Cuban Picadillo: Ground Beef Stew with tomatoes, vinegar and olives

cuban picadillo in a black skillet with green olives and a bay leaf

5 from 2 reviews

Picadillo is a simple yet special stew made with ground beef, tomatoes and spices. It has exciting sweet, sour, salty layers of flavor, punctuated with salty olives and sweet raisins.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more, to taste
  • 1 28 ounce can imported plum tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste (half of a 6-ounce can)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dark raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon (mild) smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup pimiento stuffed green olives
  • Suggested Accompaniment: rice or mashed potatoes, black beans


  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large deep skillet or dutch oven. Add onion, garlic and green pepper. Cook for 5-6 minute, until vegetables start to soften. Add beef and salt. Allow meat to brown, breaking up clumps with the end of a spatula or wooden spoon, to achieve a crumbly texture.
  2. Add plum tomatoes, crushing them or tearing them into pieces with your hands as you drop them in. Pour in the plum tomato juice from the can too. Add tomato paste and stir through. Add vinegar, raisins, cumin, smoked paprika, bay leaves and olives. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stew is slightly thickened and the flavors are melded. Remove bay leaves. Correct seasoning with salt, if necessary.
  3. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice or black beans.


[This post first appeared on Panning The Globe in September 2016. It was updated in May 2020 with added nutritional information, clarifying details in the written post and clearer instructions in the recipe.]

Nutrition Information: The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and is not a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.

Keywords: Ground beef stew, Cuban ground beef stew