What is Picanha?

June 21, 2024

What is Picanha?

Picanha is a popular cut of beef in Brazil and other Latin American countries. It is also known as the top sirloin cap or rump cap in English-speaking countries. This cut comes from the top of the sirloin primal and is known for its rich flavor and tenderness. Picanha is often grilled or roasted and is a favorite at Brazilian churrascarias, where it is typically served on skewers and sliced tableside.

History of Picanha

The origins of picanha can be traced back to Brazil, where it has been a staple in the country’s cuisine for centuries. The cut became popular in the United States in the 1990s, thanks in part to the rise of Brazilian churrascarias in major cities. Today, picanha is enjoyed by meat lovers around the world and is often featured on menus at upscale steakhouses.

Characteristics of Picanha

Picanha is a triangular-shaped cut of beef with a thick layer of fat on one side. This fat cap helps to keep the meat moist and adds flavor during cooking. The meat itself is tender and juicy, with a rich beefy flavor that is enhanced by grilling or roasting. Picanha is typically seasoned with salt and garlic before cooking to bring out its natural flavors.

How to Cook Picanha

Picanha is best cooked over high heat, either on a grill or in a hot oven. The fat cap should be facing up during cooking to help baste the meat as it cooks. Picanha is typically cooked to medium-rare or medium doneness, as overcooking can result in a tough and dry texture. It is important to let the meat rest for a few minutes after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute and ensure a juicy and flavorful result.

Popular Picanha Recipes

There are many ways to prepare picanha, from simple salt and garlic seasoning to more elaborate marinades and rubs. One popular recipe is to season the meat with salt, garlic, and olive oil, then grill it over high heat until it reaches the desired doneness. Another option is to marinate the picanha in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, and herbs before grilling for a more complex flavor profile.

Health Benefits of Picanha

Picanha is a good source of protein, iron, and B vitamins, making it a nutritious choice for meat lovers. The fat cap on picanha adds flavor and moisture to the meat, but it is important to trim excess fat before cooking to reduce the overall fat content. Picanha is best enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Where to Buy Picanha

Picanha can be found at specialty butcher shops, upscale supermarkets, and online retailers. Look for picanha that is well-marbled with fat and has a bright red color for the best quality. Some butcher shops may offer picanha already seasoned and ready to cook, while others may sell it unseasoned for you to prepare at home.


In conclusion, picanha is a delicious and versatile cut of beef that is popular in Brazilian cuisine and beyond. Whether you grill it, roast it, or marinate it, picanha is sure to impress your guests with its rich flavor and tender texture. So next time you’re looking for a special cut of beef to serve at your next barbecue or dinner party, consider trying picanha for a truly memorable meal.

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.