Traditional picadillo is made with ground meat and vegetables cooked in a flavorful sauce, but we’re making a plant-based version and I promise my vegan picadillo recipe will become one of your family’s comfort food meals on repeat.
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What is Picadillo?
Picadillo comes from the Spanish word picar, which means to chop or to to mince.
Picadillo is a classic Latin American dish that’s particularly popular in cuisines of Mexico and Cuban cooking.
This dish is traditionally made with ground meat, vegetables, spices and tomato sauce. Each country, of course, has its own unique take on picadillo.
Mexican, picadillo is often made with ground beef, potatoes, carrots, and peas. In Cuba, picadillo is typically made with ground beef, onions, peppers, tomatoes, raisins, and olives. In the Dominican Republic, picadillo is made with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and peppers.
While picadillo is traditionally made with meat, there are many delicious vegan versions of this dish. More on that to follow.
History of Picadillo
The history of picadillo can be traced back to Spain. The dish was originally made with ground pork or beef, but it was eventually adapted to include other ingredients, such as vegetables and spices.
Picadillo was first introduced to the Americas by Spanish settlers. The dish quickly became popular in many Latin American countries, and it is now a staple dish in many cuisines. As time went by local ingredients and flavors were incorporated into the regional picadillo versions.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Authentic vegan Mexican picadillo is made with vegan kitchen staples.
- The ingredients used are budget friendly and can feed many.
- This dish takes minimal effort and is made in one pot.
- Vegan picadillo is perfect for meal prepping.
- This is one of those new recipes you’ll have on repeat at your house.
- This is another traditional Mexican meat dish that is super easy to veganize.
- Did I mention this is a super flavorful recipe that has delicious flavors and even picky eaters will enjoy.
Picadillo a traditional dish many agree it’s ultimate comfort food.
Mexican moms love this dish because it comes together in no time, so it’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. It’s also very budget friendly due to the use of simple basic ingredients that are stables in many homes.
Growing up my mami made it often. She would serve it with a side of white rice or warm corn tortillas and we all loved it. Which I’m sure mom was happy about.
After I went meatless this was one of a favorite recipe that was so easy to veganize. It quickly went on rotating in my kitchen and became one of my favorite vegan recipes. It has taken me far too long to share this simple dish with you but alas here it is.
Make sure to read all the ways you can eat and serve this easy vegan picadillo.
Ingredients in Vegan Picadillo
Amigos this super easy recipe for vegan picadillo requires some very basic and affordable ingredients. I’m going to list different options for the vegan protein and just use what you either have on hand or what you can fit into your budget.
Vegan Meat: I used TVP to replace the ground beef, and it works perfectly plus it’s also a very inexpensive ingredient. There are many health benefits to TVP, one is that it gives the dish a fiber-rich twist and tons of vegan protein.
Instead of TVP you can use vegan ground beef. My sister uses a couple of Impossible Burger patties in her vegan picadillo.
Another option is to use lentils either brown lentils or green lentils are fine. Lastly mushrooms would also work – though they do have less protein, you could also combine the mushrooms with one of the other proteins listed.
Vegetables: In Mexican picadillo we use potato, carrot, peas – I don’t always add the peas, it’s up to you. Additionally tomatoes are used for making the rich flavorful broth that the picadillo is cooked in.
Seasonings: The depth of flavor is given by the aromatic seasonings used. We’re going to use onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, salt and black pepper. I also love to use either soy sauce or Maggi seasoning to help give the TVP and rest of the dish an umami flavor missing since we aren’t using ground beef.
If you want to give your picadillo a bit of a kick you can add some chipotle chili or sprinkle in red pepper flakes.
Broth: As previously mentioned, we’re going to use tomatoes to make the broth. But in addition to this we’ll be using some vegetable broth or vegan beef veggie broth.
Mexican Vegan Picadillo vs Vegan Cuban Picadillo
There are some differences between these two vegan picadillo versions.
In the Cuban version they use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes. We don’t use green olives, capers, or red bell pepper in Mexican picadillo.
Additionally some vegan Cuban picadillo recipes will use black beans and sweet plantains or sweet potatoes, but in Mexican vegan picadillo those aren’t common ingredients.
How to Make Mexican Vegan Picadillo
This recipe doesn’t take very long to make so make sure to have all the ingredients ready to use.
Step 1: Rehydrate the TVP crumbles by following my instructions on this previous article. Remember you can do the microwave method to save time.
Step 2: Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the minced fresh garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
Step 3: Next add the rehydrated TVP crumbles and cook for 2 minutes. Then pour in the soy sauce and sprinkle in the spices. Mixt until well combined then cook for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Mix in the potato, carrot and peas if using. Pour in the vegetable stock, add the bay leaves, cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are cooked through.
Step 5: Pour in the tomato sauce, mix until well combined. Cover again and cook another 10 minutes. Taste before serving.
How to Serve Mexican Vegan Picadillo
Vegan picadillo can be served in a variety of ways. It depends on how you’d like to serve it or are craving Mexican picadillo.
Here are a few ideas for serving vegan picadillo:
- Picadillo with rice: This is the most traditional way to serve Mexican picadillo. Just serve as a main dish with some Mexican arroz blanco or arroz rojo. I also like to drizzle a squeeze of lime juice over my vegan picadillo.
- Chiles rellenos: Another very popular way to use picadillo is for stuffing poblano peppers instead of using cheese. You could also use it to stuff bell peppers.
- Picadillo empanadas: Fill empanada dough with vegan picadillo and bake until golden brown.
- Picadillo bowls: Serve vegan picadillo in a bowl with brown rice, beans, and your favorite toppings, such as avocado, salsa, and sour cream.
- Picadillo tacos: Fill corn tortillas with vegan picadillo, lettuce, tomatoes, and your favorite toppings.
- Picadillo burritos: Fill flour tortillas with vegan picadillo, rice, beans, and your favorite toppings.
- Picadillo lettuce wraps: Use this vegan picadillo recipe as a fun Mexican twist on traditional lettuce wraps.
How to Store Vegan Mexican Picadillo
Leftover should be allow to come to room temperature then stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This vegan picadillo will keep fresh in the refrigerator for 5 days.
You can also freeze any leftovers in freezer safe bags. It’ll keep for up to 3 months.
Reheat leftovers on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Vegan Picadillo Recipe
Amigos as you can see with just a few simple ingredients you can create a traditional Mexican dish filled with delicious goodness. It’s one of those easy meals that you can make when you don’t know what to cook for dinner or prep for your weekly meals. It’s a dish perfect for the whole family and I promise that you will really enjoy it – specially during the cooler autumn moths approaching.
Authentic Mexican Vegan Picadillo Recipe
- 1 cup dried TVP crumbles
- 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup white onion chopped
- 3 whole garlic cloves minced
- 1 medium carrot peeled and finely chopped
- 1 medium potato peeled and finely cubed
- 1.5 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce or Maggi seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1.5 cups vegan beef stock
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- Rehydrate the TVP crumbles by following my instructions on this previous article. Remember you can do the microwave method to save time.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the minced fresh garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
- Next add the rehydrated TVP crumbles and cook for 2 minutes. Then pour in the soy sauce and sprinkle in the spices. Mixt until well combined then cook for 5 minutes.
- Mix in the potato, carrot and peas if using. Pour in the vegetable stock, add the bay leaves, cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are cooked through.
- Pour in the tomato sauce, mix until well combined. Cover again and cook another 10 minutes. Taste before serving.
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…