How to Make Carne Picada: A Delicious and Versatile Dish

Carne picada, also known as ground beef, is a staple in many cuisines around the world. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from tacos and burgers to pasta sauces and casseroles. In this article, we will explore the process of making carne picada from scratch, including the best cuts of meat to use, tips for seasoning and cooking, and some delicious recipe ideas. So, let’s dive in and learn how to make carne picada!

Choosing the Right Meat

The first step in making carne picada is selecting the right cut of meat. While you can use any cut of beef, some are better suited for this dish than others. Here are a few options:

  • Chuck: This cut comes from the shoulder and is well-marbled, making it flavorful and tender.
  • Sirloin: This lean cut is great for those who prefer a lower-fat option.
  • Round: This cut is also lean and works well for carne picada.

Regardless of the cut you choose, it’s important to select meat that is fresh and of high quality. Look for bright red color and avoid any meat that appears discolored or has a strong odor.

Preparing the Meat

Once you have chosen your cut of meat, it’s time to prepare it for cooking. Follow these steps:

  1. Start by trimming any excess fat from the meat. While some fat is desirable for flavor, too much can make the dish greasy.
  2. Cut the meat into small, bite-sized pieces. This will make it easier to grind later on.
  3. Place the meat in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This will firm it up and make it easier to grind.

Freezing the meat also helps to retain its juices, resulting in a more flavorful dish.

Grinding the Meat

Now that your meat is prepared, it’s time to grind it. There are a few different methods you can use:

  • Meat Grinder: If you have a meat grinder at home, this is the easiest and most efficient way to grind your meat. Simply feed the meat through the grinder and collect the ground beef on the other side.
  • Food Processor: If you don’t have a meat grinder, a food processor can also do the job. Cut the meat into smaller pieces and pulse it in the food processor until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Butcher: If you prefer, you can also ask your local butcher to grind the meat for you. They will have the necessary equipment and expertise to do it quickly and efficiently.

Regardless of the method you choose, make sure to grind the meat just before using it to ensure freshness and prevent bacterial growth.

Seasoning and Cooking

Now that your carne picada is ready, it’s time to season and cook it. Here are some tips to enhance the flavor:

  • Seasoning: Start by seasoning the meat with salt and pepper. You can also add other spices and herbs, such as garlic powder, paprika, or cumin, to give it a unique flavor.
  • Cooking: Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a small amount of oil to prevent sticking. Once the oil is hot, add the carne picada and cook it until browned, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks.
  • Draining: Depending on the fat content of your meat, you may need to drain excess grease during the cooking process. This will help prevent the dish from becoming too greasy.

Remember to cook the carne picada thoroughly to ensure it is safe to eat. Ground beef should reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) to kill any harmful bacteria.

Recipe Ideas

Now that you know how to make carne picada, here are some delicious recipe ideas to inspire you:

  • Tacos: Fill corn tortillas with seasoned carne picada, and top with your favorite toppings, such as salsa, guacamole, and cheese.
  • Pasta Sauce: Add cooked carne picada to your favorite tomato sauce for a hearty and flavorful pasta dish.
  • Burgers: Shape the carne picada into patties and grill or fry them for a delicious homemade burger.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Stuff bell peppers with a mixture of cooked carne picada, rice, and cheese, and bake until tender.
  • Meatballs: Combine cooked carne picada with breadcrumbs, egg, and spices to make flavorful meatballs. Serve them with spaghetti or in a sub sandwich.

Feel free to get creative and experiment with different flavors and ingredients to make the dish your own!


Carne picada is a versatile and delicious dish that can be enjoyed in various ways. By choosing the right cut of meat, preparing it properly, and seasoning and cooking it to perfection, you can create a flavorful and satisfying meal. Whether you prefer tacos, pasta, or burgers, carne picada is sure to be a hit. So, gather your ingredients, follow the steps outlined in this article, and get ready to enjoy a homemade carne picada that will impress your family and friends!


1. Can I use ground pork or chicken instead of beef?

Yes, you can definitely use ground pork or chicken to make carne picada. The process and seasoning will be similar, but keep in mind that the flavor and texture will be different.

2. Can I freeze carne picada?

Yes, you can freeze cooked or uncooked carne picada. If freezing uncooked meat, make sure to portion it into smaller packages for easier use later on.

3. Can I make carne picada in advance?

Absolutely! You can prepare the meat and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking. This can be a time-saving option for busy weeknights.

4. Can I use pre-ground beef instead of grinding my own?

While it is possible to use pre-ground beef, grinding your own meat allows you to control the fat content and ensure freshness. Pre-ground beef may also have a different texture and flavor.

5. Can I use carne picada in soups or stews?


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