5.0 from 2 votes

Mexican Picadillo

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Mexican Picadillo is an aromatic dish packed with complex flavors, featuring ground beef, potatoes, and veggies smothered in a rich salsa. Best of all, it’s easy to make, delicious, and budget-friendly. 

Picadillo Traditions

Picadillo is a beloved dish shared by many Latin American countries, each with its own unique twist passed down through generations. In Cuba, olives and raisins add a distinct flavor profile, while Puerto Rico’s traditional recipe starts with a rich sofrito base.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s version is hearty, delicious, and moist, thanks to a flavorful salsa and an abundance of veggies like onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes. Each country’s technique makes Picadillo a special and savory experience.

Mexican Picadillo 

Today, I want to share my recipe for Mexican Picadillo, a meal I grew up enjoying. It’s a very versatile recipe that feeds a crowd, and I’ve always admired my mother’s creativity in the kitchen – with very little, she could come up with incredible flavors.

I’ve cherished this dish for years, not only because it reminds me of my time in Mexico, but also because it represents the love my mom showed through food. As a kid, I often refused to eat, but Picadillo was one dish that always disappeared from my plate! It was delicious every single time! 

Ingredients 

  • Tomatoes and tomatillos are a perfect pair in salsa, balancing sweet and tangy flavors. Adding tomato paste intensifies the tomato taste and adds richness due to its umami qualities. 
  • White onion and garlic combine to create an aromatic atmosphere, with the onion’s natural sweetness and garlic’s nutty tones blending perfectly. 
  • Serrano peppers pack a punch of fresh, grassy flavor and adjustable heat, which can be tailored to taste by adding more or less, or removing the seeds.
  • Spices: Mexican oregano, cumin, ancho chile, and other spices bring this picadillo to life with deep and profound flavors.
  • Beef broth adds moisture and intensifies the beefy flavor, while using low-sodium broth allows for better control over salt levels. 
  • The addition of vibrant vegetables like potatoes, carrots, corn, and peas makes this dish hearty, fulfilling and colorful. 
  • Ground beef with an 80/20 fat content is ideal for cooking, as it yields a more flavorful and tender result. The higher fat content enhances browning, boosts moisture, and adds rich flavor. 
  • Cilantro has a fresh, bright, citrusy flavor and a pronounced aroma.  

How to make Mexican Picadillo 

Roast Ingredients for Salsa 

Preheat oven to high broil. Arrange tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, garlic, and Serrano pepper on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle with a small amount of oil and broil on the third top rack for about 10-15 minutes, or until charred and cooked through.

Once roasted, remove from the oven and let the ingredients cool slightly. Transfer them to a blender, then add the oregano and beef broth. Blend until it is completely smooth. Set the mixture aside for a moment.

Make the Picadillo 

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of neutral-tasting oil, such as avocado oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ground meat and use a potato masher to press it down into an even layer. Let the meat cook until the underside has browned, then break it apart into smaller pieces.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly soft and translucent. Then, mix in the paprika, ancho chile powder, ground onion, ground garlic, ground cumin, ground pepper, and tomato paste. Toast the spice mixture for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until fragrant. 

Finally, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and break down.

Stir in the potatoes, carrots, corn, salsa, and cilantro. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a steady simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes. 

Add the peas and continue cooking uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking and the vegetables are tender. Finally, stir in the salt. 

Serve  

Serve with your choice of sides, such as Mexican white rice, Frijoles de la olla, or Refried beans, accompanied by warm Corn tortillas

Garnish the Picadillo with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. 

Recipe Video Tutorial 

Below is my easy to follow video tutorial on how to make this Mexican Picadillo.

It will give you an additional in-depth knowledge and the visuals of the step-by-step process to enhance your understanding.  

YouTube Video Tutorial on How to Make Mexican Picadillo.

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Meat Substitutions for Picadillo

This dish is incredibly versatile, which is why many countries have adapted it to their local traditions and ingredients. Fortunately, this versatility works in our favor, as there are numerous meat options to choose from. Instead of ground beef, you can use ground chicken, turkey, or pork – the choice is yours!

Consistency 

Picadillo’s consistency can vary to suit your taste, with the option to leave it brothy or reduce the liquid for a moist, flavorful coating on the meat.

I prefer my picadillo slightly thickened, as the rich broth is a highlight. However, feel free to reduce the amount of broth added if you prefer a drier yet still moist and flavorful picadillo.

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Serving suggestions

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Transfer leftover picadillo into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To freeze, store in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.

Reheat in a pan; if previously frozen, thaw in the refrigerator first.

When it comes to kitchen tools, you’ll be pleased to know that this recipe can be made with tools you likely already own. No need to purchase the exact tools I use personally! 

However, if you’re interested in knowing my preferences, here are a few tools that I highly recommend and love using.

  • My Vitamix blender is a trusty piece of equipment that I own and rely on in my kitchen. No straining is required, making my life easier! 
  • My Staub Cast Iron Pot with a Glass Lid is a stunning addition to my kitchen. Not only can it be proudly displayed on the dining table, but it’s also perfect for browning and searing, locking in flavor and moisture. 
  • A Great Knife is a game-changer in the kitchen. It makes quick work of chopping vegetables and prep tasks, precise and effortless. 
  • Quarter sheet pans are ideal for oven roasting salsa ingredients, as they are small, easy to clean, and perfectly sized for the ingredients. 

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FAQ: Your Questions Answered

Q: Can you make picadillo more or less spicy?

A: Yes, you can adjust the level of spiciness to your liking. 

To make it less spicy, you can remove the seeds and use milder peppers like jalapeños, or simply omit the pepper altogether. 

For a spicier dish, the options are endless – you can add more peppers or experiment with even spicier varieties.

Q: What is the recommended fat content for ground beef?

A: 80/20 (80% lean meat, 20% fat) is a popular choice, but other ratios like 90/10 can also be used depending on personal preference and cooking goals.

Mexican Picadillo

Recipe by Villa Cocina
5.0 from 2 votes
Course: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

35

minutes
Total time

50

minutes

Mexican Picadillo is an aromatic dish packed with complex flavors, featuring ground beef, potatoes, and veggies smothered in a rich salsa. Best of all, it’s easy to make, delicious, and budget-friendly. 

Ingredients

  • Salsa
  • 4 ea 4 roma tomatoes, halved  

  • 2 ea 2 tomatillos

  • 1/2 ea 1/2 white onion, roughly cut 

  • 3 ea 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled 

  • 1 ea 1 serrano, stemmed 

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 Mexican dry oregano

  • 2 cups 2 beef broth, low sodium

  • Picadillo 
  • 1 lb 1 ground beef, 80/20

  • 1/2 ea 1/2 white onion, diced

  • 1 TBSP 1 smoked paprika

  • 2 tsp 2 ancho chile, ground

  • 1 1/2 tsp 1 1/2 onion, ground

  • 1 tsp 1 garlic, ground

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 cumin, ground

  • 2 TBSP 2 tomato paste

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 ground black pepper

  • 1 ea 1 roma tomato, diced

  • Veggies
  • 1 ea 1 large gold potato, medium diced 

  • 2 ea 2 carrots, peeled, medium sliced

  • 1 cup 1 frozen corn

  • 1/2 bunch 1/2 cilantro, cut in half

  • 1 cup 1 frozen peas

  • Salt to taste

  • Top With
  • Cilantro, chopped 

  • Lime juice 

Directions

  • Roast Ingredients for Salsa 
  • Preheat oven to high broil. Arrange tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, garlic, and Serrano pepper on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle with a small amount of oil and broil on the third top rack for about 10-15 minutes, or until charred and cooked through.
  • Once roasted, remove from the oven and let the ingredients cool slightly. Transfer them to a blender, then add the oregano and beef broth. Blend until it is completely smooth. Set the mixture aside for a moment.
  • Make the Picadillo 
  • Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of neutral-tasting oil, such as avocado oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ground meat and use a potato masher to press it down into an even layer. Let the meat cook until the underside has browned, then break it apart into smaller pieces.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly soft and translucent. Then, mix in the paprika, ground ancho chile, ground onion, ground garlic, ground cumin, ground pepper, and tomato paste. Toast the spice mixture for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until fragrant. 
  • Finally, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften and break down.
  • Stir in the potatoes, carrots, corn, salsa, and cilantro. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a steady simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes. 
  • Add the peas and continue cooking uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking and the vegetables are tender. Finally, stir in the salt. 
  • Serve
  • Serve with your choice of sides, such as Mexican white rice, Frijoles de la olla, or Refried beans, accompanied by warm Corn tortillas
  • Garnish the Picadillo with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. 

Equipment

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