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Picadillo Recipe - Dinner at the Zoo

This picadillo recipe is a blend of ground beef, olives and vegetables, all simmered together with spices and tomato sauce. A classic dish that takes just minutes to put together and always gets rave reviews!

When I’m looking for unique and delicious ways to use ground beef in dinner recipes, I turn to dishes such as homemade hamburger helper, beef enchiladas, Korean beef bowls and this super easy picadillo.

A pan of picadillo with a serving spoon in it.

Whenever I go to my local Cuban restaurant, I always order the picadillo. I love the sweet and savory blend of beef, olives, raisins and veggies. I’ve since learned how to make this dish at home, and it comes out just as good as the restaurant version!

Picadillo Ingredients

To make this recipe, you will need olive oil, onion, red bell pepper, ground beef, garlic, salt, black pepper, green olives, raisins, cumin, oregano, a bay leaf, tomato sauce, beef broth and parsley or cilantro.

How Do You Make Picadillo?

Start by cooking onions and bell peppers in a large skillet until they’re soft. Add ground beef, olives, raisins, spices, tomato sauce and beef broth to the pan. Simmer until the sauce is thick, then add a sprinkle of parsley or cilantro and serve.

Bowls of ingredients including vegetables, spices, olives and raisins.

Tips For The Perfect Dish

  • I typically use 90% lean ground beef as it has plenty of flavor but is not overly greasy. If you use ground beef with a higher fat content, make sure to drain any excess fat from the meat after it’s cooked before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
  • This dish stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, which makes it great for meal prep.
  • I typically start a pot of rice at the same time as I start making the picadillo so that all of my dinner components are done at the same time. Try serving this dish with my cilantro lime rice or black beans and rice and some sweet plantains for a memorable meal.

Quick Tip

You can also make this recipe in the slow cooker. Brown the onions, peppers and beef in the pan, then add it to a slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Ground beef and bell peppers in a skillet.

Recipe FAQs

What is picadillo?

This dish is popular in Latin American countries, and almost always features a blend of ground beef, tomatoes, olives and raisins. The ingredients can differ from region to region, and include other items such as potatoes and eggs. Picadillo is often served with rice, or can be used as a filling for empanadas or tacos.

Can picadillo be frozen?

This dish will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 months. Store the picadillo in a resealable freezer bag or airtight container. Thaw the food overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stovetop until warm.

What is the difference between Mexican and Cuban picadillo?

Both dishes contain ground beef mixed with spices and tomatoes. Mexican picadillo tends to have a spicy kick from chilies or hot sauce and also typically contains potatoes. Cuban picadillo is more of a sweet and savory flavor with the raisins and olives.

Cooked ground beef with olives, raisins and spices.

Flavor Variations

This recipe is delicious as-is, but you can add other ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.

  • Meat: You can swap out the ground beef for a different type of meat such as ground turkey or chicken.
  • Vegetables: Feel free to add other veggies such as diced cooked potatoes, peas, carrots or green chilies. You can even add a topping of pico de gallo!
  • Eggs: It is common to serve picadillo either with hard boiled eggs or with a fried egg on top.
Picadillo served over rice with a side of green beans.

I make this dish on a regular basis and there are never any leftovers – it’s just that good!

More Great Ground Beef Recipes

Picadillo Video

Love This Recipe?

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This picadillo is a blend of ground beef, olives and vegetables, all simmered together with spices and tomato sauce. A classic dish that takes just minutes to put together and always gets rave reviews!

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and bell peppers and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened.

  • Add the ground beef and cook for 6-8 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula, until browned and cooked through.

  • Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Season the meat and vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Add the olives, raisins, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, tomato sauce and beef broth to the pan. Bring to a simmer.

  • Simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until sauce is thick. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro, then serve.

  1. I find that 90% lean ground beef does not generate much grease. If you use meat with a higher fat content, you’ll want to drain off any excess grease after it’s cooked.

Calories: 284kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 351mg | Potassium: 614mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 747IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 3mg

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