April 9, 2021

Tex-Mex Picadillo (Paleo & Whole30)

Picadillo is the ultimate comfort food. It is a simple dish that brings love and joy to the dinner table. This recipe also happens to be paleo and Whole30 compliant, if that is your thing.

As a child, my Dad loved his Tia China's picadillo, and if someone makes it for him, it brings a smile to his face. Inspired by a pound of ground turkey I needed to use, I set out to recreate my Tia's picadillo recipe. With a story, a little intuition, and many conversations with my ancestors, I created my version of this recipe, Tex-Mex Picadillo.

Tex-Mex Picadillo

Picadillo originates from the Spanish word "picar," meaning "to mince." Picadillo is originally from Spain, so you find many versions of this dish throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The one similarity you will always find in picadillo is some version of minced or ground meat. Most versions I have tried have a sweet and sour element, but this recipe does not, though I love adding pickled jalapeños on top.

I hope this recipe makes it to your dinner table in memory of my Tia China.

Tex-Mex Picadillo (Paleo & Whole30)

You can find versions of Picadillo from all over the world and this recipe is similar to what you would find in Northern Mexico and Texas, hence Tex-Mex Picadillo.


2 tablespoons avocado oil (divided)

1 pound ground turkey

1 cup onion, diced (about 1 medium onion)

1 cup carrots, diced (about two carrots)

1 cup gold potatoes, diced (about two medium potatoes)

1 teaspoon salt (divided)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper (divided)

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup fresh tomato, diced (or sub 1 cup diced can tomatoes)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken broth or water

2 tablespoons cilantro chopped


Heat one tablespoon of avocado oil in a large skillet over high heat until the oil is hot.  Carefully add the ground turkey—spread turkey in one even layer over the bottom of your pan.  Lower heat to medium-high and let the ground turkey cook for four minutes or until browned.  Carefully flip the turkey over and allow the other side to brown for two minutes.  Break up turkey, remove from pan and set aside.

Add one tablespoon of avocado oil in the same pan over medium-high heat.  Add the diced onion and sauté until the onions soften for about two minutes.  Add diced carrots and cook for three minutes.  Add diced potatoes and season with one teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.  Cook the onions, carrots, and potatoes for an additional three minutes, stirring frequently.

Add paprika, cumin, and oregano.  Mix into vegetables, allowing spices to "toast" for 30 seconds.  Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes.  Mix, allowing tomatoes to warm, and release juices for about 30 seconds.  Add the minced garlic sauté ingredients for 30 seconds or until you begin to smell the fragrance of the garlic.
Add the bay leaf, frozen peas, remaining salt, and pepper and mix into picadillo.  Add 3/4 cups of broth or water and mix.  Continue to cook until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.  (You may need to add additional broth or water if too much liquid evaporates.)

Garnish with cilantro.  

Picadillo can be enjoyed all by itself, but it is also great with rice or scooped up in a tortilla, tortilla chips or plantain chips.


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