Vegan Picadillo Cubano

Vegan Picadillo Recipe Picadillo Cubano Recipe Cuban Food Vegan RecipeMy father is Cuban and I was born and raised in Miami.  Yeah, we ate a lot of Cuban food.  Home-cooked, store-bought or at restaurants, Cuban food is my comfort food.   There are some seriously fabulous Cuban cooks in my family: my father, abuela, sisters and brother–they could all throw down against Bobby Flay any day of the week and kick his ass.  Here’s the thing: since becoming Nutritarian and going vegan I don’t get to eat it anymore.  Yup, Cuban food is meat-centric, like to the max.  I can still do black beans, rice, plantains and avocado salad, but there is sooooo much more I’m missing.  What’s a half-Cuban vegan girl to do?

Veganize it!  Here is my (vegan) version of a Cuban classic: Picadillo.  Picadillo is a Cuban-style hash, it’s translated to mean “small bits and pieces” and that pretty much sums it right up.  Ground meat, fried potato, olives, raisins and spices.  Check out my recipe for traditional (meat-centric) picadillo here.  But, if you’re ready for a meat-free Caribbean party in your mouth, let’s get to it!

Vegan Picadillo Recipe Picadillo Cubano vegan Cuban food recipe MyMommaToldMe.comFirst, you’ll need a ground meat substitute or GMS (because that sounds all official and important and stuff).  My GMS of choice is “Smart Ground by Lightlife” which I pick up at Sprouts.  A few other notable changes from the traditional picadillo recipe: I’ve substituted sweet potato for the fried white potato (and took out the raisins) and I went with a red pepper instead of the traditional green bell pepper used in making the quintessential Cuban “sofrito.”

Cuban Sofrito Vegan Cuban Picadillo Recipe MyMommaTodlMe.comThe “sofrito” is the base to almost every savory Cuban recipe: caramelized onion, green bell pepper, garlic and spices.  So, why red bell pepper instead of green?  Well, honestly because that’s all I had in the fridge, but after tasting it, I think it works beautifully with the sweet potato too–plus it looks prettier!

The verdict on this recipe: it is delicious!!  My husband, who is a real Cuban-cooking connoisseur, absolutely loved it and we gobbled it all up with brown rice, black beans and sweet plantains.  I hope you give it a try and spread the word if your have fellow Cuban vegans in your life!

Vegan Picadillo Recipe Vegan Cuban Food Cuban Recipe



  • 12 ounces ground meat substitute of choice
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green pimento-stuffed olives, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • 1/4th tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cups water
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • canola oil (for frying potato)


  1. In large skillet heat canola oil (oil should be at least an inch deep–you can save this frying oil to do your plantains after the sweet potato).  Fry your diced sweet potato, stirring frequently for about 5 minute or just starting to brown.  Set 2-3 paper towels on a plate to soak up the oil from the fried potatoes.  Set aside.
  2. Add olive oil to a deep pan or dutch oven, set temperature to medium-high.  Add diced onions and red bell peppers.  Cook down for 7-10 minutes until onions are translucent.  Reduce heat to simmer, add minced garlic, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 3 minutes. 
  3. Add vegan ground meat substitute and olives and saute with cooked veggies for about 5 minutes.  Add 2 cups of water and increase temperature to medium.  In a small bowl incorporate the tomato paste with 1 cup of water, add to picadillo.  Cook on medium for 5 minutes stirring frequently, adjust spices if needed.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  
  4. Add your reserved fried potatoes and incorporate well with picadillo.  Cover and keep on low heat until ready to serve.  Serve with rice, black beans and plantains.  

For more Cuban recipes, like Arroz con Pollo and Guava & Cheese Pastries check out our Cuban Cooking section!

Check out this easy Vegan Caesar salad recipe!

Check out this vegan Mexican Macaroni & Cheese recipe!

Check out this vegan Miso soup recipe!


Meet Kristen | Hello Nutritarian

Hi, I’m Kristen! I adopted a nutritarian lifestyle over four years ago and have been sharing my experiences ever since. I’ve found that a successful life stems from eating to live and it’s my mission to make this lifestyle doable for everyone who’s ready to end their issues with troubled eating, weight gain and food-related disease! If you make one of my recipes make sure to tag @hellonutritarian on Instagram or Facebook so I can show you some love!

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  1. Noemi

    I am so excited to have found your blog,I I am in Broward county and was doing the ETL back a couple of years ago and it worked so well for me but so difficult in an all Cuban household and just males to top it off, they do not want to give up their SAD way of eating or give up on all that meat centric Cuban diet 🙁 Now that I am a grandma I am trying to get back to eating healthier that way I can be around in good health for a long time…Going to try this picadillo today.

    1. Kristen Post author

      Hi Noemi! I grew up in Dade county and I totally understand!!

      I’m so glad you are making your health a priority!! I hope you love the recipe and please come back and let me know!

      xo, Kristen

      1. Noemi

        Hi Kristen I have yet to make this as I did not have all ingredients, Question can I bake the diced sweet potatoe as opposed to frying them in canola oil, we never use that kind of oil or any oil in cooking as we hardly ever fry anything in this house which is like a miracle in itself for us Cuban folks 🙂 Thanks for any feedback.

  2. Pingback: Cuba | Globetrotting at Home

  3. Rodia

    Oh my goodness! I used minced mushrooms in place of the meat substitute and it was OUTSTANDING! I am so happy that I found your page today and that I tried your recipe. It is a new family favorite! Thank you so much. I cannot wait to try more of your recipes. 🙂

  4. Jessica

    This was really yummy! I just made it today. I found your blog in a great time of need as I had started ETC but got lost because of disorganization. Now I’m encouraged to get back on the program with a plan.

    1. Kristen | Hello Nutritarian Post author

      Hi Jessica!

      So happy you found the blog and enjoyed the recipe–makes me so happy to hear!

      Just a note if you are going to start ETL, this recipe is more of a “treat” recipe since it uses a processed soy product and oil and salt. Those could fall under the 10% of calories you can get from low-nutrient foods.

      If you are starting the 6 week program for aggressive weight loss I would definitely suggest the sample week at the end of this food prep article!

      Wishing you all the best!

      xo, Kristen


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