Cuban Beef Picadillo

5 from 3 votes

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Beef Picadillo is a savory meal of ground beef and veggies simmered in a tomato sauce. Perfect for the whole family, make Picadillo tonight.

Cuban beef picadillo on a plate with rice

Bursting with flavor, this dish is filling and hearty. A traditional meal in many Latin countries and even in the Philippines, this is a whole meal in one skillet.

This recipe is the Cuban version of the classic and includes raisins, capers, and green olives for a unique combination of sweet, salty, and tangy.

Serve over rice, alongside black beans, or even with a side of biscuits. Try this recipe in Ground Beef Tostadas. However you serve it, you really can’t go wrong with this dinner. 

Ingredients for Beef Picadillo

*For a complete list of ingredients, see the recipe card below

  • Ground Beef – This kind of meat gives you the authentic flavor you’re looking for.
  • Veggies – There are many variations of picadillo out there with many different vegetables included, but I prefer to use carrots and potatoes in mine.
  • Green Olives and Capers – I love to include green olives and capers in the dinner for the briney zing of flavor they add.
  • Raisins – Unique to this specific recipe variation, raisins add a touch of sweetness to the other savory ingredients creating the perfect balance of flavor.
Ingredients for Beef Picadillo

Making Cuban Picadillo

  1. Brown the beef

You’ll cook this on medium-high heat and add all those great seasonings.

cuban picadillo in a pan cooking
  1. Make the Sauce

Easier than you might expect, this sauce is really made by simply adding onion, garlic, and the tomato paste, and sauce to your meat mixture. Simmer it all together for a little while and start to smell that wonderful aroma.

  1. Simmer the Vegetables
adding vegetables into cuban beef picadillo while cooking

You’ll add your chopped vegetables to the sauce and meat mixture and simmer until the veggies are cooked but not mushy. This takes about 20 minutes.

 Try to make sure the carrots and potatoes are chopped to roughly the same size so they cook at the same rate. 

*Note: keep an eye on the pot while it simmers. You may need to add some water if the mixture gets too thick. This will also keep your dinner from scorching.

  1. Enjoy over cooked rice or with your favorite side!
bowls of rice and beef piccadillo

Variations of this Classic


This is the version of this that I’m giving you today. It is a hearty combination of sweet, savory, and tangy. The dash of cloves warms up the flavor without raising the heat. Cuban cuisine is all about flavor and you won’t ever find chili peppers in a Cuban picadillo.


Smoky, spicy, and sometimes with a hint of sweetness, the Mexican version often includes much more heat than its Cuban cousin. Guajillo chiles, jalapeños and even seafood are sometimes found in this rendition of the dish.

beef picadillo and cilantro lime rice on plate

Serving Suggestions

  • Rice – This is traditionally served over rice. Try it with Cilantro Lime Rice or quinoa, cauliflower rice, or spaghetti squash.
  • Empanadas – If you leave the potatoes out, this makes a wonderful filling for empanadas.
  • Tacos – Fill your warmed tortilla with this meat mixture, some black or pinto beans, and your favorite toppings such as cilantro, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado.
  • Chips – You can use this meat mixture as a topping for nachos or a dip for your favorite tortilla chips.
  • Sloppy Joe – Top some buns or rolls with this savory, sweet, and tangy meat mixture and you’ll be delighted by a new take on the old sloppy joe classic.
  • With Eggs – This dish goes great with fried eggs. Place an egg on top of a bowl of this stuff and dig in!
  • The Day After – This makes wonderful leftovers. If anything this meal is better the next day after the flavors have melded even more.  
  • In the Months to Come – Double the batch and freeze leftovers for future meals. It will be good in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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Cuban Picadillo

5 from 3 votes
This Cuban picadillo recipe uses ground beef and diced veggies teamed with olives, capers, and raisins to create a rich, satisfying meal.
Servings: 8
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 42 minutes
Total: 57 minutes



  • Over medium high, heat the oil in a dutch oven or large stock pot and add the ground beef, kosher salt, chili powder and cumin. Cook until no longer pink, about 6-7 minutes.
  • Stir in onion, garlic and tomato paste. Cook for several minutes. Stir in tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes covered.
  • Add diced carrot, potatoes, olives, capers and raisins. Stir and continue cooking for another 20 minutes covered. Stir occasionally and add some water if it gets too thick and does not scorch bottom of pot.


  1. You could substitute the tomato paste for 8 ounces red sofrito for an added punch of flavor. It’s a traditional Latin condiment made of tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, onion, culantro, garlic and olive oil.


Calories: 298kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 878mg | Potassium: 738mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3266IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 4mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Main
Cuisine: Cuban
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    Kevin I have been following your website for years it’s one of my go to sites. This is one of the many of your recipes I’ve tried. My husband loved this one. You’ve made me the hero and master chef in what he calls my “Bit..y Kitchen”.

    1. This makes me so happy. Glad I could assist! Thanks too, for taking the time to come back and let me know Tina. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This dish takes me home to Tampa where I grew up. I love picadillo, although I have not had it with potato’s and carrots. There is a Facebook page for Tampa recipes, and there are a few people that make it this way or very close. I have lived in Tampa and Miami, and there is competition between the two cities over the best Cuban sandwich. I always defer to Tampa, there Cuban food is just home to me, and with the famous Columbia restaurant, Yum!

    1. I have not so can’t speak to that really, but I’d give it a go and see. Let me know how it turns out and I can always update the recipe card Notes Mary Ann. Thanks!

  3. will be making this soon with few subs i never had cuban beef picadillo before as am a vegan will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya