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Picadillo Recipe (Mexican Style)

Picadillo recipe for authentic Mexican style ground beef and potatoes! Simmered with fragrant onions, tomatoes and spices, this easy dish can be whipped up in less than 3o minutes!

Plate of picadillo with flour tortillas on side

Mexican Picadillo

Picadillo is one of the basics of Latin cuisine. Nearly every country has their own version, and there are variations within the country and also from cook to cook.

I have a really popular recipe for Puerto Rican Picadillo if you’d like to try another style, but today I’m sharing my grandma’s Mexican Picadillo.

You may see it called carne molida con papas.

Picadillo is such a staple and versatile dish! I like to make a double (or triple) batch and freeze the extra for quick meals later on.

At the end of this post you’ll find the basic recipe.

It’s easy to customize to your preferences and availability of ingredients.

Continue reading for more detailed information on substitutions, additions and ways to use picadillo.

Browning ground beef in large pan for picadillo

Ingredients and substitutes:

  • Ground beef – I prefer lean ground beef, or drain the excess grease from regular ground beef. You can also substitute ground turkey for a healthier version
  • Ground cumin – not everyone puts cumin in their picadillo or as much as we do. For my Tejas ancestors it’s a must.
  • Onion – white or yellow preferred
  • Garlic cloves – you can substitute jarred minced garlic or garlic powder
  • Tomato sauce – grandma used tomato sauce most of the year, and 3 fresh tomatoes in the summer. You could also use canned tomatoes (drained)
  • Potato – grandma used to add extra potatoes to stretch the dish. They’re filling and more economical than meat
  • Water – you can also use beef stock or add a Knorr chicken bouillon (or beef) for extra flavor

Mexican Picadillo in a large skillet

Picadillo Additions:

  • 1-2 cups of vegetables such as peas, carrots, zucchini or green beans. Use your favorite or whatever is available locally. Add them along with the potatoes.
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, finely chopped. The peppers don’t add a lot of spice after they’ve been simmered, but they do add tons of flavor.
  • 1 bay leaf, add while simmering for extra dimension of flavor.
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sprinkle over meat and stir well for 1 minute before adding the liquid. Grandma added flour to nearly everything she made! I don’t think it’s traditional, but it thickens things up which is how she liked it.

Using flour tortillas to scoop up picadillo beef

How to serve picadillo:

The easiest way to serve is alongside white rice or Mexican rice.

Serve with warm tortillas (homemade flour tortillas are the best!).

We like the scoop method (no silverware necessary) where you tear off pieces of the tortilla and scoop up the meat, but you could also fill them like tacos.

Serve with pinto beans or calabacitas con queso.

Use as a filling for tacos, burritos or gorditas.

Or, serve over pasta with cotija cheese for an extra tasty dinner!

Plate of picadillo with flour tortillas on side

Picadillo Recipe (Mexican Picadillo)

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Mexican Picadillo - ground beef and potato hash simmered with onions and tomato. Serve with tortillas or rice!


  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Generous pinch of dried oregano
  • 8oz can tomato sauce* [see notes]
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup water or beef broth
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Tortillas or cooked rice, for serving


  1. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add ground beef and break up into small crumbles.
  2. While beef is browning add salt, pepper, cumin and oregano and continue cooking until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in onion, garlic, tomato and potatoes.
  4. Add water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover with lid and cook for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft and cooked through.
  5. Garnish with cilantro and serve with warmed tortillas or rice.


Substitute options: 3 fresh tomatoes (or canned), diced

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 849mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 35g

Nutritional information provided is an estimate only. Please consult the labels of ingredients you use for more accurate results.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment below! Or tag @kitchengidget on Instagram with the hashtag #kitchengidget

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Wednesday 10th of January 2024

So yummy. I used unpeeled red potatoes, that's all I had. I added 1 Green Bell pepper, I didn't have tomato sauce, so I did a can of Rotel and a can of El Pato jalapeno sauce. A tomato bullion and a couple sprinkles of Knorr Chicken bullion. I didn't add regular salt. Served with Mexican rice and tortillas. Very tasty. Will make again!! Ty.


Monday 22nd of May 2023

I meant to say Prego


Monday 22nd of May 2023

If you make it with any type of spaghetti sauce such as Ragú or Progresso comes out delicious too.


Monday 22nd of May 2023

Good to know!

Francine Chavez

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

My family had this years ago but, it never got back into the rotation. The pot was wiped clean. I can surmise that it was good. And it was. Definitely a must save. Muy Rico sabor!

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