Recipe for Picadillo de zanahoria con vainica (Picadillo with carrots and green beans)


Picadillos are a hallmark of Latin food, and especially Costa Rican dishes. They are generally served with Costa Rican white rice or as part of a Costa Rican casado.

This picadillo de zanahoria con vainica is wonderful because it can be made ahead, and is often an integral part of the casado meal. The Picadillo with carrots and green beans can also be eaten as a gallo: a 1/4 cup sized portion placed in the middle of a homemade tortilla de masa and eaten as a mini-taco. Divine. I also love it because it’s soft, and great for transitioning babies to solid food, Costa Rica-rica style. 

I love this dish for so many reasons… It´s a favorite because it can be made ahead and still tastes wonderful when reheated. It’s super budget-friendly, it feeds a crowd (I made a double batch for our housewarming party and everyone ate heartily!), kids like it, and it’s not too high in sodium. It can be served with traditional white rice and black beans, or I usually throw it over a bed of lettuce to make it Paleo-friendly. You can even omit the ground beef for a great vegetarian dish. Any way you slice it (punny!), this recipe is a favorite at Casa Pura Vida!

This isn’t the only delicious picadillo from Costa Rica either- some of my favorites use the chayote squash. If you want another picadillo with ground beef, try the chayote and ground beef picadillo or a fun vegetarian version with cream is the traditional picadillo de chayote.

Related post: Big List Of Delicious Recipes Served With White Rice

Time: Approximately one hour

Serves: 6-8 people


  • 1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 small white onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ TB salt, or more, to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 TB Salsa Lizano (affiliate link to Amazon!)
  • 1 tsp chicken bullion or Maggi
  • 1 TB olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2-3 C of water
  • Half of a bunch of cilantro (optional if you don’t like the taste of cilantro)


Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large flat-bottomed skillet. Finely chop onion and press garlic and add them to the pan. While they are cooking, seed and core the red pepper and chop it finely. Add to the pan and stir. Cook until soft. This is your sofrito!

I LOVE the garlic cubes from the frozen section at Trader Joe's, and that's what I used for my sofrito this time.

I LOVE the garlic cubes from the frozen section at Trader Joe’s, and that’s what I used for my sofrito this time.

Add the ground beef to the pan and break it into pieces. Pour about one cup of tap water over the vegetables and beef, and cover. Cook until it boils and the meat has been cooked through. While this is cooking, you can chop up the carrots. I don’t peel the carrots, since the peel has additional nutritional value and it isn’t noticeable once you chop the carrot into a zillion pieces. Chop the ends of the carrot, and slice it in half. Slice the halves in half, and once again, until you have a bunch of long, thin, carrot slices like you would use for dipping. Chop those up.


These carrots end up being chopped pretty darn small!

Start with carrot sticks, and then chop them into smaller pieces!

This is what they look like when you have finished chopping!

This is what they look like when you have finished chopping!

Once all of the carrots are chopped, throw them in the pan and add another cup over water to cover. At this point, I add the salt and bullion. The water should look a bit yellow, so keep adding bullion until it looks like this. Cover and bring back to a boil.

Simmering... can you tell the broth is a bit yellow from the bullion?

Simmering… can you tell the broth is a bit yellow from the bullion?

While that is simmering, you will cut the green beans into tiny pieces, the same size as the carrots. Add them into the pan, and cover again with water. Simmer on medium high until the water has boiled down and the green beans are dark green rather than bright.

The green beans are so much easier to finely chop!

The green beans are so much easier to finely chop!

At this point, you can add the Salsa Lizano. Salsa Lizano is a Costa Rican national product that gives Costa Rican dishes their distinct flavor. If you aren’t able to get any, you can still make this dish, it just won’t taste exactly like it does in Costa Rica! I just found out you can get Salsa Lizano on Amazon! (Affiliate link)

salsa lizano

I squeeze the Salsa Lizano out in a circular motion over the entire pan, a total of 1 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons. Stir in, and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. I throw some chopped up cilantro on top and let it wilt before serving. This recipe can easily be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen, or served immediately. 

Serve as a traditional casado, with white rice and black beans. For a no-carb option, I often layer the picadillo de zanahoria con vainica and black beans over a bed of fresh lettuce. As a snack, fold a bit into a warm corn tortilla or tortilla de masa and eat as a “gallo.” Buen provecho!

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  • Reply
    July 6, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I always order picadillo at a Cuban restaurant that we frequent here in Fl. I love that you add green beans to yours. Is this an authentic method for this recipe in Costa Rica? Enjoyed by visit! – Bee

    • Reply
      July 6, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Hi Bee! Thank you so much for visiting the site. We LOVE to eat authentic Cuban food in Florida! Yep, this is a super authentic Costa Rican recipe, and you will find it made in this manner in most parts of the country. So yummy! ~Christa

  • Reply
    cursos de cocina madrid
    September 9, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Acostumbro cada dia buscar webs para pasar un buen momento leyendo y de esta forma he encontrado vuestro articulo. La verdad me ha gustado la web y pienso volver para seguir pasando buenos momentos.

    • Reply
      September 16, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      ¡Mil gracias por visitar! Espero que vuelvas pronto… estoy por publicar más recetas en estos días. Saludos desde Colorado, EEUU. ~Christa

  • Reply
    Lili Alvarez
    August 2, 2020 at 11:15 am

    hello! I am from CR, so I think that if you dont find or have Salsa Lizano, you can use a little bit of Worcestershire Sauce, and bit more of black pepper ground. Provecho!

    • Reply
      August 3, 2020 at 7:58 am

      I totally agree! Not exactly the same but so close. Thank you for commenting Lili- Pura Vida! <3 Christa