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Grilled Picanha Steak

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Grilled Picanha Steak is delicious, tender, buttery, and is a source of great enjoyment by all who love steak! 

If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian steakhouse, you’ll likely remember these impressive looking grilled picanha steaks. These skewered steaks are sliced and served right at your table. The beauty of picanha is that it requires few ingredients and cooks quickly on the grill! Our recipe will have you ditching the Brazilian steakhouse and making this beefy delight at home!

Picanha, brazilian barbecue

What is Picanha Steak?

Picanha is a cut of beef from the top sirloin cap and technically a rump roast, also known as the rump cap. You can find this cut online or in some grocery stores. Sadly, here in the states, rump roasts are carved up and sold as steaks, stewed meats, or trimmed of their delicious buttery fat! Depending on where you live, you can ask for the top sirloin cap, rump cap, or a culotte steak (or coulotte steak).

The picanha roast is less inexpensive compared to more popular picanha steaks. Lucky for us, it can produce the same tender beefiness at half the price. The distinctive element of this cut is the lean muscle topped with a layer of fat. Typically, this fat is trimmed away, but for picanha, we want a good thick layer of fat remaining. You might need to talk to your butcher for the right cut.

In Brazil, these picanha roasts are cut into separate steaks then threaded onto large sword skewers. The meat is seasoned with coarse salt then grilled hot and fast. We recommend grilling them to medium-rare doneness or an internal temperature between 125-130 degrees F.

Grilled Picanha Steaks – Ingredients:

  • Picanha roast: about 3 pounds
  • Argentinian salt or coarse salt 
  • 1-2 sword skewers 

How to Make It:

  • Remove picanha roast from packaging and blot away excess moisture with paper towels. Trim off any silver skin over the meat portion and any hanging bits of fat and flesh from the roast. Do not trim off the fat cap. That is pure gold!
  • Next, turn the beef roast over with the meat side facing up. Look for which way the grain of the meat runs. With picanha, you want to cut with the grain instead of other types of beef that require cutting against the grain.
  • Cut the small end sections off, then cut the roast into 1 1/4″-1 1/2″ thick steaks.
  • Next, bend the picanha steak strips into a “C” shape. Run your sword skewer through the center of the fat cap, and thread the steaks as pictured—average 3 steaks per skewer.

Grilling:

  • Prepare your grill for 400 degrees F.
  • Remember that grilled picanha steaks cook hot and fast. You want to get a good sear on the meat at a high temperature. We used the Puma by Nuke for this recipe, and it did an amazing job. Please read my review of the Nuke for more information. However, you can use any outdoor cooker to make grilled picanha, as long as they reach high temperatures and accommodate 1-2 large sword skewers.
  • Prepare your grill for 400 degrees F.
  • Season the picanha steaks with a generous amount of coarse salt, and season the fat cap as well. Traditional picanha is seasoned only with salt, but you can add black pepper, garlic powder anything that doesn’t overpower the natural flavor of the beef.
  • Once your grill is up to temperature, it is time to start cooking. Place the skewers on the grill and cook for 10-12 minutes total or 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare doneness. Refer to my steak temperature guide for precise temperature breakdowns.
  • Once the grilled picanha steaks have cooked to desired doneness, remove from the grill and place them onto a large cutting board. Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes.

Carving Grilled Picanha: 

sliced steak

You have a few choices when it comes to carving picanha, either carve straight from the skewer like they do in Brazilian steakhouses. Or, remove the picanha from the skewer and slice. You also have the option of serving your grilled picanha whole or sliced and smothered in our delicious Board Dressing for Beef.

Variation:

If you do not have sword skewers, you can grill your picanha as individual steaks. Follow the instructions except for threading them onto skewers. Grill for 10-12 minutes or your desired doneness, and serve sliced or whole. Use our Brazilian Barbecue Rub for a more dressed-up grilled picanha!

What to serve with it:

You can serve grilled picanha with grilled garlic cheese bread or our twice-baked potato casserole

Picanha on skewer being sliced with sharp knife

Grilled Picanha

Grilled Picanha is delicious, tender, buttery, and is a source of great enjoyment by all who love steak!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Brazilian
Keyword: grilled picanha, picanha, picanha recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 685kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 picanha roast about 3 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons Argentinian salt or coarse salt

Instructions

  • Remove picanha roast from packaging and blot dry with paper towels. Trim off silver skin from the meat portion, but leave the fat cap intact.
  • Cut off the ends of the roast. Next, cut the picanha roast WITH the grain into 1 1/4″-1 1/2″ individual steaks.
  • For steaks into a “C” shape, and thread them onto your sword skewers. Average 3 steaks per skewer. Season well with salt, including the fat cap.
  • Heat your grill to 400 degrees F.
  • Place the picanha skewers onto the grill over high heat and cook 5-6 minutes per side or 10-12 minutes total for medium-rare doneness. Leave on longer for medium to medium-well doneness.
  • Once cooked, remove skewers from the grill and place them onto a clean cutting board. Rest grilled picanha for 10 minutes. Carve and serve with Brazilian cheese bread or mashed potatoes.
  • Variation:
  • If you do not have sword skewers, you can grill your picanha as individual steaks. Follow the instructions except for threading them onto skewers. Grill for 10-12 minutes or your desired doneness, and serve sliced or whole. Use our Brazilian Barbecue Rub for a more dressed-up grilled picanha!

Nutrition

Serving: 6servings | Calories: 685kcal | Protein: 69g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 272mg | Sodium: 1300mg | Potassium: 549mg

 All images in this post are by Sabrina Baksh for derrickriches.com

Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.

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