Beef Carne Picada Taco Recipe

Beef Carne Picada Recipes and Some Variations

Carne picada meat , carne asada, and carne guisada are all variations of a meaty taco or fajita filling. While beef is the main ingredient in each, the addition of certain ingredients in these variants is what makes them so different from each other. No matter what, you can bet that each of these carne picada beef taco fillings is going to make quite the mouthwatering dish.

Understanding the Differences

Asada is sliced and seasoned steak. Picada is chunked or minced and sits in a sort of gravy. Guisada or guisado is Spanish for “stew”, and yes, all three can be served in hard- or soft-shell tacos. Since you probably have had asada in tacos, we’re going to focus more on the picada version. Beef picada is less messy than guisado, and you might find it an easier recipe to create.

Beef Carne Picada Recipe (Basic Recipe)

This is an introductory recipe for a beginner cook. We’ll look at an intermediate slower cooker carne picada recipe later. Regardless of which of the two recipes you use, you will find that carne picada makes for easy weeknight dinners.


1-2 lbs of chuck steak, cubed and/or minced (i.e., shredded but not ground)

2 TBSP of olive oil

2 TBSP of flour

1 can of tomato sauce with tomato chunks

2 tsp garlic powder

Black pepper or soy sauce to taste

Corn tortillas, flour tortillas, or burrito bowls


In a large skillet garlic powder should be sprinkled into the olive oil. Over medium-high heat, add the chuck steak and sauté until the meat is browned but not overdone. Add the tomato sauce and stir until heated.

Reduce to medium heat, add the flour to thicken the tomato sauce into a sort of “gravy” and continue to stir. Once it is heated all the way through, remove from heat and serve in your choice of corn tortillas, flour tortillas, burrito bowls, or corn shell tacos. If it is not seasoned enough, you may add black pepper and/or soy sauce to taste.

Beef Carne Picada Slow Cooker Recipe

This recipe is one for a home cook that has some experience using a slow cooker carne picada recipe and knows how and when to make adjustments to the recipe. You will be using chuck roast for this one, as it cooks up much nicer in a slow cooker than other budget-friendly cuts of beef.


2 lbs of cubed budget-friendly beef cuts, in this case, chuck steak

1 large jar of chunky salsa in the “heat” level you like (i.e, mild, medium or hot)

1 small jar of salsa verde (Some people use this as a topping, but it’s excellent as a seasoning and a sauce additive in the slow cooker.)

2 TBSP of chili powder

1 TBSP of brown sugar

2 TBSP of canola oil

1/4 c. of lime juice

1 slice avocado

3 or 4 poblano peppers, seeded and sliced, otherwise bell peppers if you don’t want the mild heat of the poblano peppers in the meat mixture


In a large skillet, add the beef to the canola oil. Once the beef is coated in oil and begins to brown, add the brown sugar, lime juice, and chili powder. Stir until the beef is thoroughly coated and has a light stickiness to it.

If you want, you can transfer the beef to a plate and then saute the peppers you chose until they are soft, but you may want to leave the peppers alone for now. They generally soften up enough in the slow cooker later.

Next, put your beef and juices from the pan into the slow cooker. For slow cooker carne picada, you want to add the tomato salsa to keep everything simmering and tender. The salsa verde can help with seasoning and keep things simmering and moist too, but if you don’t like salsa verde, add an extra jar of tomato salsa or a can of tomato sauce with chunky tomatoes.

Stir it all up and set the instant pot or slow cooker you’re using on high heat. Let it go for eight hours. Do not open the lid except in the last hour to stir it once!

You can serve white rice, sliced avocado, cotija cheese, Uncle Ben’s Spanish ready rice, sour cream, pico de gallo, or other favorite taco toppings on the side or in/on the meat mixture. Making the picada this way also allows you to serve it in a number of ways, including in rice bowls, if you are so inclined.

Beef Carne Picada FAQs

What is carne picada made of?

Carne picada is usually made from budget-friendly cuts of beef. It is not typically made from skirt steak, as skirt steak tends to be a little tough to chew. However, you could make it from this cut of beef if you wanted to for best results.

Is carne picada the same as ground beef?

No, it is not. Ground beef is put through a grinder to grind it into very fine bits. Picada is “picked apart”, or cubed and lightly pulled, like pulled pork. You can also just eat it cubed, as a lot of Hispanic and Latinx cultures do.

What is the difference between carne asada and carne picada?

Carne asada almost always uses skirt steak grilled and sliced thin. Carne picada is never grilled, is often cubed or minced into shreds, and uses chuck roast or chuck steak as the cut of choice. Picada is also sauteed and seeped in sauce to make the meat really tender.

Is carne picada the same as fajita meat?

No, definitely not. If you put the fajita meat next to the picada meat, you can definitely see the difference. It’s long strips versus cubes or “pulled” beef. Different cuts of beef are used for each dish, too.

Is carne picada skirt steak?

Again, no, picada is not this cut of steak. In a pinch you could use this steak meat, but it won’t pull apart or cube as nicely as other cuts of beef. Stick to the recipe as much as possible.

What is carne molida and bandeja paisa?

Carne molida is actually ground meat, typically ground beef. Because of how it is prepared in Puerto Rican dishes, it can be confused with picada quite easily. However, the ground beef in molida is clearly ground beef and doesn’t look very much like the same beef used in picada.

Bandeja paisa is another dish altogether. It consists of different meats arranged on a bandeja, or platter. It may also have rice, avocadoes, a fried egg, or other non-meat ingredients arranged on the side or underneath the different meats. It is a Peruvian, Columbian, and Andean favorite. Just be warned that bandeja paisa is often served with blood sausage, and true to the name, you can guess what that entails.

Both of these dishes should not be confused with picada simply because they are culturally different from picada. If you want to explore more recipes for Hispanic, Mexican, and Latinx cuisine it will help expand your palate and your knowledge of other cultures. You can also experiment with different ingredients to create your own tasty versions of these dishes, but that is up to you.

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