Cuban Picadillo Recipe

Picadillo is classic Cuban comfort food, made from ground meat mixed with a flavorful combination of olives, capers, and raisins

A blue ceramic plate with picadillo, white rice, and black beans.

Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

Why It Works

  • A sofrito of chopped onion, garlic, and bellpepper creates a flavorful foundation. 
  •  Briny green olives, capers, and raisins add brightness and texture to the final dish.

Picadillo is a Cuban-style hash made with ground pork, ground beef, or a combination of both. While simple to make, this classic Cuban dish is extremely flavorful. It begins with a sofrito of finely chopped onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. Sofrito is the base of many Latin American dishes and it is truly the backbone, so avoid taking shortcuts and cook the vegetables slowly, allowing them to sweat rather than crisp and color. Dried cumin, dried oregano, bay leaves, tomato paste, and white wine are additional ingredients that layer the picadillo.

What makes picadillo really sing is the addition of briny, pimento-stuffed green olives, capers, and raisins. I've had versions with and without potatoes and both are great, so if you're reluctant to double-starch (picadillo is served with white rice) feel free to leave them out.

Picadillo blends various textures and flavors, like concentrated saltiness and plump sweetness, which meld together seamlessly in a dish that's symbolic of good Cuban home cooking.

July 19, 2012

Recipe Facts



Cook: 40 mins
Active: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Serves: 8 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 1 small red bell pepper, cored and seeded, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 4 teaspoons)

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/3 cup raisins

  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives plus 2 tablespoons brine

  • 2 tablespoons capers

  • 1 large waxy potato (such as Yukon Gold or red, about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes


  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and bay leaves and cook until fragrant and tomato paste darkens in color, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes.

    A collage showing the sofrito ingredients being cooked down in a stainless steel pan.

    Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Add meat and cook, stirring and breaking up chunks, until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, raisins, olives, capers, brine, and potatoes. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.

    A two-image collage showing meet and potatoes being added to the pan of cooked ingredients.

    Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Remove cover and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove and discard bay leaves. Serve with white rice and black beans.

    A stainless steel pan containing the cooked picadillo, with bowls holding white rice and black beans on the periphery.

    Serious Eats / Diana Chistruga

Special Equipment

12-inch skillet

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
349 Calories
19g Fat
19g Carbs
25g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 349
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Sodium 492mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 25g
Vitamin C 44mg 222%
Calcium 68mg 5%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 771mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)