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Mexican Beef Picadillo

This recipe is really tasty and is based on ground beef. Although shredded meat is popular in Mexico, it is all too often replaced with ground beef north of the border, and this dates back to when Mexican immigrants into the US would use the cheapest ingredients available to make their traditional dishes. If you want to use shredded beef in the following recipe rather than ground beef, go ahead, but it is also very tasty using the ground beef. Our recipe can be made in just 10 minutes, or you might want to add more optional spices, or even potatoes to make it more hearty.

The word ‘picadillo’ refers to a ground beef filling. In Mexico, Tacos are usually filled with shredded (not ground) beef but if they are using a picadillo then they will typically add chili, garlic, oregano, cumin, and perhaps cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and maybe lime juice, dried fruit and/or nuts too. Sometimes water is added and allowed to cook off, resulting in more tender beef and mellowed flavors. Ground beef is usually made from round, chuck, and other tough cuts of meat, which means simmering them for a while can help get the meat really tender.

Potato is a component in some interior Mexican and US-style picadillo recipes, because the starch from the potato helps bind it all together and the potato also adds its own character and taste to the mixture. Our recipe allows you to make a basic picadillo using ground beef, oregano, chili, cumin and garlic, and this can be cooked in about 10 minutes. Optionally you can add cinnamon, cloves and allspice for extra flavor, or you might like to add potatoes to the picadillo to make it heartier and add more flavor. The choice is yours. Each of these 3 options is tasty.

Use the picadillo to fill tacos or empanadas, or simply serve it with rice and beans, or perhaps over a bed of salad leaves. If you are not using potatoes in the recipe, you might like to serve the picadillo over a hot baked potato, adding a dollop of sour cream and perhaps some cilantro leaves as well. This dish originated in Spain, and is not popular all over Latin America as well as in the Philippines. The name comes from ‘picar’ which is the Spanish word for ‘to chop’ or ‘to mince’. In some Mexican coastal regions, seafood is used instead of the meat.

Easy Mexican Beef Picadillo Recipe
Summary: Picadillo is a popular Latin American dish, especially in Mexico, where the beef is simmered with oregano, chili, garlic, and cumin, to add plenty of mouthwatering flavor.
Cuisine: Mexican
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 peeled, minced garlic cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon each ground cloves, ground cinnamon and ground allspice (optional)
  • 1 cup peeled russet potato, in ¼-inch cubes and 3 cups water (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a pot and fry the ground beef until it is browned all over.
  2. Stir in the oregano, chili powder, cumin, and garlic.
  3. Cook for 4 more minutes.
  4. The picadillo can now be served, or you might want to continue with the recipe.
  5. If you want to continue, stir in the cloves, cinnamon and allspice, and cook for 2 minutes more.
  6. You can serve it now, or else continue.
  7. If you want to keep going with it stir in the water and potatoes.
  8. Bring the picadillo to a simmer and cook for 1½ hours or until the liquid has evaporated.

Photo Description:

This mixture of beef, garlic, oregano, chilies, and cumin makes a great topping for rice or baked potato, or you can use it as a taco or empanada filling. Easy to rustle up and simple to tweak (throw in some bell peppers or mushrooms perhaps) you will find yourself making this often once you have tasted it. We also have some optional spices you can add to subtly change the flavor, although picadillo can be different every time you make it, because you can put anything you want in there. What a wonderful way to make a quick and easy beef dinner.

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi, I'm Christine, and I'm pleased to welcome you to I have endeavored to gather as many delicious South of the border recipes here for you, including Mexican-inspired as well as traditional Mexican, and also some Tex-Mex and Mexican fusion dishes. Food is very important to our family's lives and Mexican food is certainly a favorite around here.

We have everything from appetizers and snacks to soups, drinks, entrées, and much more. You will find everything from mild dishes to super-spicy ones, simple recipes based on fresh ingredients up to more complex ones suitable for a dinner party.

Home cooks just starting out with Mexican cooking tend to be surprised how much of the emphasis is placed on using fresh ingredients and aromatic herbs and spices. Forget the typical ideas about Mexican food being all beans, cheese and beef (that applies a little more to Tex-Mex), take inspiration from authentic Mexican dishes based on fresh ingredients, and inject all your passion into cooking South of the border food, for perfect results every time.

Thanks for visiting,