Carne Picada

6 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Carne Picada is a classic dish of tender braised pieces of beef simmered in a robust tomato sauce with chili spices. Full of Mexican flavor!

Much like Beef Barbacoa and Carne Asada, this versatile Mexican Beef recipe can be served as a hearty Main Course or as a filling for Tacos, Burritos, and more!

Sabrina’s Carne Picada Recipe

Carne Picada is a classic Mexican dinner recipe that features tender braised beef simmered in tomato sauce, infused with a tantalizing blend of chili spices. The delicious Beef Picada meat can be enjoyed with sides of Mexican Rice and Refried Beans, or piled high in warm tortillas with classic toppings. No matter how you serve it, this is sure to be a new favorite weeknight dinner whenever you are craving delicious, easy Mexican Food.

Not only is this Carne Picada recipe a mouthwatering dish full of complex, beautiful flavors and incredibly tender meat, but it’s also surprisingly simple to make. The ingredient list is pretty short and it’s a super inexpensive dish to feed a crowd! All you need to make this dish is a budget-friendly beef cut like bottom round roast, a couple of basic Mexican seasonings, flour, some canned tomatoes, and green chilies. Everything is simmered in one pot so there’s minimal clean up too. It’s simply one of the best dinner recipes you’ll wish you knew about sooner!

“What is Carne Picada?”

Carne Picada is a stew-like Mexican dish of tender braised beef that has been simmered in a thick chili pepper and tomato sauce. The meat is seasoned with traditional Mexican spices like dried chili powder and cumin so it is full of classic Latin flavors. The result is a succulent and flavorful meat dish that is usually served with rice or as a filling for tacos and burritos.

“Can Carne Picada be made ahead of time?”

Yes, Carne Picada can be made ahead of time, which makes it a convenient option for meal planning or hosting gatherings. Prepare the dish as instructed, let it cool completely, and then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be reheated when needed, either on the stovetop or in the oven. The flavors tend to meld and intensify after a day or two, making the leftovers even more delicious!

“What is the difference between Carne Picada and Carne Asada?”

Carne Picada and Carne Asada are both popular meat dishes in Mexican cuisine, but they differ in their preparation and cooking methods. While Carne Picada consists of braised and simmered beef in a tomato-based sauce, Carne Asada refers to grilled or barbecued marinated beef. Carne Asada is typically cooked over high heat to achieve a charred exterior while keeping the meat juicy and tender. On the other hand, Carne Picada relies on slow cooking in a savory sauce to achieve its melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich flavor profile.


  • Roast: Bottom round roast is a cut of beef known for its tenderness and ability to withstand the slow braising process. The result is succulent, melt-in-your-mouth meat that absorbs the flavors of the sauce beautifully. It’s also an inexpensive cut of meat that will feed a lot of people. It might also be labeled as top round roast or rump roast at the grocery store.
  • Flour: The flour coating serves a dual purpose. It helps to tenderize the meat and creates a light crust when browned, adding texture to the dish. It also helps to thicken the sauce as it simmers, giving it a rich and velvety consistency.
  • Chili Powder: The chili powder adds a warm and slightly smoky taste, as well as a hint of spiciness. It’s typically made from dried mild chili peppers like ancho chilies, guajillo peppers, and New Mexico chilies. Sometimes it can have other spices like paprika, oregano, or coriander added.
  • Cumin: Cumin is a quintessential spice in Mexican cuisine. It adds a distinct earthy and slightly nutty flavor, and a warm aroma that enhances the chili spices in Mexican Dishes.
  • Tomatoes: The diced tomatoes provide a luscious base for the sauce. They add acidity and sweetness, balancing the flavors of the dish. Opt for high-quality canned diced tomatoes or use fresh ones when they are in season for the best results.
  • Green Chilies: Mild green chilies add a subtle heat and a burst of flavor to the sauce. Canned diced green chilies are readily available in most grocery stores or you can substitute freshly roasted chilies.
Carne Picada ingredients on counter

Kitchen Tools & Equipment

  • Cutting Board and Kitchen Knife: Use your favorite, sharp kitchen knife and cutting board to easily dice the beef into bite-sized cubes, typically about 1-inch squares.
  • Large Mixing Bowl: Use a large bowl to combine the flour mixture. You need it to be large enough to toss and coat all your beef cubes.
  • Large Dutch Oven: You’ll cook your seasoned beef in a large dutch oven. It needs to be large enough so that the batches of meat aren’t too crowded in the pan. Eventually you’ll add the tomatoes and spices to simmer.

How to Make Carne Picada

  • Prep the Beef: Dice the beef into cubes. Then in a large bowl, mix the flour with the dried seasonings. Add the meat pieces to the bowl and coat in the flour mixture.
  • Cook: In a large Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Working in batches, brown the beef cubes for a few minutes, remove, and repeat. Return all the meat to the pan along with the tomatoes, green chilies, and sugar. Stir everything well to combine. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low. Simmer on low for about an hour and a half, until the beef is tender and cooked through.
  • Serve: Serve in tacos, burritos, or with rice and beans.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

  • Ensure Well-Browned Beef for Big Flavor
    • When browning the meat in your pan, make sure it isn’t too crowded. You want the beef cubes to have a small amount of distance apart from each other. If they’re all touching each other, the heat won’t surround the beef as well and it will not effectively brown. Browned meat means deeper flavors so make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan.

Side Dishes for Your Carne Picada

Carne Picada is delicious served in warm tortillas with classic toppings. However, serving it alongside other tasty, classic sides is a great way to highlight the wonderful flavor. You can try Mexican Rice or if you’re trying to eat more whole grains, you can put this Baked Brown Rice in the oven while the meat cooks on the stovetop. It will soak up the sauce beautifully. Refried Beans are a great choice too, as well are baked black beans, or pinto beans. You could even try Black Beans and Rice as a side dish, which brings so much of its own flavor with it.

How to Store

  • Store: To store Carne Picada, allow it 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.
  • Reheat: When reheating, gently warm it on the stove top over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. If the sauce thickens, you can add a splash of water or beef broth.
  • Freeze: Once the Carne Picada meat has cooled, store it in a freezer safe airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating on the stove top as instructed above.

Ideas to Serve Carne Picada

  • Tacos: One of the most popular ways to serve Carne Picada is in tacos. Simply spoon the meat mixture into warm tortillas and add your favorite taco toppings, such as diced onions, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
  • Burrito Bowl: Try serving Carne Picada in a burrito bowl or rice bowl. Layer your favorite toppings, such as Black Beans, shredded lettuce, and diced tomatoes, on a bed of Arroz Verde or White Rice. Then top it all off with the flavorful Beef Picada meat and sauce.
  • Nachos: Fry up or bake some fresh tortilla chips, then smother them with Nacho Cheese and the cooked meat, then pile on your favorite toppings like pickled jalapeños, sour cream, and Guacamole.

Frequent Questions

Can I use a different cut of beef for Carne Picada?

While bottom round roast is the recommended cut for Carne Picada due to its tenderness, you can experiment with other cuts such as chuck roast, top sirloin roast, or shoulder clod roast, if desired. They are all budget-friendly beef cuts that do well in dishes like this where the meat is braised and cooked slowly.

How can I adjust the spiciness level of Carne Picada?

Adjusting the spiciness level of Carne Picada is easy. If you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the amount of chili powder or opt for paprika which has a similar flavor with no heat. To increase the heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or include diced jalapenos or other spicy peppers.

Can I substitute beef with chicken or pork in Carne Picada?

While beef is traditionally used in Carne Picada, you can certainly substitute it with chicken or pork if you prefer. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as chicken and pork will have different cooking requirements.

Slow Cooker Carne Picada

    • Dice the beef into cubes and coat in the seasoned flour mixture as usual.
    • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat.
    • Brown the beef in batches for about 5 minutes per batch.
    • After browning the meat, transfer it to the slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients.
    • Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours, until the meat is tender.

    Carne Picada

    Carne Picada is a classic dish of tender braised pieces of beef simmered in a robust tomato sauce with chili spices. Full of Mexican flavor!
    Yield 6 servings
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
    Course Dinner
    Cuisine Mexican
    Author Sabrina Snyder


    • 3 pounds bottom round roast
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 29 ounces diced tomatoes
    • 4 ounces diced green chilies
    • 1 teaspoon sugar


    • Cut the beef roast into 1/2-inch cubes.
    • Mix the flour, chili powder, salt, black pepper, and cumin.
    • Toss the meat with the flour and spice mixture.
    • Add vegetable oil to a large dutch oven on high heat.
    • Add the beef in batches and brown, about 4-5 minutes per batch.
    • Add tomatoes, green chilis, and sugar to the pot with the beef.
    • Stir to mix, cover and simmer on low heat for 90 minutes.
    • Serve in tacos, burritos, or over rice in burrito bowls.


    Calories: 376kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 141mg | Sodium: 1350mg | Potassium: 1139mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 981IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 7mg
    Keyword: Carne Picada

    Pin this recipe now to remember it later

    Pin Recipe


    Carne Picada Variations

    • Spicy Chipotle: Add a smoky and spicy twist by incorporating chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. These smoked peppers have an intense smoldering heat and a distinct depth of flavor. For a medium heat, try roasted poblano peppers or go super spicy with diced serrano peppers.

    • Citrus-Marinated: Enhance the tanginess by marinating the beef cubes in a citrus blend of fresh lime juice, orange juice, and zest for at least an hour before cooking. The fresh lime juice will also help tenderize the beef Picada meat if you let it marinate overnight.

    • Mushroom and Onion: Give this savory dish a boost of flavor by sautéing sliced mushrooms and onions before adding the seasoned meat. Once the onions are caramelized and the mushrooms are tender, transfer to a plate and then brown the meat as usual. Add the onion mixture back in with the tomatoes and chilies to finish cooking.

    Carne Picada collagesd

    About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

    Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

    Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

    She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

    She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

    As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

    Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

    As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

    Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

    Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


    Leave a comment & rating

    Have you checked the FAQ section above to see if your question has already been answered? View previous questions.

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe Rating

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


    1. I made this dish a few nights ago. Here are my changes: 4 x habaneros with seeds instead of a can of chilies, I deglazed the pan after the browning the beef with some port wine I had lying around, and I used a 16oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes instead of the regular kind. And finally, I forgot the cumin. In the end, this was absolutely delicious. One MAJOR tip that I think is missing, though, is that you need to mother this for the entire 1hr and a half on the stove or else it’ll start sticking and burn. That happened to me, so I will be more careful next time, but truthfully this is a dish of legends and everybody should make it.