Mexican Picadillo is classic meat and potatoes comfort food! I've upped the flavor factor of this humble combination of ground beef, carrots, and potatoes with a spunky tomato sauce that bursts with flavor. This simple and hearty ground beef picadillo recipe is one you'll want to make over and over again!
Mexican Picadillo Recipe
Like many Latin recipes, there are almost infinite varieties of Picadillo and every country and family has its own version! Confession time - I don't have a drop of Latin blood - but I have an almost insatiable appetite for this cuisine.
So after testing a number of recipes, this is my version! A Mexican Picadillo with potatoes that has amazing flavor, with just enough spice and the perfect texture.
Like my Turkey Picadillo, this easy Picadillo is made from pantry and fridge staples and my favorite answer to "what's for dinner?"
What is Picadillo Made of?
Picadillo is a Latin American hash or stew made of meat and vegetables.
Made with beef, pork, chicken and even seafood - this dish is very flexible! Although I used potatoes and carrots, you can also make it with peppers, winter squash and beans. Cuban Picadillo typically features olives, capers and raisins - reflecting the Spanish origins of this dish.
Although I love to experiment with different ingredients, I've kept the recipe very simple - but feel free to add additional ingredients! Picadillo is ALL about using what you have on hand!
Beef Picadillo Ingredients:
- Ground beef - I used lean ground beef (10% fat) but you can use higher fat ground beef as well.
- Potatoes - I recommend using a waxy potato like White Rose or Yukon Gold potatoes. Starchy potatoes like russets break down and become mushy.
- Salt - I add a minimal amount of salt to start and then adjust as needed.
- Beef Stock - use a low salt/low sodium stock. As stock reduces, the salty flavor intensifies.
- Canned Tomatoes - diced tomatoes have the best ratio of flesh to juice for the sauce.
- Serrano or Jalapeno chile - I'm not a fan of super spicy food, so I always start with ¼ to ½ of a seeded pepper and then add more if I want a spicier flavor.
- Capers* - these are optional but I really like the briny saltiness they add.
- Raisins* - also optional but that little touch of earthy sweetness brightens up the other flavors.
How to make this Beef Picadillo
- Puree the tomatoes, serrano pepper, onion, and garlic. This is the step that puts this picadillo recipe above many others I've tried! Pureeing these simple ingredients together makes a HUGE difference and makes this the best Mexican Picadillo recipe! A complete game-changer in my book! NOTE: Both Serrano's and Jalapeno's vary in heat! If you like a less spicy dish, remove the seeds from the peppers.
- Saute - heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the beef, onions, and garlic and cook for several minutes. Although there are onions in the sauce, I really like the texture and additional flavor the diced onions give the dish.
- Add the potatoes and carrots. TIP:-Cutting the carrots and potatoes into an even ½ inch dice helps them to cook evenly! There is no need to fully cook them during this step since they will finish cooking while the dish simmers.
- Add the tomato puree and stock - you won't need to cook this down since it will reduce while the recipe is simmering.
- Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender.
- Add the capers and raisins and garnish with cilantro if using!
What goes with Mexican Picadillo?
Just about anything! I love it in a bowl with a side of toasted corn tortillas. Here are some recipe suggestions to complete the meal!
- Tamarind Margarita - Sweet, sour and a little earthy!
- Pomelo Salad - a pomelo, grapefruit and mango combination that's sweet, tart and refreshing!
- Mexican Flan - a foolproof classic Mexican dessert!
Other Latin Recipes you don't want to miss!
- Guava Bars - the easiest bar cookie ever!
- Hot Dulce de Leche - if you love hot chocolate you HAVE to try this!
- The BEST Margarita! - Truly the best Margarita on the rocks recipe ever!
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 lb. lean ground meat
- 1 ½ cups white rose or yukon gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch dice about 2 potatoes
- ¾ cup carrots about 2 carrots
- 1½ cups onions diced
- 4 cloves garlic divided
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup low sodium beef stock
- 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 Serrano or jalapeno chili
- 2 Tbsp. capers
- 2 Tbsp. raisins
- 2 Tbsp. cilantro chopped
- Puree the tomatoes, ½ cup diced onion,chile and garlic. Set aside.
For the Picadillo:
- In a large skillet heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat.
- Add the meat, 1 cup diced onion and minced garlic and cook until the meat is no longer pink - about 3 - 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and carrots and stir to combine.
- Cook for another 3 - 5 minutes.
- Add the cumin and salt and stir to combine.
- Add in the tomato puree and beef stock and stir.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in the capers and raisins if using.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
- Ground beef - I used a lean ground beef (10% fat) but you can use a higher fat ground beef as well.
- Potatoes - I recommend using a waxy potato like White Rose or Yukon Gold potatoes. Starchy potatoes like russets break down and become mushy!
- Carrots and Potato Size: Cutting the carrots and potatoes into an even ½ inch dice helps them to cook evenly!
- Chile Peppers - Chile peppers definitely vary in heat! For a less spicy Picadillo, remove the seeds and membrane from the chile before pureeing it. If you are really spice sensitive, you can start with ½ or even ¼ of a pepper. After you've made the Picadillo, if it isn't spicy enough, add a little hot sauce until it's the right level of spicy!
- STORAGE: You can store the Picadillo in the refrigerator for up to two days after cooking. You can re heat the Picadillo on the stove in a skillet or saucepan or in the microwave.
- FREEZING: Picadillo freezes really well. Place in a freezer safe container and store for up to 3 months. To defrost, place in the refrigerator and allow to thaw overnight. To reheat, follow the directions outlined above.