2 ratings

Caramelized Onion and Tofu Picadillo

A versatile filling and topping for tacos, chalupas, sopes and more
Caramelized onion and tofu picadillo recipe
Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune; Shannon Kinsella/food styling

If you're looking for a flavorful, plant-based filling or topping for your tacos, burritos, chalupas, sopes and more, look no further than this caramelized onion and tofu picadillo. Though traditionally made with beef, this 

Ready in
25 m
15 m
(prepare time)
10 m
(cook time)
Calories Per Serving


You can swap out the tofu with 1 pound ground turkey or pork, browned in a skillet until cooked.


  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small (6-ounce) sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 Teaspoon thyme
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Pound very firm tofu, well-drained


Step 1: In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add 1 chopped onion; cook and stir until well-browned, about 6 minutes.

Step 2: Stir in ½ chopped bell pepper and 2 to 3 cloves minced garlic; cook 1 minute.

Step 3: Stir in 6 ounces tomato paste, ⅓ cup sliced olives, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon thyme and a pinch each of sugar, cinnamon and crushed red pepper. Stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons water to loosen the mixture. Remove from heat and cool. (Mixture can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.)

Step 4: Reheat onion mixture if necessary in the skillet. Crumble in the tofu and cook, stirring so the tofu is fully mixed in, until piping hot, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use to fill chalupas, sopes or in warm tortillas for a taco filling.