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Buttery and oh-so tender, Grilled 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 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.
Our grilled picanha steak recipe is a steakhouse-quality meal you can make in under 30 minutes on the grill or stovetop. I guarantee you will be impressed by the flavor and tenderness of this grilled sirloin steak cap!
- Metal skewers – or wooden skewers if cooking on stove
- Cutting board
- Grilling tongs
- Meat thermometer
Picanha recipes are best on the grill, but if you need or prefer to, you can also cook it in a pan on the stove. For cooking in a pan, you will want to use wooden skewers so you’re able to trim them to fit if you need to. Use a cast iron pan for best results.
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 churassco steak!
Like sirloin, picanha steak is very flavorful, buttery, and tender. It is a specialty of Brazilian churrascaria (steakhouses) and is one of the most delectable churrasco steak recipes.
You may also hear picanha steak referred to as rump cover, rump cap, sirloin cap, or culotte steak.
Most butchers in the U.S. break the picanha beef down into other cuts, but the picanha cut—which includes the fat cap—is one of the most tender and delicious steak cuts available.
Where to Buy Picanha
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 cut so special!
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 Brazilian 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.
How to Grill Picanha
- Preheat grill to high (about 400°F). Score the fat cap of your Brazilian steak in a crosshatch pattern. 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 onto metal skewers. Season with the reserved seasoning directly on the beef.
- Grill over indirect heat for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until the steak reaches your desired level of doneness.
How to Cook Picanha 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 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 pan heated to high heat until it begins smoking, then add the prepared steak. Cook one skewer at a time to avoid over-crowding 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.
Steak Temperature Chart
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
What to Do with Leftover Steak
Try our favorite leftover steak recipes:
Try more of our Grilled Steak Recipes!
What to Serve with Picanha
Grilled, pan-fried, or roasted vegetables of all kinds are delicious with this Brazilian steak recipe. Definitely try picanha steak with Garlic Butter Herb Sauce!
I also love to pair my beef with a seafood of some kind for a surf and turf recipe, especially using crab or shrimp.
- Recipe for Button Mushrooms
- Homemade Potato Wedges
- String Beans Almondine
- Crab Legs Steamed or Crab on the Grill
- Elote Mexicano
No matter what you serve it with, this restaurant-quality culotte recipe is guaranteed to impress. It is so delicious!
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Grilled Picanha Steak Recipe
- 1 3-4 pound Picanha cut sirloin cap
- 1 Tbsp. Santa Maria seasoning rub
- 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).