Bring the Brazilian steakhouse to your own backyard and learn how to master the art of this reverse seared and smoked picanha recipe.
If you have ever made your way to a Brazilian style steak house, you most likely have tried picanha.
Typically they serve these as picanha steaks on long metal skewers and the meat is shaved off tableside. Pretty epic right?
But, if you haven’t made your way to one of these higher end restaurants and want to try and recreate the experience at home, this guide on how to grill picanha is a great place to start.
It is important to note that while you can do the traditional skewer method, this recipe will focus on cooking the entire piece of picanha as a whole steak and not as individual pieces.
The reverse sear method will be the main technique I will walk you through for this recipe (you can also see more info on this in my guide to reverse seared steak).
It works ideally for a large cuts of beef because you have much more control over the internal temperature which ensures you cook it perfectly every time.
Read through the article below to grab the details needed for the best way to prepare, season, smoke, and sear your picanha.
Need more details on the reverse sear method, proper grilling tools, two zone cooking and more?
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- Cutting Board & Carving Knife
- Paper Towels
- Baking Sheet
- Cooling Rack
- Meat Thermometer
Use our guided culinary notes below to help you through this recipe.
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What Is Picanha?
Picanha is also known as a cap steak or a Coulotte steak.
It comes from the top sirloin area of the cow and in general is a leaner cut of meat.
Just because it’s lean with less marbling (fat that runs through the steak and gives it flavor) however, doesn’t mean this is a lower quality cut.
While the meat is notably lean, one stand out characteristic of this cut is the thick fat cap that covers the top of the entire cut.
The fat cap is a great way to naturally baste the meat and keep it tender and juicy during the cooking process and makes this leaner cut of beef extra delicious.
How To Trim, Season, And Prepare The Picanha For Your Grill:
Let us break this recipe down for you into a few stages so you can plan and prepare ahead of time.
Trimming and Scoring:
- Remove the picanha from the packaging and wipe it clean with paper towels to remove the moisture.
- Place it on a cutting board and check the bottom (the non fat cap side) of the meat for any silver skin you may want to remove. Trim that off as needed.
- Place it fat side up and trim off any of the fat that overhangs on the edges, but leave the fat cap intact for this cook.
- Using a sharp knife, score the fat cap in a crosshatch pattern, cutting down through the fat right until you hit the meat (but not cutting the meat at all).
I approach the picanha as one giant steak (similar to my smoked beef tenderloin recipe) and pre-season a day in advance with kosher sea salt (or at least a few hours in advance).
I season with just kosher salt; a good rule of thumb is to use about 1 teaspoon per pound of meat.
You can add other dry rubs to this if you prefer or just add black pepper.
I often keep things very clean and simple for basic cooks and go back in and season with pepper after it’s sliced for more flavor.
Leave your meat uncovered on a cooling rack over a baking sheet n the fridge a day or so in advance if possible for best results and to help get a crispier fat cap.
How To Reverse Sear Picanha:
- Remove the picanha from the fridge and let it rest on the counter while you prep your grill or smoker for indirect heat.
- Set your smoker/ grill up for two zone cooking (see my free guide on Bon Appeteach BBQ Basics for more in depth details on this method) and bring your grill between 225 F. – 250 F.
- Place the whole picanha onto the cooler, indirect side of the smoker and let it slowly smoke until it hits an internal temperature of 110-115 F.
- Remove it from the smoker and let it rest for 15 minutes! This helps with the searing portion and to not over cook it during the sear.
- Crank the grill to a temperature of at least 500 F. or higher. After the picanha has cooled a bit, sear it fat side down first over high heat, about 1-2 minutes per side.
- Flip and repeat to sear the bottom. Have a thermometer handy and watch it frequently to pull it for a perfect medium rare between 125 F. and 130 F.
Pro Tip: You can follow this same process to to cook picanha steaks individually, but the steaks should be over 1.5 inches thick for the reverse sear process to be the most effective.
Slicing And Serving:
It is super important to let your meat rest for another 10-15 minutes after the hot and fast sear. Slice against the grain into one inch thick slices and keep the fat cap on for serving.
Want to know more about grilled picanha steak recipes and similar style cuts of meat? Check out this article on Tri Tip VS Picanha to help expand your knowledge if this awesome steak!
Reverse Seared Picanha
- 3-5 lb Picanha
- 1.5 tbsp. Kosher Salt (1 tsp. per pound of meat)
- 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
- Roasted Red Pepper Chimichurri for garnish
Prepping Your Picanha:
- Start by removing the picanha from the packaging and patting it dry with paper towels.
- Trim any silver skin off the bottom of the roast. Trim of any fat that over hangs off the top, but leave the fat cap intact.
- Using a sharp knife, score the fat cap in a crosshatch pattern. Do this by cutting lines through the fat layer until you hit the top of the meat (see photos or video above).
- Oil the picanha from top to bottom and season the entire piece with kosher sea salt. You can add additional dry rubs if you prefer here as well.
- Place the meat on a cooling rack over a baking sheet, uncovered into the fridge to dry brine for at least 2 hours, but best done the night before or a day in advance for optimal beef flavor.
- Preheat your grill or smoker to 225 F. – 250 F. and set it for two zone cooking.
- Place the picanha onto the indirect side of the grill, insert a thermometer into the thickest part and let it smoke until the internal temperature hits around 110- 115 F.
- Remove the picanha from the smoker and let it rest for 10-15 minutes and bring the direct side of the grill up to at least 500 F. or higher for searing.
- Place the picanha fat cap side down over the direct heat first to start. Cook 1-2 minutes and flip and repeat the searing process across the bottom of the picanha. Sear and flip as needed until the picanha hits the desired temperature. If pulling for medium rare remove the picanha when it hits around 125-130 F.
- Let it rest a full 10 minutes before slicing 1 inch thick cuts against the grain. Season with a little more salt and some cracked pepper once cut and some fresh chimichurri if desired.