Picadillo Tacos (Crispy Ground Beef Tacos)
Those picadillo tacos are loaded with a delicious mixture made with ground beef, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and earthy spices. Garnished with your favorite taco toppings, they are super easy to make and perfect to feed a crowd.
Picadillo tacos are a Mexican taco dish made of crispy corn tortillas stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, vegetables, and seasonings. They are known in Mexico as tacos de picadillo and are mostly sold at diners (cenadurías) along with enchiladas, sopes, and other authentic Mexican dishes.
These tacos have several variations as you move to different regions in the country. However, the main components remain the same: Picadillo mixture, corn tortillas, and salsa.
The word picadillo comes from the Spanish word “picar,” which means “to mince.” So, when we say Beef Picadillo, it clearly means minced beef. This recipe originated in Latin America somewhere in the early 19th century, and today it is quite popular all across the world.
Whether you serve them for a party or game day, these crispy picadillo tacos with a rich filling and delicious sauce will brighten up a dull day!
- TORTILLAS. I am using corn tortillas to make the crispy taco shells, flour tortillas can also be used (read notes).
- GROUND BEEF. You can also use other types of ground meat to make this recipe such as pork, chicken, or turkey.
- VEGETABLES. Tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Use any type of pepper you have available, such as bell peppers, Anaheim, or even Poblano peppers.
- SEASONINGS. Paprika (any kind), cumin, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- OIL. For making the taco filling mixture and for frying the tacos, I recommend corn, canola, or sunflower oil.
- TOPPINGS: I topped my tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, cream, and salsa. Read below for more ideas for topping your crispy beef tacos.
Now let’s see how to make those picadillo beef tacos…
How To Make Picadillo Tacos
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add first the diced bell peppers and sauté for one minute.
Add onions and sauté all together for 3 minutes or until onions become translucent and peppers are a bit softened.
Add the meat and all spices (cumin, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper), mix well, and cook until the meat is no longer pink.
Stir in tomatoes, cook for one more minute then cover the pan and set heat to low, allowing to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes mixing from time to time.
Adjust with salt to taste and keep cooking until almost no juices are left on the pan.
Top Tip: The key for a successful recipe is to allow the moisture to dry as much as possible, so when you fry the tacos it won’t come out and make the oil splatter all over.
Heat a cast iron skillet or a comal over high heat. Warm up the tortillas from both sides (about 20-30 seconds per side) and wrap them with a kitchen towel to keep them warm and pliable.
Place two or three tortillas on a plate and spoon the picadillo in the middle. Fold in half, doing a little pressure to stick the tortilla with the meat mixture.
Repeat until you’ve used all tortillas.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan. Fry tacos placing them carefully into the oil and, using a spatula, firmly press down the edges, to prevent them from opening.
Once they are nicely crispy on both sides, remove them from the oil and place them onto a plate lined with kitchen paper towels.
Carefully open the tacos de picadillo and garnish with lettuce and tomato slices.
Drizzle with a tablespoon of cream and with your favorite salsa and finish topping with cheese.
Notes & Tips
- Is ok if some filling comes out from tacos while frying, as long as it’s not too much! But if you want to prevent this, you can also use tooth sticks and secure the edges of tacos, just remember to discard them before garnishing your picadillo tacos.
- You can use jalapeño peppers instead of bell peppers, just make sure to cut them longwise and discard veins and seeds if you want to leave out some spicy.
- You can also add a few potatoes cut into small cubes to the beef mixture.
- No corn tortillas available? Use flour tortillas instead, just take in mind those get burned quickly so pay attention when you fry them.
No taco is complete without a variety of delicious toppings. Although there are several ingredients you can use, here are a few that go well with those picadillo tacos:
- Avocado: It adds a perfectly soft and creamy texture.
- Greek yogurt: If you are looking for a healthier version, you can use Greek yogurt as well.
- Cabbage: This Mexican cabbage salad not only brings in freshness but adds a satisfying crunch to those picadillo tacos.
- Salsa: Spice things up with your favorite salsa like this fake guacamole salsa, or this peanut chili salsa.
- Guacamole: Stay true to Mexican cuisine, and top the tacos with classic guacamole.
- Cheese: if you are a cheese lover, you can load the tacos with Mexican queso fresco, mozzarella, or your favorite cheese as well.
- Add freshness: With some chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
How To Store
You can make the toppings up to 3 days ahead and keep them in the refrigerator in separate containers.
Picadillo is the perfect prep meal and it freezes wonderfully, so you can have it ready to make your tacos whenever you crave them. Here’s how you should store it:
- FRIDGE: Once you have let it cool at room temperature, store it in an air-tight container and place it in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 3 days.
- FREEZER: Place the mixture in a resealable bag and freeze it for up to 3 months. Make sure the mixture is at room temperature before storing.
- REHEAT: Thaw the mixture overnight in the fridge, then transfer to a pan and reheat on the stovetop over medium heat stirring from time to time.
What is a ground beef taco called in Mexico?
Tacos de picadillo, tacos de carne molida, or tacos dorados de picadillo are some of the names that crispy ground beef tacos are called in Mexico.
Can I use taco seasoning to make the beef mixture?
Yes, of course. Feel free to swap the spices listed in the recipe with your favorite taco seasoning mix.
Can this recipe be turned into vegan?
Yes. You can replace ground beef with mushrooms, potatoes, zucchini, carrots, or any other vegetable you prefer. Don’t forget also to swap regular cream and cheese with vegan options.
More Crispy Tacos Recipes
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Picadillo Tacos (Crispy Ground Beef Tacos)
- 20 corn tortillas
- 1.1 lb ground beef
- 2 medium tomatoes (diced)
- 1 large green bell pepper (diced)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 3 Tbsp oil (+ more for frying)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- salt and pepper
- lettuce (shredded)
- tomatoes (sliced)
- Cotija cheese (or your favorite cheese)
- Mexican crema (or sour cream)
- salsa (read notes)
- Heat the oil in a pan or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and sauté for one minute.
- Add onions and sauté all together for 3 minutes or until onions become translucent and peppers are a bit softened.
- Add the meat, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix well and cook until the meat is no longer pink.
- Stir in tomatoes, cook for one more minute then cover the pan and set heat to low, allowing to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes mixing from time to time.
- Cook until almost no juices are left on the pan, adjust the seasonings, and turn off the heat.
- Make tacos
- Heat a cast iron skillet or a comal over high heat. Warm up the tortillas from both sides (about 20-30 seconds per side) and wrap them with a kitchen towel to keep them warm and pliable.
- Place two or three tortillas on a plate and spoon the picadillo in the middle.
- Fold in half, pressing a little bit to stick the tortilla with the meat mixture. Repeat until you’ve used all tortillas.
- Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan. Fry tacos placing them carefully into the oil and, using a spatula, firmly press down the edges (read notes).
- Once they are nicely crispy on both sides, remove them from the oil and place them onto a plate lined with kitchen paper towels.
- Carefully open the tacos de picadillo and garnish with lettuce and tomato slices.
- Drizzle with a tablespoon of cream and with your favorite salsa and finish topping with cheese.
- Make sure to allow the moisture to dry as much as possible so that when you fry the tacos it won’t come out and make the oil splatter all over.
- You can also use tooth sticks and secure the edges of tacos to prevent the mixture from coming out while frying the tacos.
- You can serve your tacos with any of the salsas below:
- Salsa roja
- guacamole salsa
- peanut sauce
- fake guacamole
I’m thrilled to have found your blog, wonderful recipes and videos. Your picadillo tacos look so good and will be made your way. I’ve never had them fried with the meat inside them and they sound terrific.
Yes, that’s the way we do it in Mexico :) Thanks for stopping by!
One word. AWESOME!
The recipe card has disappeared?! I can’t see it anywhere on the page.
I love this recipe and make it often, using vegan ingredients :)
Thank you so much for letting me know! I don’t know why it disappeared…but I fixed now. Enjoy your vegan tacos de picadillo :)