What Is Picanha Steak?

If you are looking for a beef cut that offers a juicy flavor, the famous Brazilian picanha will impress you.

In this post, we will include all essential details about picanha and what makes this cut so special.

What Exactly Is Picanha Steak?

The word picanha (pronounced PEE-KAHN-YA) comes from Portuguese and means “coulotte.” It is a churrasco or grilled meat and is very common in Portugal. Picanha is also very common in Brazil, where it is served as a barbecue with mashed potatoes or French fries.

It is a go-to dish in Brazilian steakhouses and restaurants where they serve fancy meals. If you want to try it, you can visit a local Brazilian restaurant or purchase it from a well-equipped butcher shop.

One of the things meat-eaters love most about picanha steak is how flavorful it is. It is relatively cheaper than other cuts of beef, and yet the taste is impressive. The steak is triangular, surrounded by a thick fat layer called a fat cap.

Other Names for Picanha Steak

In the United States, you can find picanha steak referred to as the sirloin cap or rump cap. Local butcher shops break it down into smaller cuts, making them look like round pieces.

Some say that butchers sacrifice the highly prized cut of fat during this process, which makes up for the tenderness and fantastic flavor.

Where This Cut Comes From

The picanha steak comes from the cow’s rear—more specifically, from the rump cap muscle. That is why many know picanha in the United States as the rump cap. In this area from the cow, there aren’t many active muscles, meaning the meat is rich in marbling and fat.

The fat layer makes picanha perfect for grilling, especially when seasoned with salt and pepper.

What Does Picanha Steak Taste Like?

Many agree that picanha steak tastes like sirloin steaks in that it is tender and juicy. When cooked right, it brings out a unique flavor that impresses everyone at the table.

Compared with other beef cuts, picanha retains more tenderness, especially if you cook it on the grill.

Where to Buy Picanha Steak

A good picanha steak is usually available at any reputable butcher. If your local butcher doesn’t have this steak cut, you can always order it online.

When buying picanha, you should always check the fat content, size, and excess liquid. Smaller cuts are always better, so make sure to order around 1kg-1.5kg of picanha steak. Anything larger may contain parts of other cuts and affect the overall experience.

Cooking Methods

The best way to cook picanha is on the grill. If you are using a larger cut of picanha, you first need to sear the meat for 3-4 minutes and then slice it against the grill grain to create sirloin cuts.

Leave the cuts on the grill for a couple of minutes (as you usually cook beef). Traditionally, you then need to cut the meat with the fat on.

Besides grilling, you can try smoked picanha steak or on the rotisserie.

Nutrition and Calories

Compared with other steak cuts, picanha is higher in calories. For example, one picanha steak (average serving) contains approximately 260 calories and 15g of fat.

The cut is rich in protein (29g), zinc, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.

Example Recipes for Picanha Steak

1. Traditional Brazilian Picanha Steak

The most traditional way to eat picanha is to cook it Brazilian style. First, cut the steak into thick slices (3-4 inches) and then fold them into a C shape and place them on long skewers.

For medium-rare, it will take 10 minutes on the grill and, for well-done, 20 minutes. Season with sea salt and enjoy.

2. Picanha Steak on the Stovetop

Season the steak and put it into a skillet on high heat. Turn it on both sides until you notice a golden crust.

Next, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes on both sides.

3. Individual Steaks

Preheat the grill and place the steaks on the edge of the grates, so they are not exposed to direct heat. Cook the steaks for 5-6 minutes and place them on the center to sear the meat.

For more information on picanha or any other steak, don’t hesitate to check our blog.

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About the author

Adam can tell you the difference between a flank steak and skirt steak and any other cut of meat. He loves sharing his knowledge of steaks with everyone, ensuring you get the perfect steak every time.