As someone who is obsessed with grilling, this is the #1 question people ask me: What is your favorite thing to cook over fire? My answer is always Grilled Picanha.
If you do not know what I am talking about, picanha is a South American cut of beef that comes from the rump region of the cow. Beef picanha is sometimes called the top sirloin cap or the rump cap in the United States.
If you want more information about this cut, check out this blog post where I take a deep dive into picanha.
My favorite thing about it is how simple and delicious it is to cook.
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Why You’ll Love Grilled Picanha
If you’ve never been to a Brazilian steakhouse, then this picanha recipe will help you experience a new blast of flavor! Any steak lovers will savor this recipe becausepicanha is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef available!
No other cut has the texture of sirloin with the juiciness of a ribeye steak. It’s unbeatable. Try it and you will see for yourself! To make the best steaks, before cooking, you will score the fat cap. This will allow more of the fat to render and, furthermore, seep into the rest of the beef easily as it cooks over high heat.
Grilled Picanha Ingredients
We’ll take a trip to South America with this classic Argentinian cut of meat. Start with one whole picanha with the fat cap still on. Then drizzle it with olive oil and season it with about 2 tbsp of sea salt.
We’ll also serve this dish with chimichurri sauce. Now, you can buy premade chimichurri, or make your own at home. It’s really simple to make and only requires a bit of herb chopping. While I didn’t include a chimichurri recipe in this dish, I have a plethora already published. Check them out in the links below.
- Rotisserie Picanha with Parmesan Crust
- Skewered Picanha with Bone Marrow Chimichurri
- Grilled Garlic Butter Picanha
- Skewered Picanha with Salsa Vinaigrette
- Churrasco Picanha with Jalapeño Vinaigrette
- Chimichurri and Cheese Stuffed Picanha
- Smoked Picanha with Spicy Smoked Chimichurri
- Rotisserie Picanha
- Smoked Picanha
This recipe serves 3 and is surprisingly simple!
How to Make Grilled Picanha
With picanha at room temperature, put it on a cutting board and score the large fat cap with a sharp knife. Again this will allow more of the fat to render and give us such a juicy cut of beef. Lather with olive oil and season with sea salt on both sides.
Use some Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal to light the fire in your charcoal grill and let it burn for 10-15 minutes. Once charcoal is white hot, push into one flat pile for direct grilling.
Next, place the picanha flesh side down for 2 minutes, flip & sear the fat side for 2 minutes. Now, pull it off the grill.
Slice steak against the grain (horizontally) to make multiple thick pieces out of the whole picanha. Season the strips with more olive oil and coarse salt because now we have more exposed, unseasoned meat Then place the thick slices of steak back on the grill grate.
Optional: Grill picanha on metal skewers, then cut into thin slices to serve this delicious steak the traditional way. See my Skewered Picanha with Bone Marrow Chimichurri, Skewered Picanha with Salsa Vinaigrette and Churrasco Picanha with Jalapeño Vinaigrette for inspo.
Grill the strips of picanha for 4-5 minutes per side or until they reach your desired internal temperature. Some of the larger steaks will take longer, and some of the smaller steaks will cook faster, so stay vigilant. As each piece reaches temp, take it off the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Get ready to be hooked on this picanha cut of beef!
Slice into steaks and then top those slices with chimichurri. Enjoy!
A Few Pro Tips:
Cooking grilled picanha is relatively straightforward. Once you sear the fat cap, then you can slice it and get ready to grill it like a normal steak. However, there are a few helpful tips to making this cut better than you expect.
Do Not Overcook
Picanha is not an inherently tender piece of meat because it’s pretty lean (outside of the outer fat cap). There is not a ton of fat in between the muscle fibers, so I’d recommend a rare or medium rare cook so that it stays tender. If you prefer well done, then maybe try it medium!
If you’re new to cooking picanha, and cooking directly on the grill grate seems intimidating to you, then try cooking the picanha steak in a cast iron pan. It gives you a little more heat consistency and still results in a delicious steak!
Do not cut the fat cap off – Most American butchers will actually cut the beautiful fat cap off, but do not do this. This is what makes this cut of meat so unique. While you do not need to eat the fat if you do not want to, this beef is unique because you can choose how much fat you eat. Plus, fat is flavor, so it’s better to cook the fat and let it seep into the beef than cut it off.
Add Chimichurri – We all love chimichurri. I definitely recommend it on top of this Grilled Picanha.
Again, for more info about picanha go check out this blog post I wrote.
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- 1 whole picanha with fat cap still on
- 2 tbsp of sea salt
- Olive Oil
- With picanha at room temperature, score the fat cap in order for the flavor to seep into the whole beef. Lather with olive oil & season with sea salt on both side.
- Use some Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal to light fire and let burn for 10-15 minutes. Once charcoal is white hot, push into one flat pile for direct grilling.
- Place picanha flesh side down for 2 minutes, flip & sear the fat side for 2 minutes. Pull off grill.
- Slice the beef against the grain (horizontally) as to make multiple strips out of it. Season the strips with olive oil and salt. Place back on grill.
- Grill strips for 4-5 minutes per side or until they reach your desired internal temperature. Some of the larger steaks will take longer as will some of the smaller steak be shorter. Take off grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice into steaks, top with Chimichurri & enjoy! Buy meat from good butcher to make delicious Picanha steak.