Rotisserie Picanha about to get sliced into.

Traditionally called picanha in Brazil and other Latin American countries, this prized cut of meat holds ample amounts of flavor and has a texture similar to sirloin steaks. If you are like me, then you probably were stunned the first time you heard about this cut of beef popular at any Brazilian steak house.

Sliced and served steak sitting on a cutting board.

I love cooking over open flames with unique cuts of meat, so this is one I cook often. Especially when entertaining friends and family. If you have been following my journey for a while, then you’ve likely heard me talking about the importance of picanha in Brazilian cuisine.

I have also received so many questions about this cut that I decided to compile them into a list below! Hopefully I can answer everything you would like to know about this delicious cut of meat.

 Sliced into sirloin cuts.


1. What part of the animal is it from?

The picanha cut is a beef cut from the rump area above the butt, where it sits on a thick layer of fat. Most US butchers would call this area the round.

slices of steak cooking on the grill

2. Does the United States have a different name for it?

Yes, it is called Sirloin Cap or Rump Cap in the USA. Popular in Brazil, North American butchers actually break picanha down into other cuts like rump, round, loin, top sirloin cap rump. Furthermore, they sacrifice the highly-prized large fat cap in the process.

Therefore, even though it is the most prized cut of meat in Brazil picanha can be hard to find in the USA. But, do not fear because it’s been gaining in popularity and becoming easier and easier find.

3. What does it taste like?

The taste of picanha beef is that of sirloin. Tender and juicy with a lot of beefy flavor. It holds very little fat inside the meat therefore you must cook it perfectly or else it will become  tough.

A close up shot of Derek slicing into the steaks.

4. Do you eat the fat on the steak?

You can definitely eat the fat cap, in fact most Latin American countries keep the fat top sirloin cap on for added flavor! It’s a very soft, buttery fat layer. 

However, for those that do not like to eat the fat, then you are welcome to cut it off. You’ll still enjoy this juicy cut of beef.

5. How do you prepare it & cook it?

If you are using a whole picanha cut, then you first will sear the meat fat side down for 3-4 minutes. Once the fat is seared, you will then pull it off the grill and slice against the grain in order to make individual steaks. They should be that crescent shape or a C shape (shown above).

Place the sirloin cuts back on the grill so they can finish cooking. You’ll cook them as you would normally cook a steak. 

Seasoning the steaks with sea salt.

To cook picanha the traditional way, you would cut the meat with the fat layer still on and cook them on long metal skewers. You can try that style out here with my grilled, smoked, or rotisserie picanha.

Skewered picanha cooking by the fire.

There are so many different ways to prepare your picanha, but even just some coarse salt, black pepper, and olive oil work great! However, feel free to choose your favorite steak seasoning or marinade for your best results.

6. Where can I buy Picanha meat in the United States?

Brazilian picanha is in more than just South America! I highly recommend finding a local butcher shop that does full animal breakdown since they’ll be able to get this cut that is familiar with the popular cuts from Brazilian steakhouses. Any good butcher should understand what you mean if you want to get sirloin cap steak with the thick fat cap still on!

7. Can you buy picanha online?

Yes, is a specialty butcher that has fantastic picanha for sale. They also can ship to any location inside the 48 continuous states! If you want to try out a picanha recipe for yourself, you only have to make sure that it is in stock as it sells out quickly. Click here to see more.

sliced piranha in hand

Picanha is such a delicious cut of beef that is enjoyed around the world. Try some of my favorite recipes for it below. Also, make sure to check out the rest of my blog. I cover fun fire cooking questions like how to cook on the coals or how to hang a chicken!

My Favorite Recipes Using Picanha

Sliced picanha that's also garnished and served.

To find more delicious recipes for the next time you pull out the smoker, check out my cookbooks Flavor X Fire and Food X Fire!

Needing more spice in your life? My spice line can help with that. Check them out here.

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!

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  1. It is difficult to find picanha here in the US. Thanks to you we will be eating churrasco this weekend! Muito obrigado!

    1. You can usually find it at a WholeFoods or I’m lucky in my area of Boston to have this amazing small butcher M.F. Dulock that butchers on site (these days it feels like lots of “butcher shops” are really just repackaging cuts or breaking down certain sections and don’t often get the good bits and the more unique butcher cuts.) I just picked some up yesterday from Michael (Dulock) and I’m looking forward to grilling it today! I was on here trying to find a good chimichurri recipe as I forgot the exact ratios.

  2. We braai picanha in South Africa and we definitely eat the fat. Now living in Florida and looking for a butcher that sells it! We are going to have to learn to spice it ourselves, back in South Africa, the butcher spiced the meat for us. My braai master is a bit flummoxed by the idea that he now has to marinate his own meat before cooking – he was spoiled by our very excellent Portuguese butcher there, but we already did some Tri-tip and it turned out well, so we’ll figure it out.