Picadillo is the ultimate comfort food. It is a simple dish that brings love and joy to the dinner table. This recipe also happens to be paleo and Whole30 compliant, if that is your thing. This is different from I believe most of America is used to, which is Cuban picadillo and sometimes I find Puerto Rican picadillo, often made with green olives. That is not this recipe, this is a Mexican version picadillo recipe. Yet, even within Mexico you will find various Mexican picadillo recipe or you may find it named Carne Molida con Papas, which simply means potatoes with ground meat. Typically, ground beef is used in this dish, but we are switching it up and using ground turkey or you could always use ground chicken or ground pork.
As a child, my Dad loved his Tia China's beef picadillo, and anytime my Mom made it for him it would always bring a smile to his face. Inspired by a pound of ground turkey I needed to use, I set out to recreate my Tia's picadillo recipe. With a story, a little intuition, and many conversations with my ancestors, I created my version of this recipe, Tex-Mex Picadillo. A perfect main dish you can serve with white rice, or use in place of taco meat
Picadillo originates from the Spanish word "picar," meaning "to mince." Picadillo is originally from Spain, so you find many versions of this dish throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The one similarity you will always find in picadillo is some version of minced or ground meat. Most versions I have tried have a sweet and sour element, but this recipe does not, though I love adding pickled jalapeños on top.
I hope this recipe makes it to your dinner table in memory of my Tia China.
You can find versions of Picadillo from all over the world and this recipe is similar to what you would find in Northern Mexico and Texas, hence Tex-Mex Picadillo.
- Avocado oil
- Ground turkey
- Onion, diced (about 1 medium onion)
- Carrots, diced (about two carrots)
- Gold potatoes, diced (about two medium potatoes)
- Salt (divided)
- Black pepper (divided)
- Mexican oregano
- Tomato paste
- Fresh tomato, diced
- Cloves garlic, minced
- Bay leaf
- Frozen peas
- Chicken broth or water
- Cilantro chopped
See recipe card for quantities.
- In large skillet medium heat oil.
- Cook turkey until browned. Break up turkey and remove from skillet.
- In same skillet, add some more oil and the onions
- Add carrots and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add remaining spices.
- Mix in tomato paste and diced tomatoes.
- Add bay leaf, peas and broth. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.
- Garnish with cilantro and a slice of lime. Serve with rice.
Picadillo can be enjoyed all by itself, but it is also great with rice or scooped up in a tortilla, tortilla chips or plantain chips.
- Fresh Tomato - sub 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
- Ground Turkey - use any kind of ground meat.
- Vegan - sub the ground turkey for Impossible meat and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
- Spicy - if you want to kick up the heat at a diced jalapeño or two
- Deluxe - serve with these homemade flour tortillas and a pot of cilantro lime pilaf
- Kid friendly - wrap up the picadillo in a cheesy tortilla for a kiddo burrito or stuff crunchy tacos shells with the filling.
- Large pan or pot
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Large spoon or spatula
- Can opener
- Measuring cups and spoons
Place any leftover picadillo in an airtight container and place in refrigerator for up to four days or freeze for up to three months.
When browning your meat, add the raw ground meat to the frying pan and flatten in a single layer. Let it cook over medium high heat until browned. Then flip meat "disk" over and brown other side. Then take a wooden spoon and break up the ground meat.
In most Mexican picadillo recipes you will see the use of chili and cumin. In Filipino versions, they is typically the use of soy sauce and sometimes fish sauce, altering the flavor.
Picadillo is basically dish with "picar" aka minced or ground meat. Of all the varieties of picadillo that exist in the world, the one common and main ingredient is minced or ground meat.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with [this recipe]:
Tex-Mex Picadillo (Paleo & Whole30)
- 1 Stovetop
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil divided
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 cup onion diced (about 1 medium onion)
- 1 cup carrots diced (about two carrots)
- 1 cup gold potatoes diced (about two medium potatoes)
- 1 teaspoon salt divided
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup fresh tomato diced (or sub 1 cup diced can tomatoes)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ to ¾ cup chicken broth or water
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- Heat one tablespoon of avocado oil in a large skillet over high heat until the oil is hot. Carefully add the ground turkey—spread turkey in one even layer over the bottom of your pan. Lower heat to medium-high and let the ground turkey cook for four minutes or until browned. Carefully flip the turkey over and allow the other side to brown for two minutes. Break up turkey, remove from pan and set aside.
- Add one tablespoon of avocado oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until the onions soften for about two minutes. Add diced carrots and cook for three minutes. Add diced potatoes and season with one teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper. Cook the onions, carrots, and potatoes for an additional three minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add paprika, cumin, and oregano. Mix into vegetables, allowing spices to "toast" for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Mix, allowing tomatoes to warm, and release juices for about 30 seconds. Add the minced garlic sauté ingredients for 30 seconds or until you begin to smell the fragrance of the garlic.
- Add the bay leaf, frozen peas, remaining salt, and pepper and mix into picadillo. Add ¾ cups of broth or water and mix. Continue to cook until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. (You may need to add additional broth or water if too much liquid evaporates.)
- Garnish with cilantro.
- Picadillo can be enjoyed all by itself, but it is also great with rice or scooped up in a tortilla, tortilla chips or plantain chips.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for longer than two hours
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds