My Husband Pat’s Puerto Rican Picadillo

Picadillo Puerto Rican

This picadillo recipe came to our family from my Puerto Rican husband Pat. He says that he learned to make it from his Titi Rosa, more than 40 years ago, but I would venture to say he added the capers and made this his own version of the family classic recipe because he LOVES capers.

When Pat and I first started dating, he used to come over to my house and cook an impressive dish called pastelón, a Puerto Rican lasagna made from sweet fried plantains, layered between a saucy ground beef called picadillo. Throughout the years, after we were married, he would make picadillo only for pastelón, but then I began making it to stuff peppers and empanadas, even serve it plain over white rice. 

I used to call picadillo the Puerto Rican sloppy joe, but it’s way better.  It gets its distinct flavor from the sofrito, achiote oil, sazón, olives and capers, to name a few of my favorite ingredients and sauces.

Over the years, I can’t say that I’ve changed this recipe much, because it’s just so perfect. Some people like their picadillo a little saucier, so adding a tablespoon of water at a time can easily create the consistency to your liking.

For more of Titi Rosa’s Puerto Rican deliciousness, try her family-famous arroz con pollo, the winner of Familia Kitchen’s Your Favorite Arroz on Pollo Recipe Contest.

And while you are at it, try her picadillo-stuffed alcapurrias, which are made every year for the holidays by Pat’s cooking-talented family.

Pat also loves it when we use his family picadillo as the filling for crunchyhot empanadas. Check out our family recipe here!

Ready to Try Pat’s Family’s Picadillo with Capers and Olives?

My Husband Pat’s Puerto Rican Picadillo

Recipe by Michelle Ezratty Murphy
4.4 from 21 votes
Cuisine: Puerto Rican


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 Tbsp achiote oil, see my recipe here

  • 2 lbs ground beef

  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 cup sofrito, see my recipe here

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

  • 12 pimento-stuffed olives, whole

  • 1 Tbsp capers, drained

  • 16 oz tomato sauce, whole can

  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar

  • 1 package sazón with achiote

  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste

  • ¼ tsp black pepper


  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and quickly sauté for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add the ground beef to the garlic in the pan and crumble well. Cook until there is no more pink in the sauteing meat.
  • Add the achiote oil, olives, sofrito, oregano, cayenne pepper, capers, tomato sauce, vinegar, sazón, salt and pepper.
  • Stir well and allow to simmer for about 10 to 15minutes on low temperature. If you like the picadillo a little more liquidy, add a tablespoon of water at a time until you reach the right sauce consistency.
  • Taste for salt and adjust if needed. It’s ready for using it as a filling in empanadas , alcapurrias or pastelón. Or for eating it just as it is, with a side of Boricua-style arroz blanco and a green side salad.


  • Picadillo can be made in large batches, then stored in freezer bags and frozen for up to 3 months.

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