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What Is Coulotte Steak? Plus How to Cook It Right

Coulotte steak

If you’ve ever had a steak that was like beef chicharron on one side (crackly, melt-in-your-mouth fat) and decadent, tender steak on other, you may have stumbled across coulotte Steak.

What is coulotte steak?

Coulotte Steak is cut from the top most part of the sirloin and is loved for its flavor and contrast: fat along one edge, tender steak on the other. Marbled and lean, coulotte is also called sirloin cap and is the same cut as Brazil’s famous picanha steak — just with a little less fat.

Its tenderness comes from being surrounded by a thick fat cap and its thorough marbling. You can get coulotte steak with or without the fat layer. It is also common to see coulotte roasts, which you can then slice into 3-4 separate steaks.

Because this muscle isn’t used as frequently during the cow’s life, it has less connective tissue and takes nicely to high-heat cooking.

Why is coulotte steak worth buying?

Coulotte steaks are considered the best cut from the top sirloin, and for good reasons:

  1. Coulotte steaks are tender and versatile: Coulotte works well for grilling, stovetop, oven, and sous vide. You can trim the fat and cook coulotte just like any other high-heat, tender steak, or keep the fat layer. Keeping the fat may require a little more work (e.g. rendering the fat by cooking it on its side), but the results are amazing.
  2. Coulotte steaks are less expensive than comparable boneless cuts: Coulotte isn’t as cheap as flank steak or round steaks, but you get a lot of bang for your buck when compared to similarly tender and flavorful cuts.

How to cook beef coulotte steak

Your options depend on what you pick up, and how you prepare it.

For whole roasts, you can cut them into steaks before or after cooking. Before yields crustier steaks. After yields smoother and more tender ones.

If you have a coulotte steak that is closer to picanha (has that thick layer of fat), then you could do any one or combination of the methods below but spend a little more time searing the fat on the edge to render it before cooking the rest of the steak.

If you have a lean coulotte steak or choose to trim the fat, then any of these methods will work just like any other tender cut.

1. In the oven

Get up to temp and then broil is the name of the game.

  • Turn on oven and set to 400º.
  • Remove any silver skin or connective tissue.
  • Cross-hatch the fat (if applicable).
  • Get a cast iron up to medium-high.
  • Rub in desired spice blend.
  • Sear approximately 1 minute on each side until crust forms.
  • Cook in oven until meat reaches around 105º (12-15 minutes).
  • Crank oven to broil.
  • Remove 5º below temp.
  • Let rest 5 minutes.
  • Cut thinly against the grain.

2. On the stovetop

  • Remove any silver skin or connective tissue.
  • Cross-hatch the fat (if applicable).
  • Get a cast iron up to medium.
  • Rub in desired spice blend.
  • Place the skillet fat-edge down for 4-5 minutes until golden brown.
  • Crank pan to high heat.
  • Cook 2-3 minutes on each side to desired temp.
  • Let rest 5 minutes.
  • Top with chimichurri or eat as is.

3. On the grill

  • Remove any silver skin or connective tissue.
  • Cross-hatch the fat (if applicable).
  • Get grill to 400º.
  • Rub in sofrito or desired spice blend.
  • Sear steaks in hot zone.
  • Reduce heat or move to colder zone and cook to 5 degrees from desired temp.
  • Let rest for at least 5 minutes.
  • Cut against the grain in thin slices if not skewered.

Don’t be afraid to combine methods

Using a sous vide before you sear means you can render the fat slowly and then finish by adding a seared crust.

You can do something similar but finish on the grill to pick up a bit more smoke flavor.

You can also get experimental with how you approach the fat on the edge of your coulotte.

For example, some chefs bury the fat in a sugar and spice blend during a home dry-age before sous viding at a low temp. Then they sear the fat to lock in a sugary chicharron-style finish before cooking the steak on high heat like normal.

Coulotte steak recipes

Here are a few specific recipes to get things started:

1. Pan-seared coulotte steak with herbed butter sauce

This is your classic steak recipe (and not in a bad way). Crowd Cow does a great job showing you how to execute the basics, from getting a good crust to when to baste. And when you have a good steak, that’s all you need.

2. Grilled coulotte steak

If you’re in a grilling mood, use this recipe from The Anthony Kitchen. You also get a great breakdown of cutting down a whole roast into individual steaks, which can apply to any of these other recipes as well.

3. Brazilian picanha steak

For skewered picanha just like the Brazilians do it, use this recipe from The Spruce Eats. They have some of the best, most well-researched articles today, and this breakdown of how Brazilians cook their picanha is no different.

4. Red-eye rubbed coulotte roast

For something a little more bold, try this coffee-rubbed coulotte recipe from Beef Loving Texans. This would also be a fantastic spice blend for a braise or stew.

5. Picanha steak sandwich

This recipe from Grill Nation BBQ shows you how to take advantage of coulotte’s tenderness by putting it in a delicious sandwich. You don’t have to take the Brazilian route either, coulotte is great in any steak sandwich.

Where to buy coulotte steak

You can buy coulotte steak pre-trimmed, as a roast, and/or with the cap on. The best choice depends on the deal and your plans, but they are all great ways to enjoy this cut.

For the best results, buy premium, grass-fed beef that exclusively uses grass. This guarantees the best taste and nutrition, and it’s better for farmers and the environment.

Coulotte steak FAQ

Is a coulotte steak from a tri tip?

Nope! Coulotte is from the topmost part of the sirloin, whereas tri-tip is from the bottom. Different sides of the same coin.

Is coulotte steak the same as top sirloin?

Not quite. Coulotte steaks are often called the sirloin cap steaks, but coulotte steaks are cut from the muscle right above the top sirloin.

What’s the difference between picanha and coulotte steak?

They’re cut from the same muscle, but picanha steaks preserve the thick layer of fat, whereas coulotte steaks more commonly trim the fat.

Is coulotte steak good for grilling?

Absolutely. It’s one of Brazil’s favorite meats to grill.

The bottom line

Coulotte steaks are a Brazilian staple for a reason. They are incredibly tender and bursting with flavor — plus the layer characteristic layer of fat gives you texture and taste options few other cuts offer.

We’re big fans of this cut, and if you’re ready to give one a shot, U.S. Wellness Meats has the best, grass-fed and grass-finished premium steaks on the market, including beef coulotte steak. All our cuts come from cattle raised on the best grass in the world, and once you try this meat this good you’ll never go back, I promise.


Nathan PhelpsNathan Phelps

Nathan Phelps owns and writes for Crafted Copy, a boutique copywriting shop that finds the perfect words for interesting products. He is also an ethical foodie, outdoors-aficionado, and hails from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.