Tri-Tip Sandwiches with Garlic Aioli
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 delicious, casual dinner party meal!
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 together to create a savory, borderline decadent, sandwich situation. Let’s make ’em.
Why you’ll love these sandwiches
These sandwiches are by far my go-to casual summer dinner party meal. After making these for countless friends, I can promise you that everyone’s obsessed with them.
- This recipe is the perfect way to use up leftover tri-tip.
- With garlic aioli, fried onions, provolone, and arugula, they’re savory, creamy, crunchy, & peppery.
- The sandwiches 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?
Tri-tip is one of my favorite cuts of steak, it’s so good! Tri-tip is 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!
The ingredient list
- Tri-tip – you can use any tri-tip recipe you like. Or, use leftover steak instead!
- Rolls – any hoagie-style roll will work. I like Dutch crunch!
- Provolone – go for thin slices so they get nice and melty. I also recommend buying provolone from the deli so it’s fresh.
- Fried onions – I like my homemade frizzled onions. They add a savory crunch!
- Arugula – this will add a fresh, peppery bite to the sandwiches.
- 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.
- Steak – use ribeye, sirloin, or New York strip steak instead.
- Bread – try sourdough, Kaiser rolls, or even garlic bread!
- Cheese – white cheddar or pepper Jack would be delicious.
- Onions – use caramelized onions or store-bought fried onions from the freezer section.
- Greens – spinach or micro-greens would also work in this recipe.
- Sauce – try horseradish mayo, chimichurri, or chipotle aioli!
How to make these sandwiches
- First, spoon the mayo into a small bowl.
- Add the garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Whisk until the aioli is combined.
- To make the sandwiches, start by halving the rolls. Spread both sides with garlic aioli.
- Layer the bottom of the roll with steak and provolone cheese.
- Broil the sandwiches until the cheese is melty.
- 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.
Best 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!)
These sandwiches are absolutely amazing with all kinds of side dishes. These are just a few of my favorites!
- Enjoy them with potato chips or fries.
- Serve the sandwiches with a green salad or fruit salad.
- Eat them with antipasto tortellini salad, raw carrot salad, or peach watermelon salad with feta.
Storing & reheating 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!
To reheat the tri-tip, wrap it tightly in tinfoil and 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. To reheat the fried onions, bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes. Then, assemble the sandwiches and enjoy!
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!
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!
Here are a few things you will need to make these sandwiches!
- Smoker or grill – to cook the tri-tip. You can also roast it in the oven.
- Oven – for broiling the cheese on the sandwiches.
- Sheet pan – to broil the sandwiches on.
- Knives – a serrated knife for slicing the sandwich rolls and a sharp carving knife for thinly slicing the tri-tip!
- 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!
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Can I freeze these sandwiches?
I don’t recommend freezing (or even refrigerating) the sandwiches whole, because it will affect the texture of the ingredients. But, you can freeze tri-tip! Just place slices in a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
What cheese is good on these sandwiches?
Provolone is definitely my go-to. It melts well and has a lovely creamy, smoky flavor that is so good with tri-tip. If you want to use other cheeses, you can also try Swiss, white cheddar, mozzarella, pepper Jack, or even blue cheese!
What is the best bread for steak sandwiches?
I love a good Dutch crunch – it’s mildly sweet and has a nice crispy crust! You can also use hoagie/sub rolls, Kaiser rolls, sourdough, or even some type of garlic bread. (Garlic focaccia would be amazing!)
How do you cut tri-tip?
Tri-tip has two different grain directions, so it’s important to slice it properly so that it’s nice and tender. To slice the tri-tip, look for the area where the two grains intersect. Cut it horizontally to separate the two pieces. Then, thinly slice each piece against the grain. Super easy!
More beef recipes you’ll love!
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Tri-Tip Sandwiches with Fried Onions & 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
- 1 sheet pan
- Serrated knife
- Carving knife
- Add the mayo, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk until smooth.
- 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!
xo Sara Lynn
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