This Air Fryer Picanha Steak is juicy, tender and melt-in-your-mouth good. A simple salt rub enhances the deep savory flavor of the steak while the air fryer ensures the meat cooks up evenly and retains its moisture.

If you are looking for more Brazilian recipes you may like these Brazilian Pinto Beans, this recipe for Braised Chicken and Potatoes, or this Carne De Panela.

Piranha steak on a skewer with a lime.

Ask any Brazilian about their favorite cut of beef and chances are they will rave about picanha steak. This steak’s delectable combination of succulent fat cap and juicy, tender meat sets it apart. The fat renders during cooking, imparting a luscious flavor and moisture that makes each bite truly unforgettable. So if you’ve ever wondered ‘what is picanha’ now you know.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe For Brazilian Picanha

Simple: It really couldn’t be any easier to make this Air Fryer Steak Picanha.

Flavorful and juicy: This cut of beef has lots of fat which contributes to the flavor and helps the meat stay juicy and tender.

Only 2 ingredients: It can’t get any easier with only 2 ingredients needed to make this restaurant quality meal.


  • Picanha steak: Beef picanha is rich in fat which helps tenderize and flavor the meat. This cut is also known as rump cap or sirloin cap.
  • Rock salt: Rock salt is the best to use to add flavor and help tenderize the meat. Kosher salt is a good alternative.

Final Temperature

Medium-rare 130-135℉

Medium 140-145℉

Medium-well 150-155℉

Well-done 160-165℉

Picanha steak on skewers with salt and limes with a white and black dish towel.

How To Make

Step 1: Season the steak with rock salt on all sides, including the skin and fat. Cover and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Step 2: Determine how thick you want your steak so you can cut it so it cooks accordingly. Cut the Picanha with the grain. These picanha steaks are on the thin side and they turned out medium to medium-well done.

Step 3: Use skewers and fold each picanha steak into a “C”, piercing the two ends of the picanha together. Note this step is optional. No need to use the skewers if you prefer not to.

Step 4: Cook the picanha steak in the Air Fryer depending on how you prefer to eat your meat cooked whether it be medium, medium well, etc.

kitchen tools used to make this picanha steak recipe in air fryer

Meat Thermometer – is import to make sure the meat has cook to the appropriate temperature.

I have two Air Fryers that I use daily, the one photographed in here is a Cafe Couture Oven with Air Fry, which offers 14 Cooking modes. My backup Air Fryer is the Cuisinart Air Fryer + Convection Toaster Oven.

Skewers are OXO Good Grips Grilling Tools, Stainless Steel Grilling Skewers – Set of 6 which is optional for this recipe but wonderful to have for all your grill recipes.

Cooked picanha steak with limes and parsley on a baking sheet.

Tips and Variations

Invest in a meat thermometer. This is the best tool to make sure your meat is cooked. The meat should measure 145 degrees F for medium and 160 degrees F for well done.

Pat the meat dry. Use paper towel to make sure the picanha is dry before you apply the salt.

Let the meat rest. Once the steak is done cooking, let it rest for a few minutes before serving it.

Add some spice. If you want to modify the flavor you can add smoked paprika or any of your favorite spices to the salt or serve with a side of chimichurri.

Use the right salt. It is very important to use a thick coarse salt in this recipe. Table salt or sea salt will not give you the same results.


What kind of salt do Brazilian steakhouses use?

Brazilians use sal grosso or rock sea salt (best equivalent is Kosher salt) to season the meat. The grains of salt are knocked off before the meat is served.

What makes picanha so good?

The picanha comes from the very top of the cow’s rear and is covered in a thick layer of fat. That hunk of fat is exactly what makes this cut of beef so popular. The addition of rock salt adds a particular taste that makes your mouth water.

Why is Brazilian meat so salty?

In Brazil, churrasco is traditionally seasoned with rock salt and sometimes other spices, but the saltiness can be adjusted to suit personal tastes.

What do you eat picanha with?

Brazilians always eat picanha with Brazilian Pinto Beans which is served regularly on weekdays or Black Beans on weekends, homemade rice and a simple salad.

Make ahead and storage

Make ahead: Though you can make this steak picanha ahead of time you may find the flavor and texture are really the best when it is freshly cooked.

Storage: Leftover steak will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the air fryer or oven.


We highly recommend that you heavily salt the meat before cooking, it’s important to use rock salt. Refined table salt will most likely ruin your picanha.

Do not remove the fat before cooking, the fat will add flavor and moisture to the steak. You may remove it after cooking.

Allow the picanha to come to room temperature before cooking. When cooking cold meat, the muscles will contract and become tough and dry.

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air fryer picanha steak
5 from 1 vote

Air Fryer Picanha Steak

by Silvia Dunnirvine
This Air Fryer Picanha Steak is juicy, tender and melt in your mouth good. A simple salt rub enhances the deep savory flavor while the air fryer ensures the meat cooks up evenly and retains its moisture.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 people



  • 2 1/2 lb picanha steak
  • 1/4 cup rock salt


  • Season whole picanha steak with rock salt on both sides (skin and fat sides). Cover with foil or a kitchen towel and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Slice Picanha lengthwise (with the grain, see notes). Decide on how thick you want your steak based on how you like your meat done. My picanha steaks are on the thin side, they turned out medium to medium-well done.
  • If using skewers, fold each picanha steak into a "C" and pierce the two ends of the picanha together (see image)
  • Cook in Air Fryer at 450F degrees for 15-20 minutes depending on your preference.
    air fryer picanha steak


  • It’s important to use the right rock salt for best results. See link to the rock salt I used in the list of ingredients. 
  • It’s best to season the picanha with rock salt before slicing it otherwise the steak will be too salty. When you season the picanha generously over the skin and fat, and allow the picanha to sit at room temperature, the steak will taste perfectly seasoned and not salty.
  • It’s important to cut the steak with the grain, this video tutorial is very helpful.
  • Cut picanha steak 1/2 inch thicker for medium-rare doneness or cook for 15 minutes.  
  • Skewers are optional, most air fryer baskets won’t fit a skewer, mine happens to fit (see the exact air fryer I use linked in equipment list as well as the skewers. 


Calories: 590kcal | Protein: 57g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 173mg | Sodium: 7221mg | Potassium: 761mg | Vitamin A: 43IU | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Keyword: Air Fryer Picanha, Beef Picanha, Picanha Steak
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Brazilian
Like this? Leave a comment below!
Cooked picanha steak  on skewers with limes and parsley.

Hi! I’m Silvia.

My goal is to make cooking simple and enjoyable.

Garden in the Kitchen is full of easy and balanced recipes for busy families. Classics get a healthier twist with additions of veggies or alternative ingredients.

I hope my recipes will inspire you to cook more home meals and above all have fun in the kitchen!

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    1. Joe, you can find this information in the recipe card under instructions. Thanks for checking out my picanha recipe!