Puerto Rican picadillo was a childhood favorite of mine. Picadillo is traditionally made with ground beef that is simmered in smooth tomato sauce, homemade sofrito, and a variety of spices, including sofrito and adobo.
Picadillo, also known as carne molida, is a common dish that can be found in many countries across Latin America including Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. It’s also a recipe that can be found in the Philippines.
We’re taking this meat-based dish and turning it plant-based. Same taste, same flavor, but without the meat.
Why You’ll Love This
- Ready in less than 30 minutes! Making this the perfect weekday dinner recipe. Just serve with your sides (our favorite is white rice).
- It’s super easy to make. The best part: MINIMAL chopping required (just the potates).
- Made with easy-to-find, affordable, pantry ingredients.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Oil – Olive oil is our choice of oil, but if you don’t have it handy, go for any neutral-flavored oil (canola, vegetable).
- Sofrito – We used homemade sofrito. Pre-made sofrito can sometimes be found at the grocery store, but homemade is best.
- Sazon – Feel free to use more or less sazon. We used sazon with msg (nothing wrong with msg, y’all). If you opt for msg-free sazon, that’s fine too!
- Adobo – Adobo is made up of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. So if you don’t have adobo handy, you can use the spices mentioned. Here’s a homemade recipe for adobo.
- Tomato Sauce – This is going to bring in flavor and sauciness to the dish. Don’t skip out!
- Tomato Paste – Tomato paste will help thicken up the dish, while also providing another layer of flavor.
- Spanish green olives – Olives can be a tricky topic for a lot of folk. I LOVE them in picadillo and that’s how I always have them. But, you can leave them out if you don’t care for them.
- Bay Leaf – Helps to bring in more flavor to this dish! If you don’t have bay leaves, skip it.
- Vegan Ground Beef – We used Gardein’s Ground B’ef. Specifically, their 13.7 ounce bag. Other frozen vegan ground beef can be used – be sure to grab the ones without added flavor or too much salt.
- Potato – Russet potatoes are affordable and work great in this recipe. Other potato varieties may be used, too. We don’t peel off the potato skins, but know plenty of people who do for their picadillo. Our take? Peel or don’t peel – that’s totally up to you.
How To Make Vegan Picadillo
- Heat up oil in a pan or skillet. Once hot, add the sofrito mix and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Then, add the vegan ground beef, potato, and water. Simmer with a lid for 10-15 minutes.
- Once potatoes are tender, cook the picadillo for another couple of minutes to thicken. Serve!
What To Eat With Picadillo
How To Use Picadillo
Vegan picadillo can be used for tacos, empanadas/pastelillos, or pastelón. If you do opt to have vegan picadillo in empanadas or pastelillos, I suggest cooking it for longer to reduce the liquid as much as possible.
How To Store
Tried out this Vegan Picadillo recipe?
Vegan Puerto Rican Picadillo (Spiced Ground “Beef”)
- 4 tablespoons sofrito
- 1/2 teaspoon sazon
- 1/2 teaspoon adobo
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon chili powder optional, for color
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1/2 cup green Spanish olives
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 bag Gardein Ground Be'f 13.7 ounces, cook from frozen
- 1 russet potato chopped into small pieces
- 1 1/2 cups water
- In a small bowl, mix together sofrito, sazon, adobo, oregano, chili powder, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Set aside.
- Warm up the oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the sofrito mix to the pan. Saute and cook for about 1 minute. Add the green olives and bay leaf. Stir together and simmer for 1 minute.
- Add the vegan ground beef, chopped potato and water. Lower temperature to a simmer and Cover with a lid. Cook until potatoes are fork-tender – about 15 minutes.
- Once potatoes are tender, remove the lid from the pan and turn off the heat. Allow everything to simmer for another 2-3 minutes to thicken up the sauce.
- Because the vegan beef crumbles are drier and less fatty than actual ground beef, we’ll need to compensate by introducing more moisture. This is why tomato sauce and some water will be an important addition to this recipe.
- If you prefer to use a different vegan ground beef brand, that’s fine. Be sure to find something that isn’t overly salty or flavored. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- I HIGHLY suggest making your own sofrito because the pre-made stuff is not even close to being as good.
- Optional: I added a teaspoon of chili powder to add some color.