Carne Molida

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
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Served in corn tostadas, this juicy carne molida with homemade tomato salsa is the easy dinner your weeknight menu was missing. You’ll love every spicy, smokey, and crunchy bite!

Why You’ll Love This Carne Molida

It’s simple, authentic, and easy to spice up so things don’t get boring:

  • Family-friendly. Even if you’ve got picky eaters at home, you won’t have to worry about large veggies in this recipe or bits of tomato in the sauce if you blend it well.
  • Traditional. The reason why it’s so simple is because it’s authentic and fuss-free, just like local Mexican cooking. It doesn’t need a 100-item ingredient list to taste great.
  • Versatile. Serve it with corn chips, tostadas, tortillas, or guacamole to spice things up depending on what you’re craving for lunch.

What Is Carne Molida?

Carne molida means “ground beef,” which means it can be prepared in a multitude of ways. It can be on the drier side with only spices as a flavor base, it can have veggies, or it can be simmered in salsa. This recipe is like the latter. It’s browned beef that’s simmered in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. Once done, it should be a little bit soupy because the cooking juices make it extra delicious.

Ingredients for carne molida.

Recipe Ingredients

You’ll find all the typical Mexican ingredients on this list: tomatoes, jalapeño, and garlic. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full ingredient amounts.

  • Heirloom Tomatoes: Feel free to use Roma tomatoes, but you’ll need 5-6 medium tomatoes.
  • Jalapeño: Leave the seeds in to double the heat. Or use serrano peppers instead to quadruple the heat!
  • Garlic Cloves: You can use 2 teaspoons of garlic powder instead.
  • Onion Powder
  • Ground Paprika: Smoked paprika is also great.
  • Ground Cumin
  • Dried Mexican Oregano: Italian oregano is okay in a pinch.
  • Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Water

For the Beef

  • Vegetable Oil: Corn and canola oil work too. No olive oil.
  • Ground Beef: I like to use lean ground beef, but you can use any type you prefer. If you choose a fattier cut of ground beef, you may want to drain off any excess grease.
  • Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
A wooden spoon scooping up a serving of carne molida.

How To Make Carne Molida

In just four simple steps, you will have a hot skillet filled with flavorful Carne Molida! For full recipe directions, scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Blister: Place the tomatoes, jalapeño, and garlic in a large griddle over medium heat. Cook them for 3-4 minutes on each side or until charred all over.
  • Blend: Add the charred veggies to the blender. Add the onion powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Pulse it repeatedly until chunky to taste.
  • Brown The Meat: Cook the ground beef, breaking it apart as it cooks, until browned. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Simmer: Add the blended sauce to the pan and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for 12-15 minutes (uncovered).
  • Serve: Season with more salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from the heat and serve as desired.

Carne Molida Variations

This recipe can be less soupy, extra spicy, more filling, and lots of other things if you know how to do it the right way:

  • Make it dry. This carne molida is supposed to be slightly soupy, but you can simmer it for longer until the meat absorbs all the sauce. It’s just as good!
  • Make it spicier. Adding 1/2 to 1 small serrano chile to the salsa ingredients will give this dish extra heat. You can also leave the seeds inside the chiles to triple the heat!
  • Add veggies. Diced potatoes, carrots, and zucchini are great add-ins. Cook them before the meat and then remove them from the heat. Return them to the heat after you’ve cooked the meat to avoid over-cooking them.
Carne molida tostadas with toppings.

Tips for Success

Check out the second tip if you want to use an extra traditional salsa in your recipe:

  • Make a smooth sauce. If you’ve got picky eaters at home or aren’t a fan of bits of tomato and chile in your food, blend the sauce until completely smooth.
  • Use a molcajete. Molcajetes are Mexican pestle and mortars. If you have one, use it to make the sauce.
  • Use store-bought. Don’t worry if you’re in a rush to put dinner on the table. Your favorite organic Mexican salsa is a great swap. I recommend simple tomato-based salsas that you can still add spices to without making it taste funky.
One carne molida tostada with toppings.

Ways to Serve Mexican Carne Molida

This carne molida is great with Tortilla Chips or large tostadas drizzled with crema and sprinkled with cotija cheese. You can also use it with Corn Tortillas to make tacos or crispy, fried taquitos. Adding a tablespoon or two of carne molida to Nopales Asados Tacos is super yummy as well. Served with some Guacamole on the side, it’s absolutely perfect.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Once fully thawed, refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Keep it away from the sun when it’s on the counter for reheating. To reheat it, microwave it for up to a minute or until warm. You can also heat it in a pan over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Landscape photo of carne molida tostadas.

Can I Freeze This?

Yes! Carne molida is very freezer-friendly. Pop it into a freezer-friendly bag or container and freeze it for up to 4 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating it as usual.

More Mexican Recipes

Landscape photo of carne molida tostadas.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 4

Carne Molida

This easy carne molida with spicy homemade tomato sauce is the perfect way to end the day with crunchy tostadas or crispy tacos. 
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 medium jalapeño
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup water

For the Beef

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

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Instructions 

  • Place the tomatoes, jalapeño, and garlic in a large griddle over medium heat. Cook them for 3-4 minutes on each side or until charred all over. The garlic and jalapeño will have shorter cooking times because they're much smaller so keep an eye on them.
  • Add the charred veggies to a blender. Add the onion powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Pulse it repeatedly until chunky or smooth, depending on your personal taste. (If you're having trouble blending the ingredients, add a bit of water at a time to adjust the consistency.) Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper, to taste, if needed.
  • Pour the oil into a large pan over medium heat. Let it heat for 1-2 minutes then add the ground beef and let it cook for 8-9 minutes, breaking apart the meat as it cooks, until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the blended sauce to the pan and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes, until thickened.
  • Season with more salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from the heat and serve as desired.

Notes

Storage: Once fully thawed, refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Keep it away from the sun when it’s on the counter for reheating.
Reheat: To reheat it, microwave it for up to a minute or until warm. You can also heat it in a pan over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Freeze: Pop it into a freezer-friendly bag or container and freeze it for up to 4 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating it as usual.
Jalapeño: Remove the seeds and membrane for mild heat. Leave the seeds and membrane in the jalapeño if you want it spicy.
Extra Spicy: Adding a small serrano chile to the salsa ingredients will give this dish triple the heat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 561kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 45g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 17g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 121mg, Sodium: 769mg, Potassium: 918mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1706IU, Vitamin C: 26mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 4mg

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Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.