Free songs
Home / recipe / Best Mexican Picadillo

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. As a Texas girl , cumin makes great chili and other Mexican dishes so pungent! So I could share with my neighbor, I did 2lbs of grass fed ground beef, and since I’m not a measurer of ingredients as I go by taste…I added at least 4 teaspoons of cumin, at least 4 cloves of garlic, Himalayan salt, and a-bit more ground garlic and more oregano (probably cuz mine was not fresh) used large cast iron skillet 2 carrots and a Texas sized potato 🤗 sauce was great but I never use water…I used Knorr’s beef broth for added flavor for the sauce & for additional liquid once all ingredients were mixed together. I ended up putting in the oven @ 350 degrees for about an hour so it could simmer evenly. Delicious!!

  2. I added diced calabacita zucchini squash and as it cooked down added a bit of beef broth to keep it moist. So rich and flavorful. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It will be a go to for us!

    • Hi Bobbie, loving your additions. Calabacita zucchini is a staple in Mexican cooking and packed with nutrients. Thanks for your comment!

  3. It says to add 1/4 of the onions to the blender, what do you do with the rest?

  4. I am really not a fan of Chipotle but would love some sort of chili added. What are your other options I could try ?

    • The flavor of chipotle really does not come through. The end result does not taste “smokey.” If you must avoid try adding chili powder or adding more fresh serrano (for a kick) or jalapeno for milder.

  5. I only have dried ground bay leaves. Can I use that instead or just leave it out?

    • You can just leave it out – no problem! I keep forgetting to stock up on bay leaves so the last couple of times I’ve made Picadillo I’ve had to omit them😅

  6. The recipe turned out great and was fairly simple. Although it is quite different from my families traditional Mexican picadillo! Thank you. I also just love the picture with the blue speckled sartén….brings back great memories!

    • My favorite part of Mexican households is how each has their own spin on picadillo and homemade refried beans. You’ll never get two the same! I do love the peltre (I believe it’s enamel in english?) pans/ dishes. This blue one was a gift from my grandma! Thanks for your comment.

  7. Does anyone happen to know how many cups this makes? I’m on weight watchers and am trying to figure out the points. Thank you.

  8. I made a version of this tonight and it was delicious! Used jalapeño peppers and green chili’s in lieu of Serrano…and upped the fresh garlic…I am from South Texas…currently living in Wisconsin and was looking for an easy, but flavorable recipe…this was it! .thank you for posting…this will become a staple in my kitchrn

  9. Hi Natalia. I followed your recipe very closely but used 1 lb of ground beef and a tube of chorizo that I needed to cook. I also didn’t have a Serrano pepper so I added half a can of green chilies. My meat kept sticking to the bottom of the pan so I added a little chicken broth as well. This was one of the best things I have ever cooked and I am so happy that I found your recipe! I usually go to Laredo Taco located inside Stripes for picadillo, but this recipe was pretty easy and VERY good. Thanks again!

    • Hah, nothing could ever get ruined by adding chorizo! Thank you so much for your comment, Kyle! Made my day!

  10. Hi Natalia – My sister in law makes a very simple and tasty one. I’m looking forward to making yours on Monday! I will come back with results!

    • Hi Laura. Thanks for your comment! I make picadillo about twice a month and just vary the serrano pepper/chipotle powder amount depending on my mood. A good tip is to cut the potato in little squares so it’s done quicker and the sauce doesn’t dry up! Would love to know how it fares against your sister-in-law’s!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

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

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

  15. 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!

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

  17. 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

  18. 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *