Savory Ground Turkey (Turkey Picadillo)

dsc_0199Growing up, my mother always made picadillo, which is ground beef seasoned with Cuban style seasonings.  I guess the American dish that reminds me most of it, I think, is Sloppy Joe, but without the bun,  We always had it with white rice, fried plantains. and on occasion her famous black beans… there any other way?  Yes…fast forward to 2019, made with ground turkey and served with brown rice and roasted vegetables!  Even though we still occasionally enjoy “picadillo” the way my mom used to make it, this version is a delicious, easy to make healthy option.


  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. ground turkey (I buy organic ground turkey from Whole Foods and try to get dark meat as the white meat is too dry)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 of a red bell pepper (or yellow or both) finely diced
  • 1/4 cup low sodium, organic chicken broth
  • a pinch – 1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 – 3/4 dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 ground cumin
  • 1/2 paprika
  • about 1/8-1/4 cup white wine (what ever you have on hand and opened; I used Riesling and enjoyed a glass while I cooked : )
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 carrot, diced small and 1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a saute pan with a lid.  Add the onion, red and/or yellow pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes and if adding carrots add those as well.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes on medium/high until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the ground beef to brown and add a little salt.  Stir and break up the meat while it browns. Once the ground turkey is browned, add the tomato paste and stir to blend then add the spices, the chicken broth, and the wine, give it another stir.  Cover and cook for about 25-30 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
  3. Uncover and add the frozen peas (if using) and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the peas are heated through.  Before serving taste and add salt (if needed) and fresh ground pepper…easy as that!


I served this dish with brown rice and roasted vegetables so I omitted the carrots and peas. If you are planning on making brown rice, I suggest you follow the cooking instructions on package.  Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, so plan on preparing this first.  Also, it’s really good if you substitute the water for low sodium chicken broth.

You can also try the ground turkey on a baked sweet potato or Idaho potato, or make black or red bean chili and use this instead of ground beef.  You can also use this recipe to make turkey meatballs by mixing all the ingredients together (omit the chicken broth and white wine, and add one beaten egg and 3 -4 Tbsp bread crumbs and a couple of Tbsp water).  Cook the turkey meatballs as would any other.


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