smoked picanha medium rare sirloin

Juicy Smoked Picanha – best kept Brazilian secret!

Picanha. Top Sirloin. Rump Cap. It’s a cut known by many names. Call it whatever you like, just make sure you’re eating it!


The picanha is fast becoming a popular cut for US grillers and smokers, and with good reason! This compact and even cut is packed with flavor, though perhaps a little more toothsome than some of the forequarter cuts we are used to. Often, it’s confused with the tri tip, but I assure you they are two different muscles. The Picanha is also known as the Sirloin Cap in the US, or the Rump Cap in Australia.

I did a few experiments to determine how best to tackle the thick fat cap that is normally found on the top sirloin cap. The fat cap is actually a desirable for rodizio churrascas (Brazilian grills) because it renders nicely over the flame and coals. However, the same cannot be said for smoking. Unlike brisket fat, the fat deposits from the hind quarter  have an entirely different consistency that does not render in the same manner.

When I left the cap on, it become even tougher, and chewier. Nearly like a rubber seal over the top of the meat that tightens during cooking. An attempt to sear the cap after smoking brought no joy, because the smoking process had tensed it up the cap, but not rendered any of the fat. The culprit is a layer of tougher silver skin between the fat and the muscle – you can see it peeking out from beneath the fat layer in this picture:

fat cap on picanha

Thus, the only logical conclusion: remove the cap altogether, just like a tri tip. Trust me, it works.


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smoked picanha

Juicy Smoked Picanha – best kept Brazilian secret!

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4.6 from 8 reviews

  • Author: Jess Pryles



1 x whole picanha (about 23 lb)

3 tablespoons Hardcore Carnivore Black seasoning

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cider vinegar


  1. Prepare the meat. If picanha has a fat cap still on, be sure to trim away and remove any silverskin.
  2. Preheat a smoker to 250f.
  3. . Pat the meat dry, then apply the Hardcore Carnivore Black rub generously all over the meat, massaging and pushing it in well.
  4. Lay the picanha in the smoker. Combine vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Cook the picanha, spritzing every 20 minutes with the vinegar solution. Spritz only 5 times total – after this you want to allow the bark to dry out and crust up.
  5. Smoke the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 130f, which will take about 2-3 hours.
  6. Wrap tightly in foil or butcher paper, and rest in a cooler for 30-45 minutes, then slice against the grain and serve.

9 thoughts on “Juicy Smoked Picanha – best kept Brazilian secret!”

  1. Hi Jessie.
    I’ve been smoking Culottes for about nine years now and can’t recall the meat being chewy, however I do cut cross-hatch cuts into the fat cap ensuring that I cut through the the silver “skin”. I believe this also helps the rub penetrate the meat before smoking.

  2. First time smoking picanha and using your HC Black (we use the HC red all the time) great stuff and was a the meat was a hit with the family!!

  3. First time cooking this rump cap and will be using your recipe all the time. Beautifully tender and melted in your mouth. This could be our go to meat for family meals

  4. Our cut had a band of fat with underlying membrane. We removed the layer of fat WITH the membrane, then flipped it fat side down on top of the cut to help tenderize during smoking. It eventually curled up, but the piece of meat was juicy and tender!

  5. Okay Jess I’m normally with you but trimming the fat cap off a picanha is criminal! If you score the cap and dry brine it overnight, it’ll crisp up in the smoker no problem. (I also wonder if this is one of those cuts where you’ve got to go high end if you’re going to bother–every picanha I’ve cooked I’ve gotten from Snake River Farms, and not a one of them has ever had the silverskin beneath the fat cap issue.)

  6. Ok, a little slow here….. so, remove the whole fat cap or score it. I,ve seen them cut into steaks but love the whole piece then thick sliced. My last was wondrous.

  7. Never heard of this cut before. Used a pre-seasoned cut from store (actually thought I grabbed chunk of corned beef). There may have been drinking involved.
    Anyway, kick ass good eats!
    Only mod was to reverse fat cap after removing and leave on top of cut while smoking. It cupped up with juices when done, reversed again dumping juice on cut before foil wrap.
    Thank you for the recipe and tips Jess!!!!

  8. Made this twice with good results but with smaller versions of the same cut. Took less than 2 hours at 225 to reach target internal temperatures. No crust development really but when cut against the grain and served as strips no one seemed to notice, or at least comment on the lack of crust.

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