How to Cook

Cooking Picanha

How to Cook Picanha Steaks

Want to explore a whole new world of steak wonders? Picanha is your passport! The star of Brazilian steakhouses and prized by steak lovers, this hard-to-find cut is also known as a Rump Cap, Sirloin Cap, Top Sirloin Cap and Culotte. With all the flavor of sirloin steaks, this incredible cut also boasts luxurious marbling and a fat cap that assures even richer, beefier flavor. Get ready for a truly next-level dining experience!


As for the best way to cook Picanha, it is the perfect cut for the grill. Grilled Picanha can be prepared in several ways — as steaks, on skewers, even as delectable bites that are the ideal finger food. No grill? No worries. You can still prepare a terrific Picanha with a skillet and your oven.


Everything you need to know is in the instructions below. We've also included a chart that will tell you how long to cook Picanha depending on the cooking method you choose. Be sure to use a meat thermometer for best results.


Picanha is a superb choice if you want to treat guests to a dining experience they'll remember forever.


How to Grill Picanha Steaks

  • Be sure your Picanha is completely thawed.
  • Do not trim the Picanha. The fat cap will help keep the meat moist and tender.
  • Bring the meat to room temperature. Remove your Picanha from the refrigerator 1 hour before grilling.
  • Lay the Picanha on a cutting board with the fat cap down, against the board. Take a close look and notice which way the fibers of the meat are running; this is known as the "grain."
  • Cutting WITH the grain, slice the Picanha into several individual steaks, each 1" to 1-1/2" thick. Cutting with the grain may seem counter-intuitive, but after your steaks are cooked, you will slice each steak AGAINST the grain, cutting the long muscle fibers into tiny segments and ensuring each bite is tender.
  • Season your steaks as desired. For traditional Picanha, season with a generous amount of coarse salt and possibly some olive oil, ground pepper and fresh lime juice.
  • To cook on a charcoal grill, push hot coals to one side of your grill. Place steaks over the hottest part of the grill, and sear both sides for 1-2 minutes. Then move your steaks to the low-heat side of your grill and continue to grill for the times listed in the chart below. Turn about 1 minute prior to the halfway point.
  • To cook on a gas grill, preheat on high. Sear both sides for 1-2 minutes, then reduce to low heat and continue to grill for the times listed in the chart below.
  • For the perfect medium-rare Picanha steak, grill for 9-12 minutes for a 1-inch steak and 12-14 minutes for a 1½ inch steak, turning about 1 minute before the halfway point. A meat thermometer should read 130°F.
  • Rest your steaks for 5 minutes before serving, covering lightly with foil. The temperature of the meat will continue to rise about 5°F during this time (this is called "carryover cooking").
  • Resting steak is also important because the heat of cooking pulls the juices in the meat toward the surface; if you slice into it immediately after cooking, those flavorful juices will end up on your plate, not in your steak. Allowing your steak to rest will give the juices time to sink back in and throughout the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.

How to Grill Picanha Steak on Skewers

You have two serving options, and your choice will determine whether you cut Picanha steaks WITH or AGAINST the grain.

Option #1 — carve slices off the steaks as they cook, Brazilian Steakhouse style.

  • If you want to serve Picanha as they do in Brazilian steakhouses — by searing the skewered steaks on each side then carving thin slices to serve immediately — cut AGAINST the grain, slicing your Picanha into several individual steaks, each 1" to 1-1/2" thick.
  • Fold each steak into a "C" shape, with the fat cap running along the spine of the "C." Run a skewer through the top and bottom of the "C." You should be able to fit 2 or 3 steaks on a skewer.
  • Season your steaks as desired. For traditional Picanha, season with a generous amount of coarse salt and possibly some olive oil, ground pepper and fresh lime juice.
  • To cook on a charcoal grill, create an even layer of hot coals in the center of your grill. Place the skewered steaks over the hottest part of the grill and sear both sides for 1-2 minutes.
  • To cook on a gas grill, preheat on high. Place the skewers over the hottest part of the grill and sear both sides for 1-2 minutes.
  • Once both sides of the steaks are seared, you can use a sharp knife to simply carve thin slices of steak off the sides of each "C" onto a platter and serve immediately. Re-season each freshly cut side if desired and return the skewer to the grill. Sear and shave more slices. Repeat over and over until only the center remains.

Option #2 — as finished steaks

  • If you want to serve skewered Picanha as individual steaks, cut WITH the grain, slicing your Picanha into several individual steaks, each 1" to 1-1/2" thick. After your steaks are cooked, you will slice each steak AGAINST the grain, cutting the long muscle fibers into tiny segments and ensuring each bite is tender.
  • Fold each steak into a "C" shape, with the fat cap running along the spine of the "C." Run a skewer through the top and bottom of the "C." You should be able to fit 2 or 3 steaks on a skewer.
  • Season your steaks as desired. For traditional Picanha, season with a generous amount of coarse salt and possibly some olive oil, ground pepper and fresh lime juice.
  • To cook on a charcoal grill, push hot coals to one side of your grill. Place the skewered steaks over the hottest part of the grill, and sear both sides for 1-2 minutes. Then move your steaks to the low-heat side of your grill and continue to grill for the times listed in the chart below. Turn about 1 minute prior to the halfway point.
  • To cook on a gas grill, preheat on high. Sear both sides for 1-2 minutes, then reduce to low heat and continue to grill for the times listed in the chart below.
  • For the perfect medium-rare Picanha steak, grill for 9-12 minutes for a 1-inch steak and 12-14 minutes for a 1½ inch steak, turning about 1 minute before the halfway point. A meat thermometer should read 130°F.
  • Rest your steaks for 5 minutes before serving, covering lightly with foil. The temperature of the meat will continue to rise about 5°F during this time (this is called "carryover cooking").
  • Resting steak is also important because the heat of cooking pulls the juices in the meat toward the surface; if you slice into it immediately after cooking, those flavorful juices will end up on your plate, not in your steak. Allowing your steak to rest will give the juices time to sink back in and throughout the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.

How to Grill Picanha Steak Bites

  • Be sure your Picanha is completely thawed.
  • Bring the meat to room temperature. Remove your Picanha from the refrigerator 1 hour before grilling.
  • Do not trim the Picanha. The fat cap will help keep the steaks moist and tender.
  • Season the Picanha as desired. For traditional Picanha, season with a generous amount of coarse salt and possibly some olive oil, ground pepper and fresh lime juice.
  • To cook on a charcoal grill, create an even layer of hot coals in the center of your grill. Place the Picanha fat side down over the coals and sear for 5-7 minutes. Turn and sear an additional 3-4 minutes. Be prepared for flare-ups as the fat softens and soaks into the meat…and the grill.
  • Remove the Picanha and slice into 3 or 4 sections with a sharp knife. Return the sections to the grill, cooking each side to desired doneness.
  • As each section finishes, remove from the grill, cut into small bite-sized pieces and serve.

Pan-Seared Picanha Using the Stove and Oven

  • Be sure your Picanha is completely thawed.
  • Bring the meat to room temperature. Remove your Picanha from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.
  • While the Picanha is coming to room temperature, preheat your oven to 275°F.
  • Do not trim the Picanha. The fat cap will help keep it moist and tender.
  • Using a sharp knife, score the fat cap of your Picanha into a diamond pattern; cut about half-way into the fat.
  • Season the Picanha as desired. For traditional Picanha, season with a generous amount of coarse salt and possibly some olive oil, ground pepper and fresh lime juice.
  • Heat a heavy, oven-proof skillet or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot, for about 5 minutes.
  • Add just a tablespoon of oil to the hot skillet then carefully add the Picanha, fat side down. The fat will begin to render out, and its surface will get crispy. As the melted fat accumulates, very carefully spoon it out of the skillet and into a heat-proof bowl and reserve; this will reduce splattering.
  • Continue to render the fat until you've reached nearly the bottom of the score lines and the surface is golden brown and crispy. Spoon some of the reserved fat over the Picanha, then turn so the fat-cap is right-side up.
  • Move the skillet into the pre-heated oven.
  • Rest your Picanha for 10 minutes before serving, covering lightly with foil. The temperature of the meat will continue to rise for as much as 10°F during this time (this is called "carryover cooking").
  • Resting Picanha is also important because the heat of cooking pulls the juices in the meat toward the surface; if you slice into it immediately after cooking, those flavorful juices will end up on your plate, not in your meat. Allowing the Picanha to rest will give the juices time to sink back in and throughout the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.
  • To serve, carve the Picanha into thin slices, cutting AGAINST the grain to ensure each bite is tender.

Cooking Times

for Picanha Steaks

Remember to fully thaw your steaks. Sear on high heat for 1 - 2 minutes each side, then move to indirect heat. Turn them 1 minute before the halfway point of the cooking time. Follow the cooking temperatures and times below to cook the perfect individual Picanha Steaks.

The Grill
Gas Grill Charcoal Grill
Rare1 inch
1 1/2 inches

8-11 mins
11-13 mins

8-11 mins
11-13 mins
Medium-Rare1 inch
1 1/2 inches

9-12 mins
12-14 mins

9-12 mins
12-14 mins
Medium1 inch
1 1/2 inches

10-13 mins
13-15 mins

10-13 mins
13-15 mins
Medium-Well1 inch
1 1/2 inches

12-15 mins
15-17 mins

12-14 mins
14-16 mins

Measuring Doneness

    Remove when your steaks are 5 degrees less than the temperatures listed. The centers will continue to warm as they rest.

  • 1 Rare

    125°F - Center is bright red; pinkish towards the outside

  • 2 Medium-Rare

    135°F - Center is very pink; slightly brown towards the outside

  • 3 Medium

    145°F - Center is light pink; outer portion is brown

  • 4 Medium-Well

    155°F - Center is slightly pink; outer portion is brown

  • 5 Well

    165°F - Uniformly brown throughout

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