Instant Pot Cuban Ground Beef Dish (Picadillo)

I love collecting old cookbooks. One of my most prized cookbook was given to me by my husband. This cookbook is considered the Cuban Cooking Bible and it’s called Cocina Criolla by Nitza Villapol.


Nitza Villapol was a talented Cuban chef and her cooking show was one of the longest running television shows in Cuban history. She was a master at teaching the Cuban home cook how to prepare meals during severe rationing and food shortages and created recipes like how to make mayonnaise without eggs and how to fry eggs without oil. So, I find myself turning to her cookbook often when I am looking for a flavorful recipe that doesn’t require a lot pricey ingredients. One of those recipes is her Picadillo.

Picadillo is one of the easiest and quickest Cuban dishes that you can make, especially when you are on a tight budget. It is also very versatile and is used as a filling for empanadas, tamales, papa rellena, etc. Nitza uses a mixture of ground beef, ground pork, and ground ham. However, you can use just ground beef or even just ground turkey (which I used in the pictures because my daughter doesn’t eat red meat). This recipe is the perfect instant pot recipe when you have a pound or so of ground meat in your freezer and want to make something other than meatloaf. Picadillo is traditionally served over white rice, but my daughter loves to eat it over pasta and even though my Cuban half felt it was sacrilegious…..I have to say it was really really good! You could also serve it over quinoa, brown rice, or cauliflower rice.

Here is my video on how to cook this dish step by step or scroll down for the full recipe.

Instant Pot Cuban Ground Beef Hash (Picadillo)

Recipe by Lana Horruitiner Perez adapted from Nitza Villapol’s Cocina Criolla

1 to 1.5 lbs Ground Beef or Ground Turkey (ground turkey is not authentic but a good option for those who don’t want red meat)

2 Tbl Vegetable Oil (I prefer using Vegetable Oil because I find it keeps the meat from sticking to the pot better. However, you can substitute olive oil here if you prefer.)

1 Yellow Onion, diced

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Pepper

1/4 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1/8 cup Green Olives with 1 Tbl of the Brine (I prefer the Goya Manzanilla Olives with Pimentos and Capers, but you can use whatever brand you have on hand. I also prefer to slice them, but you can leave them whole.)

1 jar Diced Pimentos with the liquid

8 oz Goya Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup White Wine

1/4 cup Water

2 Bay Leaves

-Add 2 Tbl of Vegetable Oil to Instant Pot and press “SAUTE”. When the oil gets hot add the Ground Beef or Ground Turkey, Yellow Onion, and 1 tsp Salt. In other recipes you might notice that I usually saute the onions separately from the meat, but I found in this recipe it works just fine to cook them together…..and it saves time!


-Stir and saute until the ground meat is no longer pink.

-Stir in the 1/2 tsp Pepper, 1/4 tsp Cumin, 1/8 cup of Chopped Olives and 1 Tbl Brine, jar of Diced Pimentos including liquid, 2 crushed Garlic Cloves, and 1 tsp Garlic Powder. Turn off the Instant Pot and add the 8 oz Tomato Sauce.


-After you pour the Tomato Sauce into the pot, pour the 1/4 cup Water and 1/4 cup White Wine, into the empty tomato sauce can. Stir the liquid to get all the residue sauce out of the can, and then pour this liquid into the pot.



-Stir once more and add the 2 Bay Leaves to the top. Lock the Instant Pot lid into place and make sure the valve is set to Sealed. Pressure cook on High for 15 mins and the NR for 10 minutes.

-Stir. Press the “SAUTE” button and reduce the liquid to the desired thickness. This step is not necessary however, depending on the kind of meat you use, the amount of liquid will differ. when using ground beef, I like to skim off any extra fat and reduce the liquid for just a few minutes. When I use ground turkey I find that there sometimes is more liquid, but not much fat.

-Serve over rice (or the way my daughter likes it…over pasta). Enjoy!20180503_203106.jpg20180503_205059.jpg

8 Comments Add yours

  1. MMarte says:

    This looks delicious. Diced potatoes are a must in my picadillo. When would I add them so they don’t become mush? Thank you!


    1. drlanaperez says:

      My husband likes diced potatoes in his, too. But he likes them fried so I fry them then add them before serving. If you wannt to cook the potatoes with it one idea would be to place them in a foil on a high trivet and cook above the picadillo. Then you might be able to cook them at the same time. I’ll do a few tests and maybe I can figure out the timing of when you would stop the cooking, add potatoes, then cook again. Maybe 7 minutes if they are diced small enough.


      1. MMarte says:

        Thanks so much!


      2. MMarte says:

        I wanted to circle back and let you know what I found works for me. After the picadillo cooks, I do a natural pressure release for 5 minutes, then mix in the diced potatoes well, ensuring they are all covered in the liquid. I set it to cook again for 5 minutes, then NPR for at least 10 minutes once done. It has turned out amazing several times now. Thank you!


  2. MMarte says:

    This looks delicious. Diced potatoes are a must in my picadillo. When would you add them so they don’t become mush? Thank you!


  3. Orlando says:

    This is the worst Picadillo recipe I have ever made. It was more like hamburger helper with olives and pimientos. Nothing could save this. Had to trow it away!


  4. Diane says:

    I tried your recipe and it was delicious. Your recipes are making my life easier. I don’t need to babysit what I’m cooking with these instant pot recipes. Btw, my mom used to make “Cuban Spaghetti”, and it was basically picadillo with a more tomato sauce and it was tasty. 🙂


    1. drlanaperez says:

      Yay I am so glad you like them. My dad makes Cuban spaghetti too. One of my favorites. I might have to convert his recipe to the IP. 🙂


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