Crock Pot Picadillo
Picadillo, a flavorful Cuban dish made with ground beef and a sauce made from simmering tomatoes, green olives, bell peppers, cumin, and spices is one of my family’s favorite weeknight meals. You can easily make this in the slow cooker or on the stove.
Trust me on this one, if you want a recipe the whole family will love, this is it! I grew up on this dish and my friends used to love eating over when my mom made it for dinner. This was probably one of the first recipes I ever learned how to cook and I make it at least once a month, although usually on the stove. (stove top version here) It’s inexpensive, kid-friendly, freezer friendly and gluten-free.
I knew this would adapt nicely for the slow cooker, and I was right! In fact, I think it’s even better since the lean beef cooks longer and becomes very tender the longer it simmers.
This makes a lot, so you’ll get several meals out of it. We serve it over brown rice, we make tacos with the leftovers, and I am going to post a second recipe using the leftovers. Don’t you love a recipe that can serve as two different meals!
Anytime you use ground beef in the crock pot, you’ll need to brown it first on the stove. Since the skillet is already out, I threw the onions, peppers and garlic in with the meat to let the flavors bloom.
If you want to prep this the night before, the meat is fully cooked, so you can add all the ingredients into the crock pot, then refrigerate. The next morning plug it in and go to work, or go on with your day. When you come home, you’ll just have to make some rice and a salad and dinner is ready!
By the way, lean beef is the meat of choice for this dish in my house, but you can also use lean bison or ground turkey if desired. Raisins are commonly added to this dish, but we prefer this without.
And since so many are asking, although I have and love my Instant Pot, I still love my slow cooker! I have the 6 Quart Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker (affil link). I love it because you can adjust the time you want it to cook, and it automatically turns to warm when it’s done. It also has a probe for meat that automatically shuts off when done. I hated my old crock pot, it burnt everything and my food had a weird taste. This slow cooker is so great, I actually own several!
Crock Pot Picadillo
- 2 1/2 lbs 93% lean ground beef
- 1 cup minced onion
- 1 cup diced red bell peppers
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro
- 1 small tomato, diced
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup alcaparrado, manzanilla olives, pimientos, capers or green olives
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 bay leaves
- kosher salt and fresh pepper, to taste
- Brown meat in a large deep skillet on medium-high heat; season with generously with salt and a little pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into small pieces.
- When meat is no longer pink, drain all the liquid from pan. Add the onions, garlic and bell peppers to the meat and cook an addition 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer the meat to the slow cooker, then add tomato, cilantro, tomato sauce, 1 1/4 cups water, alcaparrado (or olives) [I usually add some of the brine from the jar for added flavor] then add the spices.
- Set slow cooker to HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8.
- After it's ready, taste for salt and add more as needed [I added a little more cumin and garlic powder at the end as well since the crock pot tends to mute the flavors of herbs and spices].
- Discard the bay leaves and serve over brown rice.
- Makes about 5 3/4 cups.