Vegan Cuban Picadillo Recipe

Cuba has been our Nation of the Month for the duration of August. We’ve been listening to Buena Vista Social Club while attempting to perfect our Vegan Cubanos and putting Cuban Rum to the test in a competition of Cuban cocktails (Mojito won)… Most recently, though, we set to bringing you this fully Vegan Cuban Picadillo Recipe.

Picadillo simply translated is “Mince” and if you’ve guessed that the main ingredient is usually beef, you’d be right. Here once again Lentils have taken over the starring role, with no sacrifice in flavour. (Just as they did in in our Turkmen Lentil Ichlekli!)

It’s a hearty and versatile plant based dish full of Cuban flavours. Traditionally served with Rice, this Lentil Picadillo could be the main component of countless culinary creations like Vegan Tacos, Stuffed Peppers, Shepherd’s Pie, Savoury Pastries, etc.

Cooking Time

This is an easy one pot recipe. If you’re in a hurry you could use Cooked Lentils in place of the Dried Lentils and dice the Potatoes smaller so as to cook faster. If you go that route you could get this dish pot to table in under 20… But then, don’t hurry a good thing if you don’t have to. Letting the Green Lentils slowly cook in this broth means they are going to absorb the maximum amount of flavour, and the Bay Leaves will be slowly releasing their aromatic signatures into the dish over the entire 45 minute duration of the simmer.

Mmm delicioso.

Vegan Cuban Picadillo

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy Peasy
  • Print


  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Bran Oil (or your preferred vegetable oil)
  • 1 Brown Onion, Minced
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet Chilli Pepper, Deseeded and Minced
  • 160g Dried Green Lentils
  • 2 Medium Potatoes, Diced
  • 1 Red Pepper, Diced
  • 680g Passata (or crushed tomatoes)
  • 300ml Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • pinch of Nutmeg
  • 2 Bay Leaves


  1. Heat the oil in a medium to large pot. Add the minced Onion, Garlic, and Chilli, sautéing until they begin to brown.
  2. Add the Lentils, Potatoes, and Pepper and sauté a further minute.
  3. Now add the liquid ingredients along with the Spices and Herbs. Reduce the heat to it’s lowest setting, stir well, and cover with a heavy or tight fitting lid. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.

If you notice the Picadillo seems too dry when you give it a stir, it’s probably losing too much moisture to evaporation, just give it a small top up of stock or water.
  1. zgAGA says:

    As always I want to give it a go, then forget.. 🙁 looks delicious though!

    and I looove Buena Vista Social Club, have their album on my phone 🙂

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