When it comes to meat, there is nothing to beat beef! Juicy, tender, and soft! But do you know there are many different cuts of beef, and each one has a particular flavor? If you are new to this idea, today we will talk about picanha and tri-tip!

If you think you have never heard or had anything before, you are wrong! If you ever had a good beef steak, chances are high that you probably had either a picanha cut or a tri-tip cut! Both these are widely used and are quite confusing!

Both picanha and tri-tip are beef cuts obtained from the sirloin primal part of the beef. However, picanha is taken from the upper part, and the tri-tip is the meat obtained from the lower sirloin part.

Picanha is a thick meat cut with more marbling and thick fat caping, while on the other hand, the tri-tip has a leaner cut and less fat. Both of them are working muscles and are extremely flavorful.

Even though they are from the same portion, they have considerable differences. If you are new to this topic, give this article a read! We will discuss in detail picanha and tip and their similarities, differences, and culinary uses.

Picanha Vs. Tri Tip | Difference Table

Basis Of Difference Picanha Tri Tip
Taken From Upper sirloin Lower Sirloin
Popular In Brazil California
Shape Triangular cut with a round shape Triangular cut
Taste Intense gamey taste Slight meaty taste
Appearance Red meat with fat cap Lean red meat.
Usage Used to grill/ roast. Used to grill/ roast.
Nutrition Rich in fat and protein with high caloric values. Rich in fat and protein with a low caloric value
Substitute Tri trip Picanha

What Is Picanha?


Picanha is a meat cut taken from the upper sirloin portion of the beef. Picanha is a thick meat cut with a large fat cap. These are often used for making steaks and are called by different names. 

The name “Picanha” in the Brazilian language means steak. It is also often referred to as top sirloin cap and culotte. Picanha comes with a fat cap. But many butchers tend to remove it. However, if you plan to get some, get one with little fat.

What Is Tri Tip

Tri Trip

Tri-tip refers to the meat taken from the bottom part of the sirloin. The tri-tip meat cut is also known as Santa Maria steak. It has a triangular shape to it and is also called a triangular steak. It is a leaner cut of meat with less fat.

Unlike picanha, tri-tip is hard to get. However, it is quite popular in the western part of the US.

Picanha Vs. Tri Tip | Similarities Between The Two


Picanha and tri-tip share so many differences. However, regardless of the differences, they confuse many people! If you don’t have a butcher’s eye, it will be hard for you to differentiate between them. So in this section, let’s look at their similarities.

Both Meat Cuts Are From The Same Portion

Picanha and tri-tip are taken from the sirloin portion of the beef. These are the working muscle and are extremely flavorful. 

Both Are Used To Make Different Dishes

Both picanha and tri-tip are used to make different dishes. Both of these meat portions are often used to make steaks.

Both Have Similar Health Benefits 

Beef is one of the most commonly available and most consumed meats worldwide. Since picanha and tri-tip are taken from the same meat, the health benefits it offers us are considered the same.

Beef is primarily composed of protein and fat. Protein, as we all know, is an essential compound to maintain our muscular mass. Beef also contains all types of amino acids. Consuming beef, in a way, helps to keep our body fit.

Beef is also a great source of heme iron. Heme iron is a type of iron that is derived from animals and fish. This type of iron is absent in vegetables and can be easily absorbed by the body. Thus consuming beef can prevent anaemia to an extent.

Besides protein and iron, beef is a great source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, zinc, niacin, and phosphorus. However, beef has a high amount of fat and a high calorie count. Thus consuming it in the right amount is very important.

Both Can Be Used As Each Other Substitute

Both picanha and tri-tip are thick cut of meat and often comes in 1-inch thickness. They are taken from the same portion, the sirloin part of the beef. Even though there are slight differences between them, they work extremely well as each other’s substitute.

If you want to make some beef steak, you could use a beef picanha or tri-tip potion. The tri-tip portion has a leaner cut and less marbling than the picanha. Hence it will only need less heat.

Other than keeping in mind such small details, you can easily use tri-tip as a picanha substitute and vice versa. They are extremely flavorful and taste best when grilled, smoked, or roasted.

Picanha Vs. Tri Tip | Differences Between The Two

Tri Trip

We have talked about the similarities between the two types of meat. Now it’s time to explore the differences. So in this section, we will see what makes picanha different from tri-tip.

1. Portion It Is Taken From

From the very beginning of the article, we have been focusing on picanha and tri-tip. Even though both are parts of beef, they are taken in different portions. Picanha, as we discussed, comes from the upper part of the sirloin.

On the other hand, the tri-tip is taken from the lower part of the sirloin. Even though both the meat is taken from the sirloin part, their position causes a lot of flavor differences between the two. 

2. Taste & Texture 

Regardless of coming from the same sirloin part of the meat, picanha and tri-tip have a lot of flavor differences. Picanha is the fattier cut of meat with more marbling. It also comes with a thick fat cap.

Whereas tri-tip, taken from the button part of the sirloin, is a leaner cut of meat with less fat. Both picanha and tri-tip are extremely flavorful. Both of these are working muscles and are fairly tender and juicy.

However, when compared between the two, picanha tends to be more flavorful and tender than that tri-tip. This is because of the fact that it is taken from the top part and also has a thick fat cap. As the meat cooks, the fat provides more juiciness to otherwise lean fat.

Also, when compared between the two meat, picanha renders a more meaty beef flavor than the tri-tip. This is because of the fat content present in the meat. We cannot ignore the tri-tip’s juicy, meaty flavor!

3. Appearance 

If you aren’t someone who isn’t familiar with beef cuts, then recognizing tri-tip and picanha could be a little hard for you. Both of them look very similar to each other. However, if you look closely, you can spot the difference.

Both picanha and tri-tip have triangular shapes, making them confusing to recognize. However, if looked closely, we could say that picanha has more of a rounded triangle. But the tri-tip, on the other hand, has a very extinguished triangular cut. For this reason, it is also called a triangular cut!

4. Culinary Usage

Both picanha and tri-tip are extremely flavorful meat portions and can be cooked in multiple ways. However, to enjoy the best taste, there are certain ways to cook both types of meat. Picanha, as we have already said, comes with a meat cap.

Hence picanha can be either grilled or skewed in high heat for a longer period. Since it has a slice of thick meat and fat, it requires a longer period of cooking. Some people prefer to cook it without its fat. However, the best flavor of picanha is bought with fat.

Picanha meat isn’t widely available in the states. Thus, to truly experience picanha meat’s flavor, you must visit Brazilian restaurants. Many restaurants in Brazil serve the best picanha dishes.

On the other hand, the tri-tip is a leaner cut of fat. It requires a very low amount of heat and less cooking time. It can be grilled and can be cooked in other ways.

5. Nutrition 

The nutritional content of picanha and tri-tip is the same as they all belong to the same meat. However, there is a considerable difference in the amount of nutrition present in each portion of the meat.

Both picanha and tri-tip contain iron, phosphorus, protein, and cholesterol. When compared between the two, the tri-tip has much more nutrition and less caloric value than the picanha. Since picanha contains a fat cap, it has a very high caloric value.

6. Availability

Picanha and tri-tip are extremely flavorful meat portions. Even though they are taken from the same beef, these particular cuts aren’t available anywhere. A tri-tip is easily available regarding these two types of meat.

On the other hand, picanha is hard to come by and is restricted to some places in the US, like the West of States. However, these meat cuts are a specialty of Brazil and are widely and easily available there.  

Can Picanha And Tri Tip Be Used Together?

Picanha and tri-tip are all part of the sirloin part of the beef. There is no problem in using these meat cuts together. However, both these meat cuts are used similarly. Hence having one of them is enough to make most of the dishes.

Even though there is not much flavor difference between the two meat cut, the amount of time needed to cook these two meat cuts are considerably different. Hence cooking them together won’t be a good idea.

Thus we could say that even though they are good to go together, it is not easy to do so! However, if you are buying a whole sirloin part, you would most probably get both of these cuts together.

In that case, here is a recipe you can make with it!

Tri Tip Picanha Roast With Cherry Tomatoes And Onion

Tri Tip Picanha Roast With Cherry Tomatoes And Onion

When it comes to beef roast, there are only a few dishes that could compete with it. Whatever dish those are, they will fail in front of these tri-tip roasts with cherry tomatoes. This is one of the easiest and tastiest recipes you could try with picanha and tri-tip.

For making this tri tip picanha roast with cherry tomatoes and onion recipe, we need portions of picanha and tri-tip. For flavoring, we will need garlic cloves, olive oil, cherry tomatoes, pearl onions, and black pepper. First, crush some garlic and make a thin paste out of it.

Give the meat a good prick and mix the olive oil and ginger. Rub it all over the meat and marinate for at least an hour. Cook it for some time in a filet and bake it in the oven. Before moving the meat to the oven, remove all the garlic paste, as it might burn!

Once the meat is done, allow it to rest for some time. In the meantime, cook the cherry tomatoes and onion in a pan. Mix it with olive oil, salt, and pepper to the prepared meat.

Tips To Keep In Mind While Marinating Beef

Good marination is key to making the most flavorful meat. Hence, if you plan to make some beef steak using picanha or tri-tip, give this section a read! These are some of the tips which will be very useful.

  • While marinating, for every 1 pound of meat, use 1 teaspoon of salt
  • While marinating the meat, make sure to marinate all sides of the meat, including the fat!
  • Once the meat is marinated, allow it to sit for at least 1 hour. If possible, marinate it overnight.

Top Dishes To Make With Tri Tip

Tri-tip is one of the easily available meat portions. Hence, if you have some leftover tri-tip in your fridge, here are some dishes you can try making with it. Most of the dishes below are extremely easy to make and delicious.

1. Tri-Tip Sandwich

Tri Trip Sandwich

If you have some leftover tri-tip in your fridge, the best way to have them is to make a tri tip sandwich. This is easy to make and is convenient to carry to your office or college. This recipe can be made in under 5 minutes.

For this recipe, we will need some bread loaves, roasted tri-tips, herb garlic butter, barbecue sauce, sliced cheese, tomatoes, cabbages, and any vegetables you choose. Making sandwiches is an easy job.

Slice the bun in half, butter the sides generously, and arrange all the ingredients. Add barbeque sauce, mayonnaise, or sauces of your choice to your sandwich. Your tri-tip sandwich is ready.

2. Roasted Tri Tip With Apricot and Pineapple Salsa

Roasted Tri Tip With Apricot and Pineapple Salsa.

Tri-tip tastes best when roasted. But when served with some side dip, it tastes even better. When served with apricot and pineapple salsa, this roasted tri tip with pineapple and apricot salsa can be the ideal party dish for all your guests.

Mix some paprika, garlic powder, pepper powder, and salt in olive oil to make the beef and marinate the tri-tip cut. Marinate it for some time and once it’s done, bake it in the oven, and your tri-tip roast is ready.

To make the dip, you will need dried apricots, pineapples, diced red pepper, cilantro, jalapenos, lime juice, grated garlic, and some salt. Mix all of this together in a bowl and allow it to refrigerate for some time before serving it with beef steak.

3. Spartan Tri Tip Chilli

Spartan Tri Tip Chilli

This Spartan tri-tip chilli could be a game changer for you if you hate beans in your chili. This is the perfect chili dip to satisfy all your chili cravings on a winter morning. The ingredient list for making this recipe is a little long.

We will need slices of bacon, vegetable oil, chopped tri-tip roast, sweet onion, garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, tomato paste, oregano, salt, pepper, beef stock, steak sauce, and diced green pepper.

For making this recipe, cook the bacon and tri-tip separately. Once they are done, saute tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and other ingredients in a pan. Add beef stock and other ingredients. Bring them to a boil.

4. Sesame Ginger Tri Tip Steak `

Sesame Ginger Tri Tip Steak `

If you are tired of making the regular tri-tip steak, try to make this Asian-inspired sesame ginger tri-tip steak. This requires a minimum amount of ingredients and brings amazing cuisine to your dining table.

For this recipe, gather some green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, water, red wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, and roasted sesame seeds. Once you have all of this, let’s move to the cooking process.

Into a pan, mix everything except beef tri-tip and sesame seeds. Place the beef tri-tip in this mixture and marinate it for some time. Once done, grill it. Brush the remaining marinades into the beef steak while grilling it.

Allow it to rest for some time, and slice and serve it.

5. Grilled Espresso Tri Tip

Grilled Espresso Tri Tip

Many people are of the assumption that coffee is just for drinking. But this grilled espresso tri-tip is here to prove you wrong. This bitterness of espresso mingled with the juiciness of a tri-tip is something you must try at least once.

For this recipe, we will need some tri-tip cuts, espresso coffee powder, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. If you have all of these ingredients, mix them in a ball and use this mixture to marinate your tri-tip cut.

Refrigerate it for some time and grill it for some time. Allow it to rest, and serve it sliced.

Top Dishes To Make With Picanha

Picanha is hard to get. However, if you get some picanha, here are some recipes you can try making! Picanha comes with a juicy fat cap, and hence while cooking, makes sure to follow the exact recipe to get its full flavor.

1. Brazilian Picanha Steak Recipe

Brazilian Picanha Steak Recipe

Picanha is not usually available in supermarkets. But if you get the meat from a butcher, make sure to get the picanha cut because this Brazilian picanha steak is too flavorful to be missed.

We just need a handful of ingredients to make this recipe. For flavoring, get some picanha meat cut, salt, oil, and pepper. For preparation, place the meat on a cutting board and poke it well with a knife.

Season well with salt and pepper. You can either grill or skewer it. The traditional Brazilian picanha steak is ready to serve.

2. Pan-Seared Picanha Steak

Pan-Seared Picanha Steak

There are many ways to cook a picanha steak. If you do not have a grill at home, this is the one recipe you should try at home to enjoy the juiciest and tastiest version of picanha cut. It is easy and quick to make and renders so much taste.

Picanha, as we can imagine, is the main ingredient needed for this recipe. We will also need some garlic cloves, pepper, thyme, and unsalted butter. Once you have all of it, make some cuts in the fat side of the picanha and marinate it with salt and pepper.

After that, add some high-heat oil (grapeseed oil) to the pan and some garlic cloves. Place the beef cut into the pan facing the fat portion on the pan. Cook for five minutes, and add some butter, thyme, and butter.

Cook both sides well. Transfer it to a bowl and allow it to rest for some time. Cut it into pieces and serve it with the sauce of your choice.

3. Mediterranean Sliced Picanha Steak

Mediterranean Sliced Picanha Steak

Picanha meat, in general, has a slight sweetness to it. This comes from the fat portion of the meat. In this section, we have seen two other recipes which use picanha as their main ingredient. However, if you love some spiciness in your food, try this Mediterranean sliced picanha steak!

For this recipe, grab some picanha meat cut, Spanish Nora pepper, paprika, black pepper, long pepper, oregano, and thick salt. For the preparation, marinate the meat with salt and allow it to sit for some time.

Mix all other ingredients in another bowl and rub a thick coat over the meat. Slow cook them on a grill, and your Mediterranean sliced picanha steak is ready to serve.

4. Picanha Roast 

Picanha Roast 

If you have a crowd to please, then the picanha roast is what you should cook! It is extremely flavorful and has a great texture. It is juicy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. You will want to try more of it once you have it once.

For this recipe, place the picanha on the pan after rubbing it with salt, garlic powder, and freshly ground pepper powder. Allow it to cook for some time. Make sure the fat portion is well cooked.

Once cooked, allow it to settle down. Cut them into pieces before serving them.

Picanha Vs. Tri Tip | Which Is Healthier?

Tri Trip

Now that we have discussed all picanha and tri-tip, we must choose the best of the two. Both picanha and tri-tip have all the nutrients that are present in beef. Both tri-tip and picanha are great sources of protein and fat.

However, compared to the two, a tri-tip is healthier than a picanha. Picanha comes with a fat cap and has a high caloric value. On the other hand, the tri-tip is the leaner cut of meat and comes with low caloric values. 

Picanha Vs. Tri Tip | Which Is Tastier?


Both picanha and tri-tip are extremely tasty. However, when compared between the two, the tri-tip is tastier than the picanha.

Tri-tip has a less meaty flavor than that picanha. Picanha comes with fat and has an intense gamey taste which might not be everyone’s choice.

Picanha Vs. Tri Tip | Which Is More Versatile?

Tri Trip

There are so many dishes we can make from both picanha and tri-tip. However, tri-tip is easily available, and hence more recipes use tri-tip. Hence, when compared between the two, the tri-tip is more versatile than the picanha.

Picanha Vs. Tri Tip | Which Is Better?


Now that we have reached the end of the article, it’s time to choose the best of two types of meat. Considering the flavor profile, nutrition, and number of dishes we can make from the meat cut, we can say that tri-tip is better than picanha.

Picanha is also extremely flavorful and can be used to make a number of dishes. However, picanha is not easily available to everybody.


We’ve finally come to the end of this article. The conversation regarding picanha and tri-tip went on for a while. We learn many new facts about picanha and tri-tip while comparing them.

We learned about its uses and taste and have also looked at the recipes which use picanha and tri-tip as their primary ingredients. Despite coming from the same meat, picanha and tri-tip have different flavors that can be identified from one another.

Picanha has a pronounced gamey flavor, unlike the tri-tip gentler flavor. These meat sections are quite healthy and have numerous health advantages besides their flavor profiles.

Knowing everything there is to know about meat cuts, we can confidently say that tri-tip is better than pork shoulder. It tastes good and contains a lot more nutrients than picanha. Having said that, we cannot ignore picanha’s distinct flavor and health advantages.

I hope your question has been answered by the time we’ve finished this post. Also, try any of the dishes listed above if you have leftover picanha and tri-tip at home. I’ll be back soon with another intriguing article.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is picanha the best cut of steak?

Picanha is one of the most flavorful cut for making steak

What is another name for picanha?

Picanha is also known as sirloin cap

Are Tritip steaks good?

Yes. Tri Trip steaks are tender and flavorful

Is picanha similar to tri-tip?

Yes. Both are taken from the sirloin part of the beef and are great for steak.

Is picanha tasty?

Picanha comes with a fat cap and some meat. Thus it is tasty as well as juicy portion of meat.