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    Carne Molida

    Carne Molida is your go-to for an easy, no-fuss Mexican meal. Picture this: ground beef cooked up with fresh homemade salsa, a mix of veggies and seasoned with blend of spices like cumin, oregano and chili powder. And you end up with one amazingly tasty Mexican ground beef!!

    Whether used as a filling for tacos and empanadas or served over rice or inside bowl meals, it can be a staple for everyday dinners.

    Carne Molida is a versatile and savory Mexican ground beef dish perfect for tacos, burritos, and more.

    In the past we have cooked some great Ground Beef Recipes from cultures all around the world. Puerto Rican style Picadillo, Filipino Giniling, and Indian Kheema are just a few examples that make great dinners from humble, simple ground meat.

    Today’s Carne Molida is very similar to our Mexican Picadillo and Carne Picada, with a few variations. Here, the flavor base comes from a fresh, homemade salsa made with smoky, charred tomatoes, tomatillos and aromatics.

    Why You’ll Love this Mexican Ground Beef

    • Flavors: The combination of ground beef with spices, fresh vegetables and homemade salsa makes for some very delicious flavors.
    • Easiness: This dish is relatively simple and quick to make, which is perfect for busy weeknights or whenever you need a hearty meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
    • Customizability: Carne Molida can be easily adapted with a variety of other add-ins.
    • Versatility: Carne Molida can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from tacos and burritos to empanadas and tostadas. We’ll give you a bunch more ideas later in the post.
    Square dutch oven full of Mexican ground beef with vegetables.

    What is Carne Molida?

    Carne Molida, translating to “ground meat” in Spanish, refers to a versatile and popular dish in Latin American cuisine made primarily from ground beef. It’s a flavorful mixture that can include a variety of vegetables, spices, and herbs, which are sautéed and simmered together to create a delicious stew like mixture.

    It comes in many forms across Latin America, each region putting its own unique spin on the recipe. In Mexico, it’s often prepared with a blend of tomatoes, chilies, and spices, making it a flavorful filling for tacos and burritos.

    In countries like Cuba, D.R, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, it takes on a simpler form, commonly served with rice or arepas, and might include ingredients like raisins and olives for a sweet and salty contrast.

    Despite these variations, the core of Carne Molida remains the same: a comforting, hearty ground beef dish that adapts to the tastes and ingredients of its local cuisine, showcasing the culinary diversity of Latin American food traditions.

    Serving of this ground beef served over rice.

    Ingredients Needed

    Salsa Ingredients:

    • Roma Tomatoes: Choose ripe and juicy ones for the best flavor and texture.
    • Tomatillos: They add a tangy, citrus-like flavor that balances the richness of the tomatoes.
    • Jalapeños: Adjust the amount based on your heat preference. Remember, the seeds and membranes add extra heat.
    • Cumin: We are grinding cumin seeds here, but use powdered if that’s what you have on hand.
    • Black Pepper: Again, freshly crushed peppercorns.
    • Garlic: Essential.

    Carne Molida Ingredients:

    • Olive Oil: Or any other neutral flavored cooking oil.
    • Ground Beef: We prefer 85/15. It’s not too lean, not too greasy.
    • Onion: Diced small o make the base.
    • Carrot: Adds sweetness and texture to the dish.
    • Garlic: Great aromatic for Mexican dishes.
    • Potato: Diced into small pieces for quicker cooking.
    • Red and Yellow Bell Peppers: Diced. For color and sweetness.
    • Mexican or Regular Zucchini: Diced. It bulks up the dish and pops up the color.
    • Frozen Peas: No need to thaw before use.
    • Mexican or Regular Oregano: Mexican oregano has a more authentic flavor, but regular oregano works too, if that’s what you have.
    • Ancho Chili Powder: Adds a mild, sweet, and smoky flavor. If unavailable, substitute with a mild chili powder.
    • Cumin: Complements the ancho chili and adds a warm, earthy flavor.
    • Red Chili Flakes: Adjust according to your preference for heat.

    Carne Molida Recipe

    1. Make Homemade Salsa: Char the tomatoes, tomatillos, and jalapeños in a skillet or on a griddle. Remove the skins from the charred tomatoes and tomatillos after cooking.

    Crush cumin and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, add garlic, and then the charred vegetables. Crush to a rough paste, adjusting jalapeños for desired heat. Do not add all the jalapeños at one time. Their heat level differs, so add a few pieces at a time to the mortar as you make the salsa, tasting as you go.

    Prepared salsa in a stone mortar.

    2. Brown the Ground Beef: Heat olive oil in a skillet, brown the ground beef, and drain any excess fat.

    3. Add Initial Veggies, Salsa and Spices: Add onion, carrot, potato, and garlic. Cook until softened. Stir in the prepared salsa along with the spices. Add the bell peppers and cook until they start to soften.

    Vegetables cooking with the ground beef.

    4. Finish the Dish: Add zucchini and peas, cooking until all vegetables are tender.

    Peas and zucchini added in.

    Adjust for salt and other seasonings. If desired, you can add ¼-½ cup of water while cooking the veggies for a little soupier consistency.

    Final product, ready to serve.

    Alpana’s Tips

    • Char Your Vegetables: For the salsa, charring tomatoes, tomatillos, and jalapeños on a skillet or grill adds a smoky flavor that can’t be beaten. This step is worth the extra effort for the depth it adds to the salsa.
    • Let It Simmer: Once all ingredients are added, let the Carne Molida simmer for a bit. This allows the flavors to meld together nicely.
    • Customize the Heat: Adjust the amount of jalapeños and red chili flakes to suit your heat preference. You can always add more, but it’s difficult to make it less spicy after the fact.
    • Balance Your Flavors: If your Carne Molida tastes too acidic from the tomatoes, a pinch of sugar can help balance the flavors. On the other hand, a splash of lime juice can brighten the dish if it feels too heavy.
    • Fresh Garnishes: Garnish with fresh cilantro or green onions.
    Potful of mexican ground beef.

    Possible Variations

    • Protein Swap: Instead of ground beef, try ground turkey, chicken, or pork for a lighter version or a different flavor profile.
    • Spice It Up: Try adding chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a smoky flavor, or add a dash of smoked paprika. Experimenting with different chili powders can also change the dish’s heat level.
    • Veggie Variations: Add sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, or spinach for some variety.
    • Beans Addition: Mix in black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans for added fiber and protein.
    • Cheesy Mix: Sprinkle some cheese on top of the Carne Molida in the last few minutes of cooking or before serving. Queso fresco, cheddar, or Monterey Jack are great options that melt beautifully and add a creamy texture.
    • Rice Mix-In: For a one-pot meal, add rice directly into the Carne Molida, turning it into a sort of Mexican-style pilaf or casserole.

    Ways to Serve Mexican Carne Molida

    Carne molida tacos.
    • Tacos and Burritos: Fill soft or hard taco shells and burrito wraps with Carne Molida, adding your favorite toppings like lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and salsa for a classic Mexican meal.
    • Over Rice: Serve Carne Molida over a bed of steamed rice for a simple yet satisfying meal. For even more flavors, make our easy Cilantro Lime Rice.
    • Tostadas and Quesadillas: Spread Carne Molida on tostadas and top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and queso fresco. Or use it as a filling for quesadillas, paired with cheese and grilled to perfection.
    • Stuffed Vegetables: Hollow out bell peppers, zucchinis, or eggplants and stuff them with Carne Molida, then bake until the vegetables are tender. You could also top with shredded cheese before baking.
    • Empanadas: Use Carne Molida as a filling for empanadas, enclosing the meat in pastry dough before baking or frying for a crispy, savory treat.
    • With Pasta: Serve Carne Molida over pasta for a Mexican-inspired Bolognese.
    • Nachos: Layer tortilla chips with Carne Molida, beans, cheese, and any other toppings you like, then bake until the cheese is melted. Serve with guacamole and salsa for a great party snack.

    Leftovers and Storing

    After cooking, allow the Carne Molida to cool down, then transfer to an airtight container. Properly stored, it can last in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

    For longer storage, Carne Molida freezes well. Place it in freezer-safe containers, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label the containers with the date, and it can be stored for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy your Carne Molida again, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight if it was frozen.

    Reheat the Carne Molida on the stove over medium heat, adding a splash of water or broth if it seems dry.

    Serving of this ground beef served over rice.

    If you’re wondering what to cook with ground beef, this Mexican style dish is a great way to introduce your family to delicious flavors from south of the border. It’s simple, home style cooking and can take tons of veggies, which is good for everyone.

    Try our version of Carne Molida and let us know how you end up eating it. Over the rice, in between tortillas, or over crispy tostadas?

    Carne Molida, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Bowl of carne molida atop the Gypsy Plate.

    More Great Mexican Inspired Dishes:
    Caldo de Pollo
    Caldo de Res
    Birria Tacos
    Pozole Rojo
    Espagueti Verde
    Sopa de Fideo

    Featured image for carne molida recipe post.

    Carne Molida

    Yield: 6 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    Total Time: 45 minutes

    Carne Molida is a versatile and savory Mexican ground beef dish perfect for tacos, burritos, and more.



    • 4 large roma tomatoes, ripe and juicy
    • 5-6 tomatillos
    • 1-2 jalapeños
    • 1 tsp whole cumin
    • ½ tsp peppercorn
    • 3 garlic cloves

    Carne Molida

    • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
    • 2lbs ground beef
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
    • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 potato, peeled and diced
    • ½ red bell pepper, diced
    • ½ yellow bell pepper, diced
    • 1 Mexican or regular zucchini, diced
    • 1 cup frozen peas
    • 3 tsp Mexican or regular oregano
    • 2 tsp ancho chili
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • ½-1 tsp red chili flakes


    1. Heat skillet or griddle on medium high heat with 1 Tbsp oil. Add the tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapeño. Cook them for 5-6 minutes per side, or until charred all over. Remove the charred skins from tomatoes and tomatillos.
    2. With a mortar and pestle, crush whole cumin and peppercorns into powder. Add garlic and crush it. Add in tomatoes and tomatillos one at a time and crush them into a rough paste. Add in jalapeños, tasting as you go in order to control the heat of your salsa. (You can also blend everything in a blender in absence of mortar and pestle)
    3. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp oil and add ground beef. Cook, breaking it up with a spatula. Remove excess fat or liquids, leaving some behind. Add in diced onion, carrot, potatoes and finely chopped garlic. Mix well.
    4. Add in salsa along with salt, oregano, ancho chili, cumin, and red chili flakes. Cook for 10 minutes.
    5. Add in bell peppers and continue cooking until potatoes are almost tender. Add in zucchini and peas and cook for 10 minutes. Adjust for salt and other seasonings. You can add ¼-½ cup of water if you desire a little soupier consistency.
    6. Serve immediately in bowl meals, tacos or on tostadas.
    Nutrition Information
    Yield 6 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 505Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 135mgSodium 171mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 5gSugar 6gProtein 47g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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