Cozy, comforting and full of flavor — that’s right, I’m back with another one of my family’s amazing Puerto Rican recipes that might just become a new family favorite. This nourishing turkey picadillo was a staple for me growing up because it comes together quickly and can be served with so many delicious sides.
Now that I have kids of my own, I’ve come back to this picadillo recipe because it’s kid-friendly and packed with protein. Sidney LOVES this dish and it makes me so happy to see him grow up on the same foods that I did. It’s easy to prep ahead of time and can be made on the stovetop or in your slow cooker, so it’s a great dinner for busy parents!
Enjoy my little slice of home, and be sure to head to the bottom of the post to try out even more of my family’s traditional Puerto Rican recipes (like my mom’s famous chicken & rice!)
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What is picadillo?
Picadillo is a traditional dish made and served across Mexico, the Philippines and many Caribbean and Latin American countries. The recipe for traditional picadillo varies depending on the region but is made with ground meat (typically ground beef), tomatoes, spices and even olives and raisins for a hint of sweetness.
My mom and grandparents are from Puerto Rico and always made their homemade picadillo with ground turkey as we didn’t eat a ton of red meat. This turkey picadillo recipe is simmered with homemade sazon seasoning and sofrito for the perfect dish to pair with some amazing sides!
Don’t forget the homemade sofrito
In Spanish, sofrito means sauce, and it’s very traditional when it comes to Puerto Rican foods. My version is a mixture of garlic, onion, green bell pepper, cilantro and tomato sauce. Some do it with fresh tomatoes and culantro, but this is how I normally make it. You’ll cook the ground turkey in this homemade sofrito and the sazon seasoning for the perfect flavors!
Everything you’ll need to make turkey picadillo
In this picadillo recipe, we’re swapping the ground beef with ground turkey and seasoning it with some incredible flavors. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:
- For the turkey and veggies: you’ll cook down ground turkey with very finely diced yellow onion, green bell pepper, cilantro and garlic. The veggies are part of your sofrito.
- For the spices: we’re using my family’s homemade sazon seasoning to give the picadillo the perfect warming flavors.
- Mix-ins: all of the goods are simmered with tomato sauce, water or broth and olive brine if you like a little extra savory flavor. This is what makes up the rest of the sofrito that you’ll cook the turkey in.
Homemade turkey picadillo in 4 simple steps
The best part about picadillo is how easy it is to make! In just about 30 minutes you’ll have a flavorful dish to serve with your fav sides.
- Cook the turkey & veggies. You’ll start by cooking down the ground turkey with those finely diced veggies in a large pot.
- Add the spices. Stir in the homemade sazon seasoning until it’s nice and fragrant.
- Add the mix-ins. Stir in the tomato sauce, water or broth and olive brine (if you’re using it), cover the pot and let the turkey simmer in this mixture until most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Serve & enjoy. Taste your picadillo and add any seasonings as needed, then top with extra cilantro and onion and serve!
Make it in your slow cooker
Yes, this delicious turkey picadillo can be made right in your slow cooker for an easy, hands-off approach. Here’s how to do it:
- Brown the turkey. You’ll still want to brown the ground turkey in a pot or skillet with the veggies in order to release all the flavors.
- Fire up your slow cooker. Next, transfer the turkey and veggies to your slow cooker.
- Add the spices. Stir in all of the sazon seasoning so that it coats the turkey and veggies.
- Pour in the mix-ins. Pour in the tomato sauce and just 1/2 cup of water instead of all of the water. Give everything a stir.
- Cook it up. Cook the turkey picadillo on low heat for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4. Serve it warm once the liquid is mostly absorbed!
What to serve with turkey picadillo
The options are truly endless when it comes to what you can serve with this cozy picadillo recipe. As mentioned, this is one of Sidney’s favorite dinners and we pair it with simple sides! Here are some suggestions:
- Sidney loves it with avocado and roasted sweet potato or other roasted veggies
- My delicious Arroz con Gandules
- Spanish rice
- Easy cauliflower rice for a grain free, low carb option
- Use it as a filling for empanadas
- Tortillas and yummy toppings
- Or even your favorite chips for dipping!
Storing & freezing tips
- To store: store any leftover turkey picadillo in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Feel free to prep a double batch to feed a larger family all week long!
- To freeze: yes, this picadillo recipe is freezer-friendly! Let it cool completely then add it to an airtight container or freezer bag and place it in the freezer for up to 2 months. To reheat simply let the picadillo thaw in the fridge and then reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
If you like this recipe, you’ll love
- Mama’s Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo)
- Amazing Easy Turkey Tacos (with a slow cooker option!)
- Mom’s Authentic Puerto Rican Rice and Beans
- Mama’s Chickpeas in Sofrito with Arroz con Gandules
- Damn Good Salmon Taco Bowls For Two
- Sazon Grilled Chicken Thighs
Get all of my globally inspired dishes here!
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I hope you love this turkey picadillo recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!
Turkey Picadillo (with a slow cooker option!)
Flavorful turkey picadillo simmered with veggies, tomato sauce and homemade sazon seasoning. My family's lightened up take on traditional picadillo can be made in one pot or in your slow cooker for ease. Serve this comforting, kid-friendly dinner with arroz con gandules, rice, tortillas, or even chips for dipping!
- For the turkey & veggies:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey (93%)
- ½ cup very finely diced yellow onion
- ½ cup very finely diced green bell pepper
- ¼ cup very finely diced cilantro
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- For the spices:
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2/3 cup water or broth of choice
- 1-3 tablespoons olive brine, optional for flavor
- To garnish:
- Extra cilantro
- Finely diced onion
Add oil to a large skillet or pot and place over medium heat. Add in ground turkey and cook, breaking up the meat until mostly browned and cooked almost all the way through.
Next, add in the diced onion, green bell pepper, cilantro and garlic and cook for a few minutes until peppers and onions are softened.
Stir in the spices: coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds until spices are fragrant. Then immediately stir in the tomato sauce, water and olive brine, bring mixture to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove the lid and if the mixture is too liquidy, continue to cook over low until most of the liquid has absorbed.
Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, adding more salt to taste. Serve with arroz con gandules, your favorite rice, tortillas, avocado, and or chips for dipping!
For the slow cooker option: follow steps 1 & 2, transfer the turkey and veggies to your slow cooker, and stir in the spices. Then stir in the tomato sauce and only 1/2 cup of water or broth. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4.
To store: store any leftover turkey picadillo in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Feel free to prep a double batch to feed a larger family all week long!
To freeze: yes, this picadillo recipe is freezer-friendly! Let it cool completely then add it to an airtight container or freezer bag and place it in the freezer for up to 2 months. To reheat simply let the picadillo thaw in the fridge and then reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
Will be making this soon can i use mushrooms as am a vegan perfect for my after office meals will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya
I haven’t tried it with mushrooms only but let me know if you do!
Re the cooking time for the slow cooker: should it be 7-8 hours on low sand 3-4 hours on high?
Yes – thank you for the catch!
This was delicious! We served it in a taco with pintos and cheese. Even my toddler gobbled it up!
That sounds amazing! Glad it was a hit!
This was so good! I mixed all the seasonings together and left out around a teaspoon bc I don’t like too much spice. I also made it in the slow cooker. I recommend doubling the recipe bc we ate almost all of it for dinner. Definitely making it again soon!
Perfect! Glad it was a hit!
This was soooo good. Perfect and easy
Glad you enjoyed!
This dinner was SO good. We’ve paired it with cauliflower rice & sweet potatoes and it was perfection. Thanks again Monique for always putting out the best recipes. 🤍
Love it! Glad you enjoyed!
As with just about every AK recipe I’ve tried, this one was a success! My AK favorites include every Puerto Rican-inspired recipe she makes (thanks to her mama!). We paired the picadillo with her recipe for arroz con gandules (found with Mama’s Chickpeas in Sofrito), which made the prep simple because many of the ingredients crossover.
We used regular peas because I didn’t find the pigeon peas at the grocery store, but I plan to check out a local market next time! I imagine regular peas make the rice a bit sweeter. I would also either double the picadillo recipe, because we ended up having tons of rice leftover, and it would be great the next day. Even our 3 year old loved it!
Love that! I’m so glad they’re a hit with the family 🙂 Our favs, too!
Could this be made in an Instant Pot?
I don’t have an Instant Pot so I’m not 100% sure what the instructions would be – sorry!
Easy and quick to make. A must with kids. 15 month old loved it. Had it with rice and avocado 😊
Absolutely! The kiddos love it 🙂
Delicious and very flavorful for a quick meal! Husband said it was his favorite way to eat turkey and the 1yr old ate more than I did. Accidentally added a whole can of tomato sauce and still turned out great!
Love that! Glad it was a hit 🙂
Delicious, easy and fast!! I love how simple this is to modify to your liking, with toppings, etc.
Soooo yummy! The sauce was incredible!
Absolutely! Easy and delicious 🙂
The flavor of this was SO good! I was short on time, so I left out the diced green pepper and onion. It was delicious without it, but next time I’ll make it with the pepper and onion and see what we prefer. My kids and husband liked it and they’re pretty picky. Thanks for this great recipe!
Glad it was a hit! Yes, let me know how it goes with the veggies in there next time 🙂
very good – served with a side of rice. I went a little too salt heavy so noted for next time to stick to portions in the recipe!
Perfect! And yes if you think it still needs some salt afterward feel free to add a pinch after it’s cooked 🙂 Glad you enjoyed!
This was sooo good!
So glad you enjoyed!
Delicious! Even my kids demolished it without a word! Thanks again for another great recipe!
Woohoo!! Glad you guys are all enjoying it!
So good! Juicy, perfect for meal prep, the whole family loved. I served with arrpz con gandules and plantains. Yum
YAY glad you guys all loved it. And those all pair PERFECTLY!
This was amazing! My partner and I had never had picadillo before so weren’t sure what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised! We paired it with some spanish rice and will definitely be making it again.
So glad you tried and loved it, Taryn! Can’t wait for you to make it again. Thanks for the review 🙂
Really yummy and a good relatively quick weeknight dinner. Our eleven month old liked it too and it was nice to be able to eat the same thing! Very flavorful even without a ton of salt. Thanks for another great recipe!
You’re welcome, Ali! So happy to hear you guys all enjoyed it 🙂
Thanks for a great dish recipe that was easy to prepare, seems versatile, and is super delicious. The BF & I really liked it and plan to get it into the rotation. I don’t know if anyone else had this experience or not, but has anyone else found 1 cup tomato sauce + 1.5 cups of water per stovetop directions was way too much liquid? I ended up boiling everything on high for about 40 minutes trying to get the liquid to absorb to no avail. (Mine resembled really watery soup even after all the boiling.) I ended up draining the whole thing through a fine mesh strainer and thankfully was able to salvage the meat and a small amount of liquid, which still tasted great. Will definitely make this again but plan to cut the liquid down to 1 cup tomato sauce + 1/2 cup water, 1 cup at most to see if that helps the liquid ratio.
So happy you guys enjoyed it! And sorry to hear about the excess liquid. Did you cook everything in a large skillet or pot?
Made this paired with your coconut rice I’ve been wanting to try and both were so good! Different then I’ve ever had but now will be a favorite. My 14 month old LOVED it.
Awesome!! I’m so happy you guys loved it. And great idea to serve with coconut rice–yummm 🙂
I didn’t think this would be so flavorful! I don’t know anything about the culinary history of this dish, but I do know I’m now a fan.
On my quest to find variety in my new way of eating healthy keto, this dish will be added to my weekly rotation.
So flavorful and easy to make! I paired this with some cauliflower rice for dinner and it was perfect.
Yay! So happy you enjoyed it, Sadie!!
Delicious, but the dish turned out to be much more watery than anticipated even though I measured each amount precisely and allowed the pot to simmer for 25 minutes. I wonder what I did wrong?
Sounds like it just needed more time for the water to absorb!
This was soooo good! I cooked it just as the recipe states, except maybe letting it simmer a bit longer to let some of the liquid evaporate. I will be making this one again and again!
Yay!! So happy you loved it, April 🙂
I made this recently for my one year old daughter and she gobbled it up! My partner and I enjoyed it too. Great for an easy weeknight dinner and good for leftovers. Could you do a blog post on Sidney’s favorite recipes / meals? Would be so helpful!
Yay!! So happy you guys all loved it 🙂 Great idea. I do have a kid-friendly recipes post but we can think about doing another!
Made this in slow cooker following recipe exactly, with a couple TB of olive brine. My husband and I both LOVE this. I eat it over greens, or over cauliflower rice, nd he puts in in a soft flour tortilla as a taco. Both of us like chopped avocado on top. Very easy to make, freezes well, healthy, and absolutely delicious!!
Another family favorite I use the crockpot option and we eat it over sweet potatoes garnished w/cilantro and avocado!!!! Made a batch today prepping for our busy work week
This recipe is awesome!! I followed the directions exactly as listed and it turned out so yummy. I was looking for something that I could put on my salads for lunches and this did the trick! Next time I want to make these for a taco night with flour tortillas and hard shell tacos. Thanks for sharing!
This was so easy and delicious! Made it in the crockpot and LOVED the flavors. Definitely will make again.
Nice!! So happy you tried and loved it 🙂
Excellent – the only change I made was to add roughly 1/4 cup of small green olives to the mixture at the very end. I’ve had this dish served this way once before and we loved the salty bites. Delicious over rice with avocado slices!!! Comes together quickly. A great one pot dish!
Great idea to add the olives at the end! I’m so happy you loved it 🙂
So flavorful and yummy! I love eating with crushed tortilla chips and some diced avocado on top. I double the batch and my husband and I eat it through the rest of the week. No substitutions necessary!
Made this tonight for dinner! It’s a 5-star recipe for sure! So easy, so much flavor, delicious! I served with tortillas!
Oh yay!! I’m so happy you loved it, Meral!
This was great! I did the slow cooker option. We enjoyed it as a lettuce wrap and with sweet potato as a side. 🙂
Nice! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. Love the idea of using this in lettuce wraps!
Loved this! Tasted great with lettuce shells and Tortillas and chips!
Sounds like a fab meal! Happy you loved it 🙂
Felt compelled to leave a review as I make so many AK recipes lately! Quick to throw together after putting the baby to bed, delicious and nutritious too! Used chopped tomatoes instead of tomato sauce and came out nicely. Thank you!
Aw thank you SO much, reviews mean so much! Glad you loved this one 🙂
This was AMAZING! My husband and I could’ve eaten the whole thing in one dinner, it took a lot of self control to save some for leftovers tomorrow. Made exactly as directed and turned out perfectly! Thank you!
It looks like in the pictures you use red onion but the instructions use yellow. What do you recommend? Yellow onion for cooking but is the red onion what is added on top after? Thank you!
Oh yes I use yellow onion in the picadillo itself and top with red onion because I love the color, but any kind of onion (even green onions) would be great for garnishing 🙂
Followed recipe exactly. Used 3Tbsp of olive brine. This was so flavorful. We ate it over rice. Will definitely need to double this next time, as we ate almost the entire thing between the two of us.
DELICIOUS! So easy to make. This will be in my regular rotation from here on.