How Much Picanha You Need Per Person + Expert Tips

Perfectly pink, tender, and flavorful, complete with a thick fat cap to round out every single slice. Yup, there’s nothing better than a picanha. 

Truly though, at every function I cook picanha for, it always seems to be the first meat that disappears!

That’s why it’s crucial to ensure you’re cooking enough picanha for every single guest, no matter the occasion.

Here’s exactly how much picanha you need to prepare per person and a handful of expert tips for serving picanha to any sized crowd.

The amount of picanha (or rump cap) you’ll need to prepare can vary extensively depending on the event and type of crowd you’re serving.

After all, you wouldn’t likely serve the same portions of meat to a sports club post-match celebration as you would to a grandma’s book group.

So, to cover all basis we’ve outlined exactly how much picanha you should prepare, whether it’s the main dish or if you’re planning to serve a smaller portion or with other meats or sides.

For the average adult, you should plan on preparing:

  • As the main dish: 1 pound of picanha in raw weight per person
  • As a smaller portion/or with 3+ sides: ½ pound of picanha in raw weight per person

The reason you should always prepare by raw weight is that meat naturally loses some of its weight over the cooking process.

Expert Tips When Cooking And Serving Picanha

Anyone who has cooked a picanha before will tell you it’s not a walk in the park. But, so long as you take the right precautions and don’t overcook it, picanha can very quickly become everyone’s newest favorite meat.

In my experience preparing, smoking, and serving picanha for events, there are a few things you just have to get right, including:

  • Cooking It Medium To Please Everyone
  • Resting Your Picanha Properly
  • Keeping It Warm Without Overcooking It
  • Slicing Your Picanha Properly

Here’s the play-by-play.

Cook Your Picanha To Medium Doneness To Please Everyone

Although it would be a sin to purposefully cook your Picanha to well done, cooking your Picanha to medium is overall the most accommodating.

Sure, there are some that would prefer it medium rare, and some that would prefer it medium-well done. 

But, if you cook your picanha to a clear medium temperature of 140-150°F internally you’re guaranteed to be serving soft, tender picanha that will please all doneness preferences.

Plus, if you’re cooking a picanha as a roast, when it comes to slicing it up there will be a nice range of meat doneness, from the outer edges being closer to medium-well, and the innermost parts being closer to medium-rare.

Pro Tip: ALWAYS use a reliable probe or thermometer to guarantee your internal temperatures.

Rest Your Picanha

Just like any other beef roast, picanha should be adequately rested before you begin slicing and serving.

Resting your picanha simply allows all the loose juices to settle and redistribute around the meat, leading to a lot less moisture loss when it comes to slicing time.

For an average-sized picanha roast, resting it for 30 minutes to an hour should be plenty of time. 

Simply wrap it in foil or butcher’s paper and set aside. Optionally, you can wrap it in a towel and place it in a cooler if you’re wanting to rest it and keep it warm for longer before serving.

Keeping Picanha Warm Without Overcooking It

Being a relatively lean cut of beef, overcooking a picanha can lead to a pretty dry and underwhelming result. 

Unlike when you’re resting a brisket or chuck roast, where any further cooking past its “done” point doesn’t lead to dry or overcooked meat, you do need to take extra care when keeping your picanha warm.

To ensure your picanha stays moist, juicy, and stays at your desired doneness, do not attempt to keep it warm in an oven, smoker, or grill.

Instead, the best way to keep picanha warm before serving it is to simply keep it wrapped in foil or butcher’s paper (and optionally a towel and in a cooler like the Faux Cambro method) until you’re ready to serve it. 

No exceptions!

Slice Your Picanha Correctly

If you’ve come this far to create a masterful picanha, you’re going to want to do it justice and slice it correctly.

Like when slicing all meats, against the grain is key. If you’re unsure which way the grain is running, take a small slice of the very end of your picanha and take a look at the fibers.

Picanha roasts will have all their muscle fibers running in a singular direction so once you’ve identified which way they are running, simply slice up the picanha into one-inch thick pieces going against the grain.

You’ll be left with the most beautiful pink, large slices with a finely rendered fat cap on every slice!

Seasoning Your Picanha

If you’re in the world of barbecue you’ll know just how ridiculous you can get with your rubs (in a good way).

But, in my experience picanha actually does best when it’s done with a very simple seasoning, letting the natural beefy flavor and thick fat cap shine.

A simple salt and pepper seasoning or applying a scarce pepper-based rub tend to have the best results on picanha.

Best Side Dishes For Picanha

Once you’ve organized the right amount of picanha for your guests, it’s time to finalize the rest of the menu.

Of course, it’s only right the picanha stays the centerpiece. Still, here are some sides that complement the picanha without trying to steal the show:

  • Potato Salad
  • Refried Beans
  • Rustic Potato Wedges
  • Roasted Garlic Cauliflower
  • Farofa (check out our favorite recipe)
  • Glazed Leaks
  • Fluffy Brazilian Rice

Quick Summary

Yes yes, I know. We all get extremely excited in anticipation of cooking picanha.

But, folks, the first rule is to ensure you’re preparing enough picanha so that every guest will be 100% satisfied.

Remember, as the main dish you’ll want to prepare 1 pound of raw picanha per person, and for a smaller portion or with 3+ sides you’ll want at least ½ pound of raw picanha per person.

If you’re cooking picanha for a large crowd, then be sure to cook it to medium doneness to please everyone, rest it properly, and slice it against the grain into 1-inch thick slices to serve.

Time to eat.

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