What is Picanha? Your Top Questions Answered!

Trimmed Picanha Steaks

Picanha is an amazing steak that many people are passionate about but causes significant confusion in others. 

If you want to learn all of the details about this great piece of beef then you are in the right place!

We are going to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about picanha such as:

  • What is Another Name for Picanha?
  • What Cut of Beef is Picanha?
  • Why is Picanha So Good?
  • Is Picanha Better Than Ribeye?
  • Is Picanha Better Than Wagyu?

What is Another Name for Picanha?

If you want to order a picanha from a butcher near you then you might have luck asking for it by one of these other names: 

  • Top Sirloin Cap Steak
  • Coulotte Steak
  • Rump Cap Steak

The “cap” in the names of these cuts refers both to the beautiful fat cap as well as the placement of this cut on the “cap” of the sirloin. 

Do not confuse Top Sirloin with Top Sirloin Cap as these are different cuts.

In the next section you will see exactly where this cut comes from which will help these other names make more sense.

What Cut of Beef is Picanha?

The picanha is located at the very top of the sirloin subprimal and is covered by a significant layer of fat. 

This is why the other primary name for picanha is “Top Sirloin Cap”. 

What is Picanha?

The video below shows how the picanha is separated from the sirloin and then cut into steaks.  The butcher refers to this cut by the other names of Top Sirloin Cap and Coulotte. 

Trimming Top Sirloin Cap

The picanha is technically a “roast” as it weighs about three pounds.  The roast can be cut into three to four steaks.  Here is the link to How I Grill Picanha.

When you get a whole picanha you can either slice it into steaks as shown in the video above or cut it for skewers like you get at Brazilian steakhouses. 

Here is a great video showing how and why you cut this piece of meat depending upon how you choose to cook it.

Steaks vs Skewers

Because this cut comes from the sirloin and has a slightly triangular shape it is often confused with the sirloin tri tip.  These cuts are not the same, see Tri Tip vs Picanha for more details.

Why is Picanha So Good?

Picanha is loved because:

  • It’s relatively affordable
  • Has nice tenderness
  • Has great beefy flavor

Affordability

This cut comes from the Sirloin subprimal which is less expensive than cuts from the loin.

You can typically buy this steak for about 30-40% less than a ribeye.

Nice Tenderness

In terms of tenderness this steak is about the same as a New York Strip.

Trimmed Picanha Steaks

You can get some nice marbling on this cut.

Great Beefy Flavor

The steaks from the sirloin are all working muscles so the meat has a little more beefy flavor than you get from “lazy” muscles like the tenderloin.

Because this steak has tenderness and flavor similar to a NY Strip but costs a fraction of the price, people really love the picanha

Is Picanha Better Than Ribeye?

Picanha is a wonderful steak but is not as good as a ribeye.

While picanha is often referred to as “The Queen of Steak” the undisputed “King of Steak” is the ribeye.

A ribeye is more tender than a picanha and has a flavor profile that the picanha simply cannot match.

There is an organization that conducts Steak Cookoffs and even conducts a World Steak Championship where the winner gets a check for $10,000.  These guys are trying to cook the best steak in the world and the ONLY steak they cook is ribeye.

Is Picanha Better Than Wagyu

Picanha is not better than Wagyu.

I see this question a lot and it is the result of some confusion.

  • Wagyu refers to cattle that are from Japan.
  • Picanha refers to a cut of beef.

It doesn’t really make sense to ask if a particular cut of beef is better than a particular breed of cow.  This is like asking if hamburger is better than Angus.

What you really want to be asking is, “Where can I buy Wagyu picanha” Getting a special cut of beef from an amazing breed of cow is a true carnivore delight.

Here is my link to Where to Buy Picanha that can help you out with this!