Picadillo: Mexican-Style Recipe

Melanie Acevedo/Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
298 Calories
12g Fat
23g Carbs
26g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 298
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 67mg 22%
Sodium 648mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 26g
Calcium 106mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Picadillo (pee-cah-DEE-yo) combines ground or finely chopped beef with vegetables (and sometimes fruit) for a versatile stew enjoyed throughout Latin America. Depending on the region and people´s personal customs, picadillo serves as a main dish, often accompanied by rice and beans, or as a filling for empanadas, chiles rellenos, tamales, tacos, stuffed potatoes, and more. Start with a basic recipe that you can customize to your taste with seemingly endless serving suggestions and variations.


  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion (white or purple, thinly sliced or chopped)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers (seeded and diced)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic (peeled and diced)
  • 4 medium tomatoes (seeded and diced)
  • 8 green olives (pitted and quartered)
  • 2 tablespoon liquid from olive jar
  • 1/4 cup raisins (softened by soaking in warm water for 20 minutes)
  • 1 poblano chili or green bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 small cone piloncillo or 1 teaspoon brown sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon molasses
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 potatoes (peeled and cubed) plus 1/4 cup oil

Steps to Make It

  1. Drizzle the oil into a large skillet and heat it over medium-high until the oil starts to shimmer.

  2. Add the onions and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. Move them to one side of the skillet.

  3. Put the ground beef in the cleared area of the skillet and use a spatula to separate it into a few large chunks. Let it cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes.

  4. Break the beef into smaller pieces and toss them around in the pan, combining the meat with the vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook for another 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beef starts to brown but some pink remains.

  5. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

  6. Add the remaining ingredients and decrease the heat to low; continue to cook for another 10 to 12 minutes or until the tomatoes and onions begin to fall apart and combine with the other ingredients.

  7. Optional: Fry the potatoes in the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet, flipping occasionally until the potatoes turn evenly brown. Drain the potatoes on paper towels or brown paper, then fold them into the beef mixture.


  • Serve picadillo as a main dish with rice and beans or mashed potatoes.
  • Fold a spoonful of picadillo into a hot corn tortilla for an instant (and delicious) taco.
  • Stuff chiles rellenos with picadillo.
  • Top a tostada with a spoonful of picadillo and a little cream or crumbled cheese.
  • Use picadillo as the filling for savory empanadas.
  • Serve picadillo over spaghetti or toss it with a smaller shaped pasta such as orecchiette or cavatappi.
  • Use picadillo as the filling for a pot pie or the base for a shepherd’s pie.
  • Picadillo leftovers make delicious mix-ins for scrambled eggs or macaroni and cheese.

Recipe Variations

  • Use ground pork instead of ground beef, or half pork and half beef.
  • Add more vegetables, either to make it healthier or to stretch it to feed more people. Try diced carrots, green peas, chopped green beans, or corn kernels.
  • Use canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh.
  • Add a little dried oregano to your picadillo at the same time as (or instead of) the cumin.
  • Stir in some finely chopped fresh Italian parsley right before serving for a fresh green flavor note.
  • Cook the cubed potatoes in with the rest of the ingredients instead of frying them first.
  • Use dried cranberries instead of raisins for a tart accent flavor.