Tri-Tip vs. Picanha Steak

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Want to learn about two delicious steak options? Let’s compare the tri-tip and the picanha steak! Both cuts of steaks are perfect for grilling or pan-searing, so what sets them apart? Steak enthusiast or not, we’re here to answer these questions in this article, so we can help you decide which cut of meat you should try next.

Are Picanha and Tri-Tip the Same Thing?

When it comes to picanha vs. tri-tip, it’s not uncommon for people to ask whether they are the same cut of meat. After all, they are both popular and delicious cuts from the same animal. To understand the distinction, we’ll discuss the key similarities and differences between these two cuts. Hopefully, this will help you identify the steak that’s most suitable for the recipe you have in mind. So, let’s begin and discover whether the picanha and the tri-tip are the same thing.

Similarities Between The Two

Both tri-tip and picanha are loved by steak enthusiasts, and for good reasons. Despite the differences in their flavor, texture, and appearance, they also possess several similarities. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these similarities, including their health benefits, portion location, and their versatility as substitutes for each other.

Health Benefits

Both tri-tip and picanha have health benefits, especially if they are consumed in moderation. They are both lean cuts of meat that provide protein and essential nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12. And since both cuts are lean, they also generally have lower calories, which makes them a suitable option for health-conscious individuals who enjoy steak in their diets.

Both Meat Cuts Are From The Same Portion

The tri-tip and picanha come from the same portion of the cow – the sirloin. The sirloin is a large section of cow meat running from the cow’s mid-back down to the hip. Because the two cuts are more or less in the same area, the two cuts also have comparable flavors and textures.

Both Can Be Used As Each Other Substitute

Another similarity between the two steak cuts is that they can be used as substitutes for each other in recipes. Because they come from the same area and have similar textures and flavors, they are close enough that one can be used instead of the other when necessary. Both cuts can also be grilled, roasted, and pan-seared without difficulty.

Differences Between The Two

Now, despite these similarities, the tri-tip and picanha still have significant differences between them. In this part, we will take a deeper look and discuss the differences between these steak cuts when it comes to factors like cost, flavor and texture, appearance, cooking technique, nutritional profile, etc. Let’s start.


One of the most significant differences between tri-tip and picanha is their cost. If you have ever tried buying steaks, you probably noticed that the picanha is generally more expensive than the tri-tip. This is because picanha is popular in Brazilian cuisine and isn’t as accessible in the United States.

Flavor Texture

Picanha is known for its rich, beefy flavor and tender texture. Meanwhile, the tri-tip is leaner and has a slightly firmer texture and more subtle flavor. Because the picanha is often marbled with fat, it tends to have a more intense flavor and tenderness than the tri-tip.


Another key difference between the two steaks is their appearance. Picanha is fan-shaped, and has a layer of fat on one side that adds moisture and flavor during cooking, while the tri-tip has a thinner layer of fat and a more uniform, triangular shape.

Cooking Technique

Because of their structural differences, picanha and tri-tip normally require different cooking techniques. Some like cooking picanha by grilling or roasting, while others cook tri-tip by smoking, grilling, or pan-searing. In general, though, steak lovers often cook them the same way and still enjoy the results regardless of the steak cut they use. As long as they stick to the recipe and aim for the desired doneness, they should still be able to enjoy juicy and flavorful cuts of meat.

Another important thing to consider is that using the best ingredients in your favorite meat recipes can make a huge difference in the final taste and tenderness of your dish. So really, whether you’re preparing picanha or tri-tip, in the end, if you utilize the right marinades and dry rubs, you can make both cuts of meat equally delicious.

Yes, the cut and quality of meat will impact the overall flavor and texture, but the seasoning and preparation which you control will equally impact the final product. Experimenting with different types of salt, pepper, herbs, and spices can transform the most basic cut of meat into a mouthwatering dish that will impress your guests. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a tri-tip or picanha fan; as long as you use the best ingredients to create a flavorful and tender steak, you should always end up satisfied.

Nutritional comparison

While both steaks are lean cuts of meat, they have slightly different nutritional profiles. Picanha is higher in calories and fat due to its marbling, while tri-tip is lower in calories and fat because of how lean the cut is. Some cooks trim the fat before cooking picanha steak to make it healthy. Others add healthier grains, fruits, and vegetables to their meals to balance the fat. All in all, both cuts are high in protein and contain essential nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12.


While tri-tip and picanha are both savory cuts of beef that come from the sirloin portion of the cow, there still have significant differences between them. Ultimately, making a choice between the two will come down to your personal preference and recipe requirements. Just make sure you start with a good cut of beef from a butcher shop or online meat shop to ensure you get premium quality beef.

Now that you understand the distinction between the two feel free to take your pick. In the future, don’t be afraid to try new cuts and even play around with the ingredients.