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Buttery and oh-so-tender, Picanha Steak has a generous layer of fat and incredible natural flavor. It’s the specialty of Brazilian steakhouses, and will take you less than 30 minutes to grill!
If you ask me what my favorite beef grilling recipes are, this grilled top sirloin cap recipe tops the list. It’s tender, buttery, and hardly needs any seasoning for how flavorful it is on its own. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite steak recipes, hands down.
My grilled picanha steak recipe is a steakhouse-quality meal you can make in under 30 minutes on a gas grill or stovetop. I guarantee you will be impressed by the flavor and tenderness of this grilled sirloin steak cap!
Easy, good seasoning, and very tenderRenee
Grilled Picanha Ingredients
- Picanha cut sirloin cap
- Santa Maria seasoning rub or homemade Dry Rub for Steak
- kosher salt and pepper to taste (optional)
How to Cook Picanha Steak
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat (about 400°F). Score the fat cap of your Brazilian steak in a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife. Do not cut too deeply – you want to stay within the fat.
- Season the fat cap of the steak, reserving 1 tsp. of the seasoning, and pat it down so it sticks well to the beef.
- Cut your picanha steak into 1-inch strips. Fold each strip into a c-shape and slide it onto long metal skewers. Season with the reserved seasoning directly on the beef.
- Grill over indirect heat, fat side up, for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until the steak reaches your desired level of doneness.
How to Cook Picanha Steak on the Stove
- Score the fat cap of your Picanha steak in a crosshatch pattern, but stay within the fat. Do not cut so deeply that you reach the meat.
- Season the fat cap of the steak (reserve 1 tsp. seasoning) and pat it down so it sticks to the beef.
- Cut your picanha steak into 1-inch strips. Fold each strip into a “C” shape and slide it onto wooden skewers. Season beef with the reserved seasoning. You may need to trim the wooden skewers to fit your pan.
- Melt butter in a cast iron skillet heated to high heat until it begins smoking, then add the prepared steak. Cook one skewer at a time to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook for 3 minutes on one side, then 2 on the other. This will give you a nice crust on the outside and prevent the steak from overcooking.
- Check the internal temperature of your picanha steak using a meat thermometer. If it matches your desired degree of doneness, you are good to go. If not, continue cooking as needed.
Picanha Recipe Tips
- Let your steaks come to room temperature by leaving them out for 30 minutes before cooking. This ensures your beef will cook evenly.
- Liberally season steaks on both sides with the seasoning of your choice.
- Always use a meat thermometer to check the doneness of your steaks.
- Remove from the heat when your steaks are 5 degrees less than your desired temperature.
- Always rest your steaks after cooking them for at least 8 to 10 minutes.
- Slice against the grain after resting.
Picanha Steak Temps
To find your desired degree of doneness, use a meat thermometer and follow this guide:
- Rare: 125°F
- Medium-rare: 135°F
- Medium: 145°F
- Medium-well: 150°F
- Well-done: 160°F
|Desired Doneness||Total Time to Cook|
|Rare||11-13 minutes for 1″; 13-15 minutes for 1.5″|
|Medium-rare||12-14 minutes for 1″; 14-16 minutes for 1.5″|
|Medium||13-15 minutes for 1″; 15-17 minutes for 1.5″|
|Medium-well||14-16 minutes for 1″; 16-18 minutes for 1.5″|
|Well-done||15-17 minutes for 1″; 17-19 minutes for 1.5″|
Brazilian Steak Seasoning
This Brazilian steak has so much natural flavor that the meat needs very little seasoning. The secret to a perfect picanha BBQ comes from the generous layer of fat on the meat.
The best seasoning to use for this Brazil steakhouse dinner is Santa Maria steak seasoning. If you ask me, it is among the best steak seasonings ever for a picanha rub, along with my Dry Rub for Steak.
You can also use your favorite steak seasoning or simply season using black pepper and sea salt.
What is Picanha?
Picanha (pronounced pi-kan-yah) is a tender and juicy cut of beef from the rump section of the cow. It has a thick layer of fat called the fat cap that lends the beef its incredible flavor. If you’ve ever been to a Portuguese or Brazilian steakhouse, you’ve had churrasco picanha! It is the delicious steak served tableside on skewers and sliced on your plate. It is absolutely amazing and so hard to resist every time they come around with it. This Portuguese girl loves a good churrasco steak!
Picanha Steak FAQs
Picanha cut of beef is also referred to as rump cover, rump cap, sirloin cap or culotte steak.
While you may not find Picanha meat directly on the shelves at your grocery store, don’t worry about missing out on this incredible beef cut. You will still be able to get it! Ask your butcher for top sirloin! A knowledgeable butcher will be familiar with picanha cut, but top sirloin is a common name for it that will make it easier for you to find. Make sure to buy the sirloin with the fat cap attached. That’s what makes the picanha barbecue so special!
Try more of our Grilled Steak Recipes!
What to Do with Leftover Steak
- Oven Steak Nachos
- Steak Pasta Recipe
- Stir-fried with these delicious mushrooms and onions, they become a delicacy!
- Slice and add to Chilaquiles for breakfast
- Steak Quesadillas are awesome!
- Metal skewers
- 1 3-4 pound Picanha cut sirloin cap
- 1 Tbsp. Santa Maria seasoning rub
See our Cooking Conversions Chart for help converting measurements!
- Preheat grill to high (around 400 degrees F). While the grill is heating, prepare the Picanha. Using a knife, score the fat cap of the Picanha in a crosshatched pattern making sure to not cut too deep past the fat into the meat.
- Next, season the fat cap with the Santa Maria seasoning rub, reserving about 1 tsp.
- Cut the Picanha into 1-inch strips. Then, fold each strip into the shape of the letter "C" and slide onto metal skewers.
- You'll want to grill the sirloin steaks over indirect heat so if needed, turn one side of the burners off on your grill, or rearrange the hot coals to one side so you can grill over indirect heat. Place the skewers onto the grill and grill for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until the steaks reach the desired level of doneness.
- Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, and enjoy!
- If you do not have Santa Maria seasoning readily available, you can use a rub of 1 Tbsp. of coarse salt and 1 Tbsp. cracked black pepper.
- If you ask your butcher for the sirloin cap with the fat cap, they will be able to prepare it for you.
- You can also cook this steak on the stove top. To do that, follow these instructions:
How to cook picanha on the stove:
If you don’t have access to a grill or would prefer to cook on your stovetop, you can also prepare this beef cut in a pan. We recommend using cast iron for best results. Follow the above steps for preparing the beef cut, using wooden skewers instead of metal skewers—that way, you can trim the skewers if needed to fit the pan—then continue with these instructions to pan sear steak:
- Melt butter in a pan heated to high heat until it begins smoking.
- Add the Picanha steak. We recommend cooking one at a time or so, so you don’t overcrowd the pan.
- Cook for about 3 minutes on one side, then 2 on the other; this gives the steak a nice crust on the outside and keeps it from overcooking.
- Check the internal temperature to see if it matches your desired doneness and, if not, continue cooking as needed. For medium rare, your goal is 135°F (see the above instructions for a great guide on meat temperature).