Best Smoked Picanha

Written by Mike Futia | Updated November 1, 2023

Smoked picanha is one of the absolute best meats you can smoke on your pellet grill. It's beefy, tender, and with just a handful of ingredients, is incredibly simple to make.

In this recipe, we're actually going to remove the fat cap, because it doesn't render nicely when smoked. (More on this below).

smoked picanha

Smoked Picanha Ingredients

  • 1 whole picanha (1.5-3 pounds). The picanha I picked up from my local butcher was on the smaller side, only about 1.5 pounds. It came pre-trimmed and with the fat cap on.
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt. We're going to dry brine this picanha to make it even more tender.
  • 2 tbsp beef rub. Use your favorite beef rub here. We used Hardcore Carnivore Black, which gives it a beautiful colored crust. 

Smoked Picanha Recipe Instructions

1. Trim and remove fat cap

smoked picanha

If your picanha comes with the fat cap on—like in the photo above—you're going to want to remove it with a sharp knife, along with any silver skin. (We'll talk about this more below).

2. Dry brine

smoked picanha

Next, cover the picanha with the kosher salt for the dry brining process, place the steak on a wire rack, and refrigerate for at least an hour. (If you don't have enough time, feel free to skip the dry brine).

3. Season

smoked picanha

After dry brining, add your beef rub. Since we already added salt during the dry brining process, make sure not to over season with the rub. Allow the rub to adhere to the steak for at least 15 minutes.

4. Smoke

picanha

With your smoker preheated to 275 degrees, toss the picanha onto the grill. Insert a digital meat thermometer, and smoke the picanha until it hits 130F for medium rare (or five degrees under your desired final temperature). I used cherry pellets for this cook.

5. Sear

smoked picanha

Remove the picanha from the smoker and preheat your gas grill to 500F. Then sear the picanha for about two minutes on both sides. This is to build a nice crust on the outside.

6. Rest

smoked picanh

Remove the picanha from the grill and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes.

7. Slice & Serve

smoked picanha

Slice the picanha against the grain and serve.

Smoked Picanha Tips & Tricks

smoked picanha

Removing the fat cap from this picanha

After smoking dozens of picanhas in my life, here's what you need to know.

Remove the Fat Cap

I realize this may be a controversial part of my recipe, but hear me out.

Most picanha recipes call for leaving the fat on. And if you were grilling and searing the picanha over high heat, then yes, this does make sense.

This is because over high heat, the fat cap will render nicely and will taste delicious. 

But smoked picanha does not call for high heat. We're smoking this meat low-and-slow. And when you slow cook the picanha fat cap, it doesn't render well at all.

That's because of the silver skin that sits between the fat cap and the meat. Even if you try to sear the fat cap over high heat, I've found that it still tastes chewy and tough. 

And for that reason, you're better off removing it entirely if you're going to smoke it.

Smoking Time

This 1.5 pound picanha took about 45 minutes to hit 130F internal on a 275F smoker.

Of course, your timing will vary depending on:

  • How big your cut is. Most picanhas are 2-3 pounds, mine just happened to be smaller.
  • How you like your steak cooked. I prefer medium rare, but if you want it cooked more, it's going to take longer. (See our steak doneness level guide).
  • How hot your smoker is. A lot of picanha recipes call for smoking it at 225F-250F, but I'd rather cook at a slightly higher temperature if it means I can eat my dinner sooner. 

Steak Sauces

smoked picanha

Dipping smoked picanha into cowboy butter

You can totally eat this smoked picanha without any steak sauce. But for this cook, I did make my homemade cowboy butter, which paired beautifully with the steak.

Pellet Flavors

I'm a big fan of using milder pellet flavors for picanha. So for this cook, I used cherry flavor pellets.

I would avoid using mesquite or hickory pellets as those flavors can overpower the taste of the beef.

Slice Against the Grain

smoked picanha

You can see the grain running against the picanha in this photo

You definitely want to slice your picanha against the grain. This will help to tenderize the meat even further. Just be aware that the grain can go in different directions in different parts of the cut.

The Dry Brine Is Optional

I love dry-brining steaks because it can make a huge difference in tenderizing the meat and enhancing the flavor.

That said, not everyone has an extra hour before eating to wait for the dry brining process. So if you're short on time, feel free to skip this step.

smoked picanha

Best Smoked Picanha

Smoked picanha is one of the absolute best meats you can smoke on your pellet grill. It's beefy, tender, and with just a handful of ingredients, is incredibly simple to make.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Dry Brine 1 hour
Course Main Course
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 whole picanha 1.5-3 pounds
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt for the dry brine
  • 2 tbsp beef rub

Instructions
 

  • If your picanha comes with the fat cap on, you're going to want to remove it with a sharp knife, along with any silver skin.
  • Next, cover the picanha with the kosher salt for the dry brining process, place the steak on a wire rack, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • After dry brining, add your beef rub. Since we already added salt during the dry brining process, make sure not to over season with the rub. Allow the rub to adhere to the steak for at least 15 minutes.
  • With your smoker preheated to 275 degrees, toss the picanha onto the grill. Insert a digital meat thermometer, and smoke the picanha until it hits 130F for medium rare (or five degrees under your desired final temperature). I used cherry pellets for this cook.
  • Remove the picanha from the smoker and preheat your gas grill to 500F. Then sear the picanha for about two minutes on both sides. This is to build a nice crust on the outside.
  • Remove the picanha from the grill and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • Slice the picanha against the grain and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Mike Futia

Hello, I'm Mike Futia, a passionate griller and BBQ enthusiast. I'm the creator of Grill Frenzy, and I'm committed to sharing my knowledge of grilling and smoking with you. I believe that BBQ and grilling should be accessible to everyone. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, I'm here to guide you on your grilling journey. Welcome!


LEARN MORE ABOUT MIKE


You may also like

Best Smoked Shotgun Shells
Best Smoked Mango Habanero Wings
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

Recipe Rating




{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}