Easy Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe with Beef and Potatoes

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This Authentic Cuban Picadillo recipe, with its rich blend of savory ground beef, plump green olives, and the tangy zip of tomato sauce, perfectly captures the vibrant culture of Cuba in every bite.

Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe

Introduction to Cuban Picadillo

Ah, Cuban Picadillo, the ultimate Cuban comfort food that has nestled its way into the heart of traditional Cuban cuisine and, quite frankly, into mine as well. Its versatility is unmatched, whether served on a warm bed of white rice or nestled within the crusty halves of Cuban bread, making it a staple on dining tables across Havana and beyond. 

We became very close friends with a Cuban family when we lived in Orlando. Our families spent a lot of time together, and Soly was one of my closest friends. I would share my Southern recipes with her like Hashbrown Casserole, and she taught me how to make Picadillo. Every time I sauté the onions, or the green peppers sizzle in the olive oil, I’m reminded of the first time I ventured into making this authentic Cuban recipe. Taught by a dear Cuban friend, this dish is more than comfort food; it’s a reminder of friendships and the power of food in bringing people together. 

What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • Authentic Cuban Picadillo is a celebrated dish within Cuban cuisine, known for its rich flavors and cultural significance.
  • Full of flavors from the sauteed vegetables, tangy tomato sauce, briny green olives, and tart capers this meal is a party for your taste buds!
  • Comfort food – Picadillo is a meat and potatoes kind of dinner that is a staple in Cuban food traditions and commonly served all over Latin America. 

Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe Ingredients

Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe Ingredients
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5.75 oz jar sliced green olives
  • 4.67 oz jar capers
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 large potatoes, diced
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • Lean ground beef – the perfect base for that rich, savory texture we’re aiming for. 
  • Olive oil – crucial for sautéing and bringing out the flavors of our vegetables. 
  • Diced onion, green bell peppers, and bay leaves – these veggies add a freshness that contrasts beautifully with the meat. 
  • Garlic – because what’s Cuban cuisine without the aromatic kick of garlic?
  • Tomato sauce & Adobo seasoning – these provide the dish its iconic Latin American flavor profile. 
  • Sliced green olives & capers – it’s these ingredients that give Cuban Picadillo its distinctive taste, a wonderful blend of tangy and savory that’ll transport your taste buds straight to Havana. 
  • Potatoes – lightly fried potatoes add another flavor and delightful texture to this dish.
  • Dry white wine – optional, but it adds yet another layer of flavor.
  • Garlic powder, ground oregano, ground cumin – the trifecta of spices commonly used in Cuban foods.
Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

I’ll walk you through how to make this authentic Cuban dish. There are a lot of steps, but don’t worry! I’ve got lots of photos to help.

Preparing the Vegetables

Getting all the vegetables ready is the most time-consuming part of this meal. For a quick weeknight dinner, you can do this part of the meal prep 1-3 days ahead of time. Simply store the cooked potatoes and chopped veggies in separate containers in your refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. 

  1. Start by cooking the potatoes. Peel, rinse, and pat dry the potatoes. Dice them into 1/2 inch or smaller cubed pieces. 
  2. Add vegetable oil to a deep skillet and turn it to medium heat. Once the oil has heated up, carefully add the diced potatoes.
  3. Cook 3-5 minutes until just golden brown. You don’t want these overdone. We are not going for a crispy texture. We want them soft-cooked. Cook in small batches so they won’t stick together. 
  4. Remove cooked potatoes from the oil with a wire spoon and allow to rest on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
  5.  Dice the onion, bell pepper, and garlic.

Cooking the Picadillo Dish

  1. Now we’re ready to cook! Heat up the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add in the diced onion, green pepper, garlic, and bay leaves. Allow them to cook until all the veggies have softened. 
  2. Next, add the sliced green olives and capers along with all the liquid in the jars. Stir together and allow it to cook over medium-high heat until almost all of the liquid has reduced. This simmering time allows the vegetables to absorb more flavor. 
  1. Now toss in the savory ground beef, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. We’re aiming for that golden brown perfection, which not only looks inviting but ensures each bite is rich in flavor. 
  2. Add the Adobo, garlic powder, ground oregano, and cumin. It’s all about layering those flavors, a perfect complement to the beef. Stir in the seasonings and continue to cook and stir every few minutes until the ground beef is done.
  1. Next, carefully mix in the tomato sauce and dry white wine. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow to cook for 5 minutes. This step is crucial for melding the flavors, letting everything simmer beautifully without rushing. Patience is your ally here, ensuring the Picadillo doesn’t just cook but blooms with taste. 
  2. Taste the Picadillo to see if you need more seasoning. I usually add more adobo, cumin, oregano, and garlic.
  3. Stir everything together and allow to cook until some more of the liquid cooks off. There is no wrong consistency here. If you prefer less saucy, cook longer. If you like more liquid, don’t cook it all off.
  1. Finally, once the Picadillo has thickened to just the right texture, gently stir in the cooked potatoes. Look for the bay leaf as you stir and remove it before serving. 
  2. Cook for just a couple of minutes to heat up the potatoes.
  3. Serve it warm over a bed of fluffy white rice. This is the ultimate Cuban comfort food experience, right in your kitchen. The rice, with its simple purity, balances the Picadillo’s rich tapestry of flavors, making every spoonful a delightful journey to Havana. 
Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe

Discovering New Flavors: Recipe Variations

  • This classic Cuban dish can be made with other types of ground meat such as ground turkey, ground chicken, or pork instead of traditional beef.
  • Potatoes can be included or left out, but our family loves the combination of ground beef and potatoes! 
  • The spices and vegetables are non-negotiable to preserve the essence of this authentic Cuban Picadillo recipe.
  • Serve over a bed of rice or enjoy on Cuban bread as a sandwich.

So, I encourage you to embark on this culinary adventure, mixing and matching, until you discover that special version of the recipe that makes your taste buds sing and secures its spot as your family’s ultimate comfort food.

Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe

Storing and Enjoying Leftovers

After feasting on the ultimate Cuban comfort food, you might find yourself with leftovers, and trust me, they’re gold. Store them in an airtight container, ensuring they stay fresh. There’s something magical about Picadillo; it melds together and becomes even more flavorful after a night in the fridge. But the adventure doesn’t stop there. The next day, I love getting a bit creative, taking those savory ground beef leftovers and stuffing them into Cuban bread. It’s a fantastic way to transport your taste buds back to Havana without leaving your kitchen. So, don’t let a single spoonful of this traditional dish go to waste. Enjoying it the next day, in a new form, is a journey worth taking.

A Journey Through Flavors

Taking on the challenge of crafting an authentic Cuban Picadillo is more than just a foray into exotic tastes—it’s a voyage to Havana from the comfort of your own kitchen. The very act of simmering savory ground beef, mingling it with the boldness of green olives and the richness of tomato sauce, does something magical. It doesn’t just fill your home with incredible aromas; it bridges continents, connecting us to the vibrant pulse of Cuban culture and cuisine. 

I urge you, whether this is your first time or if Cuban food is a dear old friend, to dive deep into this culinary adventure. Let the sizzle of olive oil in a large skillet, the golden brown perfection of potatoes, and the warm spices transport you. Share this perfect meal, this ultimate Cuban comfort food, with your whole family. Let each bite be both an exploration and a celebration—of tradition, of family, and of the simple joy of cooking something truly remarkable. It’s more than a meal; it’s a journey through flavors, a taste of Havana in your own home. 

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Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe
Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe

Easy Authentic Cuban Picadillo Recipe with Beef and Potatoes

Melisha Kreppein
This Authentic Cuban Picadillo recipe, with its rich blend of savory ground beef, plump green olives, and the tangy zip of tomato sauce, perfectly captures the vibrant culture of Cuba in every bite.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Cuban
Servings 8
Calories 414 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs ground beef very lean
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5.75 oz jar of sliced green olives
  • 4.67 oz jar of capers
  • ½ cup dry white wine optional
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 large potatoes peeled and diced
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying the potatoes
  • 2 tbsp Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin

Instructions
 

Preparing the Vegetables

  • Start by cooking the potatoes. Peel, rinse, and pat dry the potatoes. Dice them into 1/2 inch or smaller cubed pieces. 
  • Add vegetable oil to a deep skillet and turn it to medium heat. Once the oil has heated up, carefully add the diced potatoes.
  • Cook 3-5 minutes until just golden brown. You don’t want these overdone. We are not going for a crispy texture. We want them soft-cooked. Cook in small batches so they won’t stick together. 
  • Remove cooked potatoes from the oil with a wire spoon and allow to rest on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
  • Dice the onion, bell pepper, and garlic.

Cooking the Picadillo

  • Heat up the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add in the diced onion, green pepper, garlic, and bay leaves. Allow them to cook until all the veggies have softened.
  • Next, add the sliced green olives and capers along with all the liquid in the jars. Stir together and allow it to cook over medium-high heat until almost all of the liquid has reduced.
  • Now toss in the savory ground beef, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the Adobo, garlic powder, ground oregano, and cumin. Stir in the seasonings and continue to cook and stir every few minutes until the ground beef is done.
  • Next, carefully mix in the tomato sauce and dry white wine. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Taste the Picadillo to see if you need more seasoning. Add more adobo, cumin, oregano, and garlic to taste. 
  • Stir everything together and allow to cook until some more of the liquid cooks off. Reduce to desired consistency.
  • When the Picadillo has thickened to just the right texture, gently stir in the cooked potatoes. Look for the bay leaf as you stir and remove it before serving. 
  • Cook for just a couple of minutes to heat up the potatoes.
  • Serve warm over a bed of fluffy white rice

Notes

Note: Nutritional information is for Picadillo alone and does not include rice or bread. 

Nutrition

Calories: 414kcalCarbohydrates: 26.7gProtein: 34.9gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5.2gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 1146mgPotassium: 1086mgFiber: 5.7gSugar: 4.1gCalcium: 128mgIron: 8mg
Keyword One Pan Meal
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