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July 13, 2022

Ground beef, studded with potatoes and spiced generously with cumin, cinnamon and garlic—what’s not to love? Our picadillo recipe makes for a homey weeknight dinner that everyone will gobble up!


Mexican picadillo in a skillet with ground beef, potatoes, onion, cumin, tomato paste and spices. Served with rice

An Easy, Beefy Picadillo Recipe to Make Weeknights Just A Little More Delicious

Easy, hearty, filling and bursting with flavor, picadillo has long been a comfort food in homes throughout Latin America, and now we’re adopting the tradition, too. A little bit hash-like, this humble dish of ground beef, spiced with cumin and cinnamon and simmered with tomato, garlic, onions and carrots, is meaty, gently spicy and just so very easy to fall in love with. It’s right up there with chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese as meals that are certain to please everyone at the table. Plus, it’s really versatile and easy—serve it with rice for a super simple supper, or think of it as a taco filling and plan a whole taco night around it. There’s no wrong way to do it!

potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, ground beef, onions, chicken stock, tomato paste, olive oil, garlic and spices for picadillo

What Is Picadillo?

Versions of picadillo can be found all over Latin America and there’s plenty of variance from region to region as well as family to family. Classic Cuban picadillo is defined by the addition of briny green olives and sweet raisins, while other versions are heavier on the potatoes. Some use tons of fresh tomatoes, some use paste, some are tomato-less. But the unifying thing is the dish’s namesake meaty base of ground or minced beef, because the Spanish word “picadillo” in English means “minced” or “hash” deriving from the root “picar” which means “to chop”. While we love olives as much as the next person, when it comes to making picadillo, we like to keep it as simple as possible. So, our picadillo recipe is more like what you’d find in Mexico than Cuba—in other words, no raisins or olives here, but plenty of warm spices and an umami hit from a good squeeze of tomato paste, too.

shredded carrots, diced onion, diced green bell peppers, ground beef and minced garlic in a skillet for picadillo
shredded carrots, onion, green bell peppers, ground beef and minced garlic cooked in a skillet for picadillo
carrots, onion, green bell peppers, ground beef and minced garlic cooked in a skillet for picadillo with spices  and salt
ground beef and vegetables cooked in a skillet for picadillo with spices, chicken stock and tomato paste

Everything You’ll Need To Make Our Picadillo Recipe

If you keep a pretty good stock of basic spices around, picadillo is almost a pantry recipe. Tomato paste keeps for ages, so we always have it on hand. As for garlic and onions, we try to never run out of those because can you even cook anything without onions and garlic? And even ground beef is usually in our freezer somewhere, if not the fridge. In other words, the picadillo recipe is seriously unfussy! It’s a “hey I can make that and I don’t even have to go to the grocery store” kind of recipe—our very favorite kind of recipe. Here’s what’s in our picadillo:

  • Ground beef
  • Yellow onion
  • Fresh garlic
  • Green bell pepper
  • Carrot
  • Chili powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Tomato paste
  • Chicken stock
  • Russet potatoes
PIcadillo being made in a black cast iron skillet
ground beef, potatoes and spices shown in a black skillet for picadillo
Picadillo topped with cilantro and chillies in a large skillet
picadillo in a large skillet with rice and tortillas

How to Make Picadillo

Our picadillo is not spicy at all, though it is generously spiced and deeply flavorful. If you like a little heat, serve it with some fresh or pickled jalapeño slices to finish. Here’s how to make the very easiest picadillo:

  1. Brown the ground beef in a pan with the onions, garlic, bell pepper and carrots.
  2. Stir in all of the spices and tomato paste.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock and the potatoes, and bring the pan to a gentle simmer.
  4. After about 20 minutes—when the potatoes are nice and tender—your picadillo is done!
picadillo shown with rice, chillies and fresh cilantro in a large skillet

Tools You’ll Need:

More Easy Ground Beef Recipes Perfect For Busy Weeknights

Mexican picadillo in a skillet with ground beef, potatoes, onion, cumin, tomato paste and spices. Served with rice

A New Go-To Picadillo Recipe

We hope this easy, tasty picadillo becomes a fast favorite in your home, just like it has in ours! Try it out and let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  1 hr
  • Calories: 256


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef, 80/20
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and 1/2 inch diced
  • cooked rice for serving
  • warm tortillas for serving
  • fresh cilantro for serving
  • jalapeño peppers slices for serving


  1. Heat olive oil In a large skillet set over medium high heat, cook the beef with the onions, garlic, bell pepper and carrots until meat is browned, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add in the salt, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and tomato paste mix for 30 seconds until incorporated.
  3. Add in the chicken stock and potatoes, mix to combine. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are tender and the mixture has completely thickened, about 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with cooked rice or warmed tortillas, fresh cilantro and peppers if you want extra heat.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories256
  • Protein16 g
  • Carbohydrates18 g
  • Total Fat17 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium427 mg
  • Total Sugars4 g


Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Isabel

    Hi! I’m making for my family so I would need to double up on the ground beef… would I also double up on the ingredients? Please help!

    You don't have to, but it would test better id you doubled all the ingredients. If you just add more beef, be sure to season it a little extra too!

  • Whitney

    Made this with ground turkey last night and it was delicious! Still so much flavor! I omitted the bell peppers and added a little extra carrot, and it turned out great. My kids and husband all loved it. It was also super quick and easy. Some ate it in a taco and other ate it as a bowl over rice. Both delicious!

    Thanks Whitney, we are so glad the whole family loved it!

  • Hughie

    This was absolutely delicious and went down a storm with my family, including our doggie.

    Thanks Hughie, we are so happy the whole family loved it!

  • Bek

    Major family favourite. Great as is, but as very versatile in a wrap with a bit of lettuce!

    Thanks Bek! We are so happy to hear the whole family loves it!

  • Laura

    This is a delicious recipe!! It is going in my weekly rotation. Thank you!

    YAY! Thanks Laura, that is so great to hear when something makes rotation! Doing our happy dance over here.

  • Josh

    I made this for dinner last night with my boyfriend. We could not get enough of this! I made enough for plenty of leftovers, and was able to take some in for work the next day. My boyfriend is already asking for a repeat. So good!

    Thanks Josh, love to hear this! We are so happy you both enjoyed it so much!