Easy Cuban Picadillo Recipe

Is there anything better than meat and potatoes? It's a classic dinner combination for a reason, right? But instead of the one note meat and potatoes you are used to, such as steak and mashed potatoes, how about adding a little flavor? Cuban food is known for its excellent use of flavor, namely spices. Recipe developer and registered dietitian nutritionist Kristen Carli, MS, RD, brings us this Cuban picadillo, which is potatoes and beef stewed in a flavorful tomato sauce. This classic Cuban dish will bring the variety to your dinner table that you and your family are looking for.

With only five minutes of prep time and only 30 minutes of actual cooking time, this Cuban picadillo recipe is ideal for busy weeknights when you need to get dinner on the table in a flash. Carli notes that this is a "balanced meal containing starch and protein", so you can feel good providing this flavorful meal to your family.

Gather your ingredients to make Cuban picadillo

To make this delicious dish, go ahead and gather your ingredients. For this recipe, you will need olive oil, minced garlic, ground beef, salt, pepper, ground cumin, ground paprika, dried oregano, water, tomato sauce, diced yellow potatoes, diced green olives, and chopped cilantro. Carli recommends "using baby yellow potatoes for this recipe, so you only have to quarter or halve them if they are really small." Otherwise, you will want to dice the potatoes.

Sauté the garlic and beef

Heat a large, deep pan over medium heat. Carli notes that "an ideal pan here is deep and has high edges so the contents of this dish do not spill over." Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil and the minced garlic. Then go ahead and add in the ground beef. Using a wooden spoon, break up the beef into small pieces. Cook until the beef is no longer pink. This should take around eight minutes.

Spice it up

Once your beef is cooked, you will want to add some flavor. Add the salt, black pepper, ground cumin, ground paprika, and dried oregano. Give this mixture a big stir. This will ensure that the entire dish, but the beef especially, is seasoned appropriately. Carli notes, "Feel free to add other spices as desired. Chili powder and cayenne pepper powder go nicely in this dish too if you want to add a little more kick."

Add water, tomato sauce, and potatoes

Now that the beef is seasoned, you can add the water, can of tomato sauce, and diced potatoes. Give this mixture a few good stirs to make sure the water and tomato sauce get fully incorporated. Then continue to heat over medium, simmering. You will want to allow this dish to simmer for at least 20 minutes. To test if the dish is done, use a fork to check the potatoes tenderness. If the potatoes are tender, the dish is complete.

Garnish with olives and cilantro

You will notice that the extra moisture has since evaporated from this dish. Give the mixture a good stir, then remove this dish from the heat. To garnish the dish, add the diced green olives and chopped cilantro. Then you can serve this up in bowls. This dish is "complete with protein and starchy vegetables" according to Carli. Carli recommends serving this "alongside grilled zucchini or a large green salad to get in some extra vegetables."

Storing leftovers

You probably won't have any leftovers because it's likely you and your family will eat this up in one sitting. However, if you do happen to have any leftovers of this Cuban picadillo, Carli recommends "storing leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days." She also notes "when you are ready to reheat and serve, zap the mixture in the microwave and you will be all set." We hope you love this flavorful Cuban picadillo recipe!

Easy Cuban Picadillo Recipe
5 from 31 ratings
If you love meat and potatoes, add a little bit of flavor to the classic combo with this Cuban picadillo recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
cuban picadillo serving on plate
Total time: 35 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 (15 ounces) can tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups diced yellow potatoes
  • ¼ cup diced green olives
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  1. In a large, deep pan over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic. Then add in the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook the beef until no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and oregano to the beef.
  3. Add water, tomato sauce, and potatoes. Stir well. Continue to cook over medium heat, simmering. Simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Remove the dish from heat. Add olives and cilantro as garnish and serve.
Calories per Serving 404
Total Fat 27.8 g
Saturated Fat 9.3 g
Trans Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 80.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 17.1 g
Dietary Fiber 3.5 g
Total Sugars 4.3 g
Sodium 747.1 mg
Protein 22.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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