Mexican Picadillo Recipe

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Made from ground beef, potatoes, and veggies gently simmered in a deliciously seasoned tomato sauce, picadillo is a classic Latin American dish that’s perfect when you’re in the mood for a richly flavored, hearty dish. Also popular in the Philippines, picadillo is super easy to make and even easier to customize.

This tasty picadillo recipe is the Mexican version, traditionally served with rice and tortillas, although in other countries, it’s typically enjoyed with beans, fried plantains, or used as a filling for empanadas or pasteles. However you choose to make it, you’re sure to fall in love with this flavorful, hearty dish!

What is Picadillo?

Pronounced “pik-uh-dil-oh”, picadillo is a traditional Latin American made from ground beef and potatoes cooked in tomato sauce. Other ingredients like onion, bell peppers, and sometimes carrots, peas, olives, and squash are sometimes added. Versions of picadillo are found in Mexico, Cuba, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

The name comes from the Spanish word picar which means “to mince”, a reference to the minced beef in the recipe.

How to Make Picadillo

It’s incredibly easy to make homemade picadillo – it only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, making this wonderful meal a great option for a quick weeknight dinner. Start by sauteing the beef over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Don’t forget to break up bigger chunks of beef with your spatula. Once cooked, pour out the fat. Mix the onion, bell pepper, and potatoes into the beef, and cook until the veggies soften. Mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant.

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Next, add the broth and tomato sauces to the beef mixture. Stir in the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Bring everything to a simmer. Pop the lid on the skillet and cook the picadillo for 10 minutes. Take off the lid and cook it for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Serve your picadillo hot with rice and warmed tortillas, and enjoy!


Tips for Making the Best Mexican Picadillo

Use lean ground beef. About 10 percent fat is ideal. If you prefer to use 80/20 ground beef, make sure to pour off most of the fat that renders off the beef.

For extra flavor, garnish your picadillo with fresh chopped cilantro.

Serve your picadillo with rice, Mexican rice, and warmed tortillas. For a low-carb option, you can use cauliflower rice instead.

Picadillo Variations

You can use fresh tomatoes instead of tomato sauce – a great option when tomatoes are in season.

Feel free to add more veggies to your picadillo. Peas, carrots, squash, capers, sweet potato, and celery are excellent choices.

If you like spice, add cayenne pepper, jalapenos, or serrano chilies to your picadillo. Poblano peppers will give a more mild spiciness to the dish.

Picadillo is a classic Latin American dish, and different countries have their own delicious versions. Puerto Rican and Cuban picadillo have sofrito and olives added to the recipe. Some versions add raisins for a bit of sweetness.

For extra flavor, cook the beef in red wine.

Instead of beef, you can use pork, ground chicken, turkey, or even a vegetarian meat substitute to make a vegetarian picadillo!

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How to Store Picadillo

Keep your picadillo in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Reheat it on the stovetop until warm.

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Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the ground beef until browned, breaking up any large chunks. Pour out some of the grease.

Stir in onion.

Add bell pepper.

Add potatoes. Cook for several minutes, until onions and peppers soften.

Stir in the garlic and cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant.

Stir tomato sauce.

Pour in beef broth, then mix in the cumin, coriander, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.

Bring to a simmer, place the lid on the skillet, and cook for 10 minutes.

Take the lid off and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Serve picadillo with rice and enjoy!


You can use low-sodium beef broth if you want a less salty picadillo.