Cuban Picadillo

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Cuban Picadillo recipe is my family’s favorite! It’s really quick and easy to make, a delicious recipe for ground beef.

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.Cuban Picadillo

Growing up, this was one of my favorite dishes to eat that my Mom made all the time. She learned it from a Cuban friend who was more like a grandma to me. My friends loved eating over on the nights my mom had this on the menu. I have so many different versions of this recipe on my blog, like this Slow Cooker PicadilloInstant Pot Picadillo, and Turkey Picadillo when I want a lighter meal. It really is a favorite!


How to Serve Picadillo

I make picadillo a few times a month and make enough so we have leftovers. It’s perfect for meal prep because it’s so quick and easy to make. Plus, there are so many great ways to eat the leftovers that you won’t get tired of eating the same meal all week. Below are some of my favorites, but leave a comment if you come up with another way to serve it!

You can refrigerate the leftovers for four days or freeze it for up to six months.


  • If you’re not a fan of cilantro, omit it.
  • Swap ground beef for ground turkey or chicken.
  • Use capers if you don’t like green olives.
  • Add some diced potato.
  • Add raisins to make it more traditional.

picadillo quesadillas

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Cuban Picadillo

4.81 from 71 votes
This Cuban Picadillo recipe is my family's favorite! It's really quick and easy to make, I make it a few times a month and make enough so we have leftovers!
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: 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: 25 mins
Total: 35 mins
Yield: 6 Servings
Serving Size: 1 /2 cup


  • 1/2 large chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1/2 pepper finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 1-1/2 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 4 oz tomato sauce 1/2 can
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp pitted green olives or alcaparrado capers would work too


  • Brown meat on high heat in large sauté pan and season with salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into small pieces. When meat is no longer pink, drain all juice from pan.
  • Meanwhile, while meat is cooking, chop onion, garlic, pepper, tomato and cilantro.
  • Add to the meat and continue cooking on a low heat. Add olives or alcaparrado and about 2 to 4 tbsp of the brine (the juice from the olives, this adds great flavor) cumin, bay leaf, and more salt if needed. Add tomato sauce and 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Reduce heat and simmer covered about 20 minutes.

Last Step:

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You can refrigerate the leftover picadillo for four days or freeze it for up to six months.


Serving: 1 /2 cup, Calories: 207 kcal, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Protein: 25 g, Fat: 8.5 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 74 mg, Sodium: 477 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g


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382 comments on “Cuban Picadillo”

  1. Avatar photo
    Leslie Sanders

    Delicious! As mentioned can be used in numerous recipes. It is also delicious served with rice or a lettuce wrap.

  2. So sorry to say, but I was disappointed in this. Maybe I made it wrong? I’m not used to making this kind of dish so I’m not sure how it should taste. But if I may, could you give a suggestion for the amount and brand you use for the “2 tbsp alcaparrado” direction? The alcaparrado I bought was the GOYA brand and I just put in about half the jar since no amount was given. I found out upon eating it that ALL THE OLIVES IN THE JAR HAD PITS. I was not happy. I had to pick them all out and throw away the a bunch of food. I’m not blaming you for that mishap obviously, but is it normal for alcaparrado to have pits in it? I’m just very confused by this particular recipe. 

  3. Avatar photo
    Laurie Ann Natal

    This is one of our absolute family favorites. There are no leftovers to make other recipes 🙂

  4. This is so delicious!  It’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before!  I used capers and green olives and probably double what the recipe called for. I used more brine, too.  I made a double batch so I could freeze half for an easy meal some night.  Thanks for another winner, Gina!

  5. Made this tonight along with your Quick Slaw. Delicious!  My husband and son ate it with tortillas. Leftovers?  Nope. Thanks for your recipes!  You have kept me sane during this pandemic for sure. 

  6. Love this recipe, have made it several times. Today I served with cilantro lime rice on the side and sliced avacados. Yummy!

  7. I really love this. I mainly use it to make tacos, with cheddar cheese and pickled onions. I have made it many times and it will stay in my rotation forever!

  8. I cooked this the for the second time; the first time was good but now the second time it came with a high acidity taste; not sure it it’s because I added more olives or the kind of tomate sauce I used 🙁 

    1. Update: Oh I think it’s because I used the entire can of tomato sauce, was it half can?! It’s not clear 

  9. Avatar photo
    Cheryl Kay Kincannon

    Two tablespoons of olives, capers…or alcaparrado would not make your dish look like any of the pictures you post.  I use quite a bit more green olives sliced or chopped and capers…many…and my dish looks like your pics.  

  10. This is a fabulous, quick dinner to make. The flavors meld together perfectly. It is great w/ some beans and rice. Definitely will be adding to my rotation of go to recipes for busy times.