Carne Picada

Simple, yet with depth of flavour and a little spice kick, carne picada recipe transforms humble chuck roast or steak into a succulent, flavourful, braised beef. Serve it over rice, in tacos, burritos, or with a side of vegetables or salad. If you’re looking for Mexican beef recipes, give this stew a try!

Carne picada recipe - spicy beef on a spatula
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Carne Picada Recipe

Carne picada, meaning “chopped meat” in Spanish, is a dish that shines with its simplicity and depth of flavour. This recipe transforms cubed chuck steak or roast into a tender, spicy beef stew, simmered with tomatoes, green bell peppers, and jalapeños. 

I recently had carne picada at a friend’s house and we chatted about how it’s one of those cooked and loved recipes that’s on a weekly rotation in their house. For them, it came down to its versatility (serve it in tacos, over rice, in a salad bowl and so on), accessibility (no hard-to-find ingredients or complicated techniques) and flavour. 

Speaking of flavour, I loved the balance of heat, spice, and savoury notes in this dish. I think it’s one of those crowd-pleasers that has a kick without overwhelming the palate.

So, I’ve decided to learn how to make carne picada and now I am sharing the recipe with you. We had it in tacos and it was fab!

👉 If you’re looking for more dinner recipes, make sure to try my Mexican shredded beef, Mexican-inspired chicken schnitzel, and spiced tuna steak. Serve with a side of arroz rojo or this salad with black beans, corn & avocado. You can find Mexican-inspired appetizers here.

Carne picada (spicy beef) on a plate with red rice
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Here is what you need to make this carne picada recipe:

  • Chuck Steak or Roast: The heart of the dish, providing rich flavour and tenderness. Alternatives like stew meat or flank steak can be used, adjusting cooking times as needed.
  • Onions and garlic: the classic foundation of flavours, sweet and pungent 
  • Tomatoes, green bell pepper, and jalapeño: These veggies add freshness, a slight crunch, and a kick. Feel free to adjust the amount of jalapeño to control the heat. I often leave it out as we share our meal with a toddler.
  • Spice mix: The combination of flour, cumin, black pepper, oregano, and chili powder creates a richly flavoured base. Gluten-free flour can be used for a gluten-sensitive diet. I also like to throw in a little brown sugar towards the end to add a touch of sweetness.
Ingredients for carne picada: beef, spices, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, chile, olive oil
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Watch The Video

How To Make Carne Picada

Find the full list of ingredients, nutritional info, and instructions in the recipe card below. Here are some step-by-step pictures to guide you along.

  • Prepare the spice rub: Mix flour, oregano, salt, black pepper, cumin seeds, and chili powder in a large bowl. Coat the cubed chuck roast evenly and let it marinate for at least 2 hours to enhance the flavours.
  • Cook the Meat: Heat olive oil in a pot over medium-high. Brown the marinated beef until golden, then deglaze the pan with a splash of water to incorporate the flavorful bits into the dish.
how to cook carne picada steps 1
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  • Combine Ingredients: Add softened diced onions to the pot, followed by the canned tomatoes, diced green bell pepper, and sliced jalapeño. Stir well.
  • Simmer: Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 75-90 minutes, allowing the meat to tenderize and the flavours to meld. I usually stir every 15-20 minutes and cook uncovered for the last 15 minutes. I also like to add a teaspoon of brown sugar towards the end, to add a touch of sweetness.
  • Final Touches: Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, or more chili powder. Serve hot with rice, tortillas, or your favourite sides.
how to make carne picada steps 2
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Carne picada with beef
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Recipe Tips

  • Adjust Spice Level – Tailor the spice level to your preference by adjusting the amount of jalapeño and chilli powder.
  • Marinating time – Allowing the meat to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours enhances flavour. For even more depth, marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Toppings – Serve the Carne Picada with traditional taco toppings like shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese, and a squeeze of lime for a burst of freshness.
  • Accompaniments – Pair the Carne Picada with soft tortillas for flavourful tacos or serve it over Arroz Rojo (Mexican red rice) for a complete meal.
  • Consistency – For a thicker stew, you can use crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes.

Storage Tips

  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • If you have a larger batch, the carne picada freezes well. Allow it to cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers. It can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.
  • Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat, adding a splash of water if needed to maintain moisture.
  • For a quick reheating, use the microwave, covering the dish to prevent drying.

What To Make With Carne Picada

  • Fill warm tortillas with the carne picada and your favourite toppings for delicious tacos. It’s also good wrapped up in a burrito or used to make enchiladas. 
  • Serve the spicy meat generously over Mexican red rice (arroz rojo) for a hearty and flavouful rice meal. You can also use quinoa or cauliflower rice. 
  • Transform the carne picada into a taco salad by placing it over a bed of lettuce and topping it with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.
Carne picada tacos
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More Mexican-Inspired Recipes

Full Recipe 

Find the full list of ingredients, instructions, and a nutritional breakdown below. If you have questions or cook this recipe, please let me know in the comments, and make sure to rate this recipe so it’s easy for others to find.

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Carne picada recipe feature
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Carne Picada

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 4 serves
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Print Pin Save
5 from 7 votes
Calories: 379kcal
Carne picada is a spiced braised beef dish that promises a burst of flavour with every bite. It's versatile, easy to make and uses accessible ingredients. 


For the spice mix:

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder reduce for less heat
  • 1 teaspoon salt

The rest

  • 1 lb chuck steak casserole or roast, cubed (500 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion small, diced
  • 1 cup green bell pepper diced (about 150 grams)
  • 1 can tomatoes whole or diced
  • 1 jalapeño sliced, optional
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar for a touch of sweetness towards the end


Prepare the meat rub

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, dried oregano, salt, black pepper, cumin seeds, and chili powder.
  • Add the cubed chuck roast to the bowl and mix until the meat is well coated. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours, allowing the flavours to infuse into the meat. However, if in a rush, you can cook the meat right away.

Cook the meat

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Brown the marinated chuck roast cubes in the hot oil until they develop a golden crust.

Deglaze the Pan:

  • Deglaze the pan by adding a splash of water, and scraping up any flavourful bits from the bottom.

Add Onions

  • Add the diced onion to the pot and cook until softened, stirring occasionally.

Combine Ingredients

  • Incorporate the marinated meat, diced canned tomatoes, diced green bell pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and sliced jalapeño (if using) into the pot. Mix the ingredients thoroughly.


  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the stew simmer for 75-90 minutes. This slow simmer allows the meat to become tender and the flavours to meld. Stir every 15-20 minutes.
    After 60 minutes, add a teaspoon of brown sugar and stir. Taste for seasoning. Open the lid and finish cooking for the last 10-15 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken and caramelise slightly.

Adjust Seasoning

  • Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. You can add more salt, black pepper, or chilli powder according to your preference.


  • Once the meat is tender and the flavours have developed, serve your hearty Mexican Carne Picada hot. It pairs well with rice or tortillas.



Can I use a different cut of meat instead of chuck roast?
Yes, you can use other cuts of beef, such as stew meat or flank steak, for this recipe. Keep in mind that different cuts may require adjustments in cooking time to ensure tender results.
How spicy is this dish?
The spice level can be adjusted according to personal preference. The jalapeño and chili powder add heat, so if you prefer a milder dish, you can reduce the amount of jalapeño or use a mild chili powder.
Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker?
You can adapt this recipe for a slow cooker. After browning the meat and deglazing the pan, transfer the ingredients to a slow cooker, add the remaining ingredients, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until the meat is tender.
Can I add additional vegetables to the stew?
Yes, you can customize the recipe by adding vegetables like diced zucchini, corn, or black beans. Add them along with the other vegetables and adjust the cooking time as needed.


Calories: 379kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 873mg | Potassium: 839mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 748IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 5mg
Keywords: braised beef, beef carne picada, Mexican beef, chopped beef recipe, chuck roast recipe
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Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I am a published cookbook author, have been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food. More about me here | Subscribe to my newsletter and freebies

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  1. 5 stars
    Well, I made this for Superbowl, with one important change – I used the crockpot. I added two cups of beef broth, otherwise just followed the recipe – and it was delicious. Great spicing. Will definitely repeat.

    1. Ah, good call to make it for Superbowl! Glad it worked and handy to have a crockpot.I am yet to try it in my Instant Pot as well.

  2. 5 stars
    I could not wait to give this recipe a try and I am so glad that I did. It came out absolutely perfectly and we loved it. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks absolutely delicious. I have never made carne picada before and cant wait to make it.

  4. 5 stars
    The combination of spices and flavors made for a mouthwatering dish. The meat was tender and flavorful, and it was perfect for tacos. Can’t wait to make it again!

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