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Instant Pot Picadillo

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Instant Pot Picadillo is a Cuban recipe I grew up eating and is always on rotation in my house because it’s the most requested dish by my kids and it’s so easy to make.

Picadillo is the most requested dish by my kids and it's so easy to make. We love it served over brown rice (or cauliflower rice) with this quick cabbage slaw or a salad on the side.
Instant Pot Picadillo

I have recreated my stove top picadillo recipe for the slow cooker but many of you have been asking for me to convert this for the Instant Pot (pressure cooker) so I was happy to do so! This turned out great in the pressure cooker and only took 15 minutes not counting pressure time.

Helpful Tips

When converting from slow cooker to instant pot, the ingredients stay the same, the only thing that changes is you can saute in the same pot and the time is much quicker.

What To Serve With Picadillo

We love it served over brown rice (or cauliflower rice) with this quick cabbage slaw or a salad on the side. Leftovers are great to pack for lunches or I use the meat to a second meal for the week such as air-fryer picadillo empanadas, stuffed peppers, tacos, quesadillas and more! This also freezes well for make ahead-meals.

My family loves this beef version but I also make a Turkey Picadillo, if you prefer. You can also dice up potatoes to make Picadillo with potatoes, it’s delicious!

How To Make Picadillo in the Instant Pot

Instant Pot Picadillo

4.74 from 78 votes
Picadillo is the dish I make the most in my home. It's the most requested by my kids and it's so easy to make. Great over rice, in tacos and more!
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Cuban, Latin
Picadillo is the most requested dish by my kids and it's so easy to make. We love it served over brown rice (or cauliflower rice) with this quick cabbage slaw or a salad on the side.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Yield: 6 Servings
Serving Size: 1 /2 generous cup


  • 1-1/2  lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 large chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to mato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 4 oz 1/2 can tomato sauce (I like Goya)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp alcaparrado, capers or green olives would work too


  • Press saute button, when hot brown meat and season with salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into small pieces until no longer pink.
  • Add onion, garlic, tomato, salt, pepper and cilantro and stir 1 minute, add alcaparrado or olives and about 2 tbsp of the brine (the juice from the olives, this adds great flavor) cumin, and bay leaf. Add tomato sauce and 3 tablespoons of water and mix well. Cover and cook high pressure 15 minutes. Natural or quick release and enjoy!

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Serving: 1 /2 generous cup, Calories: 207 kcal, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Protein: 25 g, Fat: 8.5 g, Saturated Fat: 3.5 g, Cholesterol: 74 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g


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376 comments on “Instant Pot Picadillo”

  1. WOW!… Cant believe I waited and waited and waited to make this one. I skipped over this recipe soooo many times (FOOLISH GIRL I AM) or WAS because this one is going into heavy rotation from here on out. I guess I didnt think something so simple could produce so much flavor. Boy, was I wrong. Made it with Ground Turkey 93/7 and a mix of both Capers and Green olives. Served it with a baked Sweet Potato. Awesome Gina! Just Awesome! 🙂

    1. Erica- your review sounded so much like me so I gave this a whirl too. So, I made it yesterday in the IP. Really good. Thanks for the review! 🙂

  2. Has anyone ever made this using ground pork? I have made the beef version and love it but I have a couple of packages of ground pork and was wondering if that’d be a good substitute. Thanks!

  3. Hi, I want to try this recipe. It calls for 1.5 pounds of ground beef but it is typically sold on 1 pound packs. If I double the meat to 3 pounds, do I double everything else including the liquids?

    1. Hi Deepa…I’ve always made this recipe with at least 3lbs of ground mixed meat(beef, turkey, pork). The only items I’ve doubled were the spices and the veggies. The meat usually releases quite a bit of liquid, hence other comments regarding the “soupiness”., so, additional liquid is not really necessary. Just make sure you scrape ANY bits of meat that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Also, combine all of your ingredients..give everything in the pot a good mix. Good Luck!

  4. Big fan of this recipe. Easy to make, just prep the veggies before you brown the meat and it throw it all in.

  5. This has been on my “to try” list forever. I finally made it this weekend and can understand what all the fuss is about! The flavors are fantastic.

    I made it in the instant pot as written. I ended up making empanadas using your dough recipe, and the results were great. It is a bit liquidy right out of the instant pot, but I used a slotted spoon when filling them. Thanks for another good one, Gina!

  6. I just love this recipe. Have made it many times. Today I added fresh sliced mushrooms. Also a can of tomato paste to a can or so of water instead of the tomato sauce. A keeper! Many thanks!

    1. I buy Goya products at Fresh Value at 401 north of Islington. I just made this and used goya tomato paste. I used equal parts water and tomato paste as a substitute.

      1. If I’m going to add potatoes I will air fry them first or you can brown them first or just throw them in raw they will cook with the meat, and I only did five minutes of pressure after I browned the meat but I threw in a half a cup of water also.

      2. Hi Alex, You can cube your potatoes and either air-fry or the conventional way, with canola oil on the stove top. I do this right before I serve the picadillo and just throw some on top. They’re waaay better with some crunch and obviously not soggy like when cooked with the meat. Hope this helps!

  7. I love this everytime I make it. I usually leave out the red pepper because I don’t have it on hand, add extra olives, capers, and olive juice, leave out the salt and because I use canned diced tomatoes when they aren’t in season I don’t need the extra water. My husband raves about this dish and I always enjoy the leftovers. I have also “doubled” the recipe with 2lbs of meat, doubling the rest of the ingredients and it came out great!

  8. I just made this today as meal prep for my lunches, I only used one pound of ground beef but kept everything else the same. It’s so good! I used green olives for mine and am eating it with cauliflower rice to save on calories. I will definitely be making it again. Thank you for this recipe!

  9. I always make this on the stove top, and it is always amazing! I always double the red pepper, onion, and tomato sauce for extra flavor. Tonight, I used the instant pot, and it was incredible! Even more flavorful somehow! Love this recipe!! 

  10. Love love this recipe. Sometimes I add more of some ingredients based on what I have, it’s super forgiving. My 81 and 87 year old Puerto Rican grandparents came over for dinner and I served this over some instant pot Spanish rice, and they loved it. I think that’s a win! My husband (Minnesota boy) gets very very excited whenever I make this. 

  11. This was easy to make and good! I should have added raisins in it since I always enjoy raisins in picadillo but it’s still good without. I did add double the tomato sauce by accident. Oops! So it’s very tomatoey but that’s my fault. 🙂

    1. When do you add the potatoes? Diced potatoes are a must in my picadillo, but I have yet to find a recipe that includes them. Thanks!

  12. I don’t understand what you mean by “4oz 1/2 can” of tomato sauce — is it a 4 1/2-oz can of sauce, or half a can of sauce???

    1. Don’t know if you got the answer you needed or not, but the small can of tomato sauce is 8 oz.  You use half a can. 

    2. I agree, this is a very confusing way of putting it. If it weren’t for this comment, I would have done it wrong.