Cuban Picadillo

by Chef Zee

Cuban Picadillo is a delicious treat to enjoy with rice, yellow plantains, and even Cuban Black Beans. This ground beef recipe is filled with so much flavor from the fresh garlic, orégano, olives, and yes– raisins! Now before we dive into the raisins portion of this recipe, just know that Cuban Picadillo is a dish that will delight your friends and family. You can make it a variety of different ways all of which still give you a Picadillo that’s tasty, saucey, and downright delicious. 

When making Picadillo de Res, I personally like to season the meat first in a mixing bowl with freshly mashed garlic, orégano, kosher salt, and black pepper. If you have sofrito or adobo on hand, feel free to use that as well. I like to season the grass-fed ground beef beforehand and let it sit for at least 20 minutes before cooking. Many like to season the ground beef straight in the pan, which is also something that you can do. Afterwards, I like to warm up a deep-sided skillet with the tiniest bit of oil and then saute the onions and peppers. Once that’s done, I like to move onto browning the meat and building layers and layers of flavor! 

In my opinion, the best Cuban Picadillo is one that is velvety smooth and melts in your mouth. This means cooking the meat for longer than may be expected and adding some water as well to tenderize the meat. Now I know this may sound foreign to some, but trust me on this! Adding water to the meat and effectively braising it is going to give you a Picadillo that is super tender and soft. I personally hate it when Picadillo is tough, chewy, and even gamey. Braising the Carne Molida allows the meat to tenderize, which in turn gives you a Picadillo unlike any that you’ve had. 

In the end, I like to layer flavors by adding an explosion of season at the end. Diced olives and raisins really play off each other with that salt and sweet combo. And of course, you can’t forget the extra garlic. Adding fresh garlic at the end makes the whole dish come alive. Potatoes are optional and make this dish even more filling! 

For a step-by-step tutorial on How to Make Cuban Picadillo, visit my YouTube Channel– Chef Zee Cooks! 

Want to learn How to Make a Dominican Style Picadillo – Carne Molida? Click right here for more goodness! 


Cuban Picadillo | Ground Beef Recipes | Chef Zee Cooks

Serves: 6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


  • 2 lbs Grass-fed Ground Beef
  • 1 White Onion
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • ½ Green Pepper
  • ½ cup Tomato Sauce
  • ½ cup Tomato Paste
  • 2 tbsp Spanish Olives
  • 5 Garlic Cloves Mashed
  • ¼ cup Vino Seco (Dry Cooking Wine)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves Diced
  • 1 tsp Orégano
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Raisins *to taste
  • 1 Potato
  • Kosher Salt to Taste
  • Black Pepper to Taste
  • 1/2 cup Water


  1. Season grass-fed ground beef in a large mixing bowl with mashed garlic, oregano, kosher salt and black pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste. Don't worry about under seasoning the meat; you can always adjust the seasonings at the end. Set bowl aside 
  2. In a medium sauce pan, add water and potato, which has been cut into roughly one inch cubes. Bring to a boil and afterwards reduce heat to low. The potatoes will be cooking off to the side while we prepare the Picadillo 
  3. In a deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat, add 1-2 tsp of olive oil. Make sure to use just a small amount of oil as ground beef will release its own 
  4. Saute onions and green peppers. Add salt and peppers to help veggies sweat. Once the sautéed veggies have become translucent, add ground beef. When adding the beef, use the back of your spatula or spoon to break up the beef. As the meat cooks and browns, break up the chunks as they appear. This will help make the beef tender and give you the best texture
  5. Once the beef has browned, add 2 bay leaves and cumin. Mix until well combined and then add 1/2 cup of water. The meat will begin to braise and tenderize. Once the water has dried up, test meat for tenderness. If the meat is still chewy, add another 1/2 cup of water and repeat until the ground beef is tender. I usually have to do this (water-braising) about once or twice when making Picadillo 
  6. Now that the meat is tender, add tomato paste and tomato sauce. Work both into the meat until well combined. Then add diced olives and raisins. Mix together and then add freshly diced garlic at the end. Adding garlic at the end will allow for maximum garlic flavor and vibrancy
  7. Soon after adding garlic, add potatoes and fold into the meat. Once the potatoes are fully mixed in, remove Picadillo from heat and enjoy with rice, beans, maduros or enjoy as a filling to Empanadas and Papas Rellenas! 

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