Smoked Picanha Recipe

Smoked Picanha Recipe

Smoked Picanha is a mouth-watering Brazilian BBQ recipe that’s simple yet luxurious. Elevate your next gathering with flavorful, tender picanha steak.

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Smoked Picanha – A Brazilian BBQ Delicacy

Famed for its succulence and packed full of rich, beefy flavor, smoked picanha is a delight that transports your tastebuds straight to the heart of Brazilian barbecue culture.

Smoking picanha might seem intimidating, but it’s easier than you might think. It’s a great recipe for both beginners and seasoned grill masters. It’s all about mastering the heat, paying attention to the cooking time, and, most importantly, being patient.

To prepare this smoked picanha recipe, you’ll need a few essential tools. A reliable smoker is crucial, and it’s also handy to have a meat thermometer to ensure your picanha is cooked to perfection. You’ll also need a sharp knife for trimming and slicing, and a quality cutting board.

So, grab your apron, fire up the smoker, and let’s dive into the art of preparing this incredible dish. Get ready to discover why smoked picanha is a must-try for any barbecue lover!

What is Picanha?

Picanha, a word of Brazilian origins, refers to a cut of beef that’s highly prized in South America, particularly in Brazil. This cut, which can sometimes be found under the names sirloin top cap, rump cover, or coulotte, has a distinctive, triangular shape. It’s located on the back of the cow, just above the round, making it a top sirloin cut.

The defining feature of the picanha is its thick layer of fat on one side, or the “fat cap”, which contributes to the flavor and tenderness of the meat when cooked properly. This fat side gives the picanha its rich flavor profile, which is made even better when it’s cooked low and slow, allowing the fat to render and baste the meat.

Picanha is sort of similar to roast beef in terms taste, with many describing it as a cross between the tenderness of filet mignon and the rich flavor of a ribeye steak. When cooked to medium-rare, picanha has a fantastic balance of juicy tenderness and deep, beefy flavor.

In terms of quality, Wagyu Picanha is often considered the crème de la crème. Wagyu beef, known for its marbling and incredibly tender texture, takes the already delicious picanha to a whole new level. The marbling of the Wagyu, coupled with the flavorful fat cap, results in a picanha that is exceptionally juicy, tender, and flavorful.

Picanha can often be challenging to find in traditional supermarkets in the U.S. However, a local butcher shop is likely to have this cut or will be able to order it for you. Despite its quality, picanha tends to be less expensive than other premium beef cuts like the ribeye or the tri-tip, making it a fantastic option for a special meal or for grilling.

How To Make Smoked Picanha

Prep the Picanha

Take your picanha out of the fridge to get it ready for cooking. Pat it dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Then, you’re going to need to trim it up a bit. Look for any visible silver skin on the surface of the meat and trim that off. Don’t forget to check the thick fat cap – this should be trimmed down to about half an inch. If you like, you can score the fat cap with a sharp knife to help it render during cooking. Here, you can use honing steel to sharpen the knife edge.

Season the Meat

Once your picanha is all trimmed and ready, it’s time to add some flavor. Grab your beef rub (this is a mix of salt, pepper, and garlic powder), and apply it all over the meat. Don’t be shy with it – you want a nice, even coating. Use your hands to really work the seasoning into the meat. This will help it stick and give your picanha a lovely flavor as it smokes.

Get Smoking

Next, you’ll want to preheat your smoker to a steady temperature between 250 and 275°F. Once it’s at the right temperature, add some chunks of hickory wood. This will give your picanha a rich, smoky flavor. Place the picanha on the smoker, away from direct heat. Let it smoke until the internal temperature reaches 110°F. Make sure to use a meat thermometer to check this. Once it’s at the right temperature, take it out of the smoker and cover it with some foil. This will keep it warm while you get the next step ready.

Sear the Picanha

Now, you’ll need to heat your grill to over 500°F. This high heat is going to give your picanha a delicious sear. Place the picanha on the grill and sear both sides until you see those gorgeous grill marks. Be extra careful with the side that has the fat cap, as it can burn easily. Once you’re happy with your sear, take the picanha off the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Slice and Serve

Finally, it’s time to slice and serve your smoked picanha. Remember to cut against the grain – this makes the meat more tender and easier to chew. Slice it as thin or as thick as you like. Sprinkle a little bit of kosher salt over the top for a final touch of flavor, and serve it up while it’s still warm. Enjoy your delicious, home-smoked picanha!

Tips For Making Smoked Picanha

As a beginner venturing into the world of BBQ, working with a new cut of meat like the picanha steak can be exciting yet intimidating. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you on your journey to making the most delicious smoked picanha steak!

Here are some straightforward, easy-to-understand tips that will help you master this recipe, enhance your smoking skills, and wow your family and friends with a mouth-watering, smoky, tender picanha steak.

  1. Prep time matters: Spend enough time prepping your picanha. Trimming off any surface silver skin and adjusting the fat cap to the right thickness will influence how well the meat cooks and its final taste.
  2. Control the temperature: Keeping the smoker at a steady temperature between 250-275°F is important for even cooking. A good quality smoker thermometer and temperature regulator can make this task much easier.
  3. Choose your wood carefully: Hardwood, like hickory, is recommended for this recipe. It imparts a strong, smoky flavor that goes well with beef.
  4. Searing is key: Searing the picanha at a high temperature (500°F+) is what gives it a delicious crust and those sought-after grill marks. Remember to watch it closely during this step to avoid any burning.
  5. Rest before serving: After grilling, let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it more tender and flavorful.

How To Serve Smoked Picanha

Once you’ve put in the effort to perfectly smoke your picanha, also known as top sirloin cap or rump cap, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Serving smoked picanha can be an art in itself, and there are a few different ways you can present this delicious cut of meat to maximize its rich flavors. Here are some serving suggestions that will surely take your medium-rare smoked picanha steaks to the next level.

Slicing Picanha Steaks

The method of slicing can make a significant difference in the tenderness of your smoked picanha. It’s best to slice it against the grain. This method shortens the muscle fibers and makes the meat more tender to chew. Thinner slices work well for sandwich-style servings, while thicker slices are perfect if you’re aiming for a steak or roast-style serving.

Serving With Chimichurri Sauce

Traditionally, picanha steaks are often served with chimichurri sauce, a tangy green sauce from South America made of olive oil, parsley, garlic, and spices. The acidity and herby freshness of chimichurri pairs perfectly with the smoky and rich flavors of the picanha, providing a beautiful contrast that’s sure to excite your taste buds.

Picanha Sandwiches

If you’re looking for a casual way to serve your smoked picanha, why not consider making sandwiches? Thinly slice your picanha and pile it high on a soft roll with some grilled onions, perhaps a slice of cheese, and your choice of condiments. It’s a simple and satisfying way to enjoy the fruits of your smoking efforts.

Topping for Salads

Finally, smoked picanha can be an excellent topping for a hearty salad. Thinly sliced or shaved pieces of the smoky, rich beef can transform a simple salad into a meal in itself. Just add some crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, perhaps some grilled corn, and a tangy vinaigrette, and you’ve got yourself a satisfying, lighter way to enjoy smoked picanha.

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Smoked Picanha Recipe

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course



  • 3 lb Picanha roast
  • 3 tbsp your favorite BBQ rub (You can use 1 tbsp each of salt, pepper, garlic powder or any beef seasoning or just kosher salt and black pepper)


  • Remove picanha from fridge, pat dry, trim visible silver skin, and cut fat cap to about half an inch. Score fat cap if desired (slice shallow cuts in X formations)
  • Apply a generous layer of beef rub, salt, pepper, and garlic, massaging it into the meat.
  • Preheat charcoal smoker (we used a Green Egg) to a steady 250-275°F. Add chunks of hickory wood for smoke. Place picanha on grill grates and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 110°F. Remove from smoker and tent with foil.
  • Heat grill to 500°F+. Sear picanha on both sides until it achieves grill marks. Be careful with the fat cap side to avoid burning. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Slice picanha against the grain into thin or thick portions as desired. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt before serving warm.
Keyword smoked picanha

Smoked Picanha Recipe FAQs

What is smoked picanha?

Smoked Picanha is a Brazilian-style barbecue recipe where a cut of beef known as picanha, or top sirloin cap, is smoked to perfection. It’s a technique that imparts a rich, smoky flavor to the beef, enhancing its natural succulence.

How do you cook smoked picanha?

Smoking picanha involves a few key steps. You start by trimming and seasoning the meat, then smoke it at a steady temperature until it reaches an internal temperature of 110°F. Then, the picanha is seared on high heat to develop a delicious crust and bring the internal temperature to 130°F.

What temperature should smoked picanha be cooked at?

Smoked picanha is first smoked at a temperature of 275°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 110°F. After this, it is seared on high heat until the internal temperature reaches 130°F for a medium-rare finish.

Can I use a different cut of meat for smoked picanha?

Picanha, also known as the top sirloin cap, is the traditional cut used in this recipe. However, if you cannot find picanha, a tri-tip or a similar cut with a good amount of marbling can also be used.

Where can I buy picanha?

Picanha can sometimes be found at a local butcher shop or grocery store, but it may be labeled as top sirloin cap, rump cap, or coulotte. It’s always a good idea to ask your butcher if they can provide picanha.

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