The Smokin' Elk's BBQ Wagyu Picanha

The Smokin' Elk's BBQ Wagyu Picanha

Wagyu Picanha is a luxurious cut of meat which, if cooked well, is incredibly tender and juicy. The Smokin' Elk shows how to cook wagyu beef to perfection with this simple BBQ recipe.

Every now and then, a special occasion calls for a special dinner. It's nice to push the boat out a little sometimes and buy an expensive cut of meat for a treat.

I don’t tend to eat out a lot so any money saved from eating out goes towards special food to eat indoors, cooked outdoors of course! But, if you’ve forked out a lot for that expensive piece of meat, the last thing you want to do is ruin it by overcooking it.

Trust me, I’ve been there and it's not something I want to do too often! That’s why it's important to cook to temperature and never time. By cooking to temperature, you take the guesswork out of cooking by using science instead. A Thermapen ONE will give you the exact temperature of your meat in just one second. 

What is wagyu picanha?

I consider picanha a treat, so a Japanese wagyu picanha really is an extra special treat! Picanha is a cut of beef that comes from the rump cap muscle and has a thick layer of fat on top of the steak.

Wagyu is a Japanese beef cattle breed, favoured for its extra intramuscular fat cells (otherwise known as marbling). It's this marbling that makes the meat so unique, keeping it juicy with a unique taste and texture. There are different grades of Wagyu, with Japanese A5 being the pinnacle.

  • Wagyu picanha
  • Salt
Elky used:
  • BlueDOT Thermometer
  • Thermapen ONE Thermometer
  • Kettle-style BBQ
How to cook wagyu picanha

I prefer my beef cooked to medium-rare. This means an internal temperature of around 55-57 °C. If you leave the meat on the heat for just a minute or so too long you can easily overcook it, which is why I like to monitor the temperatures using my BlueDOT thermometer and probe it with the Thermapen One.

You don’t want to take the meat off at 55 °C, however. You want to take it off before this as once you remove the meat from the heat to rest, it will continue to cook for a short period. This is known as carryover cooking. 

I took this Picanha up to 45 °C using my BlueDOT, then seared it until it reached 50 °C. I then let it rest until it came up to 57 °C for the perfect medium-rare. It was a bit on the rarer side but that suits me fine! 


Light your BBQ and dial in the temperature at around 150 °C. I’ve used my Kamado Joe for this cook but if you're using a kettle-style BBQ, you want to set up your BBQ for two-zone cooking. That’s charcoal on one side, leaving an indirect zone to cook the meat.

Score the fat on the picanha in a diamond pattern, then sprinkle on plenty of flaky sea salt. This is the only seasoning needed.

Insert your DOT probe into the thickest part of the meat, then add the meat to the BBQ, starting with the fat cap facing down towards the coals to start the fat rendering out. This gives you the best chance of soft fat with a crispy edge!


Once the fat is rendering nicely, move the steak to the indirect side of the BBQ, then cook until it reaches 45 °C on your DOT. Use your Thermapen to spot-check a few places to ensure it has come to temperature throughout. 

Remove the picanha and let it rest while you increase the temperature of your BBQ. Do this by opening all vents for maximum airflow.

Once the BBQ is nice and hot, add the picanha back in. Place it fat-side down for 30 seconds to a minute, then flip it and sear for 1-2 minutes until you have some nice caramelisation on there. 

Remove and rest for 15 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise until you hit a nice perfect medium-rare. Slice against the grain, serve and enjoy! 

Products to help you achieve perfection
"I'm Elky, also known as The Smokin' Elk. I absolutely love cooking to fire and the Thermapen helps me up my game by cooking to the perfect temperature, every time. It's the one BBQ tool I wouldn't be without!"
The Smokin' Elk
Fire Cooking Fanatic, BBQ School owner
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