Wagyu Picanha Cut Guide [2021]: Is It Worth The Hype?

Steak is one of the most enjoyed foods in the world. People from countries around the globe look forward to sitting down and cutting into a nice, juicy steak. The days of requesting a simple sirloin are long gone. Now, you can get a tasty tomahawk steak, delicious tri-tip, or a thick KC strip, and often it’s delivered right to your door.

If you’re looking for interesting cuts or things you’ve never tried before, you’ve come to the right place. Wagyu picanha is one of the most tender, delicious steaks you can get, so I’m going to talk about what it is and why you should try it. I might even help you figure out how to pronounce it.

What is Wagyu Picanha?

First, we need to break down the two words of this cut to figure out what exactly it is. These two components both mean something on their own.

Wagyu

This Japanese word means Japanese cattle. Any beef or steak described as wagyu comes from a Japanese cow, and you can almost guarantee it’s going to be excellent. Wagyu is often regarded as the best steak in the world, but the price will reflect its quality as well, so not everyone can afford it all the time.

Wagyu cattle are fed a strict diet of grains and cereal that gives it a gorgeous marbling and contributes to its wonderful flavor and texture. These cows live a completely stress-free life of health and pampering.

Picanha

This word is a Brazilian word meaning top rump cap, so it refers to the area of the cow where the steak is cut from. It’s a tricky cut to find at many steakhouses and you often have to go to a Brazilian steakhouse to find it. However, awareness of this cut is becoming more mainstream, and that’s a very good thing.

This piece of meat is incredibly tender and has a lovely rim of fat along one edge, which lends to its wonderful flavor. Now, think about cutting this steak from Wagyu, and you can probably imagine just how glorious it will taste.

About Wagyu Picanha

This rare find is a highly-prized delicacy. It goes through many different standard checks before it can be certified as wagyu beef. While it may be quite the quest to find a cut like this and get your hands on it, it’s worth the effort.

Another thing to note about this particular cut is that it isn’t actually a steak. In fact, butchers will cut it from the cow whole, but they won’t trim it down into individual steaks. Instead, it’s normally carved after being cooked or it’s served as a whole piece. You won’t find wagyu picanha steaks, and the size of the piece you buy will vary based on the size of the cow.

Some butchers also cut off the layer of fat on the outside, which you definitely don’t want, because it lends way too much flavor to the meat during cooking.

The Look

Wagyu picanha is so beautiful, it almost looks fake. You’ll notice a thick white fat band running along one edge of a red, beautifully marbled piece of meat. While a typical picanha doesn’t have this intramuscular fat marbling, a wagyu picanha will. If you don’t see the prevalent marbling, it’s not real wagyu.

The Flavor

I can tell you all day long that a wagyu picanha will be the most tender, delicious, flavorful, and succulent piece of meat you’ll ever have, but that doesn’t really do it justice. This steak is buttery, bold, and beefy. It’s marbled like a ribeye, so if you’re familiar with that flavor, you can expect to know what it tastes like. But it gets so much better.

In addition to the taste, you almost don’t even need a steak knife to cut through it because it’s so tender. It really will melt in your mouth.

How to Buy Wagyu Picanha at the Butcher

You’re going to have trouble finding this cut. I can almost guarantee it. Many butchers will have never heard of it, and if they have, they don’t carry it. You may also find the picanha steak at your local butcher, but they won’t have any wagyu picanha.

Picanha is a prized cut in Brazil because of its gorgeous marbling and flavor. If you do find picanha, feel free to try it. You may love it, even though it’s not wagyu.

However, your best bet for finding picanha (and hopefully wagyu picanha), is to go to a butcher who is a whole animal butcher. They’ll be more knowledgeable about all of the muscles of a beef carcase. Ask for it by various names like rump cap, rump cover, sirloin cap, or culotte.

Ask the butcher how long the meat has been maturing. You want it to be 14-28 days with 14 being the absolute minimum amount of time and 28 days being even more ideal. Make sure the butcher leaves the fat when they slice it into steaks, or simply purchase the entire cap and cut it yourself at home.

How to Cook Wagyu Picanha

You don’t want this expensive piece of meat to be ruined, so you definitely want to get it right the first time. You’ll never come back from overcooking it. It’s best to cook it on the grill because that’s how it’s done in Brazil, so make sure you have all the right tools first. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Set your wagyu picanha out and bring it to room temperature. It should take about 2 hours.
  2. Turn your gas grill on to its highest setting or bring your charcoal grill up to the hottest you can.
  3. Season your wagyu picanha with salt and pepper. You don’t need anything else.
  4. Place the wagyu picanha on the grill with the fat side up and leave it for 3 minutes.
  5. Turn the wagyu picanha over on the fat side and leave it for 4 minutes.
  6. Turn the grill’s temperature down and move the meat to a cooler part of the grill. Place the lid on the grill and let it cook for 20-40 more minutes.
  7. After about 20 minutes, check the temperature with a meat thermometer. The goal is 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. If your steak is at the right temperature, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. If it’s not ready, cover it back up and check it again in 5-10 minutes.
  9. When the steak is ready, remove it, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then carve it against the grain.

Wagyu Picanha Steaks

If your wagyu picanha has been trimmed into steaks, you can also grill these or sear them inside. The ideal thickness of a wagyu picanha steak is about 2-3 inches, so be careful not to cook them on blazing high heat or you’ll burn the outside without cooking the inside.

Cook them over medium heat until they’ve reached at least an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. If you like your steak more done, cook it for longer according to your preferences.

Wagyu Picanha Burgers

If you’d rather, you can make the wagyu picanha into burgers for a juicy and flavorful patty. Simply trim off the silverskin layer, but leave the fat. Then dice it and mince it. You can get fairly affordable meat grinders for home use. Some even attach to the front of your mixer.

Then add your favorite seasonings like salt and pepper, or add other ingredients like onions if you’d like. However, it’s best just as it is. It will make a high-quality burger that you won’t even find at upscale restaurants.

Grill it to perfection on a charcoal grill for best results. You can also use a gas grill or sear them on a skillet on the stove.

Alternatives

Let’s say you love steak and you really want to try wagyu picanha, but you just can’t afford it right now. There are still plenty of other great cuts that are delicious. Try one of these alternatives until you’re ready to pay top dollar for something better!

T-bone

The flavor of a t-bone can rival the wagyu picanha, and it’s very tender, too. But even better is that it comes at a much lower price point. When you’ve never had wagyu picanha, you really don’t have anything to compare it to, so you may enjoy this just as much for now.

This primordial steak is a combination of the strip steak and the tenderloin. It’s a huge cut that requires a serious appetite to handle its abundance of beefy flavor.

Filet Mignon

While a filet mignon can also be pricey, it won’t be quite as pricey as the wagyu picanha, and it’s nearly as tender. Most filet mignon steaks have gorgeous marbling and will melt in your mouth if cooked just right.

While the flavor of the filet is much more subtle than a ribeye, t-bone, or wagyu picanha, it’s still very buttery. It’s a milder steak for those who don’t like the bold, beefy flavor of the others. Plus, wrapped in bacon, it’s simply to die for.

Sirloin

This mainstay of steakhouses and barbecue restaurants is perhaps the most comparable to the wagyu picanha. It’s a classic steak that boasts great flavor and a tender, juicy texture. However, it doesn’t have the same fat or marbling that a ribeye has, so it’s a bit leaner.

Ribeye

This cut is a favorite among steak lovers. The intramuscular marbling lends great flavor and keeps the moisture in while cooking. This steak is tender and juicy, with excellent buttery, meaty flavors. When cooked right, it will also nearly melt in your mouth.

FAQ

There are plenty of unanswered questions about wagyu picanha because it’s simply not the most well-known cut out there. These frequently asked questions will help you learn a bit more.

Question: Do I have to use a grill for cooking it?

Answer: While I recommend the grill because it will give you the best results, you don’t have to use one. You can sear it with a skillet on the stove using the same method of high heat to begin and lower temperatures to finish.

Question: Can I use extra seasoning?

Answer: Sure, you can always use extra seasoning. However, a little salt and pepper will bring out the natural flavors of the meat during cooking, and with a steak, these flavorful, additional seasonings simply aren’t necessary.

Question: Where can I buy a wagyu picanha and how much do they cost?

Answer: These cuts are not cheap. You could pay hundreds of dollars for one of these pieces of meat, but that’s for the absolute best. Be wary of cuts that cost less than $50 though, because they’re probably not certified wagyu.

Check with a local butcher to see if you can get your hands on this type of cut or to see if they have any connections who might be able to help you. It’s not easy, but it’ll be worth the hunt.

Question: How thick should wagyu picanha steaks be?

Answer: Traditional picanha steaks are 2-3 inches thick, so you can follow the same rule for wagyu picanha as well. If you find these steaks at the butcher already cut, you may not get to choose, but if you’re cutting them at home, you can make them as thick or thin as you like.

Worth the Hype?

Now that you know what wagyu picanha is, you may be wondering if it’s really worth all the money and effort you’re going to put into it. Most butchers don’t even offer it, and if they do, they’ve already trimmed off the fat. Others may advertise they have it, but it’s not a legitimate wagyu picanha.

The good news is that it is one of the best steaks you’ll ever have. Sure, that’s reflected in the price you pay, but for those who truly want to try something this tender and succulent, it’s worth it. Don’t pass up the opportunity to snatch one up if you do find it.

Scroll to Top