Grilled Picanha Sandwich

Grilled Picanha Sandwich

When you thought you knew sandwiches, you find recipes like this one. A picanha sandwich might just be one of the most tender, juicy and fatty ever, and it’s thanks to the lesser-known South-American cut of beef we all know as picanha.

The picanha is a tough cut, but it tenderizes nicely, especially as its thick fat cap renders over a blistering grill. Sliced thinly, the beef cut is a delicious sandwich filling. In fact, few alternatives are as good for the job. Here’s how to make a grilled picanha sandwich.

What is Picanha?

Picanha is a beef cut, insanely popular in Brazil, where it got its name. It’s known elsewhere as top sirloin cap, rump cap and culotte. What’s unique about this piece of meat is its thick fat layer, which renders beautifully as the meat tenderizes, often on spades over an open flame. 

In the US, the rump cap is usually found without the fat cap, but that’s changing. Grill lovers are falling in love with the South American version that relies on the fat for flavor and texture. 

How to Cook Picanha? 

The most reliable way of guaranteeing a moist picanha, especially if you want to make sandwiches, is grilling it low and slow, fat side down; then, finishing it side up, aiming at medium doneness. 

Picanha is a lean cut if you don’t consider its fat cap, so it benefits from a generous rub. Rock salt usually does the job — don’t rub it with herbs or black pepper, as they’ll burn rather than flavor the meat. 

What to do with picanha? This is a true delicacy in its own right, and you can enjoy it like any premium beef cut. Still, if you want to make the most of the juicy, pink meat, make yourself and your loved ones a sandwich. 

Grilled Picanha Sandwich Recipe

Servings: 2

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • Picanha (1,8 kg)
  • 2 burger buns
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 Gruyere slices
  • 1/2 Zucchini, sliced 
  • 1/2 Cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, in rings, rinsed in cold water
  • 1 fistful of Arugula
  • 1 avocado, in slices
  • Gruyere

For the tomato tapenade:

  • 100gr (3.5oz) sun-dried tomatoes
  • 50gr (2oz) black olives
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


To make the picanha:

  1. Salt the meat on all sides and grill over a low flame fat side down for 30 minutes. Turn and cook for 25 more minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

To make the tomato tapenade:

  1. Hydrate the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water until soft. Mince the olives and grate the garlic clove. Combine the olives, garlic and tomatoes and crush until a paste forms. Slowly add olive oil until you get a silky and smooth texture. 

To assemble the sandwich:

  1. Butter the buns and toast until slightly golden. Oil and grill the zucchini slices over high heat until softened.
  2. Spread tomato tapenade on both sides of the buns.
  3. Build the sandwich by layering the zucchini, onion, sliced picanha, cheese, cucumber, arugula and avocado. Enjoy!