How To Grill Picanha Steak: The Ultimate Guide

grilling picanha steak

Bring picanha steak to room temperature and season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fire up the charcoal grill and grill a skewered picanha on a grill for around 15-25 minutes, depending on the level of doneness you want to achieve. Once cooked, leave it to rest for about 5-1o minutes. Serve picanha steak bites with your favorite side dishes.

Picanha steak is a beef cut from the top of the rump. In the US, it’s labeled as rump cap, sirloin cap, rump cover, or sometimes a culotte steak. It’s Brazil’s favorite cut of beef, and no wonder why. It’s packed with a robust beefy flavor, it’s tender despite not having a lot of intramuscular fat, and it doesn’t cost as much as premium steak cuts like the ribeye or New York strip steaks.

I’ll show you how to grill picanha steak using the same method as in a Brazilian steakhouse (also known as churrascaria). It doesn’t matter if you cook it on charcoal or gas grill; the cooking method is the same. At the bottom of the article is a steak temperature chart, suggestions for seasoning, and where you can purchase the steak. So without any further ado, let’s start with grilling picanha steak:

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How to Grill Picanha: Step-By-Step

step-by-step picanha steak grilling guide

Equipment you’ll need for grilled picanha steak:

Ingredients list for the picanha recipe:

  • Picanha steak;
  • Kosher salt;
  • Freshly ground black pepper;
  • Light olive oil.

Step 1: Bring Steak To Room Temperature

Leave the steak out before grilling. Bringing steak to room temperature is crucial because it’ll allow it to cook evenly throughout. While steak is out, season it generously with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. There are more seasoning options below in the article. However, since the meat is exceptionally flavorful, it’s better not to overpower it with too much seasoning.

Note: If you have whole picanha roast, cut the roast first, then season it and bring it to room temperature. Depending on the roast size, you should get around 2-4 steaks from the whole piece of meat.

Step 2: Prepare The Charcoal Grill

Set up a charcoal grill for two-zone grilling. The direct heat side of the grill is for searing, while the indirect heat side of the grill is for finishing cooking. The hot side of the grill should reach at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If using a gas grill, leave one side of the grill on low heat.

Step 3: Skew Picanha Steaks

Depending on picanha roast size, it should be cut into 2-4 thick pieces. They should be about the same size as New York strip steak. If you bought prepared steaks, there’s no need to cut them anymore. Fold the steaks into a horseshoe shape and skewer. The fat side should be on the outside.

Step 4: Grill The Steaks

Place steaks over direct heat and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until brown crust forms. Once the crust has formed, move steaks over the indirect heat side of the grill, close the lid and continue cooking. Flip the steaks every 3-4 minutes. It’ll ensure the meat is cooking evenly. Using a meat thermometer, check the meat’s internal temperature. It’s not recommended to cook picanha beyond medium. Medium-rare (135° Fahrenheit) internal temperature is the best because the meat doesn’t overcook and stays juicy and tender. It should take around 20 minutes to reach medium-rare.

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Step 5: Rest The Steak

Take the skewers from the grill, place them on a cutting board, cover them with aluminum foil, and let the steaks rest for about 5-10 minutes. Resting will allow steak juices to redistribute throughout the meat’s interior, making them tender and juicy.

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Where To Buy Picanha Steak

You can purchase picanha steak or whole roast online or at a specialty butcher shop. Be sure to ask a butcher if the steak is from the top of the rump. Often tri-tip and sirloin steaks can be sold as top sirloin cap steaks. Unfortunately, it’s not readily available at supermarkets. Sometimes you can find picanha labeled as a rump cap, sirloin cap, rump cover, or culotte. Make sure it has a thick fat cap.

Here’re a few vendors offering picanha cut sirloin cap:

Perfect Steak Seasoning For Picanha

Even though picanha is packed with strong beefy flavor, it’s nice to try new seasoning occasionally. This seasoning recipe is vibrant with great flavors that will enrich and bring your steak to the next level (seasoning is known as Santa Maria seasoning). Add everything into the bowl and mix. Use the seasoning to dry rub picanha steak overnight. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Steak Temperature Chart

steak temperature chart
  • Rare steak: 125° Fahrenheit;
  • Medium rare steak: 135° Fahrenheit;
  • Medium steak: 145° Fahrenheit;
  • Medium-well steak: 150° Fahrenheit;
  • Well done, steak: 160° Fahrenheit.

Using this steak temperature chart for beef cuts, track picanha steak’s internal temperature. Since the meat is cut from the top of the rump section, it can be slightly chewy if overcooked. Do not cook it beyond medium.

To track meat’s temperature, use a meat thermometer or finger test method. Check the temperature by sticking a probe into the thickest part of the meat. The same applies to the finger test method.


How do I cook Picanha steak on a gas grill?

Turn one side of a gas grill on medium-high and leave another side on low. Sear picanha steak on high heat for 1-2 minutes on each side until brown crust forms. Once the crust has formed, continue cooking on the low heat side of the grill until the desired doneness.

How long does it take to grill picanha?

Depending on the level of doneness and steak’s thickness, it can take from 15-3o minutes to grill picanha. Rare should take 12-15. Medium-rare can take around 15-18 minutes. Medium can take around 18-21 minutes. Medium well can take 21-24. Well done can take around 25 minutes or more. Keep in mind that cooking time heavily depends on the grill’s temperature, steak’s thickness, and even outdoors temperature.

What is the best way to cook a picanha?

The best way to cook picanha is on an open fire (bbq style). A charcoal grill provides steak with an excellent smoky flavor that steak lovers adore.

What temperature should picanha be grilled at?

Picanha should be seared at 500 degrees Fahrenheit and finished grilling at around 320 degrees Fahrenheit. The grill should have two zones—one with direct heat and one with indirect heat. Setting the grill for two-zone cooking allows for cooking steak with a nice crispy crust without burning the meat on the outside.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
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