This Churrasco-style steak, quick-cooking grilled picanha is a hearty, thick-cut, grilled rotisserie style for an even finish, sliced and served with herb-filled chimichurri for a globally inspired feast.
Table of Contents
- The cut: What is Grilled Picanha?
- Ingredients for Grilled Picanha Steak Recipe
- How to Make Grilled Picanha
- Girl Carnivore Expert Recipe Tips
- What to Serve with Grilled Picanha
- Leftovers and Reheating
- Recipe FAQs
- More South American Recipes
- Grilled Picanha Recipe
Grilled picanha is a beloved Brazilian dish known for its incredible flavor and tenderness. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of preparing and grilling this show-stopping cut, so you can experience the mouthwatering joy of picanha in the comfort of your own backyard
If you have ever gone to one of the Brazilian steakhouses where they walk around with meat on skewers, slicing it off as you desire, you probably became infatuated with the idea of roasting meat on spits over the fire and slicing it off one bite at a time full on Conan the Barbarian style.
If so, Picanha steaks are a perfect place to start!
The cut: What is Grilled Picanha?
It’s pronounced “pee-KAHN-ya”.
Cut from the sirloin, behind the rib of the cattle, where cuts like the strip, sirloin roasts, and even tri-tip is also where this cut comes from. The picanha, otherwise known as coulotte steak, is common in Brazil and Portugal but is gaining popularity in the United States.
Unlike the tri-tip, which has visible fat removed and comes from the bottom sirloin, the fat is kept on this cut when using it for picanha, and it comes from the top sirloin. Both have a triangular shape but vary in texture and leanness. Easy to mix them up – except for that beautiful fat cap.
And that’s exactly what makes this cut so good. The fat cap isn’t trimmed in prep, so it stays on the beef while cooking and melts in a buttery way over the meat basting it in its own flavors. It locks in moisture and flavor for tender bites with every slice. Fat = flavor.
A lot of online retailers have it for order, and many local butchers can now order it for you if you request. They come in at around 3.5 to 5 pounds, so they are perfect for feeding a crowd with you want to smoke on a gas grill. Check with your local butcher to see what they have to offer or learn where to buy meat online using this guide.
Ingredients for Grilled Picanha Steak Recipe
Besides the beef, all you need is oil and spices for this entire recipe. It’s that kind of simple. The key to success here is the cook.
It’s all in how this is sliced and skewered that will make or break this one.
For the Picanha
- Top sirloin with fat cap known as Picanha
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- Jack Daniel’s steak seasoning
- Gaucho Steakhouse Rub
For the Chimichurri Sauce
- garlic cloves
- Fresno chili stemmed and seeds discarded
- Fresh parsley stems removed
- fresh oregano
- red wine vinegar
- salt (sea salt also works)
- canola oil
- virgin olive oil
How to Make Grilled Picanha
PREP THE PICANHA & the grill:
In this step, you will be skewering the meat into “c” shaped pieces. Make sure you have a sharp knife on hand. You will need salt to season your meal and a little bit of oil and Gaucho Steakhouse Rub.
Use metal skewers on your hot grill, and be sure to handle your culotte steak with care.
Preheat the grill to 325 or 350 degrees f. Add a dripping pan under your grill and set up the wood chip packet on the burner if you are using one. Leave it there for about 5 to 10 minutes to start the smoking process before the meat is put on.
GRILL THE MEAT:
Cook your meat on the spit for 20 to 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 130 degrees for medium-rare steak. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes, allowing the juices to redistribute.
MAKE THE CHIMICHURRI & serve:
Make your sauce by pulsing the shallot, garlic, and chili in a food processor. You will also add parsley, cilantro, and oregano afterward. Once everything is combined, add your red wine vinegar and salt and pulse again. Leave it a little chunky.
Once the mixture is in a bowl, whisk in your canola and olive oil and season with salt if you wish.
Once you are ready to serve, remove the skewered picanha usinga protective glove. Slive the beef from the fat down into thin strips. Serve with chimichurri sauce spooned over top. Enjoy!
Girl Carnivore Expert Recipe Tips
- The meat will fight a bit if it is a thicker skewer, so piercing with a thin skewer first is helpful to guide the rotisserie spit through.
- Set your grill to run at a temperature of 325 – 350 using indirect heat, and place a packet of wood chips on the grill if you want to add a hint of smoked flavor (See tips on how to accomplish that smokey flavor with your gas grill). And grill the beef until it temps at 130 for rare.
- Not sure what wood chips go best with beef? We’ve got a guide to smoking wood (short answer, it’s hickory, oak, or mesquite).
- Always allow the juicy cuts of meat to rest before slicing – this is the hardest part. Resting helps the juices to settle back in after their whirlwind ride on the rotisserie and will keep every slice juicy.
- When you are ready to slice, wear a cutting clove, as once you have removed the beef from the spit, you want to stand it up so that ‘C’ is now sideways and slice through the fat downward. Since it’s a buttery, masterfully executed roast, it can get tricky to hang on to it, hence the glove.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your steaks for doneness.
What to Serve with Grilled Picanha
Serve rice and beans alongside fried potatoes. Sliced tomato salads, homemade guac, and fresh warm tortillas are also crucial to rounding out the meal. Personally, we like cutting the tortillas into wedges and frying them with a pinch of salt if we aren’t going to be using them to scoop up delicious meat. Another amazing option is cheese bread!
Leftovers and Reheating
Store your leftover picanha in an airtight container. When you are ready to eat it, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Heat the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 110 degrees. Depending on the steak, this could take 15-30 minutes.
Turns out, yes. And the flavors achieved were buttery and mouth-wateringly good, with a tender texture from edge to edge in every slice. You don’t even miss the char-grill.
This recipe was done on a gas grill using a rotisserie which takes any of the guesswork out of building your own fire and was the perfect first-time picanha recipe to ensure the internal temp was perfect and the meat would be cooked evenly.
For the perfect picanha steaks, grill the meat for 9 to 12 minutes (this goes for a 1-inch steak). If the steak is thicker (about 1 1/2 inches), grill for closer to 12 to 14 minutes. Turn your meat on the grill grates 1 minute before halfway. If you’re grilling the picanha as a roast, it will take longer due to the thickness of the meat, around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the weight. Your thermometer should read 130 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted to the thickest part of the meat for medium rare.
Thick steaks will take longer, so keep your eye on them and test the temp from time to time. Checking the temperature with a digital meat thermometer is the best way to check for doneness.
Skewered steaks are a fun way to cook your favorite meats. It’s the traditional way of grilling like an asador in Brazil, after all. Brazilian BBQ will bring tons of flavor to your meat. These recipes are for steak lovers across the globe!
Get ready for delicious Brazillian BBQ at home. This recipe is one of Brazil’s favorite cuts and will soon be yours. While there are a lot of steps, it’s quite simple once you get it down. Cook the steaks to your preferred degree of doneness, and enjoy!
- Gas Grill
- Rotisserie, always use the rotisserie made to fit your grill.
For the Picanha
- 3.5 to 5 lbs top sirloin with fat cap on known as picaña
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp steak seasoning
- 2 to 4 tbsp Gaucho Steakhouse Rub see note*
For the Chimichurri
- 1 shallot
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 frenso chili stemmed and seeds discarded
- ½ cup fresh parsley stems removed
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 – 2 tbsp fresh oregano see note*
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- ¼ extra virgin olive oil
Prep the Picanha:
- Remove the beef from the package and pat dry.
- On a clean work surface, using a sharp knife, skewer the fat cap by making long shallow slices through the fat.
- Create a diamond pattern, running the knife one diagonal direction from side to side and then repeating with an opposite stroke.
- Season liberally with salt, rubbing into the slices you just made.
- Slice the meat into 4 to 5 long evenly weighed strips, starting with the thickest side and working to the triangular point.
- Rub the meat with the oil and sprinkle with the steak seasoning and Gaucho Steakhouse Rub, making sure to coat all sides.
- Carefully, skewer the meat, folding it into a ‘C’ shape while threading it on the spit, from the bottom fold to the top.
- Repeat with all of the slices.
Prep the Grill:
- Set up your grill for rotisserie operation according to the manufacturers instructions.
- Add a pan under where the meat will be to catch any drippings.
- Add a ½ cup water to the pan.
- Preheat the grill to 325 to 350 degrees.
- If using, place wood chip packet on burner while grill is preheating 5 to 10 minutes so they will start smoking when you put the meat on.
Grill the Meat:
- Place the spit into the motor and turn it on.
- Close the lid and allow the meat to cook 20-25 minutes.
- Turn off the motor and temp the meat. Pull the meat from the grill at 130 degrees for medium-rare, with a rare center.
- While remaining on the spit, allow the meat to rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
Make the Chimichurri:
- In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the shallot, garlic, and chili until they are chunked.
- Add the parsley, cilantro, and, if using, the oregano and pulse a few times to mince.
- Add the red wine vinegar and salt.
- Pulse again, trying not to create too fine a mince. Chimichurri is best a little chunky.
- Remove the processor from the motor and scrape into a bowl.
- Whisk in the canola and olive oil.
- Season with additional salt as desired.
- Set aside until ready to serve.
- To serve, carefully remove one steak from the skewer at a time and while using a protective glove, hold the portions with the fat cap facing up. (This means the ‘C’ shape is on it’s side)
- Slice the beef from the fat down, into thin strips.
- Serve hot with chimichurri spooned over top to enjoy.
- Gaucho Steakhouse Rub: If you don’t have the gaucho steakhouse seasoning, whisk a blend of bulky dried parsley, coarse sea salt, garlic flakes, onion powder, dried pepper flakes, and add a splash of lemon juice to your oil rub.
- Fresh Oregano: if you don’t have the oregano on hand, just omit.
- Chimichurri: can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. I occasionally add a splash of fresh oil to the container if needed. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before using. Check out our cilantro chimichurri recipe that we make weekly to have on hand.
- Leftover Meat: Store the leftover meat, wrapped in foil, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Avoid slicing beforehand. Slice as needed to make steak sandwiches, taco filling, or just sliced beef to enjoy. Reheat in hot skillet quickly or microwave.