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. Just made this. It tastes great. Question – it the dish supposed to be “wet”? I would have thought the liquid would have evaporated when I let it simmer for 20 minutes but it didn’t. Did I do something incorrect? Thanks.

  2. I made this today using ground turkey. I absolutely love this recipe! Made it just as written but added a bit of crushed red pepper flakes! This has been a favorite of mine for years when we go for Cuban food! I’ll definitely make this again!

  3. This was so delicious and super easy!!
    I omitted cilantro and added a bit of diced cooked potato. Served with yellow rice for non dieters and cauliflower rice for dieters. Everyone loved it

    1. how much capers does this recipe call for? and when do we add the potatoes if we choose to add it? steps? thank you.

  4. Is the cilantro supposed to be cooked with the recipe, or added fresh on top? The picture indicates its fresh, but the recipes indicates it should be cooked?

  5. Really tasty and easy! Followed the recipe but swapped petite diced tomatoes with their juice, almost a full can, instead of the tomato and the sauce because I didn’t have them. Fantastic!

  6. So good and fantastic as leftovers! I’ve made quesadillas with the leftovers and this morning I scrambled eggs right in with them (like I sometimes do with chorizo). 

  7. I pulled the last of this out of the freezer for tonight and am planning to cook a batch of this next week. I like the idea of the baking soda, I’ll try it! I am not an olive or a capers person, but the last time I made this, I added some diced pepperoncini. It probably was not the same effect, but it gave it a nice twist, we really liked it, thanks for a great recipe! 

  8. This was sooooooo good! I can’t wait to try it in a quesadillas. Thank you so much for all the mean plans and amazing recipes.

  9. Great recipe! It is much better cooked on the stove as opposed to a slow cooker. For tender ground beef I mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with the beef, massage it in and let stand about 10 minutes. While I was skeptical about it the first time I tried it , I found that it does make a difference.

    Thanks for another wonderful recipe.

  10. I made this last night. It was big hit. I used manzanilla olives because I didn’t have the mentioned olives on hand. I did add 1 tablespoon of capers as well. With the rest of the tomato sauce, I cooked minute rice in it (along with some water to make up the fluid amount). I will be making this again. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  11. My very first Skinny Taste recipe. I’ve wanted to try it for years and finally I did it. So did my family. I will be doubling every time I make this. Thank you. 

  12. Your recipes are consistently good but this one… omg I could have eaten what was left by myself.  The olives and brine are the keys to the delicious flavor.  This one is going on my menu rotation.