Skip to content


Main Navigation

Picanha vs Sirloin: What’s the Difference?

picanha vs sirloin on a wooden cutting board

Picanha vs Sirloin: What’s the Difference?

Are you a meat lover who takes pleasure trying out different cuts of beef? If so, we have written this article to help you understand the differences between Picanha and sirloin. 

We will compare different aspects of these two common steaks such as the fat content, origin, price and the texture.

What Is Picanha?

picanha steak

Photo Credit: Wild Fork Foods

Picanha is a delectable cut that is obtained from the top of the sirloin primal section. Some call it the top sirloin cap, or the coulette.

Picanha has an unmistakable thick layer of fat on top. Once you see it, you will always identify it with ease. Picanha is a tender and juicy cut.

Regarding the cooking method, Picanha is a versatile cut. It is typically seasoned with coarse salt and grilled over an open flame. Most chefs prefer to serve it with chimichurri sauce. This is a tangy and herbaceous sauce made with vinegar, garlic and parsley. If you love chimichurri, check out our chimicurri seasoning and BBQ for steak.

Let's now talk about the price tag: Picanha is relatively inexpensive. Moreover, it is easily available in most butcher shops. However, most butchers often combine it with other cuts such as the rump. This explains why you may not find it at your neighborhood butcher shop. 

Generally, this lean cut is a great option for those who wish to enjoy a delicious steak without going outside of a tight budget. It is also a great selection for those who are looking for a leaner cut of beef. It has less fat than other cuts like ribeye or New York strip.

What Is Sirloin?

sirloin steak on black background with rosemary and sea salts and pepper in background top view

Sirloin is another popular cut from the rear of the cow. To be precise, it comes from the area between the rump and the ribs. The sirloin is a lean cut known for its rich flavor and incredible tenderness. It is a versatile cut that you can cook in many ways.

The sirloin is typically divided into two parts: bottom sirloin and top sirloin. Top sirloin is the more tender and flavorful of the two.

The bottom counterpart is a bit tougher. It is also less flavorful. Learn more about the rest of the cow cuts in this other article.

Sirloin is a good source of iron, protein, and other nutrients. It is also low in fat. This makes it a healthier choice than some other cuts of beef. However, it is essential to note that the fat content can vary depending on the specific cut of sirloin.

For example, a top sirloin steak will typically have more fat than a bottom sirloin roast. The breeding process of the animal that the sirloin was got from can also have a substantial impact on the fat content.

Picanha vs Sirloin Comparison

Origin and Appearance

Picanha is a triangular-shaped cut that comes from the top of the rump. It has an unmistakable thick layer of fat on top. Sirloin, on the other hand, is a long, narrow cut that comes from the rear back of the animal. It has a strip of fat running along one side. 

This is what a picanha would look like, when cut into steaks:

picanha cut into steaks

Photo Credit: Wild Fork Foods

Picanha vs Sirloin: Fat Content 

Picanha is known for its high-fat content. Consequently, it has a rich and juicy flavor. Picanha is typically sold with a thick layer of fat still attached. However, keep in mind that not all beef is equal. As such, it is possible to find a Picanha with only a thin layer of fat as opposed to a thick layer. 

On the other hand, the sirloin is a leaner cut. Generally, it has a lower fat content than Picanha. Sirloin is typically sold without a thick layer of fat. This implies that it can dry out easily when cooking. 


butchery prices at the butcher shop - image of steaks behind glass

When the price is compared, Picanha tends to be more expensive. This is partially because it is a specialty cut. However, the region and the availability of the cuts can have a significant impact on the price.


Picanha and sirloin have different textures due to their location on the animal. Picanha comes from a less exercised part of the animal. It also has a higher fat content. Sirloin, which comes from the lower back, is much more exercised. As a consequence, it has a firmer and leaner texture with less marbling.


Picanha has a rich beefy flavor. Some describe it as buttery. This is because of the high amount of intramuscular fat that is present in the cut. Sirloin has a more subtle flavor. It can be described as lean and beefy. While this may not be the best choice in regards to a flavorful cut, it is a healthier option.

Cooking Method

photo collage showing steak being cooked three different ways - cast iron, grill, and griddle

Most chefs prefer to grill the Picanha. This is because of the thick layer of fat, which helps to keep the meat moist and flavorful during cooking. Grilling allows the fat to melt and baste the meat as it cooks. The result is a juicy and tender final product. It is recommended to cook Picanha to medium-rare or medium. Be watchful as overcooking it can result in tough and dry meat.

The sirloin is a more versatile cut in regards to the cooking technique. You can grill, sear and even broil it. The preferred cooking method for sirloin largely depends on the specific cut and the desired level of doneness. For instance, a thicker cut of sirloin may be best for grilling. A thinner cut, on the other hand, may be better suited for pan-searing. 


Ultimately, the Picanha vs sirloin debate all comes down to personal preference. Both cuts of meat have their own characteristics. Those who prefer a leaner cut of meat with a milder flavor may prefer sirloin.

Others who enjoy a richer, more flavorful cut with a higher fat content may prefer Picanha. The price point may also be a factor for some, as Picanha tends to be more expensive than sirloin.

Related Articles

Beef Cuts: A complete guide

What is a sizzler steak


See Virginia Boys Kitchens On Amazon

We are on Amazon, see our storefront here. Use coupon code VBKBLOG10 for 10% off your entire purchase of any Virginia Boys Kitchens on Amazon. Apply the code at checkout.