Cooking Picanha: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re a meat lover looking to switch things up, cooking picanha could be just the thing you need. This Brazilian beef cut is known for its tenderness and flavor, making it a popular option for grilling. But if you’ve never cooked it before, it can be intimidating. Fear not, because this beginner’s guide will give you all the information you need to cook picanha like a pro. From choosing a cut to seasoning and cooking, we’ve got you covered.

Cooking Picanha: A Beginner's Guide | Eat Urban Garden
Cooking Picanha: A Beginner’s Guide

What is Picanha?

Picanha is a cut of beef that is popular in Brazil and gaining popularity in other parts of the world. It is also known as the top sirloin cap or rump cap, and it is prized for its flavor and tenderness. Picanha can be cooked on a grill, in a pan, or even in the oven, and it is a versatile cut of meat that can be used in a variety of dishes.

The Origin of Picanha

Picanha has been a popular cut of meat in Brazil for centuries. It is traditionally served skewered and grilled over an open flame, and it is often served with rice, beans, and farofa, a toasted cassava flour mixture. The dish is so popular in Brazil that it is often served in churrascarias, or Brazilian steak houses, where it is served table-side on a skewer and carved directly onto the diner’s plate.

What Makes Picanha Unique?

Picanha is a unique cut of meat because it is surrounded by a layer of fat that helps to keep the meat tender and juicy. When cooked properly, the fat melts into the meat, giving it a rich, beefy flavor that is unlike any other cut of meat. Picanha is also a relatively inexpensive cut of beef, which makes it an affordable option for families and restaurants alike.

What Temperature Should Picanha Be Cooked to?

When cooking picanha, the ideal internal temperature range for a medium-rare cook is between 130-135°F. For a medium cook, aim for an internal temperature of 140-145°F. However, keep in mind that picanha is a very tender and juicy cut of meat, so it’s recommended to avoid overcooking it to prevent the meat from becoming dry and tough.

Using a Meat Thermometer

One of the best ways to ensure that your picanha is cooked to the perfect internal temperature is by using a meat thermometer. Simply insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone, and wait until the temperature reading stabilizes. This will give you an accurate temperature reading that can be used to determine whether or not your picanha is cooked to your desired level of doneness.

  • For rare picanha – aim for an internal temperature of 120-125°F.
  • For medium-well picanha – aim for an internal temperature of 150-155°F.

Keep in mind that the cooking time will vary based on factors such as the thickness of the cut, the heat source, and the cooking method, so use the thermometer as a guide and adjust the cooking time accordingly. By cooking your picanha to the perfect internal temperature, you will be able to enjoy a juicy and tender steak that is bursting with flavor.

What are Some Cooking Methods for Picanha?

Picanha is a popular cut of beef in Brazilian cuisine. It is known for its unique shape and rich flavor. Here are three common ways to cook picanha:


Grilling is a popular way to cook picanha because it intensifies the meat’s flavor. To grill picanha, start by seasoning the meat with salt and pepper. Then, place it on the grill with the fat cap facing up. Cook the meat for 10-15 minutes on each side, or until it reaches the desired level of doneness.


Roasting is a great way to cook picanha in the oven. First, season the meat with salt and pepper and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the meat on a roasting pan with the fatty side up. Cook the meat for 20-25 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Pan-searing is a quick and easy way to cook picanha on the stove. First, season the meat with salt and pepper and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then, heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Place the meat in the skillet with the fat cap facing down and sear it for 4-5 minutes. Flip the meat and sear for an additional 4-5 minutes. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

How Should Picanha be Seasoned?

Picanha is a popular Brazilian cut of beef that is typically grilled or roasted. Seasoning is an important step in the cooking process to bring out the natural flavors of the meat. Here are some tips on how to season your picanha:

Seasoning Options

There are two main options for seasoning picanha:

  • Dry Rub: A dry rub consists of coarse salt and black pepper. Apply the rub generously on both sides of the meat and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors.
  • Basting: Basting involves brushing melted butter and herbs onto the meat during the cooking process. This adds moisture and an extra layer of flavor to the picanha.

Additional Seasoning Ideas

While coarse salt and black pepper are the traditional seasonings for picanha, there are plenty of ways to mix it up and add new flavors:

  1. Garlic: Crushed garlic can be added to the dry rub or basting mixture for a bold, savory flavor.
  2. Paprika: Smoked or sweet paprika can add a smoky or slightly sweet flavor to the picanha.
  3. Cumin: Cumin is a popular spice in Latin American cuisine and can add a warm, earthy flavor to the meat.
  4. Rosemary: Fresh or dried rosemary can be added to the butter basting mixture for a fragrant, herbaceous flavor.

Tips for Applying Seasoning

When applying seasoning to the meat, keep the following tips in mind:

Tip Explanation
Generously Season Don’t be shy when applying the seasoning. Picanha is a thick cut of meat that needs a lot of flavor.
Even Distribution Make sure the seasoning is distributed evenly across both sides of the meat.
Room Temperature Take the picanha out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before seasoning. This will help the seasoning adhere better and ensure even cooking.

By following these tips, you can elevate the flavor of your picanha and create a delicious, mouth-watering meal.

What are Some Side Dishes that Complement Picanha?

If you’re looking to cook picanha for the first time, you may be wondering what sides will best complement this delightful meal. Fortunately, picanha is a versatile dish that pairs well with several sides. Here are a few excellent options to get you started:

1. Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are a perfect complement to picanha. Choose any seasonal vegetables you like, such as carrots, onions, bell peppers, broccoli, or asparagus. Drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast until the vegetables are tender and caramelized.

2. Rice and Beans

Rice and beans are staples in many Brazilian meals, and they pair perfectly with picanha. Cook your rice and beans as you normally would and serve alongside your picanha. The combination of the juicy picanha and the savory rice and beans is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

3. Potato Dishes

Potatoes are another excellent side dish to serve with picanha. You can roast them, mash them, or even make a gratin with layers of potatoes, cream, and cheese. However you choose to prepare them, potatoes are sure to be a satisfying addition to your meal.

4. Fresh Salads

A fresh salad is a perfect way to round out a meal featuring picanha. You can make a simple green salad with mixed greens and a tangy vinaigrette, or you could make a heartier salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado. The refreshing taste of the salad will complement the richness of the picanha perfectly.

5. Grilled Pineapple

If you’re looking for a unique side dish to serve with your picanha, consider grilling some pineapple. The sweet and tangy flavor of the pineapple pairs perfectly with the fatty richness of the picanha. To grill pineapple, just slice it into rings or spears and grill it over medium-high heat until it’s nicely caramelized.

What are Some Tips for Cooking Picanha to Perfection?

Picanha is a popular Brazilian cut of beef that is known for its juicy and flavorful taste. When cooking picanha, it is important to follow some tips to ensure that it is cooked to perfection and retains its delicious flavor. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

1. Let the Meat Come to Room Temperature

Before cooking picanha, it is important to let it come to room temperature. This means taking it out of the fridge and letting it sit at room temperature for at least 20-30 minutes. By doing this, the meat will cook more evenly and will be more tender.

2. Season the Meat Well

Picanha has a great flavor on its own, but you can enhance it even further by seasoning it well. Use a good quality salt, such as sea salt or kosher salt, and rub it all over the meat. You can also add other seasonings like pepper, garlic, and herbs to add more flavor.

3. Know When to Use Direct and Indirect Heat

When grilling picanha, it is important to use both direct and indirect heat. Start by searing the meat on high heat for a few minutes on each side to create a nice crust. Then, move the meat to a cooler section of the grill to finish cooking it. This will help prevent the meat from burning and ensure that it is cooked through.

4. Use a Meat Thermometer

One of the most important tips for cooking picanha is to use a meat thermometer. This will help ensure that the meat is cooked to your desired level of doneness. The internal temperature for medium-rare steak is 130-135°F, while medium is 135-145°F and medium-well is 145-155°F.

5. Let the Meat Rest After Cooking

After cooking picanha, it is important to let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and will make it more tender and flavorful.

6. Carve Against the Grain

When carving picanha, it is important to carve against the grain. This means cutting the meat perpendicular to the fibers. By doing this, the meat will be more tender and flavorful.

Happy Cooking and Come Back Soon!

Thank you for reading our beginner’s guide to cooking Picanha. We hope you enjoyed learning about this delicious cut of beef and gained confidence in preparing it. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep cooking and experimenting with different flavors until you find the perfect recipe for your taste buds. Don’t forget to visit us again for more cooking tips and recipes.

Cooking Picanha: A Beginner’s Guide

Learn how to cook Picanha, a juicy and flavorful cut of beef that is popular in Brazil and beyond. This beginner’s guide will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to prepare Picanha to perfection.

  • 1 1/2 lb Picanha steak
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  1. Remove the Picanha from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Using a sharp knife, score the fat cap in a diagonal pattern. Be sure not to cut into the meat. Season the steak liberally on all sides with salt, cinnamon, and black pepper. Add minced garlic and olive oil to a small bowl and stir. Rub the seasoning and garlic-oil mixture into the scored fat cap of the steak.
  2. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If using charcoal, light your coals and allow them to burn down until they are hot and are covered in white ash.
  3. When the grill is hot, carefully place the Picanha on the grill with the fat side facing down. Grill for about 8-10 minutes or until the fat is crispy and has rendered. Flip the steak and cook for another 8-10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the steak reaches 130°F for medium-rare. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
  4. Remove the steak from the grill and place it on a cutting board. Cover it loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
  5. After the steak has rested, slice it against the grain into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs and serve immediately.
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Cooking Picanha, Picanha Steak, Brazilian Steakhouse, Beef Recipes, Grilling Tips

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