Beef Picadillo

A while back I bought some ground beef thinking I’d make and freeze mini meatloaves.  It never happened.  Recently, in an effort to be more frugal and clean out the freezer a little, I came back to that (now frozen) ground beef.  I wanted something that would be different from the flavors I tend to repeat.  I wanted something easy and comforting and cozy since winter decided to come back.  Once I found beef picadillo, I locked in, made my shopping list, and that was that.

Totally the right call.  Why I’d never made beef picadillo, a dish I adore, I still can’t explain.  The truth is it’s beyond simple, uses easy to find ingredients, is endlessly adaptable, and makes great leftovers.  In a word, it’s perfect.

The recipe I used called for two seasoning blends that are staples in Latin American homes–adobo and sazón.  They’re savory and smoky and just packed with flavor.  You can purchase them as blends or make your own.  I chose to make my own since I already had the individual spices on hand.  Serve with rice, use it for tacos, or enjoy as empanada filling–whatever strikes your fancy.  Adapt it to your tastes and enjoy.  This beef picadillo is a guaranteed winner.

Looking for more ground beef recipes?

a bowl of ground beef picadillo with white rice, cilantro, and lime wedges

Ground beef, peppers, onion, olives, tomato sauce, and spices come together in this easy, hearty, beef picadillo.  


Beef Picadillo

slightly adapted from My Dominican Kitchen



cooked white rice for serving

1 TBSP vegetable oil

½ green bell pepper , chopped

½ medium red onion , chopped

2 garlic cloves , minced

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 tsp. adobo (buy the blend or make your own)

½ tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp. sazón (buy the blend or make your own)

1/2 c. tomato sauce

1/2 c. water

1 TBSP sliced pimento-stuffed green olives (smoked olives are divine here!)

1 TBSP roughly chopped cilantro , plus more for garnish

lime wedges, for serving



  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper.  Stir well and cook until onion and bell pepper begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  2. Add ground beef and stir to break down the meat with a wooden spoon.  Stir in adobo, pepper, oregano, and sazón.  Cook until the beef is brown, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Once the beef is browned, add the tomato sauce, olives, and water. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the water has evaporated, about 12-15 minutes.  Stir in cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Divide cooked rice between four bowls and top with picadillo.  Garnish with more cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

yield: 4 servings

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