Picanha Steak


5 from 12 votes
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Picanha steak is a Brazilian steakhouse specialty! This underrated, juicy, and flavorful cut of beef is perfect for grilling and tastes naturally mouthwatering.

Love juicy, flavorful steaks? Try my arrachera, skirt steak, sirloin tip roast, and filet mignon.


Unless you’re in Brazil, you likely haven’t seen picanha steak in your local supermarket. But if you can get your hands on one from a butcher or meat counter, you won’t be disappointed with the taste or the price tag.

It’s one of my family’s favorite cuts of steak that I reserve for special occasions!

Table of Contents
  1. What is picanha?
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to cook a picanha steak
  4. Alternative cooking methods
  5. Arman’s recipe tips
  6. Storage instructions
  7. Frequently asked questions 
  8. More delicious steak recipes to try
  9. Grilled Picanha Steak Recipe (Recipe Card)

What is picanha?

Also known as top sirloin cap, churrasco, rump cover, rump cap, or coulotte steak, this unique steak is fantastic, even with a light seasoning of salt and pepper. It’s a triangular steak cut from the top of the rump muscle and is left with a thick layer of fat. 

Because of this, the picanha cut is excellent on the grill. The layer of fat melts into the meat, resulting in naturally succulent bites with a rich and meaty flavor. It has the texture and taste of sirloin steak enhanced with the richness and marbled fat of a ribeye steak. Yum!

Here are some reasons why I love this picanha steak recipe:

  • Best bang for your buck. Honestly, this cut of meat is one of the most affordable and needs very little hands-on time.
  • Multiple cooking methods. I prefer the grill (see above) but I also tested this steak in the oven and the stovetop too.
  • Very little prep work. Like Denver steak, the picanha cut doesn’t need much TLC before cooking. All you need to do is season it with salt and pepper, skewer it, and throw it on the grill. 
picanha recipe.

Ingredients needed

  • Picanha steak. Sometimes referred to as a picanha roast, this sirloin cap is usually between 6 to 14 ounces. For this recipe, you’ll want to cut the steak into three or four equal-sized portions so they’re easy to thread onto skewers. 
  • Kosher salt and black pepper. Stick with kosher or flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. If you want to infuse even more flavor, season the beef with cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder as well.
  • Oil. To prevent the steak from sticking to the grill grates.
  • Butter. To help develop a tasty, caramelized crust on the exterior of the steaks.

How to cook a picanha steak

I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step 1 – Cut the whole steak. Place the whole steak on a cutting board, fat-side down. Cut it with the grain into three or four smaller steaks. 

portioned picanha steaks.

Step 2 – Season steaks. Bring the steaks to room temperature, then pat them dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.

seasoned picanha steak.

Step 3 – Skewer the steaks. Gently bend the steaks in half, making a C-shape, and thread them onto a long metal skewer or two smaller ones. 

skewered picanha.

Step 4 – Grill the steaks. Brush the preheated grill grates with oil and butter (you can also use a gas grill or charcoal grill). Place the skewered steaks on the hot grill, cover, and cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 130ºF (medium-rare).  

grilled picanha.

Step 4- Slice and serve. Remove from the grill, let the steaks rest, slice it with a sharp knife, then enjoy!

sliced picanha.

Alternative cooking methods

While the grill is superior for this cut of meat, you can oven-bake or cook it on the stovetop, too.

Oven method: Once the steak is seasoned, place it in a roasting pan and roast for 60-70 minutes or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of at least 130F.

Stovetop method: Add a touch of oil to a large cast iron skillet and place over high heat. Once hot, sear the steak on all sides then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes, turning regularly, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 130-135F.

Arman’s recipe tips

  • Let the steaks rest on the kitchen counter for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling. This gives them plenty of time to come down to room temperature and will help them cook more evenly.
  • Do not cut off the layer of fat! This is what gives sirloin cap steak its rich, meaty flavor. 
  • Like London broil, picanha steak is best cooked between medium rare and medium. Remember that the internal temperature of the meat will continue to rise as it rests, so it’s best to take it off the grill when it’s 5 degrees away from your desired doneness (check it using a meat thermometer). 
  • The grilling time will vary depending on the thickness of the steak. In this recipe, each steak takes between 18 to 25 minutes to achieve a perfect medium-rare. I used an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature (130-135F).
  • Please allow the steaks to rest for around 10 minutes before slicing. The juices redistribute and yield an ultra juicy piece of meat.

What to serve with this

For a Brazilian or Portuguese steakhouse-inspired feast, serve this cut of meat with sides like Brazilian cheese bread, rice, refried beans, chimichurri sauce, collard greens, and deep-fried bananas. It also goes well with starchy sides like grilled sweet potato, air fryer baked potato, and air fryer French fries.

Storage instructions

To store: Store any leftover steak in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. 

To freeze: You can freeze the cooked and cooled steak in a freezer-safe container or ziplock bag for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge before reheating. 

To reheat: The best way to reheat the leftover meat is in the oven at 275ºF until the internal temperature reaches 100ºF to 110ºF. 

picanha steak.

Frequently asked questions 

Where can you buy picanha steak?

This cut can be harder to find in North America because the fat cap is often trimmed or removed to make more common cuts like the rump, round, and loin. Ask your butcher to leave the fat cap intact or check your local Latin market. If all else fails, try ordering it online.

What should you look for when buying this steak?

Like any good steak, the key factors are freshness, fat marbling, color, and texture. The steak should be firm, appear dry, and have a deep red color with an opaque fat cap and consistent marbling. 

What cut of steak is the best substitute for picanha?

While tri-tip steak is cut from a different area (the tri-top comes from the bottom sirloin, and the picanha comes from the top round), it is an excellent substitute because of its similar fat cap and marbling.

More delicious steak recipes to try

picanha steak recipe.

Grilled Picanha Steak Recipe

5 from 12 votes
This picanha steak recipe is easy to follow and sure to impress. Learn how to season and grill this flavorful Brazilian cut of beef to perfection and enjoy every juicy, tender bite. Watch the video below to see how I make it in my kitchen.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 21 minutes



  • 3 pounds picanha steak or top sirloin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • Bring your steak to room temperature. Divide them into 3 or 4 portions.
    portioned picanha steaks.
  • Pat dry the steaks and season both sides with salt and pepper, rubbing them into the fat.
    seasoned picanha steak.
  • On a large or two smaller metal skewers, curve the steaks into a C shape on top.
    skewered picanha.
  • Preheat the grill to high and bush oil and butter over it. 
  • Lay the skewered steak on the grill and cook the steaks, covered, for 18-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of 130F, remove it from the grill.
    grilled picanha.
  • Let the meat rest for several minutes before slicing and serving.
    sliced picanha.


TO STORE. Store any leftover steak in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. 
TO FREEZE. You can freeze the cooked and cooled steak in a freezer-safe container or ziplock bag for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge before reheating. 
TO REHEAT. The best way to reheat the leftovers is in the oven at 275ºF until warm. 


Serving: 1servingCalories: 260kcalCarbohydrates: 0.1gProtein: 38gFat: 11gSodium: 252mgPotassium: 609mgFiber: 0.03gVitamin A: 44IUCalcium: 38mgIron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Brazilian
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Originally published March 2023, updated and republished April 2024

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    As a Brazilian I can say the only seasoning you’ll need to make picanha is coarse sea salt. That’s it. The fat will take care of the rest. Absolutely delicious!