Mexican Picadillo + Video

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Carne Molida con Papas, commonly known as Mexican Picadillo, is a Mexican comfort dish made from a mixture of ground beef, potatoes, and tomatoes. Perfect filling for tacos and gorditas, this 30 minute recipe is my go-to for when I just don’t know what to make for dinner.

cast iron skillet filled with carne molida picadillo

Homey, hearty, and perfect for serving with just about any carb-y vehicle you have on hand – be it tortillas, chips, empanada dough, or gorditas – my Mexican picadillo recipe is a true weeknight savior. When you’re tired and just don’t know what to make, this speedy supper is just the recipe to turn to.

What is Picadillo?

The Spanish verb “picar” means “to chop.” All the ingredients in picadillo are chopped, which is where this dish gets its name. 

Picadillo is a meal beloved by Latin America. Basically every country, region, and family has their own special recipe, ranging from the popular Cuban ground beef version made with olives, capers, and raisins to versions more aligned with coastal ingredients like fish. Some are sweet, some are spicy, but they’re basically all delicious.

If you are new to the picadillo game, my recipe is extremely simple to make and can be enjoyed in many different dishes like burritos, crunchwraps, empanadas and tacos!

diced tomato, onion, and jalapeno

Why I Love This Recipe

On nights when I’m not quite sure what to make for dinner, this picadillo recipe comes to the rescue!

Tacos de picadillo were always a regular dish growing up and continue to be a family favorite. The best part about picadillo is that it is economical, simple to make, and almost endlessly versatile.

This Mexican picadillo is the way my grandma and mother always made it. My grandma was born in Chihuahua and my mom was born and raised in El Paso, so you know this is an authentic recipe.

Yet another thing I love about this meal is that it’s so easy to make! This picadillo is a one-skillet dish. It cooks up in about 25 minutes and clean up is a snap.

Made primarily with ground beef and potatoes, this picadillo recipe is also very inexpensive. If you are trying to feed your family healthy food on a budget, this is a great recipe to keep in your back pocket!

How to serve

Serve it as a main dish with a side of Mexican rice or sopa de fideo, or as a filling in tacos, empanadas, poblanos, gorditas, zucchini boats, or crunch wraps.

Mexican palm basket on a marble surface filled with a Roma tomato, onion, garlic and two potatoes

How to Make My Mexican Picadillo

This recipe is so simple! In just 3 steps and a total of about 30 minutes, you’re going to have a dinner that the whole family will love.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, or until translucent.

ground meat in a skillet 

Add the ground beef and brown. Using a potato masher, spatula or metal spoon, mash the meat so you have small pieces with no big chunks. Drain off excess grease.

TIP: Be sure to drain your fat into a separate container and not down the kitchen sink. Beef fat will congeal at room temperature, and it will wreak havoc on your plumbing.

tomatoes and potatoes added to ground meat

Add garlic salt, pepper, tomatoes, and potato and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Taste and season with salt as necessary. Enjoy!

Watch this video to see how simply this picadillo recipe comes together.


If you are looking for ways to customize your picadillo, here are some of my favorite options:

  • Make it healthier by substituting ground beef for lower fat ground turkey or ground bison.
  • Make it spicy by adding diced jalapeño or serrano to the mixture.
  • Make it low carb by substituting cauliflower for potato.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is picadillo spicy?

It certainly can be! This particular recipe is quite mild, but you can feel free to raise the heat by adding in a chopped jalapeño or serrano to your taste.

What goes well with picadillo?

Picadillo is one of those unicorn recipes that will go with just about anything. It would almost be easier to answer the question what *doesn’t* go with picadillo, LOL! Here are a few ideas to get you started, but don’t feel limited by what is listed:

-Serve with rice or Mexican rice for a complete meal
-Use as a filling for empanadas, tacos, crunchwraps, or gorditas
-Serve alongside sopa de fideo
-Use it to stuff peppers like poblanos or bell peppers. Top with cheese and bake for awesome results!
-Bake it atop a pile of chips and sprinkle it with cheese to make nachos
-Scoop it atop a split baked potato or sweet potato for a simple meal

How do you like to serve picadillo? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Is picadillo gluten free?

Yep! If you opt to serve it as tacos, burritos, or tostadas, just be sure to grab gluten free wrappers.

Is picadillo low carb?

My recipe for Mexican picadillo has potatoes, which are decidedly not keto friendly. If you’d like to make an easy swap, simply trade the potatoes for small pieces of cauliflower instead!

Need more quick dinner ideas? Check out these other tasty recipes:

If you made my recipe for authentic Mexican Picadillo, please let me know how it turned out by rating and reviewing the recipe below!

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Mexican Picadillo

This Picadillo recipe or as my grandma called it, carne molida con papas, is a Mexican comfort dish made from a mixture of ground beef, potatoes, and tomatoes. Picadillo is the perfect filling for tacos and gorditas.
cast iron skillet filled with mexican picadillo
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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil       
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 2 pounds  ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt    
  • 1/2   tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano, diced (optional)
  • 1 large russet potato or 2 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and finely chopped


  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 2 minutes, until translucent.
  • Add ground beef and brown. Using a potato masher, mash meat so you have small pieces of meat with no big chunks. Drain off excess grease.
  • Add garlic salt, pepper, tomatoes, jalapeño if using, and potato and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are done. Salt to taste.



If you are looking for ways to customize your picadillo, here are some of my favorite options:


Calories: 341kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 953mg, Potassium: 583mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 531IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 34mg, Iron: 3mg

I’d love to see what you cook!

Tag #MUYBUENOCOOKING if you make this recipe.

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Photos by Jenna Sparks