How to Make Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)

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Ropa Vieja, Cuban Shredded Beef

I’m reposting this delicious Cuban recipe to bring some excitement to your dinner table. If you can find affordable flank or skirt steak, take a chance on a recipe you might be unfamiliar with.

Ropa Vieja literally means old clothes or old rags, as it’s a Cuban Shredded Beef dish.  In Spanish, it sounds exotic. If I were to say, let’s make some old clothes in English, it would not sound so appealing, would it?

I got this idea and recipe for Ropa Vieja from the butcher at my local grocery store. I trust his word because he was an executive chef at a very ritzy hotel. Normally, I would not have chosen to slow cook flank steak, which is always quickly grilled. He convinced me to use the flank steak and I’m glad I stayed the course.

What Cut of Beef is used for Ropa Viaja?

Flank steak is the cut of meat most used for Ropa Vieja. It’s tough and stringy and requires long, slow cooking to get that delicious shredded meat. This slow cooking will build a complex flavor profile, while tenderizing at the same time.

I have seen some recipes that use chuck, which might taste good, but it’s not authentic. Chuck is short pieces of beef, and will be more like a ragu.

The main flavors for the Ropa Vieja come from oregano, paprika, cumin, tomatoes, olives and peppers, very similar in flavors to picadillo, another Cuban dish I made here.

What Peppers are used for Ropa Vieja?

The typical peppers for ropa vieja is green and bell peppers, not hot peppers.

Ropa Vieja, Cuban Shredded Beef, is the kind of dish to make in large quantities.

If you can, get a large piece of meat and make enough to freeze. This is the kind of dish that tastes better the next day, and freezes well for very quick meals.

Ropa Vieja

Make sure the meat is fully cooled before freezing. I used a food saver to freeze. The food saver compresses out the air, vacuum seals, and prevents freezer burn. This is the first thing we bought together as a married couple eighteen years ago and we’re on our second saver.

How is Ropa Vieja Served?

Ropa Vieja is served with rice and beans.

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to serve Ropa Vieja so I asked people on instagram. Rice or Tortillas?

What I didn’t realize is that Cuban do not eat tortillas. This doesn’t mean you can’t do that; just know that’s not the authentic way this dish is served. Ropa Vieja is served with rice and beans.

I used fresh oregano out of my garden with a squeeze of lime. The meat is so flavorful, so enjoy it just as is without adding any extra toppings, but perhaps herbs and little extra chopped onion.

More Flank or Skirt Steak Recipes from Spinach Tiger

Flank Steak in Honey Marinade

Carne Asada Citrus Marinade

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri

Print Recipe
2.67 from 3 votes

Ropa Vieja

How to Cook Ropa Vieja, a cuban beef, in a crock pot.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time6 hours
Total Time6 hours 20 minutes
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Cuban
Servings: 8
Author: Angela Roberts


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 flank steak
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 bell peppers can use red, yellow, orange
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 16 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 10 spanish olives


  • Season flank steak with salt and pepper.
  • Brown flank steak five minutes on each side on medium high heat. Remove from pot.
  • You can brown the flank steak in separate pan and then remove to a slow cooker.
  • In same pot you browned the flank steak In, sauté onion and peppers for about 5 minutes, stirring on low heat. Add In garlic cloves and saute for one minute.
  • At this point proceed either with slow cooker method or dutch oven method,

Slow Cooker Method

  • Add onions, peppers, garlic, one can diced tomato.
  • Add in flank steak. You may need to cut flank steak into two pieces.
  • Add about one cup beef broth or water, vinegar or enough liquid to just cover the flank steak.
  • Add cumin and oregano.
  • Cook for six on high, 10 hours on low.
  • In last hour, add olives, second can of tomatoes.
  • Once done, use a fork to shred beef. Serve with rice and beans

Dutch Oven Method

  • Add flank steak back to dutch oven with the onions, peppers, garlic.
  • Add one can of tomatoes, broth, vinegar. You need enough broth to cover beef.
  • Add cumin and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook on top of stove, very low for 4 hours. You can also put dutch oven inside oven at 300 degrees f. Make sure you have enough liquid and check frequently about every 30 minutes.
  • In last hour, add olives, and second can of tomatoes.
  • Once done, use a fork to shred beef.
  • Serve with Rice and beans.


If making in a dutch oven, you can reduce the cooking time, but cook on a very low heat on to of stove for about 4 hours, or put in an oven no higher than 300 degrees. Make sure you have enough liquid in the pot.
Green Bell Pepper: It’s not necessary, but will add in another layer of flavor.

Please follow me on instagram. If you make this recipe,  please tag me #spinachtiger.

If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo

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