Mexican Picadillo Recipe


Mexican Picadillo is a delightful blend of cultural culinary traditions, combining the heartiness of ground beef with the rustic touch of potatoes. Drenched in a spicy tomato sauce, this dish isn’t just a meal—it’s a journey through the Mexican countryside. I first came across this tantalizing dish in an article about traditional breakfasts, such as Huevos Rancheros. The beauty of Picadillo lies in its simplicity and robust flavors.

For those familiar with Mexican cuisine, dishes like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas probably pop up instantly. However, it’s the lesser-known gems like Picadillo that carry the true essence of the culture. It is a delectable twist on the beef and potato combination, transforming it into a spicy, flavorful dish perfect for any time of the day.

Traditional ingredients for Mexican Picadillo including roma tomatoes, jalapenos, serrano peppers, and diced potatoes.

In Mexico, the unique flavor of Picadillo is achieved by starting with roasted ingredients, namely tomatoes, jalapenos, serranos, and garlic. The method isn’t about just combining ingredients—it’s about layering flavors meticulously. Roasting and pureeing these base ingredients ensures a rich, deep sauce that envelopes the beef and potatoes.

To complement the rich sauce, a blend of ground beef and onions takes center stage. This combination, when simmered with the spicy tomato mixture, results in a symphony of flavors, with the potatoes adding a delightful texture contrast.

Key Components of Mexican Picadillo:

  • Ground beef
  • Potatoes
  • Roasted tomato sauce
  • Spices and roasted peppers

How is Mexican Picadillo different from other versions of Picadillo?

The brilliance of Picadillo is its adaptability across different cultures. While the core concept revolves around minced meat and varying ingredients, each region adds its own unique touch. Mexican Picadillo stands out with its inclusion of potatoes and its spicy tomato sauce. This flavor profile, reminiscent of dishes like Pinto Beans with Mexican Seasonings, offers a heartiness that’s hard to resist.

However, other regions have their interpretations. For instance, in Cuba, it’s known as “arroz a la cubana,” leaning more towards rice-based accompaniments. Meanwhile, the Philippines calls it “giniling,” often showcasing it with bell peppers and raisins.

It’s fascinating to observe how a single dish can transform and adapt, embracing the tastes and preferences of various regions. The spices, ingredients, and cooking techniques shape the identity of each variant. Yet, at its core, the essence of Picadillo remains—a heartwarming dish loved by all.

Comparative Table of Picadillo Versions:

CountryVariant NameUnique Ingredient
CubaArroz a la CubanaRaisins
PhilippinesGinilingBell peppers

How can I adjust the spice level in Mexican Picadillo?

The fiery spirit of Mexican Picadillo predominantly comes from jalapenos and serrano peppers. These peppers, while adding a delightful kick, can be overpowering for some. Thankfully, the dish offers flexibility in adjusting the heat levels. If you’re someone who enjoys the flavors of dishes like Mexican Bunuelos without the overpowering heat, you’re in luck!

A family gathering around a dinner table, serving hearty portions of Mexican Picadillo alongside white rice and tortillas.
  1. Seeds Out: A straightforward method is to remove the seeds from the peppers. The seeds house the majority of the heat, so eliminating them will significantly reduce the spiciness.
  2. Serrano Skip: Another option is to omit the serrano pepper altogether. This pepper packs more heat than a jalapeno, so leaving it out will automatically dial down the spice level.
  3. Mild Route: For a gentle flavor without any heat, you can exclude both jalapenos and serrano peppers. The essence of the dish will remain intact, with a focus on the beef, potatoes, and tomato sauce.
  4. Alternative Peppers: Consider using milder peppers, like bell peppers, for a subtle flavor without the fiery kick.

Remember, Mexican cuisine is all about personalizing dishes to your taste preference. Don’t hesitate to experiment and find the perfect balance that suits your palate.

What are the best accompaniments for Mexican Picadillo?

Mexican Picadillo, with its robust flavors, pairs seamlessly with a plethora of sides. Given its hearty nature, the dish complements both light and rich accompaniments. Whether it’s a refreshing bowl of Pico de Gallo or a hearty serving of Mexican rice, Picadillo is versatile enough to harmonize with different flavors.

Some Suggested Pairings:

  • Rice Varieties: White rice, Mexican rice, or Spanish rice.
  • Tortilla-Based: Corn tortillas, tacos, or even as a filling for enchiladas.
  • Salads: Pico de Gallo, guacamole, or a simple lettuce-tomato-cucumber salad.
  • Beans: A side of refried beans or even a bowl of seasoned pinto beans complements the dish beautifully.

Beyond the traditional accompaniments, think of integrating Picadillo into other dishes. It can be a filling for quesadillas, burritos, or even tostadas. The options are limitless!

How do I store and reheat Mexican Picadillo?

One of the many advantages of dishes like Mexican Picadillo is their suitability for batch cooking and storage. If you’re planning to prepare in advance or have leftovers, here’s how you can store and reheat the dish without compromising its flavors.

  1. Cooling Down: Before storing, ensure the Picadillo has completely cooled down to room temperature.
  2. Airtight Containers: Use airtight containers for storage. This ensures the freshness of the dish and prevents contamination.
  3. Refrigeration: For short-term storage, Picadillo can be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
  4. Freezing: For longer storage durations, consider freezing. Portion the dish into individual or family-sized portions, and store in freezer-safe bags or containers. It can last up to 2 months when frozen.
  5. Reheating: For best results, thaw the frozen Picadillo overnight in the refrigerator. Use a microwave or stovetop for reheating. Ensure the dish is heated thoroughly before consumption.

Remember, while refrigerating or freezing, always label the containers with the date of preparation. This helps in tracking the freshness of the dish.

Traditional ingredients for Mexican Picadillo including roma tomatoes, jalapenos, serrano peppers, and diced potatoes.

Can I make a vegetarian version of Mexican Picadillo?

Absolutely! The charm of Mexican cuisine lies in its adaptability, making it a hit among vegetarians and vegans. While traditional Mexican Picadillo revolves around ground beef, there’s no reason why you can’t tweak it to suit a plant-based diet.

  1. Protein Alternatives: Lentils, tofu, and tempeh make for excellent meat substitutes. They absorb the flavors of the dish and provide a meat-like texture, ensuring you don’t miss out on the authentic Picadillo experience.
  2. Mushrooms: Finely chopped or minced mushrooms can emulate the texture of ground beef. When sautéed with onions and the tomato-pepper sauce, they transform into a delectable filling suitable for tacos, enchiladas, or as a standalone dish.
  3. Mix of Veggies: Think beyond just potatoes. Add bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, or even corn to make your Picadillo colorful and nutrient-rich.
  4. Beans Galore: Incorporate beans such as black beans, kidney beans, or even the flavorsome Pinto Beans with Mexican Seasonings to elevate the protein content and introduce a unique texture to the dish.

When aiming for a vegetarian or vegan variant, focus on balancing flavors and textures. With the spicy tomato-pepper sauce as your base, the possibilities are endless. So, feel free to get creative and curate your version of a meatless Mexican Picadillo.

A family gathering around a dinner table, serving hearty portions of Mexican Picadillo alongside white rice and tortillas.

Mexican Picadillo Recipe

Unveil the rich flavors of authentic Mexican cuisine with this tantalizing Picadillo recipe. Infused with ground beef, crisp potatoes, and a tangy tomato sauce kick, it promises a hearty meal that’s easy to whip up and hard to resist.
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Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Mexican Picadillo, Picadillo Recipe
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1.5 pounds of 80/20 ground beef
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper
  • 2 fresh roma tomatoes
  • 3 jalapenos remove the stems
  • 1 serrano pepper de-stemmed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil


  • Start by heating a teaspoon of oil in a small frying pan on medium flame.
  • Once it’s warm, introduce the tomatoes, jalapenos, serrano pepper, and garlic to the pan.
  • Let them roast until they flaunt a charred, blistered skin.
  • Transfer these roasted beauties to a food processor and blend until you achieve your preferred texture.
  • In a spacious saucepan over a medium flame, combine ground beef, onions, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking until the beef loses its pink hue.
  • Stir in the diced potatoes and the blended tomato mixture next.
  • Lower the heat to a medium-low setting and let it simmer. Wait for the potatoes to become tender.
  • Once ready, serve this Picadillo hot, accompanied by rice or any side of your choice.


This delectable recipe was shared by our cherished friend, Ruth. Add a personal twist to it or enjoy it in its classic form, it’s a winner either way! Remember to check out our other authentic dishes for a true Mexican fiesta at home.