A simple and flavorful Cuban picadillo recipe made with ground beef, tomato sauce, spices, olives, and raisins. Perfect weeknight meal made in one skillet! You and your family will not get enough of these delicious Cuban flavors.
If you were to ask me what was the recipe I had the most often during the week as a kid, the answer would be this Cuban picadillo recipe!
My mom was never a microwave mom. She cooked every night. On those busy nights, there was nothing easier to make than this flavorful tomato-based ground beef dish. Needless to say, I always have ground beef and ground turkey in my freezer ready to go. Old habits die hard.
I’ll be honest, for a long time, I would only make picadillo with ground turkey. And while it was good, nothing truly compares to Cuban beef picadillo! Let me show you how to make it.
What is picadillo?
First things first, let’s talk about what exactly is picadillo. Picadillo [pee-ca-dee-yo] is a classic Cuban dish made with ground beef, tomato sauce, raisins, olives, and lots of spices. This one-pan meal is usually served over white rice. It’s an easy and flavorful weeknight meal. The leftovers the next day are even better!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Onion, green pepper, garlic. Cuban sofrito is the basis of most Cuban dishes. Some call it the “Holy Trinity”. It consists of garlic, onions, and green peppers. You sauté the sofrito in a skillet with a bit of olive oil before continuing with the rest of your recipe and that’s what gives meals such a unique and distinctive flavor!
- Ground beef. I like using 80% lean ground beef for this recipe since when cooked properly, it’s juicy from soaking the spiced sauce. Yum!
- Tomato sauce. The basis of this dish. I only add about 6 ounces so it adds enough sweetness and acidity without it being too saucy or having too much of an intense tomato flavor.l
- Ground cumin and oregano. Earthy spices are the best spices. You can also use complete seasoning if you have it.
- Green olives. Salty, briny olives complement all these flavors so well. Be careful when you’re adding salt this dish since the olives are already salty enough.
- Raisins. A touch of sweetness. I know it sounds weird and it’s a bit controversial in some places (lol) because raisins are boring but it does taste good mixed in with everything else. I’ll be honest though, I’m not the biggest fan of raisins and sometimes don’t add them so it’s totally cool if you want to omit them.
How To Make Picadillo
- Make the sofrito. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Brown the meat. Add ground beef and cook at medium heat, breaking the meat apart using this meat chopper tool, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Simmer with the sauce. Turn the heat down to low. Stir in tomato sauce, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Garnish and serve! Stir in the green olives and raisins (if using). Remove from heat and serve over white rice. You can also serve picadillo with veggies or even inside of sweet potatoes.
Common Questions about Picadillo
Picadillo is not spicy. It’s a saucy, fragrant, tomato-based, hash-style ground beef dish and it’s delicious!
Nope, they are completely optional but they do give the savory picadillo a touch of sweetness.
That’s all folks! I mean… how good does that look! It’s very versatile and that’s one of my favorite things about it. Make it tonight!
You may also like:
- Cuban Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
- Classic Cuban Arroz Con Pollo
- Cuban Beef Stew (Ropa Vieja)
- 30-Minute Arroz Con Salchicha (Cuban Yellow Rice + Sausage)
- Cuban Arroz Con Leche (Rice Pudding)
- 1/2 small onion finely chopped
- 1/2 green pepper finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground beef or lean ground beef
- 6 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons green olives cut in half
- 1/2 cup raisins
- In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add ground beef and cook, breaking the meat apart, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to low. Stir in tomato sauce, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add green olives and raisins. Serve and enjoy!