A Spicy Perspective

Cuban Beef Picadillo

Cuban Beef Picadillo Recipe – This easy ground beef dish is loaded with intense flavors from cinnamon, raisins, and briny green olives. Authentic Picadillo Cubano is perfect to enjoy in tacos or over rice for a quick and delicious weeknight dinner!

simmered cuban beef picadillo

What is Picadillo Cubano?

Picadillo is a hearty dinner dish that’s popular in Latin American countries like Cuba and Mexico, plus many of the southern states of the US.

While there are many recipe variations, versions nearly always include ground meat simmered in a zesty sauce made with tomatoes, raisins, and olives. It’s similar to Tex-Mex spicy taco meat, but has SO much more sweet and earthy flavor, thanks to the extra goodies and a generous pinch of cinnamon.

beef picadillo with rice

Authentic Cuban Beef Picadillo

This easy Cuban Beef Picadillo recipe is one we made after our daughter’s school trip to Cuba. She says it tastes EXACTLY as she remembers it. The ground beef is wonderfully meaty and tender, with a great tangy flavor from the green olives and a hint of sweetness from the raisins. Everything is brought together in the bright tomato sauce that’s heavily seasoned with cumin, paprika, and cinnamon.

Typically, Picadillo Cubano is served over rice with black beans and a side of plantains. However, it does make a fabulous taco filling, too! 

ground beef with olives, raisins, and cilantro

Ingredients You Need

Our recipe for picadillo doesn’t vary much from authentic Cuban Beef Picadillo. To make this simple yet incredibly flavorful dish you need:

  • Oilyour preferred oil for cooking
  • Onionpeeled and chopped
  • Garlicminced
  • Serrano peppersseeded and chopped
  • Cilantrochopped, for cooking and garnishing
  • Ground beef I use ground chuck
  • Seasoningsground cumin, smoked paprika, ground cinnamon, salt
  • Tomato saucecanned or jarred
  • Vinegaryour choice of apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Pimento stuffed green oliveseither whole and sliced, or save time by purchasing pre-sliced olives
  • Raisinstraditionally red raisins, but you can use golden raisins if you like
chopped onions, garlic, and cilantro

How to Make Picadillo Cuban with Beef

This Cuban Beef Picadillo recipe is simple to prepare in just one pan, and perfect to enjoy as a quick and satisfying weeknight dinner. Start to finish it takes only a bit over 30 minutes to make!

First, set a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot add the oil, chopped onions, garlic, serrano peppers, and cilantro. Sauté for just a few minutes to soften the veggies.

Next add in the ground beef and seasonings. Stir continuously as you brown the beef, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks.

meat sauteed

When the meat is no longer pink, then add in the tomato sauce, vinegar, olives, and raisins.

Get the Complete (Printable) Cuban Beef Picadillo Recipe Below. Enjoy!

adding tomato sauce

Simmer as you stir for another 5-7 minutes or so, until the sauce thoroughly coats and tightens around the meat.

Remove from the heat and serve warm. Garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro, if you like.

authentic picadillo cubano

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I serve homemade Cuban Beef Picadillo?

Serve warm with steamed white rice, black beans, and any other Latin-inspired sides you like.

It’s also delicious to enjoy as a flavorful taco filling. Layer into corn or flour tortillas, and garnish with chopped cilantro, cotija cheese, and your favorite hot sauce.

What variations can I make to this picadillo recipe?

– For a leaner dish, swap the ground beef with ground turkey.
– Make the picadillo even spicier by adding an extra serrano pepper.
– For a less spicy version, only use one serrano pepper.

How long will leftovers keep well?

This Cuban Beef Picadillo recipe is excellent to make as part of your weekly meal prep. It keeps well in the fridge stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. The flavors get even better as they settle together!

You can freeze for up to 3 months, but note that the olives and raisins won’t have quite the same great tenderness when frozen, defrosted, and reheated.

authentic picadillo

Looking for More Delicious Ground Beef Recipes?

Check Out More Cuban Recipes

beef picadillo recipe
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5 from 6 votes
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Cuban Beef Picadillo

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Our authentic Picadillo Cubano recipe is perfect to enjoy in tacos or over rice for a quick and delicious weeknight dinner!
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Set a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil, chopped onions, garlic, serrano peppers, and cilantro. Saute for 3-5 minutes to soften.
  • Add in the ground beef, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and salt. Brown the beef, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon, 5-8 minutes.
  • Once the meat is cooked, add in the tomato sauce, vinegar, olives, and raisins. Simmer and stir another 5-7 minutes, until the sauce tightens around the meat.
  • Serve warm with rice or as a taco filling.

Video

Notes

This recipe is excellent to make as part of your weekly meal prep. It keeps well in the fridge stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. The flavors get even better as they settle together!

You can freeze for up to 3 months, but note that the olives and raisins won’t have quite the same great tenderness when frozen, defrosted, and reheated.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 543kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 39g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 107mg, Sodium: 1218mg, Potassium: 861mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 622IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 71mg, Iron: 5mg
Course: dinner, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Caribbean, Central American, Cuban, Latin, South American
Author: Sommer Collier

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6 comments on “Cuban Beef Picadillo”

  1. This was wonderful – thank you!! It was even better the next day :)

  2. It’s all good except for the serrano peppers, thise are not used in Cuban food. They use italian frying Peppers (ie, cubanel peppers.)

  3. This looks incredibly delicious! The perfect meal!!

  4. This surprised me! I was skeptical, I’ll be honest. But I thought I’d go ahead and give it a go anyway. This was so good! I served it up with a side of brown rice. So delicious. So fun to try a new cuisine from a different culture!

  5. This was delicious. Love those olives in there!

  6. holy guacamole! This recipe is unlike anything else and I love all the flavors and textures that are added in. (plus anything with olives seems to be one of my favorite things haha)