Cuban Picadillo

Cuban PicadilloCuban Picadillo is basically a sloppy joe without the bun. But picadillo has a little more pizzazz, thanks to the sweet and piquant flavor combination of raisins and olives simmered with ground beef and tomato sauce. Picadillo is home cooked comfort food, the type of easy weeknight meal that both kids and adults love.

Like Filipino Kaldereta, the ingredients in Cuban Picadillo are a reflection of its history. Peppers, tomatoes and olives can be traced back to Spanish colonization. The blending of sweet and acidic ingredients is also a big part of Caribbean cuisine. Traditionally served over rice and beans (and sometimes, plantains) Primal Picadillo can be served over cauliflower rice or simply heaped in a bowl with nothing else. It’s also pretty great next to eggs for breakfast.

Is it entirely necessary to add raisins and olives to this dish when it’s still really delicious without them? No. But embracing new flavors and cuisines keeps things interesting at the table. You can make sloppy joes one week and picadillo the next. Same easy meal, two deliciously different flavors.

Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (680 g)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (5 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (5 ml)
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce (240 ml)
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives (75 g)
  • 2 tablespoons raisins (30 ml)


Over medium-high heat sauté the onion and green pepper in olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes.

Add the garlic and the ground beef. Season the beef with salt and pepper, oregano and cumin.

Step 1

When the meat is browned but still a bit pink in the middle, add tomato sauce. Simmer 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Step 2

Add the olives and raisins and simmer 10 minutes more. Serve.

Cuban Picadillo

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34 thoughts on “Cuban Picadillo”

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  1. Similar to my “Morroccan” Picadillo . I add a diced peeled apple, cinnamon, cloves ,jalapeño and toasted slivered almonds at the end. Friends have asked me to bring it to gatherings for YEARS.

  2. I can vouch for this, very excellent, good with anything – kudos to the Worker Bee!

  3. This mixture can be packed into a small pumpkin, cleaned of seeds
    and strings, and baked for an hour. When you serve it, scoop out some
    pumpkin flesh with the picadillo filling.

  4. +1 for the cinnamon. A little allspice and cloves and this is a really rich dish. I like to add Chorizo and some chopped tomatoes and serve inside a roasted red pepper. Even freezes well.

  5. I make a very similar dish all the time and it is DELISH. If this isn’t on your regular menu, it needs to be!

  6. This sounds AWESOME! Going to have to include it in next weeks meal plan I think… sadly I have already worked out what we are eating in the coming week and bought groceries as appropriate…

  7. I’m Cuban… been eating Picadillo for years… tastes even better with some fried plantains

  8. Sounds excellent. Could this also be made in a slow cooker?

    1. Yes! can definitely be cooked in the slow cooker. I do it all the time. No raisins for me though.

  9. I was never a fan of sloppy joe’s just because I can’t stand soggy bread. This looks rather yum.

  10. We have been making a similar dish, minus the olives & raisins. We use tomato paste instead of sauce. We add garlic slightly different spices. We call it Primal Mix, in honor of the great meals we find here. We have served it over spaghetti squash, but usually it is just on its own. Thanks for this unique dish.

  11. I am cuban and I grew up eating this as a kid. I used to hate the raisins, but now as an adult I enjoy the sweet mixed with the salty and savory flavors. Thanks for reminding me of this dish, I don’t know why after five years plus of going paleo on and off I never thought of this dish as fitting the paleo lifestyle (maybe because I always had it with black beans, rice, and fried plantains), but by itself it truly does fit. I usually use a little more garlic in mine, like four cloves, but this is a solid and great recipe. Thanks again Mark for never failing to keep it fresh!

  12. This is one of those dishes that I think improves the next day. I often make a double recipe just to make sure I have leftovers. I use tomato paste instead of the sauce, which makes it a little drier. I also use currants instead of raisins and add about 1/3 – 1/2 c of slivered blanched almonds, which give it a little crunch.

  13. This looks perfect! Making it tonight. I am going to top it off with a fried egg (or two).

  14. Made this tonight, it was great! I’m always looking for new ways to eat ground beef, it’s a staple of ours since its one of the less expensive ways to get grass fed beef. I hate olives and was hesitant about them but they really added the perfect tang and vinegar flavor. I think chopping them amd adding them earlier might be a good idea. And I agree with previous posters about adding more garlic, but that is how I cook everything.

  15. This sounds pretty flexible. Would a splash of cider vinegar provide the tang in place of olives. This sounds great, but I know I won’t sell the olives to the family. Other non-olive suggestions?

    1. Try capers!!!….(Non-olive suggestion) and a splash of Xerès vinegar!…Major yum factor!!

  16. In this mix the olives blend in very well, however, some people are squeamish at the thought, not the taste.

    I made one mod to the recipe: MUCH more garlic!!

  17. This is awesome! Last week was Filipino Kaldereta and this week is Cuban Piccadilo. I am Filipina and my husband is Cuban. We are glad to see that we can enjoy our traditional dishes and still eat primal. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  18. Looks like it would go nicely wrapped in lettuce leaves with a fresh salsa and some avo! Its on tonight!

  19. Finally got around to making this and it was delicious!! My 5 year old gobbled it up and asked for more! Thank you!

  20. I love olives but hate raisins.. Any other suggestions for the sweet ingredient?

  21. Great recipe, tried it tonight, was delicious! We added a bit of chilli and filled lettuce leaves with the mix.

  22. My grandmother was from Cuba – try 1/4 c of apple cider vinegar at the end, she always did and it was deliciousa!

  23. Just made it. Delicious! Does anyone know if you are supposed to drain the beef after cooking? I did because it seemed like it would be soupy. Was pretty thick. Any ideas for low carb veggies to serve with it?