Picanha vs. Ribeye

Both picanha and ribeye are fantastic steaks great for cooking in various ways, such as in a pan, on the grill, or even sous-vide. Choosing between them isn’t always easy, but don’t worry. In this guide on picanha vs. ribeye, I’ll walk you through the ins and outs of these two steaks, helping you pick the one that best suits your preference.

Picanha vs. Ribeye: At a Glance

While picanha and ribeye are both amazing cuts of beef, they differ in tenderness, location on the cow and flavor. Picanha has a strong beefy flavor, is pretty tender, and won’t break the bank. On the other hand, ribeye is expensive, more tender, and has a higher intramuscular fat content, which makes it more juicy and flavorful.

Below is a table comparing picanha vs. ribeye steak, including information on their differences in location on the cow, marbling, texture, and flavor.

FeaturesPicanhaRibeye
Location on the CowSirloin primalRib primal
MarblingMedium-marbledHighly marbled
Size and WeightOn average, a picanha roast is about 2 to 3 pounds. From a roast this size, you can slice up about 7 to 10 steaks, each different in size and about 1 to 1.5 inches thick.Generally, a ribeye roast is heavier than a picanha roast. From a good-sized ribeye roast, you can slice up around 10 steaks, each about an inch and a half thick.
CookingPan-searing, grilling, sous-vide, smoking, oven.Pan-searing, grilling, sous-vide, smoking, oven.
TendernessMediumVery tender
FlavorBeefy flavorVery rich flavor
PriceMid-range priceVery Expensive

Location on the Cow

Picanha and ribeye steaks come from different parts of the cow. The picanha comes from the sirloin primal, specifically from a part of the rump cap muscle, while the ribeye steak is from the rib primal.

Comparison: Picanha vs. Ribeye Cuts from the Cow
Picanha vs. Ribeye: Location on Cow

Marbling

Picanha has a good amount of marbling, but it’s not quite as marbled as a ribeye steak. Ribeye steak is famous for its marbling. That’s why it’s so juicy and flavorful. A ribeye includes the longissimus dorsi and spinalis dorsi muscles; these are some of the fattiest muscles of a cow.

Below is a table comparing picanha and ribeye fat content according to USDA data.

FeaturesPicanha SteakRibeye Steak
Calories199241
Total Fat13.4 g18.4 g
Saturated Fat5.08 g8.07 g
Protein19.7 g18.7 g
Picanha steak separable lean only, trimmed to 1/8″ fat, choice, raw Source.
Ribeye steak separable lean only, trimmed to 0″ fat, choice, raw Source.
raw ribeye steak
raw coulotte steak

Size and Weight

You can get ribeye and picanha as whole roasts, and it’s up to you whether you want to cook them as they are or slice them up into steaks to your liking. On average, a picanha roast is about 2 to 3 pounds. From a roast this size, you can slice up about 7 to 10 steaks, each different in size and about 1 to 1.5 inches thick. As for ribeye, you’ve got a few choices like tomahawk, bone-in, or boneless roasts, so the weight varies. But generally, a ribeye roast is heavier than a picanha roast. From a good-sized ribeye roast, you can slice up around 10 steaks, each about an inch and a half thick.

An approximately 6-inch long ribeye steak, weighing 17 oz

Cooking

You can use the same methods for ribeye and picanha – think grilling, pan-searing, or even sous-vide. But, when you’re firing up the grill, picanha is probably your best bet. It’s got less marbling than ribeye, which is great because you won’t have to deal with as many flare-ups. In Brazil, picanha is a big deal; they usually grill it churrasco style, you know, on skewers. Ribeye, though, that’s a classic for a good pan sear or a reverse sear. Whichever way you go – grilling, searing, whatever – you’re in for a treat because picanha and ribeye are excellent cuts.

Flavorful ribeye steak with garlic, rosemary and butter in a cast iron skillet
Flavorful ribeye steak with garlic, rosemary and butter in a cast iron skillet

Tenderness

No doubt about it, ribeye is way more tender than picanha. It’s all about the marbling and those tender muscles that make ribeye one of the most tender steaks. Don’t get me wrong, a well-cooked picanha is pretty tender, too, just not as much as ribeye. Also, remember always to cut your picanha against the grain to boost its tenderness.

pan-seared ribeye steak; medium-rare doneness
Ribeye cooked to medium-rare doneness

Flavor

Both picanha and ribeye are flavorful, but they’re different. The ribeye has this extra-rich flavor thanks to its amazing marbling and is more juicy. As for the picanha, it’s got a stronger beef flavor, like what you get from a strip steak.

Price

Generally, ribeye steak is more expensive than picanha, sometimes by about 30% to 40% more. Why is this? Well, it’s mostly because of how good and popular ribeye steak is. You can find ribeye steak everywhere – any butcher shop or supermarket you walk into. Picanha is a different story. It’s usually cheaper, but it’s not as easy to find.

Picanha vs. Ribeye: Which One is Better?

It’s hard to say whether picanha or ribeye is the better steak – they’re both great in their ways, and it comes down to what you like. If you’re into something lean yet flavorful with a more beefy taste, you’ll love picanha. It’s especially great for grilling. But ribeye is your go-to if you’re all about that tender, juicy bite, and a rich taste, especially if you’re cooking in a pan. Remember, you can’t go wrong whether you go for picanha or ribeye; they’re both excellent.

Ribeye is my top pick for a classic steak, whether on the grill or in the pan. But when I’m in the mood for something different, I fire up the grill and get some picanha skewers.

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Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam Wojtow is a Polish entrepreneur and writer who founded Steak Revolution in 2020 because of his passion for steaks. Adam has been cooking steaks for over 5 years, so he understands well all aspects of steak, from the types of steaks and their cooking times to choosing the best cooking technique for any steak.