Cuban Beef Picadillo {Picadillo Alvarez}

Cuban beef picadillo is a traditional dish made with ground beef, potatoes, onions, garlic, cumin, bell peppers, white wine, tomato sauce, raisins, olives and capers. Back in April we spent spring break in Austin, it was the first time we had gone back to Austin since moving to Seattle. One of the great things about the visit, in addition to trading 40 degree rainy weather for 70 degree sunny weather, was catching up with family and friends. I met Carolina, from Guayaquil, during my first year in Austin, she was visiting a mutual friend and came to my New Year’s Eve party – she brought a delicious shrimp ceviche to the party. She eventually moved to Austin with her husband Joe. They invited us for a yummy lunch when we were visiting Austin and Joe made this amazing Cuban style beef picadillo.

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Cuban beef picadillo
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Yield: For ~6 people

Cuban beef picadillo

Cuban beef picadillo is a traditional dish made with ground beef, potatoes, onions, garlic, cumin, bell peppers, white wine, tomato sauce, raisins, olives and capers.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and cut in small pieces
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup whole green olives, stuffed w/ pimentos
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup capers, drained
  • 16 ounces of tomato sauce (2 8 oz cans)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium-size frying pan, brown the ground beef with a dash of cumin and pepper, drain off any excess grease, and set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbs of olive oil over med-low heat and cook the diced onion until soft
  3. Add the chopped garlic and cook until almost golden.
  4. Mix in the bell pepper, cumin, pepper and a little salt – not too much as the olives and capers are salty.
  5. Add the potatoes pieces and cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the ground beef and the wine, let the liquid reduce.
  7. Add raisins and tomato sauce when the potatoes are about half-cooked (a knife can easily through the first part but the center is still very firm).
  8. Cook for 5 more minutes and then add the olives and capers.
  9. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are ready. If the sauce thickens too much, you can add some more wine or a little bit of water. Taste and adjust any seasonings: salt, pepper, cumin or additional olives/capers.
  10. Serve with rice, fried ripe plantains and a small salad.


You can also use ground chicken or turkey in place of the ground beef.

Beef picadillo
Of course, I had to ask for the recipe and Joe was kind enough to share the recipe – and he did such an awesome job writing it that I barely adapted it before sharing it with you. This picadillo recipe is very easy to make and is a perfect comfort food dish. Picadillo is also very versatile, Joe suggested that the leftovers can be used to make pastelitos de carne or Cuban style empanadas – or any kind of empanadas. He also mentioned that if you make the beef picadillo without potatoes you can use it as a filling for papas rellenas, which are stuffed mashed potato balls that are rolled in a mix of bread crumbs and then fried – I will definitely try those soon. I served the picadillo with rice, a tomato and onion lime pickled salad, and fried ripe plantains.

Picadillo recipe Beef picadillo recipe

Step by step preparation photos for Cuban style beef picadillo


This post was last modified: August 19th, 2016 by Layla Pujol


  1. This was amazing! I did however leave out the raisins, used sweet white wine ( as that’s all I had, added a little garlic salt and cayenne pepper for heat, but other than that I stuck with the rest of the recipe exactly. Thank you for sharing this delicious meal…

  2. Gianna says:

    Just have to say, this was amazing! Delicious recipe!

  3. Can you tell me how you made that salad?! It looks delish as the whole plate does!! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. [email protected] says:

    Not the same when made with ground turkey.

  5. I’m looking forward to making this recipe. About how long, start to finish, does it take to prepare?

    • About 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. If you want you can do all the vegetable prep (peeling, chopping, dicing) ahead of time and have it ready. You can make the rice, plantains, salad while the potatoes cook.

  6. Can someone tell me how many this recipe serves?

  7. Just made this dish for the first time, very yummy and super easy. Great recipe, thanks! Will be making for New Year’s this year :)

  8. I love Picadillo! I have tried several different recipes and this is, by far, the best. I made a double batch yesterday and delivered it to a sick friend and his family. They RAVED about it and gave the ultimate compliment – they said it was as good as what their grandmother used to make. I just smiled and said I was glad they enjoyed it. Thanks for making me shine!

  9. Same delicious recipe as my Grandmother’s with the exception of cumin.

  10. nakedape1000 says:

    substituted TVP for the beef & it turned out delicous. thanks for the recipe.

  11. Made this last night and turned out great! I really like the raisins though, so I tossed in a handful more. Also added some garlic powder bc felt that there wasnt enough garlic. Next time will cut up more cloves.

  12. I was searching online for a Cuban recipe (I’ve never cooked a Cuban dish in my life) I came across a lot of picadillo recipes. I decided to go with your recipe and I am soooooo glad I did. Everyone in my family loved it! Even the kids! It was such a nice blend of flavors…this recipe is a keeper! Thank you!

  13. Jess Ica says:

    I made this tonight. :) I would recommend not adding any salt until everything is basically done, and its time for a taste test. The capers, and olives are very salty. Also, if you are using canned tomatoes its likely to already have salt in it. Other wise…DELICIOUS!! :)

  14. Susanne says:

    Looks yummy! I’ll have to try making this soon.

  15. Just discovered your website – love it. Can you suggest something to substitute the wine – no alcohol. Thank you!!!

    Hi Kelly – You can substitute the white wine with beef stock or chicken stock, add a dash lemon juice or cider vinegar to it (to mimic the acidity of the white wine).

  16. Succulent — can hardly wait to try it.

  17. The pictures on this website makes me want to make everything on it … I thank you for that…. As soon as I saw the pics for this picadello recipe I made it immediately… Uhhh wow… It brings me back to a little restaurant in Brooklyn called Georges where they stuff a maduro with this meat sauce which is almost exactly like this picadello recipe…. To my delight I no longer crave Georges stuffed maduros thanks to you!!! I cannot wait to make it for my mother!!! Keep these great recipes coming!!ll

  18. I loooove this website and ALL the recipes you post!!! You really make me feel like standing up and start cooking right away!!!! THANK YOU!!

  19. Platanos, Mangoes and Me! says:

    It’s funny how we all ave our own picadillo recipe. I always ejoy the Cuban version and yes, pastelitos sound good right about now. Great pictures.

  20. This really does look like empanada filling! We filipino’s eat something very similar but im not sure what the correct name is for the dish. We put fish sauce in it instead of salt and is truly delicious.

  21. Now i am very hungry. Very. :)

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