This Picadillo recipe is an easy, warm and comforting Mexican dish made from ground beef and potatoes cooked in a flavorful sauce. Great in tacos, gorditas and tostadas!
Picadillo is a Latin American dish made from ground beef, potatoes and some type of tomato sauce mixture. Every country and region has it’s own unique variation on the meal (for example, the very popular Cuban picadillo is made with olives and raisins), but today I’m going to share the way my family has always made it!
(Just for context, my family is from the central/northern part of Mexico in the state of Zacatecas.)
On nights when I’m not quite sure what to make for dinner, this picadillo recipe comes to the rescue!
What Makes This Picadillo Recipe So Good
- It’s so easy to make! Everything cooks together in one pan.
- This Mexican picadillo is warm and filling, perfect comfort food.
- It’s really versatile! Eat it with Mexican rice, low carb cilantro lime caulilflower rice, in tacos, or stuffed in gorditas.
- Give it a healthy twist by substituting ground turkey for the ground beef!
- Use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes to add a subtle sweetness.
- Try green beans in place of the peas to switch things up!
Tips for making the best picadillo
- Don’t be afraid of salt! You want to liberally season this Mexican picadillo with it. The salt helps to bring out the flavors of the tomato sauce mixture and really makes the meat and potatoes one big happy family.
- Taste as you go! Add another jalapeno or more salt in the sauce if needed. The spice level of jalapenos can vary so much, from not spicy at all to insanely fiery, so take a little teeny bite and testing it out. Also make sure you don’t over-salt – your tastebuds will thank you for that.
- If the meat starts to get dry during the cooking process (when the lid is removed), add 1/4 cup of water to keep it moist and continue cooking.
How to make Mexican Picadillo
The first thing I do is make the flavorful tomato sauce mixture.
Add tomatoes, onions, garlic, a jalapeno pepper, oregano, cumin, salt and some water to a large blender, then puree until smooth and set aside.
Next comes the meat, potatoes, peas and carrots.
Cook the ground beef in a large skillet with some diced onions until the meat is lightly browned. Add the potatoes, carrots, and peas and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the pureed tomato sauce mixture, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Uncover and cook for another 10 minutes to help the sauce reduce a bit and get the flavors super concentrated. When the potatoes and carrots and tender and soft, it’s time to eat!
Recently I served this beef picadillo with some white rice that I had in the fridge, but there are plenty of other ways to eat it!
Way to enjoy this picadillo recipe
- alongside my Mom’s authentic Mexican rice
- in tacos
- stuffed inside gorditas (one of my favorite memories is going to visit my grandparents in Mexico and buying gorditas stuffed with spicy picadillo on the street corner!)
- served on top of sopes (delicious thick corn cakes)
- keep it low carb with some cilantro lime cauliflower rice
And of course, you can always eat it by itself with some corn tortilla chips, my personal favorite!
I hope you love this quick and simple recipe – be sure to give it a review below! To get more easy Mexican recipes delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for my weekly email newsletter. You can also follow Isabel Eats on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!
WATCH THE RECIPE VIDEO
For the sauce
- 4 plum tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 medium white or yellow onion
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
- 1 jalapeno pepper, stem removed (Remove the seeds if you don't want it spicy. I like to keep them in.)
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
For the meat
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil
- 1/2 medium white or yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- salt, to taste
- 1 medium white potato, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
For the sauce
- Add all sauce ingredients in a large blender and puree until smooth. Taste and season with more salt if necessary. Set aside.At this point, I also like to make sure the spice level is to my liking. If it's not spicy enough for me, I'll half a jalapeno, blend and adjust until it's perfect.
For the meat
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cooking oil, onion, ground beef and a generous pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat into smaller chunks. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until beef is lightly browned.
- Add the potatoes, carrots and peas. Mix together with the meat and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the pureed sauce to the skillet, mix together and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue cooking for 10 more minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are soft and tender. If the meat starts to get dry, add in 1/4 cup of water and continue cooking.
- Remove from heat, taste and season with more salt if necessary. (I always tend to add another generous pinch or two of salt at this step.)