Picanha 3 Ways

  • Recipe Type

    Red Meat

  • Skill Level


  • Grill Time

    <1 hour

  • Method

    Indirect Grilling

  • Servings

    Serves 4-6

Picanha- the Queen of steaks

If you are not familiar with picanha, your life is about to change.  Picanha is one of the most tender, flavorful cuts of beef anywhere.  If you have ever been to a Brazilian Steakhouse, you have seen them carving steak right off of the giant skewers, right?  Well, guess what, that is picanha!  

If the name is not familiar to you, that is because it has more names than the Artist Formerly Known As Prince.  If you don’t believe me, go to your local butcher, and ask for picanha, sirloin cap, rump cap, rump cover or culotte and he will bring you one steak.  All of those names all refer to this Brazilian originated cut of deliciousness.  The good news is, with as many names as it has, there are just as many ways to prepare this beefy treat.

Picking out a good Picanha

When shopping for picanha, there are a few things to take into consideration.   First, look for a steak that has a fat cap that is not too thick.  ½” is just about the perfect thickness that you want to look for.  If it is thicker, it will not render down well and be very off-putting to eat.  Whatever you do, do NOT remove the fat cap.  It provides a lot of flavor into the meat. 

 Next, look for a package that is not filled with liquids.  If there is too much liquid, it usually means that the beef has emitted much of the internal moisture.  I don’t know about you, but I like my juices IN my steak, not ON it! 

 Lastly, the perfect sized picanha is somewhere between 2 and 3 pounds.  I shoot for 2 ½ lbs. when I am shopping for it.  If you get anything much bigger, it may contain parts of other cuts that can be much tougher and far less flavorful.  If you are buying picanha, follow these simple guidelines and you will have a great piece of meat.

What grade should I get?

You will mostly encounter two grades of picanha when at the butcher, Choice and Prime.  Before you get all excited, it can come in many other grades but these are the two most often found in stores.  I will always opt for a prime picanha over any other grade.  The marbling can be much more intense, leading to a much more tender and flavorful steak.  The good news is that around here in S Florida, the price difference between Choice and Prime can be very minimal.  As a matter of fact, it is generally about a dollar per pound difference.  If you were buying a brisket, that can be a big difference, but this is picanha.  On a two or three pound steak, the price difference is only a few dollars.  If you can swing it, get the prime.  If budget restrictions won’t allow it, you will still have a delicious and tender steak with a Choice cut.

How to prepare Picanha

There are many different ways to prepare Picanha and they are all going to give you a super tasty meal.  In this video, @cptnron302 shows you the top three methods of picanha preparation.  Rotisserie, direct grilling, and reverse sear.  We had our fire a little too hot and the outside got a bit over cooked using the direct method so beware to keep the fire under control.  Raised direct is a great option if you want to simply grill them direct.  

For the reverse searing method that we used here, we used cast iron to sear the steaks after roasting them.  This gives a great crust because of the Maillard Reaction.   The beautiful caramel crust is truly something special.  If you choose not to use cast iron, that is fine too.  You can simply sear them over direct fire after cooking them.  This will give more char and give tons of flavor as well.  Either way, you can’t lose.

The rotisserie method is a very traditional method of preparing picanha.  This is how they cook and serve it in Brazilian steakhouses like Fogo de Chao. (no relation)  The servers walk around the restaurant carving the deliciousness table side right off of the skewers used to cook them on.  It is a great way to make them and it looks really cool when serving.  Hey, don’t laugh, we eat with our eyes first!

That is all for our picanha video today.  We hope that you enjoy it.  Go ahead and click the link to watch the video right now.  While you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to the FOGO channel.  We would love if you’d leave us a comment letting us know what you think.  Feel free to let us know if there is anything that you’d like to see covered in a video.  Until the next time, get out and grill and we will see you the next time on The FOGO Life!


1 - Rotisserie Picanha:

  1. Cover the bottom of your Kick Ash Basket with FOGO Premium Charcoal and push all of the coals toward the back of the grill.  
  2. Take your picanha and pat it dry.  Cut it into steaks, 3 fingers wide by cutting ACROSS the grain.  Fold the steaks into a horseshoe shape with the fat cap on top and put them on the rotisserie spit skewer.  Use a knife to make an incision in the fat cap in order to help the skewer penetrate the meat.  Place the skewer in the rotisserie and center the steaks over the middle of the grill.
  3. Remove the skewer from the grill and season the steaks liberally with coarse sea salt on all sides.  
  4. Using the FOGO Fire Starters and grill torch, light the coals and allow a medium hot fire to build.  Place the steaks on the skewer into the rotisserie and turn it on, allowing the steaks to spin.  Cook until the picanha has reached 125° internal temperature (You can use a Meater Wireless Thermometer) and remove from the grill.
  5. Allow the steaks to rest for at least 10 minutes.  When you are ready to carve them, you can leave them right on the skewer and simply shave the meat from the sides of the steaks.  

2 – Direct Grilled Picanha

  1. Remove the picanha from the package and pat it dry.  Cut it into individual steaks, 2 fingers wide, cutting WITH the grain.  Fold the steaks into a horseshoe shape and thread them onto the flat skewers.  2 steaks per skewer is perfect.
  2. Coat the steaks generously with coarse sea salt on all sides, including the fat cap.  Set the steaks to the side and prepare the grill.
  3. Fill the grill with FOGO Premium Charcoal and prepare it for direct grilling over medium high heat.  Use FOGO Starters in multiple places to get the bed of coals lit in different spots.
  4. Once the fire is where you want it, place the skewered steaks on the grate to cook.  Flip the steaks often until they reach your desired internal temperature.  (refer to the chart below)  ***Remember to rest your steaks for 10 minutes minimum before carving.  They will continue to cook while resting.
  5. Slice across the grain to serve.

3 – Reverse Seared Picanha

  1. Remove the picanha from the packaging and pat it dry.  Slice into individual steaks, 3 fingers wide and cut WITH the grain.   Season liberally with coarse sea salt on all sides, including the fat cap.
  2. Fill your grill with FOGO Premium Charcoal and prepare it for indirect cooking at 250°.  If possible, set it up using the Eggspander system or other setup that will allow one side to be indirect and the other side direct.  Place the cast iron half-moon over the direct side.  If using this setup, light your coals using FOGO Natural Fire Starters under the direct side only.
  3. Once the grill has reached 250°, place the salted steaks on the grate on the indirect side.  Cook until they reach your desired internal temperature.  (see chart below)  Remove from the grill.
  4. If using a one zone system, remove the deflector and switch over to direct grilling.  Place the cast iron griddle on the grate, open the vents and let that fire heat up. 
  5.  If using a two-zone system, simply open the vents and let the side with the cast iron heat up.
  6. Once the cast iron is hot enough (water dropped on it should “dance”), lay the steaks on it.  Cook for approximately 1 minute or just until it develops a good crust.  Turn the steaks and sear them on each side, including the fat cap.
  7. Remove from the grill and allow them to rest.  After the rest, slice the steaks across the grain and serve.  Enjoy the deliciousness!

Steak Temperature Chart:

Rare 120°

Medium Rare 125°

Medium Rare 135°

If you want to have a steak that is more than Medium, get a different cut.  These are best served between rare and medium.  Remember to let the steaks rest for at least 10 minutes after removing them from the grill.  This allows the juices to redistribute themselves inside of the meat as well as let all of the muscles relax.  This will give a juicier, more tender bite.  Resting will also allow the steaks to continue to cook, so be sure to keep an eye on those temps!


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