Brazilian Picanha Steak

Brazilian Picanha Steak Recipe on a wood cutting board.

The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Rest Time: 65 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
42 Calories
3g Fat
0g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 42
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 714mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 38mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The top sirloin cap is also known as picanha (pronounced "pee-KAHN-ya")the specialty of a churrascaria or Brazilian steakhouse. The flavorful meat is skewered, grilled, and sliced before serving.

Picanha is not often carried on supermarket shelves, but it is usually available by request at a butcher or good meat counter. It's relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to ribeyes and other notable steaks, and is packed with beef flavor. This makes it one of the best cuts of meat for grilling. Tri-tip and sirloin steaks are often confused with the top sirloin cap, but a knowledgeable butcher will know exactly what you're looking for. Traditionally, picanha is grilled on long skewers, but for the home cook, it will be a lot easier to cut the steak into portions for smaller skewers.

Don't skip resting the steak for the juiciest results. Serve picanha with pão de queijo (cheese bread), garlicky collard greens, and crispy or creamy polenta for a Brazilian feast.


Click Play to See This Classic Brazilian Picanha Steak Recipe Come Together

"This steak might be difficult to find, but if you do find it, try it. I scored and skewered it, then kept it at room temperature for an hour before cooking. It was super easy. Mine was perfectly done in 20 minutes, but it can vary depending on the steak’s temperature when placed on the grill." —Diana Rattray

Brazilian Picanha Steak (top sirloin cap) on a skewer on a plate
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 3 to 4 pounds picanha beef (top sirloin cap)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • High heat oil, for greasing the grill

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make Brazilian Picanha Steak Recipe.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  2. If the steak has been refrigerated, take it out 1 hour before you preheat the grill and let it come to room temperature.

    Raw sirloin cap on a wood cutting board.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Lay the top sirloin cap flat on a cutting board or another work surface, fat-side up. Using a small sharp knife, cut the fat layer, without cutting to the meat, in a cross-hatch pattern, as you would do for a ham.

    Score lines cut into sirloin cap.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Massage 1 tablespoon of salt into crevices of the cross-hatched fat layer of the steak. Season with freshly ground black pepper. 

    Seasoned sirloin cap on wood cutting board.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  5. If you want to skewer the steak, cut the steak lengthwise into three equal pieces.

    Sirloin cap cut into three pieces.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Roll each steak piece like a jelly-roll and, using a large metal skewer, secure the steak so it holds together rolled up. Sprinkle the remaining salt over the unseasoned sides of the steak.

    Pieces of sirloin cap steak on cutting board.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Preheat the grill to high. Clean the grates well and apply a thin layer of oil using a brush or paper towel. Lay the skewered picanha on the grill and turn off all heat except for the one burner furthest away from the steaks. Alternatively, heat a charcoal grill until very hot before carefully scraping the coals to the back of the grill. Immediately add the steak to the front side of the grill.

    Sirloin caps grilling.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Cook the steaks—with the grill cover closed—for 20 to 25 minutes, turning them every 5 to 7 minutes to ensure even cooking. When the internal temperature reaches 128 F to 130 F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer, take the picanha off the grill.

    Cooked Picanha on a grill.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  9. Let the steaks rest 5 minutes, then remove from the skewer and slice against the grain and serve.

    Sliced grilled Brazilian Picanha Steak.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi


  • Don't skip resting the meat. This step provides time for the meat to cool slightly and the muscle fibers to relax. Thus allowing the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and resulting in a tender, flavorful, juicy dish.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of salt and pepper, rub your favorite grill seasoning for beef over the scored fat and the meat.
  • Picanha Steak With Garlic Butter: Heat 1/4 cup of butter, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 2 cloves of minced garlic until aromatic. Brush the meat with the garlic butter as soon as it comes off the grill.

Do You Eat the Fat on Picanha?

The fat cap on picanha adds tons of delicious flavor as the beef cooks. Enjoy it along with your steak for even more flavor. If you don't like too much fat, you're welcome to remove it before eating.

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