How to Make Picadillo: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Picadillo

To make a delicious picadillo, you’ll need a variety of ingredients that come together to create a unique blend of flavors. Here are the essential ingredients:

  1. Ground meat: Traditionally, picadillo is made with ground beef, but you can also use ground pork, turkey, or chicken.
  2. Aromatics: Onions and garlic are the foundation of many savory dishes, and they play a crucial role in picadillo as well. You’ll need at least one onion and several cloves of garlic.
  3. Tomatoes: You can use fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or tomato sauce to add a tangy sweetness to the dish.
  4. Spices: Picadillo gets its distinctive flavor from a blend of spices. You’ll need cumin, chili powder, oregano, and salt.
  5. Raisins: This might seem like an unusual ingredient, but raisins add a subtle sweetness that balances out the spiciness of the dish.
  6. Olives: Green olives add a salty tang and a pop of color to the dish.
  7. Potatoes: Some versions of picadillo include diced potatoes that are cooked along with the meat.
  8. Peppers: You can add diced bell peppers or chili peppers to give the dish a little extra heat.

With these ingredients on hand, you’re ready to start cooking up a delicious batch of picadillo.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Cooking Picadillo

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside.

  2. Add the onions to the same skillet and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

  3. Add the tomatoes, spices, raisins, olives, and potatoes (if using) to the skillet. Stir to combine.

  4. Return the cooked ground meat to the skillet and stir to combine with the other ingredients.

  5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the picadillo, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the flavors have melded together.

  6. Serve the picadillo over rice or with a side of warm tortillas.

With these easy-to-follow instructions, you’ll be able to make a delicious batch of picadillo in no time. Feel free to adjust the spices and other ingredients to your liking and experiment with different variations of this classic dish.

Tips and Tricks for Making the Perfect Picadillo

Here are some helpful tips and tricks to ensure that your picadillo turns out perfectly:

  1. Use good quality ground meat: Choose lean ground meat that’s fresh and hasn’t been sitting in the fridge for too long.

  2. Brown the meat well: Make sure to brown the meat well before adding the other ingredients. This will give the picadillo a nice depth of flavor.

  3. Don’t overcook the potatoes: If you’re using potatoes in your picadillo, make sure to dice them into small pieces and cook them until just tender. Overcooked potatoes can turn mushy and ruin the texture of the dish.

  4. Add a splash of vinegar: A splash of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar, can help balance the flavors in the picadillo.

  5. Let it simmer: Don’t rush the cooking process. Let the picadillo simmer on low heat for at least 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

  6. Adjust the spices: Don’t be afraid to adjust the spices to your liking. If you prefer a spicier picadillo, add more chili powder or cayenne pepper. If you like it sweeter, add more raisins.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make a delicious and perfectly seasoned batch of picadillo every time.

Serving Suggestions and Variations on the Classic Recipe

Picadillo is a versatile dish that can be served in a variety of ways. Here are some serving suggestions and variations on the classic recipe:

  1. Serve over rice: Picadillo is traditionally served over white rice, which soaks up the flavorful sauce.

  2. Make tacos: Fill warm tortillas with picadillo and your favorite toppings, such as shredded cheese, lettuce, and diced tomatoes.

  3. Stuff bell peppers: Cut the tops off bell peppers and stuff them with picadillo. Bake in the oven until the peppers are tender and the filling is hot and bubbly.

  4. Add beans: Add a can of black or kidney beans to the picadillo for extra protein and fiber.

  5. Use different meats: While ground beef is the most common meat used in picadillo, you can also use ground pork, turkey, or chicken.

  6. Add vegetables: Add diced carrots, celery, or zucchini to the picadillo for extra flavor and nutrition.

  7. Make it vegetarian: Use crumbled tofu or cooked lentils in place of the ground meat to make a vegetarian version of picadillo.

With these serving suggestions and variations, you can customize your picadillo to suit your tastes and preferences. Experiment with different ingredients and techniques to create a dish that’s uniquely yours.


Picadillo is a delicious and versatile dish that’s perfect for a cozy weeknight meal or a casual dinner party. With a blend of savory and sweet flavors and a variety of serving options, picadillo is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

By following the step-by-step instructions and helpful tips in this guide, you can make a perfectly seasoned batch of picadillo that’s sure to impress. Whether you serve it over rice, in tacos, or stuffed inside bell peppers, picadillo is a classic dish that’s always a hit.

So grab your ingredients and get cooking! With a little practice, you’ll be able to make a delicious and memorable batch of picadillo that your friends and family will love.

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