Puerto Rican Picadillo Recipe – fragrant, flavorful ground beef stew with olives and raisins. Makes an easy and no-fuss lazy weeknight meal or for parties served as stuffing for bell peppers, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and empanadas. Easy and very versatile dish ready in just 20 minutes!
Even the simplest meal could turn into the most comforting dish of the day. You don’t necessarily have to slave away in the kitchen to treat your taste buds with heavenly flavors. And yes, it’s totally okay and normal to have that cooking slump once in a while.
And with that being said, I’m starting off this week with a lazy weeknight dinner that has saved me numerous times. ‘Cause, believe it or not, your family or guests wouldn’t have the slightest doubt that this recipe comes together in just 20 minutes!
It’s beyond tasty, full of warm earthy flavors with amazing additional touches!
What is Picadillo?
Picadillo is a traditional dish in Spain, in many Latin American countries and in the Philippines that is similar to hash. Its name originates from the Spanish word “picar” which means “to mince” which explains the presence of ground beef. (NOTE: Some places use ground beef and minced meat interchangeably.)
As you can see, this Picadillo recipe is a soft, fragrant and easy ground beef stew with potatoes, raisins and other regional ingredients that varies from place to place.
Puerto Rican Picadillo
For this recipe, I am adapting the Puerto Rican version of Picadillo that features olives and raisins for that extra hint of sweetness. As always, feel free to leave it out, if not desired.
This dish is pretty straightforward with a comforting, humble yet tasty end result. It’s pretty easy to whip up with no extra fuss – just how I want my dinner to be especially when I’m not in the mood to cook.😉
One of the best things about Picadillo is its versatility (and I’m always in awe). If you don’t like serving it as it is, no problem. You can do a handful of other recipes using it. You can make it as Stuffed Bell Pepper stuffings, Quesadillas, Alcapurrias, Picadillo Beef Empanadas or as fillings to tacos or to my upcoming Indian Fry Bread (stay tune). The possibilities are endless!
But if it’s a lazy kind of weeknight, go ahead and pair it simply with rice. You’ll thank yourself for doing it!
Other Picadillo Variations
There’s actually a teeny tiny thin line separating these versions from each other. But as far as the ones I’ve tried, these 3 are the most popular versions of picadillo with just minor differences that set them apart from the others.
- Cuban Picadillo – includes olives, raisins, cumin, and cinnamon for that hint of sweetness
- Mexican Picadillo – this version is spicer than the usual with the use of chili powder and green chiles plus potatoes and carrots
- Filipino Picadillo – also called as “giniling“, this version has green peas on top of carrots potatoes and raisins
As for the Puerto Rican Picadillo, here’s what you’ll be needing to make this no-fuss dinner or party appetizer stuffing:
- canola oil
- onions and garlic
- smoked paprika
- cayenne pepper
- green or red pepper
- tomato sauce
- ground beef (you may swap it with ground turkey, chicken or pork)
- potatoes (optional)
- green onions
- Sazon to taste (you may swap with beef or chicken bouillon)
What Goes with Picadillo?
There’s nothing quite the same with a plateful of picadillo and some warm plain ‘ol white rice on the side. But I’ve enjoyed serving this dish with the following, too:
- Fried Plantains or this Tostones
- East African Chapati or this Flatbread
- Fried Egg
- Black Beans and Rice
Other Tasty Recipes to Explore
How To Make Picadillo
Add about 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet followed by onions, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and oregano. Sweat them out for about a minute.
Then add bell pepper, tomato sauce, bring to a simmer, add ground meat, potatoes (if using potatoes ) and cook for about 7-10 minutes or more, while stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add about ½ cup broth or water as needed until potatoes are soft and tender. Season with salt, chicken bouillon or sazon. Finally add olives, green onions, raisins, and cilantro, adjust for seasoning.
Remove and set aside.
Watch How To Make It
This recipe was first published in July 2017 and has been updated with a new write up and a video.
- 2-3 tablespoons (28ml-42ml) canola oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 teaspoons (10g) minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon (3g) cumin
- ½ -1 tablespoon (1g-2g) smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon (1g) or more cayenne pepper , adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon (1g) or more oregano , adjust to taste
- 1 small green or red pepper
- 1 cup (225g) tomato sauce
- 1 pound (453.59g) ground beef
- 2 cups (244g) potatoes , optional
- ½ cup (125ml) broth or water
- 1 packet Sazon to taste or use beef or chicken bouillon
- ½ cup (65g) olives , chopped
- 1 green onion , diced
- ½ cup (150g) or more raisins
- 1 tablespoon (1g) or more cilantro , adjust to taste
- Add about 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet followed by onions, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, oregano, sweat for about a minute.
- Then add bell pepper, tomato sauce, bring to a simmer, add ground meat, potatoes (if using potatoes ) and cook for about 7-10 minutes or more, while stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add about ½ cup broth or water as needed until potatoes are soft and tender.
- Season with salt, chicken bouillon or sazon.
- Finally add olives, green onions, raisins, and cilantro, adjust for seasoning. Remove and set aside.
Tips & Notes:
- Some recipes would call for cooking first the ground beef first until it’s nicely browned. But I’d prefer sauteing garlic and onion first for an added aroma and flavor mixed into the ground beef as it is being cooked.
- You may swap ground beef with ground turkey, chicken or pork, depending on preference.
- For the olives, you may experiment with the plain or fancy one. But most people would agree that pimento-stuffed green olives work best on this dish to balance out the strong, salty flavor of olives.
- You may also substitute potatoes with chayote depending on your preference.
- Sazon is a type of seasoned salt that is widely used in Puerto Rican and Latin America cooking - consisting of spices and herbs - garlic, oregano ,cumin, paprika and annatto seeds.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.