Crock Pot Picadillo is a flavorful Cuban dish made with ground beef and a sauce made from simmering tomatoes, green olives, bell peppers, cumin, and spices.
Picadillo is a dish I grew up on and my friends loved eating over whenever my mom made it for dinner. It was probably one of the first recipes I ever learned how to cook and I make it at least once a month, although I usually make this stove-top version. Since so many of you are always asking me for slow cooker recipes, I adapted it and it worked out great. A delicious way to use up ground beef, and if you need more ideas check out my other ground beef recipes.
I knew this would adapt nicely for the slow cooker. In fact, I think it’s even better since the lean beef cooks longer and becomes very tender the longer it simmers. It’s a great recipe to prep-ahead then turn on in the morning when you know you will have a long day ahead. And if you have a pressure cooker, you can also try my Instant Pot Picadillo version.
This makes a lot, so you’ll get several meals out of it. We serve it over rice the first night, then make tacos, empanadas, stuffed peppers, or quesadillas with 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 also saute 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.
- Freeze leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months, or refrigerate up to 5 days.
Can You Freeze Picadillo?
Absolutely! To freeze, let it cool then transfer to freezer safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months. You can reheat in the microwave or thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove.
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!
More Slow Cooker Recipes You Will Love!
- Slow Cooker Santa Fe Chicken
- Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili
- Slow Cooker Harrisa Chicken
- Crock Pot Sesame Honey Chicken
- Crock Pot Maple Dijon Chicken
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.
Last Step:Please leave a rating and comment letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business to thrive and continue providing free, high-quality recipes for you.
Photo credit: Erin Alvarez
522 comments on “Crock Pot Picadillo”
I’ve been making your picadillo for YEARS now and I am OBSESSED!! I don’t know how some comments say it’s bland!! It’s sooo flavorful and delish every single time I make it, I gotta wonder if they’re leaving something out!! Your recipes are LIFE! Thank you!
Thank you!! The slow cooker does make things a bit blander, I prefer it on the stove.
This dish is delicious. It has a very broad flavor profile which I think makes it even better. I used capers instead of olives and it was delightful. Thank you, I will make this again!
This was not my favorite. I ended up putting the meat into spaghetti sauce (minus olives) because I didn’t want it to go to waste.
I don’t see the Brine in this recipe! Could You Verify? Thanks in advance, Gina!
Hey Tonja! Step 3- 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. 🙂
I’ve been referring to this recipe for years, i love it so much! It’s easy, delicious, and all of my kids LOVE it too! A win all around!
Thanks Lilly! It is a favorite in our house too!
I like that this recipe is light and lean but I do agree that it is bland. I followed the recipe except to add carrots and celery for added veg, and my olives did not have brine so I missed out on that bit of flavour. I would consider maybe adding tomato paste with the tomato sauce (assuming this is passata as in Australia we call ketchup tomato sauce 😊) and chilli flakes.
It’s def so much better in the skillet! The slow cooker mutes some of the flavor, but the olive brine is a must here!
Really great recipe.. Thanks! I am a fan of spice so I used Mexican tomato sauce.
How much garlic powder and cumin do you add at the end?
I made this today and I’m glad I did – It’s very tasty. I put olives marinated in smoked paprika in the crock pot. They were so good and not as strong as regular green olives, which was perfect for me.
I made this recipe tonight. It was delicious. I added in extra garlic powder and cumin at the end as suggested in the recipe. I browned the meat and veggies first then cooked it on low for 5 hours. Very flavorful. I served it over Trader Joe’s stir fry cauliflower rice.
I tripled the spices and used beef broth instead of water and still found this recipe to be very bland. Also, doubles the amount of capers plus pimentos too. I really wanted to like it, but was lacking flavor. Other recipes by Skinny taste have been great!
Could not agree more. I was so disappointed in how bland this was and I did pretty much exact same as you. I had to put so much salt and red pepper flakes on while eating just to taste anything. Big disappointment.
I froze this and now wonder if I can heat it up on the stove as you said above, or shouldn’t I put it in the crock pot now (since I never did that part?). I’m new to this freezer meal stuff… TIA!
Wasn’t sure about this but I had most of the ingredients without a trip to the store (Yay).
I used capers, no raisins, 1# Hamburg/1# gr Turkey and only had a green pepper on hand.
It was delicious and super easy!
I’ll do this again for sure!
I bought a multifunction Cuisinart slow cooker. Can brown and slow cook in same place. Saves extra mess.
I replaced the ground beef with veggie crumbles for meatless Monday. Cooked it in the instant pot! Turned out great!
Question: I’m going to use ground turkey…can I avoid the browning step, and treat as a “dump” recipe, like your “Tex Mex Turkey Tacos” from “One And Done”?
This is my all time favorite Skinnytaste recipe! It’s so flavorful! Your recommendation for the additional garlic and cumin at the end makes it perfect. I like to serve it over basmati rice. It makes enough to have leftovers which we love in our house. I’m making your instapot refried beans later this week and plan to spoon some picadillo over the top of the beans for another hearty meal.
I made this with ground turkey. We thought it was good but a little bland. I will make again but may double the spices. Served over brown rice.
Just made this for the first time and it’s definitely a keeper. I used ground turkey because it’s what I had. I LOVE olives so I doubled them. The ones I used were stuffed with jalapeños and garlic and added a nice flavor. And I didn’t have tomato sauce so I used tomato juice. It wasn’t quite as thick but still very tasty and we will be making again!
Can you make this stovetop
Yes. 🙂 https://www.skinnytaste.com/picadillo-6-ww-pts/
My husband and I make this all the time. It’s definitely a frequent in our rotation. We use the capers and I add some beef broth (just our preference) and it’s always a hit!
My family loves it. I actually triple her spices and add oregano. I also put more olives and brine in my recipe. I’ve been making this one for a couple of years.
Used capers instead of olives, and this recipe is a total winner!