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!)
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!
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