Best picanha recipes to make at home

Picanha steak is a popular dish in Brazilian churrascaria (analogs of American steak houses). Here, picanha is valued even more than loin and classic Ribeye steak. What is the peculiarity of this steak and how to prepare your favorite grilled Brazilian delicacy?

What is picanha?

Picanha is a very interesting meal. It looks like a pretty big triangular-shaped piece of meat. On one side of the cut is covered with a thick layer of marble fat, and underneath it is pure meat with a small amount of fat layers.

It has a slightly irregular shape, so grilling it whole is not, let’s say a good idea. Because of the triangular shape of the cut, it will be difficult to achieve even frying (one part of picanha meat is thicker and the other thinner). Knowing this, Brazilians make kebabs and steaks out of picanha. The piece is cut diagonally into thick strips, which are then sliced onto a skewer and rolled into a roll. For steaks, the middle part of the picanha cut is taken. The fat is not cut off! It protects the steaks being prepared from drying out and enriches them with an extra aroma.

What is picanha?

Brazilians prefer to enjoy the pure meat flavor of a ready-made steak or kebab, so only coarse salt and pepper are used as spices. And they serve picanha grill delicacies with chimichurri sauce.

Basic picanha recipe


  • Picanha meat 1 kg
  • Garlic 3 cloves
  • Lemon juice 30 ml
  • Olive oil 50 ml
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Grind garlic and mix it with salt.
  2. Coat the meat with garlic paste, pour lemon juice and leave to marinate for an hour or two.
  3. Wipe the pickled meat with a paper towel, oil it with olive oil, and grill quickly in a frying pan on each side until brown.
  4. Cut the roasted meat into thick steaks, salt, and pepper each. Fry them in a grill pan on both sides. Give the ready meat “rest” for 5 minutes, cut into thin slices, and serve.
Basic picanha recipe

Picanha brasil style

Picanha is obtained from the lumbar part of the carcass (or, more precisely, from the upper hip). As you understand, the meat here is not the most delicate. But it has a concentrated meat flavor, and a strip of fat makes the meat juicier.

To get a truly delicious and juicy picanha grill, we recommend that you marinate it beforehand. If you cut your own picanha meat into steaks, remember that the minimum thickness of each of them should be at least 3 cm. This is especially important if you grill picanha steaks. If the meat is to be roasted in a home grill pan, then the steaks should be thinner so that they are better cooked.

Now do the marinade. Mix a few cloves of garlic, fresh thyme, and rosemary, tuck it all in with olive oil. With this marinade, pour the picanha steak and leave for a few hours (as long as time allows, but not more than 12 hours).

Marinated steak should be roasted on a hot grill until it is medium-rare or medium (the internal temperature of the meat should be between 57 and 63 °C). The ready-made steak is served with chimichurri sauce. By the way, it is recommended to slice picanha steak along the fibers and not crosswise, such as other alternative marble beef steaks.

Picanha brasil style

Tip: picanha steak goes perfectly with chimichurri sauce. Mix in a blender or finely chop parsley, cilantro, oregano, or rosemary. Add chopped garlic, olive oil, lemon peel, white wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and sugar.

Steak picanha grill with a green salad.

First, prepare a picanha steak. Cut a chop into steaks about 3 cm thick. Be sure to leave the fat layer, do not cut it. Prepare picanha marinade steak with mustard, lemon juice and zest, Worcestershire, and tomato sauce, add one flower of cloves and pepper. Marinate the steaks in this mixture for about 2 hours in the cold. If you wish, you can extend this time.

Then take the meat out, heat it up, salt it, and place it on the grill. How many picanha steaks do you fry? You can cook it for 4 minutes on each side of the grill on a very hot grill. That’s how you get medium-rare. Another way is to fry the steak for 2 minutes on one side at high heat, then move it to a cooler area and bring it to the grill for another 6 minutes. Leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes. Then place it on a leaf of green salad, complete the dish with cut gherkins and capers. The picanha grill recipe is ready. 

Try one of these recipes at the next picnic. Although originally grilled picanha was a folk dish, today it has its well-deserved popularity even among gourmets. And the multitude of exquisite recipes is vivid proof of that.

How do you clean out a picanha?

The distinctive feature of picanha is its thick fat layer on one side of the cut. Some chefs recommend cutting it off. But take your time. The cut itself is not very marble, so the layer of fat is very useful to make meat juicy and soft. That’s how you bake roast beef. And if you want to fry steaks, just cut the meat across the fibers with a sharp knife. That way, each steak will have a marble stripe.

How do you prepare picanha for grilling?

Follow the usual procedures that will keep the meat juicy and reveal its flavor. Cut the meat into steaks, marinate it and send it in cold for 6 hours or more. You can keep it overnight. Then heat the picanha after the fridge and send it to the grill. 

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