How to Make Picadillo | Carne Molida

by Chef Zee

Picadillo / Carne Molida is a traditional Cuban-Dominican-Puerto Rican dish and super versatile since it’s used to make empanadas, lasagna, kipes, and much more. You can make picadillo for any dish that calls for ground beef. Keep in mind that like many traditional dishes, there is more than one way to make it. For example, if you have picadillo in a Cuban restaurant chances are that it will have potatoes and raisins while picadillo in a Dominican restaurant won’t even be called picadillo! If it’s on the menu at all, it will be under carne molida.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this dish and it’s one that I grew up eating (and yes, I love every dish I make hehe). I grew up in a house where money was tight and having carne molida was a special treat. It meant that my grandmother splurged to feed the family and trust me when I tell you that this dish NEVER went to waste! It’s funny to think of ground beef as a family treat but you don’t have much, meats like ground beef are special.


Carne Molida - Picadillo Recipe | Made To Order | Chef Zee Cooks

Serves: 4-6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


  • - 1lb ground beef (85/15 blend is ideal. Don’t want to go too lean)
  • - 1 small chopped onion
  • - ¼ cup chopped green peppers
  • - 1tbs sazon or paprika
  • - ½ tbs adobo
  • - ¼ - 1/8 tsp cumin
  • - 1 tsp garlic powder or fresh chopped garlic
  • - ½ tsp black pepper
  • - 1 tsp oregano
  • - 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • - olive oil
  • - 2 tbs tomato paste
  • - ¼ cup chopped recao
  • - 2-3 tbs chopped green Spanish olives
  • - water
  • - 1 capful of red or white vinegar *optional


  1. Season your ground beef with: chopped onions and peppers, adobo, sazon, cumin, oregano, thyme, garlic, black pepper, and vinegar
  2. Combine all of the seasonings into the meat until it’s well combined
  3.  In a medium pan, warm up oil and add the ground beef
  4.  Brown the ground beef on all sides making sure to break up all of the chunks
  5.  Once the meat is brown on all sides, add the water. Add enough water so that it covers the meat
  6.  While it’s simmering, feel free to continue breaking up the meat chunks. The easiest way to do this is to mash it with a spoon
  7. Once the water has dried up, add some more water. You may have to add water and have it simmer away about 3-4 times. This will tenderize the meat and give it a smooth velvety texture. There’s nothing worse than tough ground beef
  8.  Now that your meat has dried up for the last time, add the tomato paste and chopped recao. If your ground beef is on greasier side, feel free to drain some of the oil BEFORE adding the tomato paste.
  9. Mix them all together making sure that the tomato paste is well incorporated. Add more water to the meat and let it simmer away yet again. This will ensure that all of those flavors are married together
  10.  When the majority of the water has dried up, add the chopped olives and give it one last stir
  11.  Serve over rice, pasta, platano or use it as a filling to your lasagna or emapanadas!

Buen provecho!

Click here to watch my video on: How to Make Picadillo / Carne Molida

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Ivy August 28, 2017 - 2:19 pm

When you are letting the water simmer out, how long does that generally take? I am wondering if this is a meal I can cook after I get home from work or is this a recipe to save for the weekend when I have more time.

chefzee August 30, 2017 - 3:53 am

All in all, this honestly depends on the kind of ground beef that you get. If you’re using ground Sirloin, which is typically more expensive it’s going to cook rather quickly than if you use the standard ground beef. In total, this dish can take me anywhere between 45mins to 1hour + to cook depending on the meat. Once I let the water simmer out, I test the meat to see if it’s as tender and soft as I want it. If it’s not, then I repeat the steps and add more water and continue to let it simmer until it’s finally deliciously tender. I make this dish all the time when I come from work– but not when I want to make a 30 minute dish. To start, I would recommend that you make this dish on the weekend and get a sense of time and then try it again during the week. I hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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