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Cuban Picadillo-Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

Cuban Picadillo-Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

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tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


cloves garlic, finely chopped


package sazón seasoning mix with saffron

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  • 2

    Cut bell peppers in half and deseed, leaving stems for an authentic presentation. Chop one half for the picadillo mixture, reserving the rest for filling.

  • 3

    In a large pan, heat the oil over low to medium heat and cook onions until translucent. Add chopped bell pepper and continue to sauté. Add beef and brown, draining excessive fat if necessary. Add diced tomatoes, raisins, garlic, and seasonings, mixing well to incorporate all the flavors.

  • 4

    Once moisture begins to cook out, add tomato sauce and wine, scraping bits of flavor off the bottom of the pan. Add water, only if necessary, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

  • 5

    Line bell pepper halves in baking dish and gently fill each one with picadillo mixture.

  • 6

    Add 1/4 cup of water to baking dish and cook for 30-40 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Expert Tips

  • Use extra picadillo to top rice with a side of plantains!
  • Other bell peppers work great too.

No nutrition information available for this recipe

More About This Recipe

  • Red bell peppers are a staple in many Latin American recipes. In this recipe, I decided to stuff my bell peppers with a traditional Cuban picadillo mixture. I grew up enjoying Cuban picadillo: it’s easy, quick, and affordable to feed a large family.

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

"I grew up in the middle of Croatia, near Zagreb, where the cuisine is very heavy — lots of meat and potatoes," writes Snjezana Hercigonja of Raleigh, North Carolina. "But when I was young, it was customary to vacation on the Mediterranean coast in the summer, where you go to the market every day to see what's good, and everything is really fresh and light. Even the fat is good, since it's usually olive oil. This recipe is based on dishes from that region.

Select peppers that are flat on the bottom — they stand up better while cooking. Mashed potatoes would be a perfect side dish.

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Bring large saucepan of water to boil. Add bell pepper halves cook 15 minutes on medium heat or until tender. Immediately remove bell peppers with slotted spoon to ice bath to stop cooking process. Pat dry with paper towels. Arrange bell pepper halves, cut-sides up, in 13x9-inch baking dish

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Brown ground beef in large skillet on medium-high heat. Drain fat. Add onion and Seasoning cook and stir 4 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients except cooked rice. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in rice. Spoon beef mixture evenly into bell pepper halves

Cuban picadillo


  • ½ cup 120 ml unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 3 oz. 85 g unsweetened canned beets, diced
  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp white vinegar 5%
  • 1 tbsp 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp 1 tbsp coconut aminos or tamari soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp 3 tbsp avocado oil or coconut oil
  • 1 (4 oz.) 1 (110 g) yellow onion yellow onions
  • 1 oz. 28 g diced carrot diced carrots
  • 1 oz. (4 1 &frasl3 tbsp) 28 g (65 ml) diced celery stalk diced celery stalks
  • 1 oz. 28 g diced radish diced radishes
  • 6 6 garlic clove, minced garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 2 bay leaf bay leaves
  • 1 lb 450 g 85% lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 tsp 1 tsp fine salt, more to taste
  • 1 tsp 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup 240 ml beef broth
  • 3 oz. 85 g ripe green olives, drained
  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp dried unsweetened cranberries (optional)


Faux-mato sauce



When Cristina found out that she could no longer eat nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant) due to the inflammation they cause in her body, she was devastated. All of the dishes from her childhood are made with bell peppers and tomatoes! I thought changing my diet meant losing my cultural identity.

Instead, it challenged her to be more creative in the kitchen. If you’re like her and you can’t eat tomatoes, it is very helpful to keep some faux-mato sauce on hand for cooking. Store in a jar in the fridge and use it in place of tomato sauce in any dish.

If you can have tomatoes and pepper, use tomato sauce in the recipe instead of the faux-mato sauce. Omit the celery and use green or red bell pepper instead.

The dried cranberries are optional, but a nice substitution for the raisins that usually go in this dish. Having the sweet yet tart cranberries is a great compromise for the sugary raisins we omit.

Stuffed peppers recipe

Peppers bell stuffed with meat recipe and other variants of this delicious preparation that you will surely love to prepare. Peppers stuffed with tuna, with rice and cod.

  • Prep Time 10 min
  • Cook Time 30 min
  • Total Time 40 min
  • Yield 4 Green Bell Pepper
  • Serving Size 100g
  • Energy 253 cal
  • Cuisine

Stuffed peppers Ingredients

  • 4 green bell peppers (you can also use red or yellow ones)
  • 400 grams of ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • A leaf of parsley
  • A pinch of pepper
  • Salt as desired
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ cup of bread crumbs
  • Grated cheese as desired
  • A dash of extra olive oil

How to make stuffed bell peppers

First cut the top of the peppers, remove all the seeds and fibers inside. Set aside.

Next, we will prepare the ingredients for the filling. Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. Also mix bread and grated cheese in a bowl.

Then heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic for 1 minute.

Add the meat and cook on medium heat until not a single raw piece is left. Add the tomato purée, the parsley, the salt and the pepper as desired. Cook for 2 or 3 more minutes.

Now it’s the time to fill the peppers, first brush them with olive oil and add a pinch of salt.

Begin incorporating the minced meat previously prepared inside the peppers, filling each one.

Finally, add the mixture of bread and grated cheese, and place them on a tray.

Take them to the preheated oven at 180 °C with heat from above and below for about 20 or 25 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Now we have our delicious baked stuffed peppers with meat ready. Serve them right away to enjoy them hot.


As we said before you can fill the peppers with whatever you would like, here we leave you other options to encourage you to prepare them.

The recipe that we have explained above, can be combined and you can get peppers stuffed with meat and rice by just adding a bit of this starch.

Otherwise, you can completely replace the meat and make them only stuffed with rice.

On the other hand, to make stuffed peppers with tuna, all you have to do is replace the meat with tuna, add chopped onion and grated cheese. Fill them up, place them on a tray and bake them.


After we made this, I got around to reading the reviews. Several contributors said alternate ingredients and substitutions are common in the humble origins of this traditional dish. We used oregano, chopped prunes, ketchup, harissa and cumin instead of bay leaves, raisins, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and chili powder. Delicious. Glad we didn't make burgers or sloppy joes for a quick dinner. Served with rice.

I just get so addled reading all these "reviews" that just change the recipe. I don't care how you changed the recipe. I want to know how THIS recipe turned out as written. Is that too much to ask?

Never mind the authenticity debate . . . . this is fantastic. Carnivore comfort food. Go on -- make it tonight. It's ready in a flash, and you have the ingredients on hand. Whatever you do, don't leave out the raisins!

This was a real treat -- different and very tasty. Based on what seemed a consensus of suggestions (that also sounded authentic/appealing), I subbed in currants, several squirts of ketchup, 2 t cumin, and a generous splash of red wine also added a red bell pepper and capers. I somehow forgot the canned tomatoes, but they were not missed (though will try next time). I also simmered for a good 60 minutes or more had tomatoes been present, think it would have required 90 minutes. Served with yellow rice and black beans -- fantastic!

A nice solid ground beef recipe. The different tastes compliments the overall dish. If your sick of burgers and meatloaf try this one. I thought two pounds was Overkill but at the end of dinner I had just enough for my lunch.

DELICIOUS and easy recipe! It was so simple to make and came out amazing. I added in a diced red pepper to begin with along with the onion and the garlic. Then I added 4 sliced chorizo sausages, 1/3 cup of capers, a packet of saizon and 1 tsp of ground sage. I also double the chili powder and cayenne pepper and it's still not spicy enough for me. I was weirded out by the idea of raisins and olives in a tomato meat sauce but WOW, this blew us away. I served over homemade yellow rice with crumbled queso fresco and cilantro. This recipe is a winner.

This was delicious! We were all hoping for leftovers but hardly any left. I added in some ingredients that previous reviewers had suggested like thyme, capers, more olives, ketchup instead of paste, red wine instead of red vinegar. The roasted red peppers idea was a great idea and went into the mix as well. Having lived in Tampa FL, I fell in love with Cuban food. Most definitely agreed about adding cumin and cancelling cayenne and chili powder. I put in 3 Tb and totally worked. Will make this again and again!

as you can see by reading the reviews that each family made Picadillo differently. And that is true, there is no real "Cuban Picadillo" because you added what you had in the kitchen at the time, sometimes you added potatoes, sometimes you added raisins. you used sweet havana peppers because they didn't use bell peppers in Cuba. but in the US you couldn't get the sweet peppers and they were replaced with bell peppers. cumin not chili is the original spice. White wine never vinegar but red is ok too. But always the green Olives with red peppers. (that is where you would get the tang from) but again. when you don't have original items you replace them with what you feel comes close. no matter how you slice it. Cuban Food is so good and so adapable. and still keeps its integrity.

Thanks to others and a caribbean recipe I was vague on from Saveur. I altered this recipe to our delight and perfection. I omitted the vinegar and chili pepper etc. I used tomato sauce and ketchup instead of the paste. 2 onions more olives and 5 large strips of pickled roasted red pepper along with a heaping serving spoon of capers. I also added oregano, fresh thyme, 1/2 c sherry(or brandy), 1 tsp of coleman's dry mustard mixed in with 1 tbsp of worcestershire. I forgot the red pepper flakes but thats ok. Go easy on salt to taste until towards the end the olives and capers do that for you. I let the whole pot simmer for almost an hour and we have one beautiful picadillo for either empanada filling, tacos/burritos or serving over rice. I think I am going to have to make a double batch now just to freeze for the emergency moment. Thank you Eli and Bon Appetit' for bringing it all back

My cuban mother used to make this when I was little. I agree with adding ketchup to this instead of the tomato paste. Yes, it gives it that zing, otherwise it's too briny. Secondly, subsitute cumin for the chili powder.

I make Picadillo a bit differently. First of all, I use tomato sauce and red wine when I have it (Merlot)preferably. I substitute the chili pepper and other spices for onion, gr pepper chopped up finely, cumin, oregano,garlic, salt and pepper. Then I peel a couple of potatoes and cut them lengthwise into thin strips and add to the mix. I then cover for fifteen minutes and serve over white rice. My Cuban husband of 44 years likes it better than his mother's. The raisins I add when I am making the ground beef for empanadillas. Oh I also add olives and capers too and no vinegar!! Try my recipe and see what you think!

I have made this many times and I enjoy it a lot. I also like the "Havana Moon Chili" also on Epicurious. I prefer to use currants. I use cumin. I do not use chili powder. Sometimes I include bell peppers. I often include a hot pepper, like a Serrano or two.

This is an excellent recipe! The sweet, salty, and spicy are perfectly balanced and there is so much that can be done with this lovely picadillo. My family absolutely loves it and I make this about once a week. I have had great success making this with ground beef and ground turkey.

I won't rate this either since I didn't make it, but as another Latino here I have to agree with other posters. 1. I add in some chopped red/green pepper along with the onion, 2. Drain off some of the excess fat after browning the beef, 3. I prefer dried currants instead of raisins and also use 1 T chopped capers, 4. Go easy on the tomato paste (I use 1/4 cup of tomato sauce instead paste ), 5. Lastly. . . if it's Cuban we're after, then use 1 tsp. of cumin instead of chili powder or cayenne (which are more Mexican). Although this particular recipe doesn't sound purist Cuban to me, I bet it's still pretty tasty and gives you one take on picadillo. But most of all, enjoy Latin flavors whenever you can!

I agree with several reviewers -- this isn't very traditional. My 2nd mother-in-law made this often. I added cumin, oregano, capers canned diced tomatoes and used zante currants instead of raisins -- They're not as sweet. I did add a little tomato paste a little at a time until I got the slightest hint of tomato.

great recipe, similar to how my grandmother made it. i took out the bay leaves and put in some mango chunks for a special flavor.. .made it even more tropical

Based on other comments, past servings of picadillo and my fanatical LOVE of capers, I added 1T capers, 1/2 C dry sherry, 2t cumin and 1/2C green peppers, and I omitted the tomato paste, vinegar, chili powder and cayenne pepper. My guests were literally fighting over the leftovers. I also found that frozen plantains are MUCH easier than fresh, and I was able to get the ripe consistency in the frozen plantains that are hit-or-miss if you buy fresh.

This was okay, but I'm not sure how authentic it is. I've had Picadillo in a few different cuban resturants and it wasn't this tomato-ey and not as sweet. I wouldn't make again.

My husband grew up in Tampa, FL, and his family had piccadillo all the time. Being a New Englander without much experience cooking Cuban food, I was nervous about trying to recreate one of his childhood favorites! This was fantastic, though. I omitted the raisins, used ground bison, and served it over brown rice (not authentic, but much healthier!). My husband loved it. Our picky 4-yr-old loved it. I loved it, too! My mother-in-law uses lots of Goya red cooking wine in her version, but I wanted to avoid that. I was happy to find a recipe that just called for a little red wine vinegar instead! Maybe this isn't totally authentic Cuban, but it's delicious nonetheless!

I'm not rating it, as I haven't made it, I have a fabulous picadillo recipe I've been making for years. I was just browsing some Cuban recipes, and no Cuban recipe is going to include Chili powder. I would suggest adding the cumin, also diced green peppers and instead of tomato paste, try ketchup. I know, I know, ketchup? But it gives the tomato taste, with a bit of spice and some sweetness too. I'm originally from Florida, I do know Cuban food.

I agree with "votresante" that the addition of red wine vinegar is overkill. You get plenty of that flavor element from the olives and capers, if you use them. The first time I made this recipe, I added the red wine vinegar and it was too much. I have since omitted the vinegar and like the result much better. I also add 2 teaspoons of cumin and 1/2 cup dry sherry or dry red wine and leave out the chili powder and cayenne. As mentioned previously, these are not traditional Cuban ingredients.

Absolutley needs some cumin to be authentic. For a special treat-try making a "canoe". Take whole very ripe plantains-fry in a little olive oil until browned-split down the center & place in a shallow baking dish-fill your "canoes" w/cooked picadillo & top w/ shredded mozzarella place under broiler until cheese is how you like it. Serve on a bed of yellow rice & you will agree that this is THE BOMB.

My aunt introduced me to this culinary delight when we were in Florida last month. It was so good that it reminded her of her childhood in Miami. It was so good I had to look for a recipe online. It was very good but I probably could have added more chili powder. Paired it with cheese empanadas.

Made this for my Cuban boss, on "Boss day" last month. He had told me his mom used to add diced potatos. He also said it was better without a lot of tomato paste. So I added a diced medium size potato, used only 1 tbl of tomato paste and one can of diced tomatoes. He said it tasted just like he remembered. Efi Nichols

This recipe is fabulous and as traditional as you can get with Cuban food. The only thing I did was add 2 tsp. of cumin and 2 tsp of capers to make it more like the Cubans do in Tampa, FL. Great, great, great! Served it with traditional black beans and yellow rice, yucca cooked in onion, garlic, butter, and lemon, and plantains. Yummy! Thanks for sharing.