Beef Picadillo is a Cuban meal made with ground meat, a sofrito, olives for tanginess, raisins for sweetness, and some spices. Prepared in the Instant Pot and ready in less than 30 minutes, this delicious recipe is the perfect comfort food for weekday dinner. It is easy and delicious and also a great option warmed up for the kid's lunch!
This dish is traditionally served with rice, black beans, and a salad.
You have to add this recipe to your repertoire for a delicious simple weekday recipe along with the garbanzos fritos. This is also a great option to make ahead if you are batch cooking or to have in your freezer.
Why you will love picadillo:
- EASY to prepare
- Ready in NO TIME in the Instant Pot
- Packed with FLAVOUR through the Cuban sofrito
- Makes great LEFTOVERS
🥘 Ingredients Needed
Starting with organizing the ingredients you need to make this picadillo recipe:
- Lean ground beef: can be easily swapped for any other meat such as ground turkey or pork. I would recommend opting for lean beef as we are cooking in the Instant Pot and we will not be able to scoop extra fat.
- Pepper: for the sofrito, typically, you would see a green pepper in the ingredient list for their bitterness but I never buy them so I use what I have. Feel free to do the same!
- Green olives: can be skipped if you are not a fan but adds flavour while cooking and plays with your palate with its tanginess
- Raisins: adds sweetness to the dish and it's a great balance with the spices and the olives
- Tomato sauce: use plain Pomodoro sauce or a marinara will work too.
🔪 How To Prepare It
First, you need to prepare the Cuban sofrito. Grab your Instant Pot, mine is a 6 Quart.
What is sofrito? It is the base of Cuban cuisine. In English, it means 'fried'. It consists of some garlic, onion, and fresh tomatoes all chopped up and cooked down.
- Let's chop the onion, and garlic, and dice the pepper and tomatoes. Then, turn your Instant Pot on sauté mode, pour some olive oil, and add the onion and pepper.
- Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until it becomes tender and onions are translucent (Picture 1). Stir frequently so it does not stick.
- Now, you can add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and the diced tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes (pictures 2 and 3). Add some salt, about half a teaspoon.
- Next step, add your ground beef, tomato sauce, olives, and raisin to the Instant Pot. Mix it well and break the meat a little so there are no big chunks (Picture 4) and close the lid. Set to Pressure Cooking for 7 minutes.
- Once it beeps, you can do a quick pressure release by pressing the quick-release button and the steam will come out of the valve. It is really hot, be careful. If you don’t do this right away, your IP will go on ‘keep warm’ mode and start a natural pressure release. It takes longer but if you are doing something else, it is doing the job for you.
- Lastly, with the lid off, press the sauté button and program for 10 minutes. It will allow reducing the sauce a little as Cuban picadillo is not really juicy. Stir often with a wooden spoon so you don't scratch your Instant Pot.
It's ready to be served with some rice and a simple green salad, avocado, or some plantain!
The sofrito itself has a few variations, you can add some flavours in different ways. Depending on the Latin country, you might find extra ingredients in the sofrito, the base of your recipe.
- Herbs: You can add some bay leaves to add some aroma but also some coriander.
- Smoky: Some chopped chorizo will bring a little bit of smokiness to the dish.
- Spices: If you have you can use the mix from Goya.
About the Cuban beef picadillo, you might see some recipes with some variations such as:
- Meat: Beef, pork, turkey, or mixed, you choose!
- Potatoes: you can add a cubed potato to your ground beef.
- Raisins: Use dried currants if you prefer.
- Olives: Capers can be a good option if you are not a fan of olives.
Have you switched an ingredient and it turned out delicious? Tell me.
💭 Recipe FAQs
I would say 3 to 4 days in the fridge in an air-tight container. Also, make it ahead: you can freeze it and thaw it out overnight in the fridge. You can keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Absolutely, in a large skillet over medium heat, just follow the same instructions. The cooking time should be at least 20 minutes or until the juice is reduced by more than half.
Yes, if you are not into beef, you can use pork or any other ground meat. You can also do half beef and half pork.
It is great served over white rice with a green salad. But it's also a great recipe to use for tacos or empanadas.
🥘 More Cuban Recipes
📖 Instant Pot Beef Picadillo with Cuban Sofrito
- 1 knife
- 1 Instant Pot
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion medium-sized
- 1 pepper green but any other work too
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tomatoes juicy
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- ⅓ cup green olives
- ⅓ cup raisins
- Chop the onion, garlic and dice the pepper and tomatoes.
- Take the Instant Pot and turn on sauté mode, pour some olive oil, and add the onion and pepper.
- Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until it becomes tender and onions are translucent. Stir frequently so it does not stick.
- Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and the diced tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add salt.
- Add ground beef, tomato sauce, olives, and raisin to the Instant Pot. Mix it well and break the meat a little so there are no big chunks.
- Close the lid. Set to Pressure Cooking for 7 minutes.
- Once it beeps, you can do a quick pressure release by pressing the quick-release button and the steam will come out of the valve.
- Take the Instant Pot lid off, press the sauté button and program for 10 minutes. It will reduce the sauce of the picadillo a little as it is not supposed to be juicy.
- Stir often with a wooden spoon so you don't scratch your Instant Pot.
- It is now ready, serve over white rice and enjoy!
- Instant Pot pressure release: if you don't press the quick pressure release, your Instant Pot will go on ‘keep warm’ mode and start a natural pressure release.
- Storing: Save in the fridge for 3-4 days and in the freezer for 3 months.
- Cooking: Adapt this recipe on the stovetop in a large skillet by cooking it for 20 minutes (instead of the 7 minutes in the Instant Pot).