the tri-tip for extra flavor! You can cook tri-tip by:

  • Smoking – for a classic BBQ flavor. Check out my full guide on smoking tri-tip on a smoker or gas grill. (It’s the perfect beginner smoker recipe!)
  • Grilling – the smoker take a couple of hours, so grilling is a great choice to cut down some time. Grilling tri-tip makes the steak tender with a nice crust.
  • Roasting – you can also roast the tri-tip in the oven if you don’t have a grill. (Or if it’s too chilly to go outside!)
Two brown plates with tri-tip sandwiches and potato chips on a tan counter next to glasses of beer, arugula, and white and brown bowls of fried onions and garlic aioli.

Reheat tri-tip without drying out

If you’re using leftover steak to make these sandwiches, you’ll want to make sure that you reheat the steak right. Otherwise, you might end up with tough, hard-to-chew sandwiches which no one likes.

This is definitely my favorite way to reheat leftover steak! First, wrap it tightly in tinfoil. Heat it in the oven at 325°F for 5-10 minutes. You can also microwave the slices for about 1 minute if you’re in a hurry, they just might dry out a little.

Tips for storing leftovers

To store leftover sandwiches, I recommend that you leave all of the ingredients separate from each other. If you store assembled sandwiches, they will get soggy in the fridge!

Just place all of the ingredients in separate airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat and assemble the sandwiches fresh when you’re ready to eat!

I do not recommend freezing these sandwiches, because they won’t defrost well. But, you can freeze the tri-tip in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 3 months!

A hand grabbing half of a tri-tip sandwich with fried onions, garlic aioli, provolone, and arugula off of a brown plate with potato chips next to glasses of beer, arugula, and brown and white bowls of garlic aioli and fried onions on a beige counter.

Serving & side dish ideas

These sandwiches are absolutely amazing with all kinds of side dishes. Since I make these sandwiches for parties all the time, I usually go for BBQ sides like slaw and pasta salad. These are just a few of my favorites!

Helpful tips

  • Marinate the tri-tip to give it extra flavor. Your favorite marinade or dry rub will both work depending on what you like best!
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure that you don’t overcook the tri-tip. I recommend medium rare. But, if you plan on using leftover steak, cook it a bit less so that it doesn’t overcook when you reheat it.
  • Slice the tri-tip against the grain for super tender beef. You’ll want thin steak so it’s easier to eat the sandwiches!
  • To make these sandwiches more snacky, make sliders instead! You can use slider buns or rolls instead of hoagie buns. The perfect app or game day snack!
A tri-tip sandwich with provolone, fried onions, arugula, and garlic aioli on a brown plate with potato chips. The plate is on a beige counter next to glasses of beer, arugula, and white and brown bowls of garlic aioli and fried onions.

If you make this recipe, I would love it if you left a star rating and review! I read every single comment and love hearing what you think about my recipes. Thank you for supporting Sunday Table!


A tri-tip sandwich on a brown plate of potato chips next to glasses of beer with a beige background.
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Tri-Tip Sandwiches with Fried Onions & Garlic Aioli

Yield: 4 sandwiches
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
We're making classic tri-tip sandwiches even better with fried onions, garlic aioli, provolone cheese, and peppery arugula. These sandwiches are next-level and great for using up leftover steak. Serve these sandwiches as a delicious, casual dinner party meal!

Ingredients

Garlic Aioli

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Steak Sandwiches

  • 1 pound smoked tri-tip, (grilled or roasted work too!)
  • 4 Dutch crunch rolls (or rolls of choice)
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced Provolone cheese
  • 2 cups frizzled onions
  • 2 cups arugula

Equipment

  • 1 sheet pan
  • Serrated knife
  • Carving knife

Instructions 

Garlic Aioli

  • Add the mayo, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk until smooth.

Steak Sandwiches

  • Preheat the broiler on high. Let it heat for about 5 minutes while you make the sandwiches.
  • With a sharp carving knife, thinly slice the tri-tip against the grain. (If you're using leftover tri-tip, wrap it tightly in tinfoil and heat it in the oven at 325°F for 5-10 minutes until warmed through.)
  • Using a serrated knife, slice the rolls in half horizontally. Place all 8 halves on a sheet pan.
  • Spread 1/2-1 Tablespoon of garlic aioli on the cut side of each halve of bread.
  • Divide the tri-tip between the bottom half of each sandwich. Top the tri-tip with 2-3 slices of provolone cheese. Broil the sandwiches until the cheese is melty and the top half of the sandwich roll is a bit toasted.
  • Top the melted cheese with a handful of frizzled onions and a handful of arugula (about 1/2 cup each). Finish with sandwiches with the top of each roll. Slice in half and enjoy right away!

Notes

Marinate the tri-tip to give it extra flavor. Your favorite marinade or dry rub will both work depending on what you like best!
Use a meat thermometer to make sure that you don’t overcook the tri-tip. I recommend medium rare. But, if you plan on using leftover steak, cook it a bit less so that it doesn’t overcook when you reheat it.
Slice the tri-tip against the grain for super tender beef. You’ll want thin steak so it’s easier to eat the sandwiches!
To make these sandwiches more snacky, make sliders instead! You can use slider buns or rolls instead of hoagie buns. The perfect app or game day snack!
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Course
Serving: 1sandwich, Calories: 591kcal, Carbohydrates: 42.5g, Protein: 37.9g, Fat: 28.1g, Saturated Fat: 9.2g, Cholesterol: 99mg, Sodium: 744mg, Potassium: 461mg, Fiber: 0.9g, Sugar: 6.1g, Calcium: 321mg, Iron: 5mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @sundaytable.co on Instagram!

xo Sara Lynn

Song of the day – Ya Hey by Vampire Weekend