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Beef Picadillo de Chayote- Costa Rica

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This ground beef picadillo de chayote is a healthy Blue Zones recipe from Costa Rica that combines lean ground beef, squash, cilantro, corn and red pepper for a quick meal or a healthy side dish.

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About Beef Picadillo de Chayote

This recipe is a very popular recipe in the Central Valley of Costa Rica as part of a casado. If you visit small restaurants or roadside buffets (called sodas in Costa Rica) you will often see this picadillo as part of the menu. It’s a little Costa Rican comfort food!

The star of the recipe is the chayote, which is a small green summer squash used in this picadillo and in the Costa Rican vegetable beef soup. You will often find three variations of this dish, either with a cream-based sauce (vegetarian), with a broth-based sauce (vegan) or this version with ground beef. Once in a blue moon, you might see this dish with shredded beef.

This dish is meant to be served as part of the larger casado meal- adding a meat, white rice, black beans, plantains and salad. However, at our house, we just eat it with rice and beans or I throw it inside some tortillas and eat as a light snack. 

Ground Beef Picadillo de Chayote Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 2 chayote squash, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1/2 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, finely diced
  • 1/8 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp chicken bullion base

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper, and garlic and saute until the onion is transparent. Add the chayote and cook, covered, until just tender. Stir this frequently or the chayote has a tendency to burn at the bottom of the pan.

While chayote is cooking, stir the bullion base into the water until combined. Add the water and bouillon mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add ground beef, corn and salt. Heat thoroughly. 

About 1 minute before the picadillo is done, stir in the cilantro. You want to keep the fresh flavor of the raw cilantro. Serve as desired.

 

More of our Popular Costa Rican Recipes:

Substitutions

I often use homemade chicken stock in place of the bullion mixed with water. 

You can also use fresh corn from the cob in place of canned corn- so delicious. 

You could use ground turkey in place of ground beef.

Variations

Some regions in Costa Rica use shredded beef in place of ground beef- this is much less common. If using shredded beef, use this Costa Rican Shredded Beef Recipe.

You can make a vegetarian version of this recipe with a milk base instead of a broth base. It’s creamy, delicious and one of my favorite Costa Rican vegetarian meals ever. You can find that recipe here- Picadillo de Chayote En Leche.

Finally, there is a vegan version of this recipe that omits the beef (obviously) and uses a vegetable stock or bullion place of the poultry stock.

Sometimes you see this with potatoes- just cube the potatoes and boil them separately. Add the potatoes at the end just before the cilantro.

Related post: Ground Beef Picadillo with Green Beans and Carrots

Serving Suggestions

Serve the picadillo with Costa Rican white rice and Costa Rican black beans

You can also make a casado plate and this can be the picadillo that accompanies the rice, beans, plantains and protein. Perfectly pura vida.

You can also serve this as a gallo by placing a bit of the picadillo in the middle of a homemade corn tortilla and eating it with a cup of coffee or agua dulce as a snack. 

FAQ

What type of bullion should I use? – You can use Better than Boullion or you can use Maggi. 

What does picadillo mean? – Picadillo can be loosely translated as “hash” although I don’t think that is the best translation. It’s generally a dish with vegetables but into small pieces and then cooked in a bit of water and spices.

Where can I buy chayote squash? – I generally find them near the brussels sprouts in the grocery stores. If you can’t find the in your mainstream store, you can definitely get them at a Latin grocer or an Asian grocer. 

How do I reheat picadillo de chayote? – You can reheat in the microwave- I put it in a shallow glass dish and reheat at 50% power for about 3 minutes. You can also reheat it stovetop in a small skillet- I heat on low, covered, and add a little bit of water so the picadillo doesn’t scald to the bottom of the pan. 

Printable Recipe

Yield: 6

Ground Beef Picadillo de Chayote

white bowl with picadillo and cilantro garnish

This ground beef picadillo de chayote is a healthy Blue Zones recipe from Costa Rica that combines lean ground beef, squash, cilantro, corn and red pepper for a quick meal or a healthy side dish.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 chayote squash, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1/2 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, finely diced
  • 1/8 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp chicken bullion base

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, pepper, and garlic and saute until the onion is transparent.
  3. Add the chayote and cook, covered, until just tender.
  4. Stir this frequently or the chayote has a tendency to burn at the bottom of the pan.
  5. While chayote is cooking, stir the bullion base into the water until combined.
  6. Add the water and bouillon mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer.
  7. Add ground beef, corn and salt. Heat thoroughly. 
  8. About 1 minute before the picadillo is done, stir in the cilantro. You want to keep the fresh flavor of the raw cilantro. Serve as desired.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 188Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 1229mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 18g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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About the Author

Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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11 Responses

  1. This was delicious! Made it for my family for dinner and everyone loved it! Saving to make again soon.

  2. I love picadillo but have never made it with chayote!! This is a must try recipe, healthier and still yummylicious ?!! Plus sounds easy to make, which is a plus for s busy mom like me.

  3. Christa tu picadillo de chayotes se ve espectacular, una explosión de sabores, la carne, el maíz, el cilantro, toda una delicia. Tengo una mata de chayotes en casa en espera que cargue, me guardo tu receta

  4. This carnita picadillo looks amazing. I wish I could try it made by you with the real Costarican seasoning

  5. Making the picadillo recipe for the second time. Got rave reviews the last time. I made as per the recipe except I added a teaspoon of achiote. I’ve added this to my usual rotation. Thanks for posting!

    1. That sounds deightful! So glad you ahve a new recipe for the rotation- those are always a double win! Thank you so much for commenting and hope you’ll be back soon! Pura Vida! Christa

  6. Thanks so much this recipe turned out wonderfully. I’m currently living in Costa Rica and learning all the things we can cook with chayote!

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here.

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