So you’re looking to try a new cut of steak.
You’ve narrowed down your options; picanha or tri-tip.
Both seem similar but which is better?
Not to worry!
Both are equally flavorful steak cuts.
We’ll help you work out which one is best for you.
Have a read of the guide below to see which one you should try cooking next.
Are They Picanha and Tri-Tip Same Thing?
No, the picanha and the tri-tip come from different parts of the cow.
Therefore they have different flavors, ways of cooking, and uses.
What is Picanha?
Picanha is also known as Coulotte, top sirloin cap, or rump cap.
Picanha comes from the top sirloin subprimal and has a somewhat triangular shape.
This piece of meat has a thick layer of fat that gives it a beefy flavor.
Picanha is a good substitute for tri-tip if you can’t find it at the supermarket
Where Do They Eat It?
Picanha first became popular in Brazil.
You can often find it being served in parts of South America in a Brazilian Steakhouse.
While not widely available in the US, you should be able to order picanha from your local butcher shop.
Size of Picanha
Picanha steak varies in size.
It also depends upon whether the fat cap is attached or not.
Picanha will weigh between 6oz to 9oz (with the fat cap attached).
Cost of Picanha
The cost will vary from store to store, depending upon where you are and availability.
If you do have trouble finding picanha, several online outlets do sell it.
Here are a list of online outlets.
How to Cook Picanha
When cooking picanhas, don’t trim the thick fat cap.
It will keep the meat full of flavor and juicy.
The traditional way of cooking picanha is with a skewer over hot embers.
You can also grill, sear, smoke or oven-cook picanhas.
Our Family Favorite Picanha Recipes
There are plenty of picanha recipes out there for you to try.
Here are some of our suggestions below.
- Smoked Picanha On Pit Boss
- Picanha Recipe- Brazilian Coulotte Steaks
- Slow-Roasted Picanha with Baby Potatoes
- Grilled Picanha with Charred Jalapeño Chimichurri
- Picanha with Molho A Campanha Recipe
What is Tri-Tip?
Tri-tip steak is also known as Santa Maria, Newport, or Triangle Steak.
It’s a triangular cut that comes from the bottom of the sirloin.
Tri-tip has a reasonable amount of marbling on it, which gives it a buttery flavor.
Want to know what to make with tri tip leftovers? One of my favorites is mac and cheese topped with chopped tri tip!
Where Do They Eat It?
Tri-Tip became popular in California in the 1950s.
It was originally used by American butchers for hamburger meat.
Tri-tip is still very popular in California today, but less common in other parts of the world.
Size of Tri-Tip
Tri-tip can come in smaller sizes or as a whole roast.
Tri-tip steaks weigh about 2-3 pounds.
An untrimmed roast will weigh between 2.5- 4 pounds.
Taste of Tri-Tip
Tri-tip is a lean, tender cut with a delicious beefy flavor.
Take care when cutting your tri-tip. If cut incorrectly it will lose flavor.
Be sure not to overcook tri-tip as it can become tough and chewy.
Like picanha, tri-tip prices vary.
Current prices range on average between 10.99 lb.
Tri-tip is more readily available than picanha, so there will be more options to choose from.
Ways to Cook Tri-Tip
Tri-tip steaks are incredibly versatile. Smoking tri tip is the best way to cook it
Although it can also be can be grilled, broiled, oven-roasted or pan-seared
One of the most important things to use to marinade over tri tip for at least 5-6 hours.
If you have a pellet grill, try this recipe for Pit Boss tri-tip, it ensures your meat comes out perfectly cooked every time.
Some of Our Fav Tri Tip Recipes
Here are some tri-tip recipes
- Grilled or oven-roasted Santa Maria Tri-Tip
- Tri Tip Sandwich
- Tri-Tip in the Oven
- Beef Tri-Tip Roast with Rosemary-Garlic Vegetables
- Grilled Tri-Tip with Rosemary Glaze
- Shiraz-Soy Tri-Tip
I’m Not Sure if it’s Cooked
Every cut of meat will cook slightly differently.
It can be nerve-racking to know whether your meat is done or if food poisoning is on the cards tonight.
If you’re ever unsure about the internal temperature of meat, use a meat thermometer to check.
Main Differences Between Picanha and Tri-Tip
There are a couple of main differences between the picanha and the tri-tip.
- The tri-tip and the picanha come from different parts of the cow.
- The picanha is rounder than the tri-top which is more triangular.
- Picanha steak has a thick fat cap but a small amount of marbling.
- Tri-tip has no fat cap but has more marbling.
- When cutting picanha, the slices are thicker than with tri-top.
- Tri-tip may be easier to purchase than Picanha, which is less common.
Not Too Keen On Either Of These Cuts?
That’s okay, not every type of meat is for every person.
We’ve put together a list of other affordable steaks that you can also try.
- Chuck Steak
- Denver Steak
- Petite Sirloin
- Hanger Steak
- Flat Iron
- Chuck-Eye Steak
- Flank Steak
There are plenty of steak cuts out there, for all occasions and preferences.
Can I Have Both?
Picanha and Tri-tip are both great cuts of beef and there is nothing wrong with serving both.
Ultimately it’s up to personal preference and what you feel like cooking.
Picanha steaks are perfect for grilling, wheras tri-tip is a versatile cut and can be cooked in many different ways.
Both cuts of meat are full of flavor and delicious!
Do you prefer cooking picanha or tri-tip?
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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2 thoughts on “Tri Tip vs. Picanha: We Explain The Difference (And Whats Better!)”
Really amazing tips. Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us.
No worries at all, will you be cooking up some tri tip or picanha this weekend?