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Cuban Picadillo

This recipe is a Cuban classic and a family favorite of mine. It has been passed on from mother to daughter for generations. The seasoning mixture known as “sofrito,” a combination of onion, green pepper, and spices, serves as the foundation for many Cuban dishes and provides a symphony of flavors without too much spice. This is a great meal to serve guests, since it offers something new but delicious.

  • Duration
  • 6Servings



  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf


  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3.5 - 4 pounds ground beef (I prefer 85% - 90% lean)
  • Olives (optional)


  1. Cut open the green pepper and remove the seed pod. Chop into large chunks. Peel the onion and chop into large chunks. Place both in a food processor and blend until minced.
  2. Place the ground beef in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until browned. (Note: If using beef with a higher percentage of fat, such as 85% lean or lower, you may wish to remove some of the excess fat.)
  3. Add garlic and stir until it is golden and sizzling, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the minced green pepper and onion mixture, followed by the salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf.
  5. Pour in the tomato sauce (and olives, if desired).
  6. Cook on low, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve over white rice.

Note: You can use this exact same recipe to make another Cuban dish called ropa vieja. Simply swap out the ground beef for skirt steak!

Note: You can use leftover picadillo to make a delicious bolognese sauce, simply by reheating it in a saucepan and adding more tomato sauce. Leftover picadillo also goes great in tacos!