Picadillo is a traditional Latin American dish that is quite flavorful and comforting. This tasty dish consists of ground meat cooked with tomatoes, onions, peppers, aromatic spices, and a sprinkling of olives and raisins. It’s an easy weeknight dinner to enjoy year-round.
Picadillo makes a great weeknight dinner, it’s protein packed, flavorful, and filling, and isn’t spicy, so your picky eater at the table should have no complaints. Beyond all else, this dish is comforting as can be, which is something I look for in my dinner recipes as we move into the cooler months of the year.
The flavors in the Picadillo definitely hit the spot with the savory, aromatic, and a little sweet. Bold spices enhance the flavor of the meat, pimento stuffed olives add a little a salty touch, and raisins add a sweet bite. All this flavor comes together in less than 45 minutes!
You’ll really love how easy Picadillo is to make. Simply cook the veggies and beef, stir in most the remaining ingredients, and let it slowly simmer to perfection. Once it’s just about done, add the raisins and olives and then, serve it with rice and beans or potatoes. It’s such a simple dinner that you’ll enjoy making time and time again!
What Is Picadillo?
Picadillo is almost like a flavorful and aromatic ground meat stew. This is a traditional dish to many Caribbean islands and Latin American countries with slight regional variations of ingredients and meats used.
This recipe starts with a sofrito, which is a combination of diced onion, peppers, and garlic that is slowly cooked until softened. Most common ground meat choices are beef, pork, turkey and sometimes a combination of those with chorizo and other ground meats.
For more flavor, add some tomatoes, aromatic herbs and seasoning, stock, and white wine vinegar. Often, Picadillo includes pimento stuffed olives, capers, raisins, or some combination of these. Sometimes, this meat stew includes chopped potatoes as well.
Cuban, Puerto Rican, and other regional Picadillo recipes vary by meat combination and spices more common to the local cuisine. But the overall dish is pretty similar, comforting, flavorful, and aromatic.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Oil – A neutral flavor cooking oil like canola or vegetable is what you’ll need.
- Yellow Onion
- Bell Pepper – you can use any color if you’d like, the flavor difference won’t be noticeable.
- Tomatoes – You can choose to peel them or to leave the skin on.
- Garlic – Use fresh garlic for the best flavor and aroma.
- Ground Beef – if you feel like it, use a combination of ground beef and ground pork. You can also swap the beef for ground turkey, just ground pork, or ground chicken. Please note the flavor of those meats will be different and they are leaner meats. If you wish, you can also add in some chorizo.
- Tomato Paste – use unflavored tomato paste.
- White Wine Vinegar – you can substitute with sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar, or apple cider vinegar if needed.
- Beef Stock – if available, use Homemade Beef Stock!
- Spices – A medley of bay leaves, cumin, coriander, sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Pimento Stuffed Olives
This is a pretty quick moving recipe, so make sure you prepare your ingredients ahead of time.
Dice the onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Mince the garlic. Measure the rest of the ingredients.
Cook the veggies.
Preheat a pan over medium low heat and add some oil. Cook the onions and peppers until softened.
Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Make a little well in the middle of the pan and add the garlic, cooking until fragrant. Mix it in.
Add the meat and remaining ingredients.
Push the veggies aside and add the meat to the pan. Break it up as you cook. Once it starts cooking, mix everything together.
Stir in the white wine vinegar, tomato paste, beef stock, bay leaves, and seasonings.
Cover the pan with a lid. Slowly simmer for about 30-40 minutes, stirring often.
Finish it off!
Stir in the raisins and olives. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Serve with the side of your choice, and enjoy!
How to Serve Picadillo
Traditionally, most serve Picadillo with rice.
For a more Cuban-style plating, you can serve it with rice and black beans.
If you choose to go the potato route, you can do the double starch, cook potatoes right in the Picadillo, and serve it with a side of rice.
If you don’t want rice at all, serve it with a side of mashed potatoes.
You can also make empanadas and use this meat mixture as a filling!
Make This Recipe Later
- 2-3 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 4-5 tomatoes on a vine
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 1.5 lb ground beef
- 3 oz tomato paste
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp coarse or sea salt to taste
- 1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives
- Prepare your ingredients ahead of time. Dice onions, peppers, and tomatoes, and mince the garlic. Measure the rest of the ingredients. You can leave the olives whole if they are small or cut them in half.(You can choose to peel the tomatoes or leave the skin on. To peel the tomatoes easily, you will need to make an x on the bottom of the tomato with a pairing knife, blanch them in boiling water for about 40 seconds, and quickly cool in an ice bath. After that, the skin will come off very easily.)
- Preheat a large cooking pan over medium to medium-low heat and add some oil and add diced onion and bell pepper. Slowly cook the vegetables for a few minutes, until softened.
- Add tomatoes and cook together a few more minutes. Make a little well in the middle of the vegetables and add garlic. Cook a few seconds until garlic is flagrant and mix it in.
- Push the veggies aside and add ground meat. Break it up and start to cook. Once the meat starts to cook, mix it all together.
- Add white wine vinegar, tomato paste, stock, bay leaves, and seasoning. Mix well, and lower the heat to low.
- Cover the pan with a lid and let it slowly simmer for about 30-40 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in raising and olives and cook another 5-10 minutes.
- Serve with rice, rice and beans, or potatoes.