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Cuban Beef Picadillo {Picadillo Alvarez}

Recipe for Cuban beef picadillo, a traditional dish made with ground beef, potatoes, onions, garlic, cumin, bell peppers, white wine, tomato sauce, raisins, olives and capers.

Cuban beef picadillo

En Español

Back in April we spent spring break in Austin, it was the first time we had gone back to Austin since moving to Seattle. One of the great things about the visit, in addition to trading 40 degree rainy weather for 70 degree sunny weather, was catching up with family and friends. I met Carolina, from Guayaquil, during my first year in Austin, she was visiting a mutual friend and came to my New Year’s Eve party – she brought a delicious shrimp ceviche to the party. She eventually moved to Austin with her husband Joe. They invited us for a yummy lunch when we were visiting Austin and Joe made this amazing Cuban style beef picadillo.

Beef picadillo with rice and salad

Of course, I had to ask for the recipe and Joe was kind enough to share the recipe – and he did such an awesome job writing it that I barely adapted it before sharing it with you. This picadillo recipe is very easy to make and is a perfect comfort food dish. Picadillo is also very versatile, Joe suggested that the leftovers can be used to make pastelitos de carne or Cuban style empanadas – or any kind of empanadas.

Ground beef picadillo with potatoes

He also mentioned that if you make the beef picadillo without potatoes you can use it as a filling for papas rellenas, which are stuffed mashed potato balls that are rolled in a mix of bread crumbs and then fried – I will definitely try those soon. I served the picadillo with rice, a tomato and onion lime pickled salad, and fried ripe plantains.

Cuban picadillo
Cuban beef picadillo

Cuban beef picadillo

Cuban beef picadillo is a traditional dish made with ground beef, potatoes, onions, garlic, cumin, bell peppers, white wine, tomato sauce, raisins, olives and capers.
4.77 from 1112 votes
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Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Caribbean, Cuban, Latin
Keyword: Beef, Beef picadillo, Cuban beef picadillo, Picadillo, Potato beef picadillo, Potatoes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium large yellow onion diced
  • 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • ½ bell pepper diced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 small potatoes peeled and cut in small pieces
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup whole green olives stuffed w/ pimentos
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup capers drained
  • 16 ounces of tomato sauce 2 8 oz cans
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a medium-size frying pan, brown the ground beef with a dash of cumin and pepper, drain off any excess grease, and set aside.
  • In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbs of olive oil over med-low heat and cook the diced onion until soft
  • Add the chopped garlic and cook until almost golden.
  • Mix in the bell pepper, cumin, pepper and a little salt – not too much as the olives and capers are salty.
  • Add the potatoes pieces and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef and the wine, let the liquid reduce.
  • Add raisins and tomato sauce when the potatoes are about half-cooked (a knife can easily through the first part but the center is still very firm).
  • Cook for 5 more minutes and then add the olives and capers.
  • Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are ready. If the sauce thickens too much, you can add some more wine or a little bit of water. Taste and adjust any seasonings: salt, pepper, cumin or additional olives/capers.
  • Serve with rice, fried ripe plantains and a small salad.


You can also use ground chicken or turkey in place of the ground beef.
Picadillo recipe
Beef picadillo recipe

Step by step preparation photos for Cuban style beef picadillo

Beef picadillo

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  1. This is my new go to recipe for Picadillo. The only liberty I took is substituting regular potatoes for sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes keeps itself intact better during the process, and I think it lends itself nicely to the flavors of the dish, give it a try.

  2. This was absolutely delicious! I left out the raisins and olives (husband isn’t a fan) and I topped it off with fresh cilantro and scallions. Wow wow wow soooo good. Thank you for this recipe.

  3. To make ground turkey taste better in any recipe I add about 2 teaspoons of better than bouillon beef flavor (or chicken depending on if you’re using it) when browning the meat.
    No one will know you used the turkey! Don’t add salt until you taste this recipe because of the pickled items

      1. My family enjoyed this dish (Puerto Rican husband approved, but he could detect something was a smidge off)…. it was the turkey. I went with the tip of turkey + better than beef bullion… it was ok, but next time I’ll go with beef… certainly will repeat! Thank you for a new “go to” family meal.

  4. This reminded me so much of the picadillo I had in Havana. In fact it’s better than the picadillo recipes in my Cuban cookbooks! Thank you.

  5. This looks delicious! I have never put potatoes in Picadillo, but I have cut them in little cubes and fried them and served on top. Have to give this a try.

  6. I made this last night and it turned out perfect. Followed the recipe to a tee. Like the previous poster, I also had a little difficulty getting the diced potato pieces to soften…had to triple the cooking time & some of them were still hard. It was the strangest thing! :) never seen that happen before! But in the end, it was SUPER DELICIOUS!!!! I can’t wait to get up & eat another plate of it. I served with white rice, plantains, & ensalada de aguacate.

  7. My 2 year old was a big fan! This dish stretched for almost three nights for our family of three. I let it simmer for almost two hours and even though I diced my potatoes in tiny pieces, they were still a bit crunchy. So I think the potatoes need to be pretty cookd through before moving to the next step. Great recipe, we wil make again!

  8. Second time making this delicious recipe! I used the golden raisins and it was so tasty! Being married to a Cuban man, making this was always intimidating but not anymore. He is a Cuban man trapped in a Mexican’s body, he made a taco with this and he was beyond ecstatic:)

  9. This was amazing! I did however leave out the raisins, used sweet white wine ( as that’s all I had, added a little garlic salt and cayenne pepper for heat, but other than that I stuck with the rest of the recipe exactly. Thank you for sharing this delicious meal…

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