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Smoked Picanha

5 from 6 votes

Smoked low and slow, with its distinctive fat cap melting into the beef, Smoked Picanha is just about as delicious as it gets. This is a super-easy cut of meat to smoke, and with a quick reverse sear at the end, there’s flavor and smoky goodness in every bite!

Smoked picanha sliced on a cutting board.

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We fell in love with picanha at Brazillian churrascaria restaurants, where cuts of meat are cooked over open flames and served at your table by wandering gauchos. Since discovering this cut of meat years ago, it has gained in popularity and is now widely available.

Smoked Picanha is just about the tastiest, most tender beef you can imagine. Cooking it low and slow infuses the meat with smoky flavor, and the fatty layer on top starts to melt down into the meat. It’s melt-in-your-mouth goodness, and we can’t get enough of it!

A top-down shot of sliced Smoked Picanha on a cutting board.
It really is medium rare – odd lighting makes the meat look darker.

What you’ll love about Smoked Picanha


  • It’s an easy recipe that turns out perfectly every time!
  • The reverse sear really adds depth of flavor and helps that fat render.
  • Use any pellets for this Smoked Picanha recipe – you don’t need anything special!

What Is Picanha?

Cut from the top of the rump, picanha can also be called top sirloin cap, rump cover or rump cap, and even culotte steak if it is cut into steaks. It is a triangular cut of meat, not to be confused with a tri tip. The thick fat cap makes it easily recognizable, and whatever you do, do NOT trim that fat off! It is a little used muscle, so it is tender, beefy in flavor, and perfect on the Traeger pellet grill. Keep it whole – do not cut it into picanha steaks.

Ingredients

  • Picanha roast – Look for the whole roast, not cut into steaks.
  • Salt – I use kosher salt because it has a purer salt flavor.
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning – Or your favorite steak rub.
Smoked Picanha resting on a cutting board.

How To Make The Best Smoked Picanha

  1. Rinse and pat the picanha dry with paper towels.
  2. Liberally salt the underside – not the fat side – of the beef. Use about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.
  3. Pop the meat into the fridge, salted side up, for about an hour. This will infuse the meat with seasoning.
  4. Score the top of the picanha diagonally in 1.5-inch strips with a sharp knife, cutting through the fat cap down to the meat. Turn the meat 90-degrees and score it diagonally again, creating large diamonds.
  5. Liberally season the fat cap with Montreal Steak Seasoning massaging the fat cap to work some of the seasoning down into the scored cuts.
  6. Preheat your Traeger smoker (or any other smoker) to 180-F. Smoke the meat right on the grill, fat cap side up, for 45 minutes.
  7. Turn the smoker up to 225-F and continue smoking the beef until it reaches 125-F with a digital meat thermometer for rare.
  8. Reverse sear the meat to render some of the fat, then rest the meat for 15 minutes before slicing. See below for how to reverse sear picanha.

How To Reverse Sear Smoked Picanha

Once smoked, you don’t want to overcook the picanha by subjecting it to more heat than necessary. But with that thick fat cap on top, you need to reverse-sear the meat to render some of that fat. You have a few options:

  1. Remove the beef from your Traeger smoker and crank the heat up to 450-F. When hot, add the picanha back to the smoker and cook fat side down for an additional 5 minutes to render some of the fat.
    Or:
  2. Turn on your oven’s broiler to high. Place the picanha on a baking sheet and broil it about 6-inches below the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the fat is sizzling and dark in color – but don’t burn it!

I vastly prefer using the broiler. It is faster, I don’t waste a bunch of pellets cranking the Traeger up so high, and the top-down heat doesn’t overcook the beef while rendering the fat.

Sliced picanha roast on a cutting board.

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • Salting the underside of the beef adds flavor but you can skip this step and just season the whole picanha with Montreal Steak Seasoning or your favorite blend.
  • Always cook to temp, not time! Perfectly med rare picanha should be cooked to 125-F and then rested. Use a good digital meat thermometer for cooking accurately.
  • Do NOT trim the fat cap before cooking! Eating the fat with the beef is a personal choice, but it protects and flavors the meat while cooking.
  • Reverse searing the beef renders some of the fat and creates a rich, flavorful crusty fat top.

Recommended

Make It A Meal

Wondering what to serve with Smoked Picanha? First, I love serving it with a citrusy chimichurri sauce. Lime, garlic, and herbs infuse this easy sauce with oodles of flavor and it’s a delish complement to the smoked beef. As for side dishes, pair your beef-fest with Creamed Corn, Potatoes with Sour Cream and Bacon, or a creamy orzo side dish.

Step By Step Process

Smoked picanha sliced on a cutting board.
Print Pin
5 from 6 votes

Smoked Picanha

Tender, beefy, juicy, and infused with a kiss of smoke, Smoked Picanha is a must for anyone who loves smoked beef! Easy and turning out perfectly every time, pair the Smoked Picanha with all your favorite sides.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword beef, picanha, smoked beef, smoked picanha
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 292kcal
Author Chef Jenn

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Rinse and pat the picanha dry with paper towels.
  • Liberally salt the underside – not the fat side – of the beef. Use about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.
  • Pop the meat into the fridge, salted side up, for about an hour. This will infuse the meat with seasoning.
  • Score the top of the picanha diagonally in 1.5-inch strips with a sharp knife, cutting through the fat cap down to the meat. Turn the meat 90-degrees and score it diagonally again, creating large diamonds.
  • Liberally season the fat cap with Montreal Steak Seasoning massaging the fat cap to work some of the seasoning down into the scored cuts.
  • Preheat your Traeger smoker (or any other smoker) to 180-F. Smoke the meat right on the grill, fat cap side up, for 45 minutes.
  • Turn the smoker up to 225-F and continue smoking the beef until it reaches 125-F with a digital meat thermometer for rare.

How to reverse sear the beef

  • Remove the beef from your Traeger smoker and crank the heat up to 450-F. When hot, add the picanha back to the smoker and cook fat side down for an additional 5 minutes to render some of the fat.
  • or
  • Turn on your oven's broiler to high. Place the picanha on a baking sheet and broil it about 6-inches below the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the fat is sizzling and dark in color – but don't burn it!

Notes

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • Salting the underside of the beef adds flavor but you can skip this step and just season the whole picanha with Montreal Steak Seasoning or your favorite blend.
  • Always cook to temp, not time! Perfectly med rare picanha should be cooked to 125-F and then rested. Use a good digital meat thermometer for cooking accurately.
  • Do NOT trim the fat cap before cooking! Eating the fat with the beef is a personal choice, but it protects and flavors the meat while cooking.
  • Reverse searing the beef renders some of the fat and creates a rich, flavorful crusty fat top.

Nutrition

Serving: 6ounces | Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 192mg | Potassium: 819mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.04g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 4mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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By Chef Jenn