Carne Picada

Carne picada translates to chopped beef in English, therefore the dish comprises chopped beef cooked in a sauce with sautéed vegetables such as onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Mexican cuisine is already extremely diverse across the country, and this recipe is no exception. There are so many variations on this delicious stewed beef!

My concept of carne picada is comparable to my mother’s approach. She would frequently make carne picada for me and my siblings when her days were getting long and she wanted to create something adaptable enough to be served in a variety of ways: over rice, in an ooey gooey quesadilla stuffed with quesillo, or simply as tacos.

What Kind of Beef to Use

Carne Picada

Although you can use chopped skirt steak, I feel that cubed chuck roast is more tender and juicy, absorbs more of the sauce’s flavor, and performs much better in a braise. By the end of the cooking process, the beef will be so tender that it will melt in your mouth.

Before braising, I like to coat the beef with flour and fry it. Tossing the meat in flour has two purposes: it browns the beef, giving it a deep rich caramel color and added flavor, and it thickens the sauce.

Although this recipe asks for beef, you may make it with chicken thighs instead of chuck roast. Chicken thighs keep moist and fare nicely in a braise, so they’d work just as well here.

What Kind of Vegetables to Use

To keep it simple, I used vegetables commonly seen in fajitas, including yellow onion, red and green bell peppers. Because I use tomato paste in the sauce, I decided not to include it in the braise, but you can add some of your favorite vegetables, such as diced tomato, diced potato, or even chopped carrot.

Make It in a Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker

To make carne picada in the pressure cooker, first prepare the sauce, then sauté the beef and vegetables. When you’re ready to cook, close the cover and pressure cook on high for 40 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally. After the pressure has been released, remove the top and let the sauce simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Prepare the sauce in the slow cooker first, then sauté the beef and vegetables. Slow cook on high heat until the beef is soft, about 2 hours, or on low heat for 4 hours.

How to Serve Carne Picada

There are several different ways to serve carne picada. You can serve it with the traditional Mexican red rice and beans, or you can serve it over cilantro lime rice and top it with your favorite pico de gallo for a quick burrito bowl. You can also use it as a filling for burritos, sopes, and quesadillas.

Or keep it traditional and serve the carne picada taco-style over corn tortillas topped with your favorite salsa and a sprinkle of chopped onion and cilantro.

Look for stew meat (chuck roast already cut into cubes) to help cut down on prep time.


For the beef

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds chuck roast, excess fat removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola or avocado, plus more as needed

For the sauce

  • 1 (6ounce) can tomato paste
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 1/4 yellow or white onion (reserve the rest for the braise)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 3 cups beef broth

For the braise

  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Remaining 3/4 yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Brown the beef:

    Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the beef and toss to coat.

    Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add half the beef. Cook for about 5 minutes untouched, then flip and cook another 5 minutes, making sure you get a nice rich brown color on each side.

    Remove the beef to a bowl or plate and repeat the process with the rest of the beef, adding more oil if needed.

    Chuck roast coated in flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl for carne picada recipe

    Chuck roast browned in a cast iron skillet for carne picada recipe

    Browned chuck roast pieces resting on a plate for carne picada recipe

  2. Make the sauce:

    While the beef browns, make the sauce. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

    Cilantro, bell pepper, onions, and wet ingredients for the sauce in a blender for carne picada recipe

    Carne picada sauce in a blender

  3. Sauté the vegetables:

    Once the beef is done and set aside, cook the vegetables for the braise in the same pan. Add the oil followed by the peppers and onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are slightly translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.

    Thinly sliced onions and bell peppers cooked in a Dutch oven for carne picada recipe

4. Braise:

Add the sauce to deglaze the Dutch oven, scraping up all the brown bits that might’ve stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Add the browned beef and bring the mixture up to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the pot, then remove the lid and cook for about 15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken up slightly.

Taste for salt and adjust to your liking. Serve as a filling for tacos or over rice.

Sauce stirred with the cooked onions and bell peppers in the Dutch oven using a wooden spoon for Thinly sliced onions and bell peppers cooked in a Dutch oven for carne picada recipe

Carne picada in a Dutch oven with a wooden spoon

Pieces of carne picada lifted from Dutch oven using a wooden spoon


What is Carne Picada?

Carne Picada is a popular dish in Latin American cuisine, particularly in Mexico. Translating to “chopped meat” in English, Carne Picada typically consists of thinly sliced or finely chopped beef that is seasoned and cooked with various ingredients such as onions, peppers, garlic, and spices. It’s a versatile dish that can be used in tacos, burritos, nachos, or served with rice and beans.

What cut of beef is best for Carne Picada?

The best cut of beef for Carne Picada is one that is tender and easy to slice thinly. Flank steak or skirt steak are commonly used due to their tenderness and flavor. These cuts are typically sliced against the grain to ensure maximum tenderness. Alternatively, you can also use pre-packaged thinly sliced beef, often labeled as “Carne Picada” in grocery stores.

How is Carne Picada typically seasoned?

Carne Picada is seasoned with a variety of spices and aromatics to enhance its flavor. Common seasonings include chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder. Salt and pepper are also added to taste. Additionally, fresh ingredients such as diced onions, bell peppers, and minced garlic are often sautéed with the beef to create a savory and aromatic dish.

Can Carne Picada be made ahead of time?

Yes, Carne Picada can be made ahead of time and stored for later use. Once cooked, allow the Carne Picada to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. When ready to use, simply reheat the Carne Picada on the stove or in the microwave until heated through.

What are some serving suggestions for Carne Picada?

Carne Picada is incredibly versatile and can be served in various ways. It’s commonly used as a filling for tacos, burritos, or quesadillas, along with toppings such as shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream. Additionally, Carne Picada can be served over rice or alongside beans for a hearty meal. It also makes a delicious topping for nachos or baked potatoes. Customize it according to your preferences and enjoy!










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