Ropa Vieja - National dish of Cuba. Beef cooked with peppers and onions until it's beautiful shreds.

Ropa Vieja. Translates to old clothes or old rags – gosh that name just does not do this lovely meal justice! Slowly simmered beef, simmered until it’s all but fallen apart, with garlic and cumin and aromatics. And peppers. Oh my.

Cuban Ropa Vieja - Shredded Beef
Cuban Ropa Vieja – Shredded Beef

This is a super easy meal, made in the Crock Pot. Slow Cookers do such a great job on some things – and Ropa Vieja is one of them! If you’d like, this can be simmered stove-top until tender, instead. Just use a little more liquid, about three cups, and cook, covered, for about two hours at a bare simmer.

The meat used in this dish isn’t really particular. You’ll want about three pounds or so of chuck, flank or brisket, and I chose chuck. Flank used to be an inexpensive cut until its recent popularity, and chuck, at least in our area, goes on sale often.

Cuban Ropa Vieja - Shredded Beef
Cuban Ropa Vieja – Shredded Beef

I like to stock up on peppers when they’re on sale and I’ve used a combo of the less expensive greens and the pricier reds.

As you can see, this recipe makes a lot! Think about dividing and freezing unless you’re cooking for a crowd. The leftovers are fabulous, though; this is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day. Those leftovers are marvelous, too, made into Empanadas.

Serve with rice and black beans. (I often doctor up a can of black beans with a little garlic powder and cumin.) And then watch everyone go nuts as they eat this!

Cuban Ropa Vieja – Shredded Beef

Ropa Vieja

  • Servings: 10 - 12 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 pounds beef, cut into largish chunks, 2 1/2 to 3 inches
  • 2 large onions, sliced pole to pole
  • 2 green peppers, sliced into strips
  • 2 red peppers, sliced into strips
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup broth, beef or chicken
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet. Add meat, working in batches if necessary and brown. Transfer to slow cooker.

Add additional oil and cook onions, peppers and garlic for several minutes until slightly softened, stirring now and then. Add to the slow cooker.

Add tomato paste to the pan and cook for minute or so, stirring. Add the stock to the pan, then stir in salt, oregano, cumin & pepper. Add the mixture to slow cooker along with vinegar and bay leaves.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or so, until very tender and shreddable. Using two forks, shred meat into sauce.

Taste and adjust for salt, pepper and vinegar to your liking.


  • if desired, add 1/3 cup raisins to the slow cooker along with the broth mixture and vinegar.
  • 1/2 cup of sliced olives may be added at the end of the cooking process.

Serve over rice.

from the kitchen of


There are so many wonderful ways to remake a dish like this – we made egg rolls with a bit of it!

Ropa Vieja Egg Rolls
Ropa Vieja Egg Rolls


You know I’ll be bringing this to our Throwback Thursday #38 Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, Carlee from Cooking with Carlee and Moi! That’s right – me!

Click over to our latest Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules and more info or just click on the blue leapfrog, below, to view all the Throwback Thursday Posts or enter your own!

I’ll also be bring this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, hosted this week by Ahila @ A Taste of Sri Lankan Cuisine and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.


18 Comments on “Ropa Vieja

  1. Oh gosh, I can think of so many ways to use this recipe– and it looks so easy! what a good one! Love you blog Mollie! xo

    • Thanks so much, Rhonda! It is easy but like so many long cooked, braised dishes, it doesn’t taste like it! 🙂

  2. That looks like a perfect dinner with the beans and rice! And I love the sound of it in empanadas… yum!! I bet it would make a delicious baked chimichanga filling too. So many possibilities!

    • Oooh, I have Chimis on my list to make this week – but we’re doing chicken. This would have been perfect instead! Genius idea Carlee!

  3. Slow cookers were a wonderful invention. As for canned black beans – I doctor them up in a similar way, too! I like that the recipe is simple yet flavorful, for those harried days… so thanks for bringing it to Fiesta Friday!

    • Thanks, Laura, and this freezes so beautifully. We also made some eggrolls with some of it; added a little cheese. They were really fun.

Hearing from you makes my day! Comment below.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: