How to Cook Picanha Steak: A Complete Guide

Picanha steak, popularly known as the Brazilian-style steak, is a delicacy that has been enjoyed for years. It’s a juicy, tender, and flavorful cut of beef that is perfect for grilling. But cooking it to perfection can be quite a challenge. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of cooking picanha steak, step-by-step. We’ll also give you tips and tricks to make the cooking process easier and more enjoyable.

What is Picanha Steak?

Picanha steak is a cut of beef that comes from the sirloin area of the cow. It’s a triangular-shaped cut with a thick layer of fat on one side, which adds flavor and moisture to the meat. Picanha steak is known for its tender texture and rich taste. It’s a popular dish in Brazil, where it’s traditionally grilled over an open flame.

Preparing the Picanha Steak

Before cooking, it’s essential to prepare the picanha steak correctly. Here are the steps you need to follow:

1. Start by trimming the excess fat from the meat, especially on the thick side of the steak. Leave a thin layer of fat, about 1/4 inch thick, as it adds flavor and moisture to the beef.

2. Score the layer of fat with a sharp knife, creating a diamond pattern. This will help the fat render down during cooking, making the meat more tender and flavorful.

3. Season the picanha steak generously with coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. You can also add other spices such as garlic powder, paprika, and cumin, depending on your preference.

4. Let the steak rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking, allowing the meat to absorb the seasonings and come to room temperature.

Cooking the Picanha Steak

Grilling is the most common way to cook picanha steak. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Build a two-zone fire on your grill, with high heat on one side and low heat on the other. You can also use a gas grill or a cast-iron pan instead of a charcoal grill.

2. Place the picanha steak on the high-heat side of the grill with the fat side facing down. Sear the meat for about 3-4 minutes until a golden crust forms.

3. Flip the steak, so the fat side faces up and move it over to the low-heat side of the grill.

4. Cover the grill or pan and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 130-135°F for medium-rare.

5. Remove the steak from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Serving the Picanha Steak

When the picanha steak is ready, slice it against the grain into thin pieces. Serve it with chimichurri sauce or salsa for an added flavor. Also, you can pair it with mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, or a salad.

Tips and Tricks for Cooking Picanha Steak

– Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak for accurate cooking.

– Let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing to allow all the juices to distribute evenly.

– Don’t poke or cut the steak while cooking, as this will release the natural juices, making the meat dry and tough.

– If using a cast-iron pan, preheat it in the oven for 10-15 minutes before cooking to sear the steak better.

– For extra flavor, marinate the picanha steak for a few hours before cooking with olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano.


Q. What is the best temperature to cook picanha steak?

A. Cook the picanha steak at 130-135°F for medium-rare, or 140-145°F for medium.

Q. How long should I let the steak rest before slicing?

A. Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Q. Can I cook the steak in the oven instead of grilling?

A. Yes, you can cook the steak in the oven at 400°F for 15-20 minutes, depending on the doneness level you prefer.

Q. What is the difference between picanha steak and sirloin steak?

A. Picanha steak comes from the top sirloin area of the cow, while sirloin steak comes from the lower part. Picanha steak has a thick layer of fat on one side, while sirloin steak has less fat.

Q. Can I freeze picanha steak?

A. Yes, you can freeze picanha steak for up to three months in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw it in the refrigerator before cooking.

In conclusion, cooking picanha steak requires some preparation, patience, and skill. But with the right techniques and tips, you can cook a delicious and tender steak that will impress your guests. Follow the steps outlined in this guide, and you’ll be on your way to a perfect picanha steak.