The smoked Picanha Steak Sandwich is not your average smoked beef sandwich. Succulent picanha steak, pickled spicy veggies, cilantro ranch, and then a crunch of crumbled potato chips? Yes, you read that right! These tasty ingredients add up to an unforgettable lunch or dinner experience.

The finished picanha sandwich ready to be sliced.

This sandwich, worthy of the best Brazilian steakhouses, is so full of great flavor that each bite will leave you craving more!

Why You’ll Love the Picanha Sandwich

The next time you want to level up your sandwich game, do yourself a favor and consider making this Picanha Steak Sandwich.

Picanha steak, also known as sirloin cap steak or coulotte, is a prized cut of beef in Brazilian cuisine. Sourced from the top sirloin primal cut, picanha is known for its enhanced flavor and juiciness because of its thick fat cap. 

The Picanha getting sliced after the reverse sear.

If you love a great steak sandwich as much as me, then check out my Peter Luger Sliced Steak Sandwich, Mushroom Swiss Steak Sandwich, Californian Steak Sandwich, or Chimichurri Steak Sandwich.

Picanha Steak Ingredients

The Steak

  • The Cut – Picanha is known for being a tender cut of meat. If you have any trouble finding these rump cap steaks, ask your local butcher if he or she can source a top sirloin cap steak for you.  
  • Spicy Flavor – Mesquite Peppercorn Lager Rub is my special rub that features the bold combination of mesquite, peppercorns, and lager, adding a smoky and savory flavor profile to the picanha.
  • The Binder: A neutral oil like canola oil acts as a binder for the rub, therefore ensuring that it adheres to the picanha steak. Olive oil is another good option if you like a bolder flavor.  

Add flavor to everything you’re cooking

shop over the fire spice lines

Pickled Red Onions & Jalapenos

  • The Onions: Red onion, thinly sliced and pickled overnight, brings a sweet and tangy crunch to this great sandwich. 
  • Peppers – Jalapeños bring a nice kick to the brine and also to the sandwich after pickling.
  • The Brine – White vinegar, water, sugar, kosher salt, and black peppercorns create the perfect brine base that pickles the onions and peppers overnight.  

Cilantro Ranch Dressing

  • Creamy Base – Mayonaisse, sour cream, and then some tangy buttermilk form the creamy base of this homeade spread.   
  • Seasonings – Chopped dill, cilantro, and then a little kosher salt are the simple seasonings that make this creamy spread pop with flavor. 

Steak Sandwich Building Blocks

  • Toasted Sandwich Bread: The foundation of the sandwich, toasted bread slices provide a crispy exterior that complements the succulent picanha and creamy cilantro ranch.
  • Cheddar Cheese: Melted cheddar cheese adds a gooey, savory element, enhancing the overall richness of the sandwich.
  • Crumbled Potato Chips: Crumbled potato chips deliver a satisfying crunch, elevating the sandwich with a delightful texture contrast.
The meat rump with a thick fat cap.

How to Make a Picanha Steak Sandwich

Pickled Onions & Hot peppers:

First, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Into the hot skillet, then add the vinegar, water, white sugar, and kosher salt. Let the mixture simmer until the salt and sugar have dissolved.

Next, remove the brine from the heat. In a large Mason jar or heat-proof airtight container, add the hot brine to the sliced red onions, jalapeños, and peppercorns.

Allow the magic to happen at room temperature for at least an hour. For the full flavor explosion, consider letting them mingle overnight. Once ready, refrigerate any leftovers after opening.

What’s the secret to the best pickled red onions?

Beyond the balance of acidity, sweetness, and salty brine, thinly slicing the red onions is essential, so you may want to invest in a high-quality mandolin to accomplish this important task.

The cilantro ranch dressing alongside the pickled red onions.

The Spread:

To make life as easy as possible, consider making the cilantro ranch dressing the night before you smoke the meat. The next day all the flavors will be well infused into the cool and creamy mixture, so it’ll be perfect for our picanha steak sandwich!

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and blend until creamy.  

The Smoke:

Preheat your grill to 250° degrees F for some indirect heat. Generously slather the steak with oil and coat it with my Mesquite Peppercorn Lager Rub or your preferred steak seasoning. 

Once the grill is at the right temperature, then place the seasoned steak over the grates. Let it cook for about 30-45 minutes per side or until the internal temperature of the meat hits 120° degrees F.

After the flavorful picanha steak is done, go ahead and pull it off the grill grates and then let it rest for at least 15 minutes. 

After letting the picanha rest for 15 minutes, we want to add it back to the grill for its final sear. To do this, add more wood or charcoal to the fire because we want it to be nice and hot. Then, add the picanha back to the grill directly over the coals.

Due to the piranhas fat cap, you’ll likely have some flare ups, so be prepared. Only allow the picanha to stay over the coals, flipping as needed to get a good crust on all sides. Then remove it from the grill. Remember, the purpose of this is only to give the picanha a crust, not to continue cooking it.

If you’d like to learn more about the reverse sear method, I have a comprehensive article about it called How To Reverse Sear a Steak and also Best Steaks for Reverse Searing!

For More Reverse Seared Steak

Picanha Steak Sandwich Assembly

The cilantro sauce is smeared on the bread before the sliced steak, pickled onions, and crumbled potato chips are added.

Now, let’s assemble! After preparing thin steak slices by cutting the picanha against the grain on a cutting board, toast your bread, melt some cheddar cheese on it, and then start layering. Start with the bread, cilantro ranch, sliced steak, pickled veggies, and top with crushed potato chips, because who doesn’t love salty potatoes?

If you’re feeling extra saucy, drizzle over some more ranch dressing.


Slice, serve, and brace yourself for a sandwich experience that transcends the ordinary – this is flavor innovation at its finest!

The steak sandwich is ready to eat!

What to Serve with Picanha Steak? 

Pair this indulgent sandwich with your favorite sides. I’m thinking sweet potato fries or a simple garden salad would be awesome choices. 

Leftovers & Reheating

If you have any leftover steak, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and store it in an airtight container for 3-5 days. 

To reheat, throw the aluminum foil packet on a warm grill and let it heat through for about 10-15 minutes. 

FAQs for Picanha Steak Sandwich:

Can I substitute fresh chimichurri sauce for the cilantro ranch dressing? 

You read my mind! It’s another great way to enjoy these steak sandwiches. 

Can I add caramelized onions instead of pickled onions? 

Absolutely! Caramelized onions don’t provide the tangy contrast of pickled onions but they add a French Onion soup vibe and turn this into an even more comforting sandwich. 

What kind of bread do you recommend? 

Ciabatta bread, French baguette, and sourdough bread are all great options. 

The steak sandwich cut in half, oozing with juicy flavor and textures.

Get stoked for life

This sauce is FYR!

an all-new line created for live fire cooking

Born from a deep passion for food and flavor. Whether you’re grilling in the backyard or live fire cooking around the world, we have what you need to transform every meal into an adventure.

The picanha steak sandwich is a feast of textures and flavors.

Picanha Steak Sandwich

The Picanha Steak Sandwich is worthy of the best Brazilian steakhouses. Full of great flavor and textures, each bite will leave you craving more. 
Author:Derek Wolf
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American, Brazilian
Servings: 4 people



Pickled Spicy Veggies:

  • 2 medium Red Onions sliced
  • 1 large Jalapeño sliced
  • 2 cups White Vinegar
  • 1 cup Water
  • ½ cup White Sugar
  • ½ cup Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp Whole Peppercorns

Cilantro Ranch:

  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • cup Sour Cream
  • ½ cup Buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Dill
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Cilantro
  • Kosher Salt to taste


  • Sandwich Bread toasted
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Potato Chips crumbled


Pickled Spicy Veggies:

  • Heat up a skillet to medium high heat. Add your white vinegar, water, white sugar and kosher salt to the skillet. Let simmer until the salt and sugar has dissolved. Pull off once done.
  • Add your sliced red onions, jalapenos and the peppercorns to a food safe bowl or mason jar. Pour the hot vinegar solution over the top of the veggies and cover. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour but ideally overnight.
  • Use once ready and refrigerate after opening.

Cilantro Ranch:

  • Ideally, the night before, mix all the ingredients for the cilantro ranch in a bowl. Place covered in the fridge until it's ready to serve.

Steak & Sandwich:

  • Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F for indirect cooking.
  • Slather your steak with oil as the binder and generously season with my Mesquite Peppercorn Lager Rub or your favorite steak seasoning.
  • Add your steak to the smoker to cook for about 30-45 minutes per side or until 120F internal. Once the steak is done, pull it off to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Toast your sandwich bread and melt sliced cheddar cheese to them. Slice your picanha thinly and against the grain, then start building the sandwich.
  • Build with the bread, cilantro ranch, sliced steak, pickled veggies and crushed potato chips. Add more ranch if you desire, slice, serve and enjoy!



What’s the secret to the best pickled red onions?
Beyond the balance of acidity, sweetness, and salty brine, thinly slicing the red onions is essential, so you may want to invest in a high-quality mandolin to accomplish this important task.


Serving: 6Oz | Calories: 1018kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 57g | Fat: 65g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 28g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 189mg | Sodium: 14700mg | Potassium: 1639mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 13760IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 226mg | Iron: 11mg

Derek Wolf

Derek is the driving force behind Over the Fire Cooking. He started cooking with live fire in 2016 and decided to start a social media page so his friends and family could follow the journey. Fast forward to today and Over the Fire Cooking has spread across multiple platforms with millions now following Derek's fire cooking journey. He's a southern fellow who enjoys everything from classic BBQ to Central and South American inspired dishes. Whatever he's cooking up, it's guaranteed to be so freakin' delicious!

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating