Picadillo: Mexican-Style Recipe

Picadillo: Mexican-Style Recipe

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
409 Calories
24g Fat
25g Carbs
23g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 409
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 67mg 22%
Sodium 178mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 30mg 148%
Calcium 65mg 5%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 921mg 20%
*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 white or medium red onion, thinly sliced or chopped

  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

  • 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

  • 8 green olives, pitted and quartered, plus 2 tablespoons liquid from 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

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Ground black pepper, to taste

  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed, optional

  • 1/4 cup oil, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Picadillo: Mexican-Style Recipe ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Drizzle oil into a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat, until oil starts to shimmer. Add onions and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables start to soften. Move to one side of skillet.

    onions and jalapeños cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

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

    beef added to the onion mixture in a skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Break beef into smaller pieces and stir, combining meat with vegetables. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook for another 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef starts to brown.

    beef mixture cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

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

    garlic added to the beef mixture in a skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Add tomatoes, olives and juice, raisins, pepper, cumin, cloves, piloncillo or sugar and molasses, salt, and black pepper and decrease the heat to low; continue to cook for another 10 to 12 minutes.

    tomatoes, olives and juice, raisins, pepper, cumin, cloves, and piloncillo added to the beef mixture in the skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

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

    Picadillo: Mexican-Style in a skillet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma


  • 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.