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Best Mexican Picadillo

What can I say about picadillo? It’s the food of my childhood – we ate it at least once every week always served with fresh corn tortillas hot from the griddle.

Picadillo is my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister and I sitting by a round table after school. Picadillo is the beans it was served with and my sister fussing about not wanting to eat meat and my parents urging her to eat it. It’s all those times my parents asked us how we’ll ever be able to please our in-laws what with our picky eating habits.

Honestly – like most foods from our childhood, picadillo was not something I was excited about. It always tasted meat-y and it was only as good as the rest of the fillings in the taco.

I thought it almost my duty to learn to make picadillo. I approached it with skeptic enthusiasm – but, the result? My goodness, A MA ZING. Something is making this picadillo completely delectable – I could eat it in spoonfuls – and I have a suspicion it’s the pasture-raised beef that could be giving it a more exquisite flavor. That, or the way it’s simmered in tomatoey goodness that doesn’t produce the dry, meaty version of my childhood.


We’ve taken to calling it Piccadilly. Enjoy it served with corn tortillas and avocado slices for simple delicious tacos, or next to rice and homemade beans. (see end notes for paleo-friendly version). This recipe was adapted from this original recipe.

Best Mexican Picadillo

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 1/2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 small or medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small serrano pepper, end removed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt


  1. In a blender, add tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 onions, serrano pepper, chipotle and 1/4 cup of water. Blend and reserve.
  2. In a large pan* saute remaining onions over medium heat until translucent.
  3. Increase heat to high and add ground beef. Brown the meat until it is lightly cooked and no longer pink. Season the meat with salt, cumin and oregano and pour blended sauce over it.
  4. Add potatoes, carrots, bay leaves and decrease heat to low. Simmer for at least 20 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through and sauce reaches desired consistency. (I usually simmer for 40 min to an hour). Add water if necessary.


* I like to use a cast iron pan

I am a bigger fan of the traditional mexican picadillo – the starch that releases from the potatoes makes the sauce thicker and richer. But if you must avoid potatoes – replacing them with cauliflower is definitely not a bad choice. Add cauliflower along with the carrots or in the last 10 minutes if you’d like crunch (I didn’t).



Hi! Thanks for reading! I’m a certified nutritionist exploring the local & sustainable foods scenes in The Woodlands and Houston! Keep in touch and follow me! As of 2017 my sister and I just opened an outdoor dessert café – check it out! I couldn’t be more excited!


  1. My husband stops at a.resturaunt in Texas (truck driver) and gets picadillo every chance he gets. U can’t find it here in Tennessee. We even ask 1 of our Aztec resturaunts if they could make it and they said they would call a family member and get it but after months of waiting I found ur recipe and made it for my husband. He hasn’t tasted it yet but won’t get away from the pan so I’m sure it will be great. Thanks

    • Hilary, your comment made my day! I hope it turned out to be everything he was hoping for!
      Picadillo is a tough one to find at restaurants. In northern Mexico you’ll find that every household has their spin on picadillo and the recipe will be part of the weekly rotation. But you’ll never find it at a restaurant!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! Would love to know how it turned out!

  2. Natalia. Spectacular recipe. I didn’t have to make it, just reading your ingredients list tells me this will be fantastic when I make it.

  3. Oh my goodness!! I have never had this before but it looks amazing. This is definitely a MUST try.. thanks for a great recipe!

  4. looks like a visual treat to the eyes.. simply awesome.. thanks for sharing this recipe

  5. That does sound like your basic, family style, “We make it all the time because it’s simple and *good*” recipes! We all need a few of them…

    • I know right! I’d love to know everyone’s weekly family recipes… the easy ones that feed you for a couple of days. I feel like often these don’t get shared in favor of more “gourmet” or creative recipes. But the basic, good recipes are where it’s at!

  6. Mexican Picadillo look so flavourful and delicious! Yummy!

  7. What a beautifully written post commencing with precious childhood memories and culminating with a superlative dish. I can see so much love gone into making this dish. The Picadillo with all the herbs, aromatics and spice has got me lip smacking. Truly it’s the best Mexican Picadillo. Loved it.

    • Thank you so much for your kinds words Piyali! I try to share recipes with a little bit of story behind them. I always love to learn about the history and memories behind each person’s recipes<3

  8. This sounds really yummy! I had never heard of it before. I love the story behind your version too!

    • It’s definitely one of the most popular mexican foods yet you don’t ever really find it in restaurants as it’d be too “simple.” Every household will make their own variation of it and serve it over tostadas, as a taco filling or simply next to rice and beans!

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