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.

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


Recipe: Cuban picadillo recipe

Summary: Cuban 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 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tbs 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
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce (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.