There’s nothing like the sizzle of a good steak on the grill. No matter what type of fire you’re using, the flames provide the perfect counterpoint to the natural sweetness of the beef.
While many steaks are well-suited for grilling, lean cuts are usually the favored choice. Here, we’ll teach you how to grill sirloin cap steak like a seasoned pro—even if this is your first time.
A Primer on Sirloin Cap Steak
If you’ve ever ordered a coulotte steak in a restaurant, congratulations—you’ve already had a sirloin cap steak, even if you didn’t know it. The two terms are interchangeable. Both refer to the flat triangular muscle just above the top sirloin.
Another name for the coulotte or sirloin cap steak is picanha, a term that’s found on the menus at Brazilian steakhouses (also known as churrascarias. In these cases, the meat is placed on skewers before it’s grilled, sliced, and served to customers. If you’ve only had picanha under these circumstances, you may not recognize the cut when you first encounter it in its raw form.
The sirloin cap can either be prepared whole or trimmed into narrower steaks. You’re more likely to find the smaller version, but both are set at an affordable price point, making them appealing to budget shoppers.
If you opt to purchase the sirloin cap roast whole and trim it into steaks yourself, you’ll see that there’s a generous layer of fat covering the top. You can trim as much of this as you like, but we would recommend leaving a thin membrane along the edges to ensure that the cooked steaks are as juicy as possible.
Sirloin cap steaks are both tender and flavorful—an enviable combination that’s difficult to come by. Grilling enthusiasts boast that it combines the texture of a sirloin with the juiciness of a ribeye. Because it’s lean and cooks quickly, it’s a great choice for kebabs and stir-fries, as well as steak sandwiches. Though we highly recommend the recipe we’ve included below, you should feel free to experiment with this versatile cut as often as you like.
Some less knowledgeable butchers might confuse the sirloin cap with the popular tri-tip cut. Seasoned professionals, however, should be able to tell the difference easily. For more details about how these cuts differ from one another, take a look at this video tutorial.
Tips On How To Grill Sirloin Cap Steak
- For steaks measuring 3/4 inch and thicker, grill the meat quickly over high heat. The flesh is lean with very little marbling, which means that it can dry out quickly if overcooked. If your grill is equipped with a searing station, we would recommend using it for this cut.
- Thinner cuts of 1/2 to 3/4 inch should also be seared quickly, but use a lower heat setting to prevent the center from drying out.
- Scoring the fat cap before placing the steak on the grill will allow the fat to melt into the meat during cooking.
- Be careful not to overcook the meat. Because it’s so lean, the flesh will be dry and tough when cooked past temperatures of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don’t be afraid to season the steak with a spicy dry rub, as we’ve recommended in our recipe below. Unlike lean cuts such as tenderloin, the flavor of the meat is robust enough to stand up to the zesty spices.
- For best results, use a dual-zone fire to cook the steaks. To do this, you’ll need to build a charcoal fire that’s hot on one side and medium on the other. Gas grills make the process easier, but it can be done with charcoal-fired units too. Simply stack the coals on just one side of the reservoir, leaving the other one free to create an indirect heat zone. This side will still be hot, but it won’t sear the meat the way the hot zone will.
- If none of your local markets carry sirloin cap steak, talk to your butcher. He or she should be able to procure the cut for you. If you haven’t already sparked up a friendly relationship with the butchers in your area, now is the perfect time to do so!
Grilled Sirloin Cap Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
The bright herb flavors of the chimichurri help to cut the richness of the red meat. Use any leftover sauce to jazz up your next batch of scrambled eggs, or mix it with mayonnaise for an unforgettable sandwich spread.
4 sirloin cap steaks, each measuring about 1 inch thick (about 2 pounds)
For the chimichurri sauce:
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (or substitute 1 tablespoon dried)
- 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For the seasoning rub:
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Make the chimichurri sauce. In a medium nonreactive bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the olive oil until well blended. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow steady stream until the mixture thickens. Set aside at room temperature until the steaks are ready to be served.
2. Make the seasoning rub. In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
3. Trim as much excess fat as you wish from the steaks, then use the same knife to score the remaining fat.
4. Season the steaks with the prepared rub, pressing so that the spices adhere to the meat. Set aside at room temperature for one hour.
5. Prepare a hot fire on one side of a charcoal grill, leaving the other side free of coals to create two heat zones. Alternatively, turn the burners on one side of a gas grill to high, with the remaining side set to medium.
6. Grill the steaks over high heat for 4 minutes, flipping them with tongs halfway through the process. A deep brown crust should form on the surface.
7. Carefully transfer the steak to the medium-hot side and grill for another 8-10 minutes total, again flipping them halfway through the cooking time.
8. Insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the center portion of the steak. When the temperature reads 135 degrees Fahrenheit, the steaks are medium-rare. If you prefer medium, leave the steaks on the grill for an additional 1-2 minutes per side, or until the thermometer reads 145 degrees.
9. Remove the steaks from the grill and transfer to a serving platter. Tent with aluminum foil.
10. Let the steaks rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing the meat across the grain and topping the slices with the chimichurri sauce. Serve at once.
If you want a flavorful steak that cooks quickly, the sirloin cap steak could be just the ticket. While it isn’t as well-marbled as a ribeye, it’s juicy enough to satisfy the tastes of any die-hard meat lover.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!