Ropa Vieja

Dinner, Healthy (ish), Holiday

Ropa Vieja translates to “old clothes.” This Cuban recipe is shredded beef dish that is braised in a tomatoes and spices. Serve it over rice with a side of maduros.

Ropa Vieja

Where do I start with this recipe? Oh man, you know those recipes you’ve wanted to make/share for a long time? This is one of them. While my parents aren’t Cuban, I grew up eating at Cuban restaurants. It’s like a staple in South Florida. Everybody eats at them. They’re always a great place to go with a large group of people; the food is affordable, comforting and just plain delicious.

Let’s start with the basics!

Ropa Vieja

What is Ropa Vieja?

Whenever I go to a Cuban restaurant, I always, always order ropa vieja (direct translation: old clothes). It’s shredded beef in a flavorful tomato-based sauce. They usually serve it with white rice, beans and maduros. (And if you’re me, I always order a Jupiña to drink).

I’ve always wanted to make it and for some reason never have. Because it couldn’t be simpler! The first step is braising the beef and then you make the sauce. This recipe is incredible for leftovers. And can be frozen (see below for freezing instructions).

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja

What is the Best Cut of Meat To Use for Ropa Vieja

I like to use flank steak the best but here are some other cuts of the meat that would work for this ropa vieja:

  • Flank Steak
  • Top Round
  • Brisket

Ropa Vieja

How to Make Ropa Vieja

  • Braise the beef. This the first part of the recipe. You cook it slowly with spices, onion and cabbage. As a result, the beef gets cooked to the point where it’s fall-a-part delicious.
  • Make the sauce. This is made up of spices, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, garlic and more. As a result, this is a delicious sauce that compliments the shredded beef SO WELL.
  • Shred the beef. When the beef is done braising, you remove it from the broth and pot and shred it up! There will be some reserved broth that we’re going to save for the sauce.
  • Mix in the shredded beef. And then you also add the reserved beef broth.
    Simmer for about 20 minutes. We want all the flavors to combine.
  • And then serve over a bed or rice!

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
Serving Size: 6
Calories: 97kcal
Ropa Vieja translates to “old clothes.” This Cuban recipe is shredded beef dish that is braised in a tomatoes and spices. Serve it over rice with a side of maduros.


For the Braised Beef: 

  • 2 pounds flank steak or brisket or top round, cut into 4 chunks 
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 small red or purple cabbage, quartered 
  • 1/2 small bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 dried bay leaves

For the Ropa Vieja: 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced 
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • Juice from 1 lime 
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, for garnish


To Make the Braised Beef:

  • Place the ingredients for the beef in a Dutch oven with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook, covered, until the beef is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you’re using top round, it’ll take about 2 1/2 hours to be tender. 
  • Remove the pot from the heat and allow the beef to cool in the broth, so it will stay moist and juicy. Reserve about 3/4 cups of broth. Drain the beef and transfer to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the beef apart. Set the shredded beef aside. 

To Make the Ropa Vieja:

  • Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (you can use the one you used to cook the beef, no need to rinse it out either). Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the minced garlic, salt and spices.
  • Add the reserved broth, crushed tomato, lime juice, and bay leaf and return to a simmer. Stir in the shredded beef, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Give it a taste and adjust the salt according to your liking. Serve over rice and top with a sprinkling of parsley. 


To Serve: 
Serve this ropa vieja with rice, black beans and maduros (sautéed plantains). 
To Freeze: 
This dish freezes really well. To freeze this ropa vieja, allow it to cool completely to room temperature. Place in a freezer-safe container and freeze up to 3 months. 
Dutch Oven | Tongs | Rice Cooker
CuisineAmerican, Cuban
Keywordbest ropa vieja recipe, how to make ropa vieja, ropa vieja instant pot, ropa vieja recipe, ropa vijea receta
Nutrition Facts
Ropa Vieja Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 97 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 390mg17%
Potassium 92mg3%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 1242IU25%
Vitamin C 51mg62%
Calcium 9mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen

If you make this Ropa Vieja, let me know on Instagram! 


Looking for more Latin recipes? Here are some of my favorites!

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Leave a Reply

  • Reply Kristina October 23, 2015 at 1:41 am

    I only had ropa vieja once and it was delicious! Thanks for this recipe, it reminds me of it and how I loved it. Should make it one day.

  • Reply Sarah October 23, 2015 at 7:38 am

    That looks really delicious!

  • Reply Michelle @ Hummingbird High October 23, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Yum! This looks incredibly comforting and delicious. Can’t wait to try the recipe!

  • Reply Sydney | Modern Granola October 23, 2015 at 8:36 am

    How delicious! I’m always on the lookout for meals that can shake things up in the kitchen, and this sounds perfect. Can’t wait to give this a try!
    xx Sydney

  • Reply Ileana October 23, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Yes! Oh man, I love ropa vieja. Your version looks great. The recipe I’ve been sitting on sharing for years is gallopinto. I got around to a vaca frita post, but I need to sit down with my mom and get that gallopinto recipe! 🙂

  • Reply The Castejóns October 24, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Can’t wait to make this!

  • Reply Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry October 25, 2015 at 11:16 am

    I have been looking for a slow leisurely recipes to make on a Sunday and this one fits the bill perfectly!

  • Reply Jackie October 25, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Hey! Next time you come to San Francisco, there’s a place called Easy Creole in Oakland. It has a rotating menu, but one of the BEST things on the menu is ropa vieja. It’s made with a ton of olives – it’s SO olivey. It’s the only place I’ve ever had ropa vieja, and it’s delicious and i get it every time it’s there. I’ll have to try this recipe for sure!!!!

  • Reply Dena October 26, 2015 at 6:27 am

    I have never commented before and now I am commenting twice! I am a gringa from Hialeah so you are so spot on about Cuban food. I live in Jacksonville now and anytime my best friend comes to visit she has to bring me a variety of Cuban pastries and food! I mean if she doesn’t, there’s trouble to be had, 🙂 My favorite is Lechon Asado! This looks delicious, thanks!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 26, 2015 at 10:54 am

      Hialeah in the house! Lechon asado is like the best thing ever. That and a side of maduros are SO GOOD.

  • Reply Holley October 26, 2015 at 10:50 am

    i worked at a cuban restaurant when i lived in asheville and straight up ate ropa vieja every. single. day. and well never, ever tire of it. yesss so excited to make this.

  • Reply RLT October 26, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Successfully made it this weekend and received a “put it in the definitely make again, mom” from my ten-year old boy. Just had leftovers for lunch, thank you very much!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 26, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      Awesome! I definitely reheated it and ate it for two lunches in a row. It’s a really good make-ahead meal! So glad you and your boy loved it! 🙂

  • Reply Cara October 29, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Oh man, foodgasm.

    What meat did you use when you cooked yours? You give us 3 options but don’t point out which one you used.

    I want to make this perfection this weekend. Also, would this be good with cilantro-lime rice??

    Thanks Adrianna, you’re da best.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme October 29, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      I used the top round because I couldn’t find the brisket or the flank steak. It definitely took longer with the top round but it was still really good! And yes to cilantro lime rice. Sounds awesome!

  • Reply Cuban-Inspired Brunch + Dark Rum Banana Upside Down Cake October 14, 2016 at 12:00 am

    […] all of my favorite Cuban dishes. I made vaca-frita; I made so many iterations of picadillo and ropa vieja and I tried (and failed) to make perfect Cuban bread (it’s VERY HARD)! And I hate so many things […]

  • Reply Richard H June 25, 2017 at 11:34 am

    This looks like a great recipe, but it does not copy well into a document because of horrifically bad highlighting! I’ll have to find in somewhere else to get my own copy!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme June 25, 2017 at 11:52 am

      there is a “print” button right next to the title of the recipe. if you click on that, only the recipe will pop-up ready for you to print. 🙂

  • Reply J Sully April 26, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    What do you do with all the veggies and stuff from the braise? Are they just tossed? I don’t any of them in your final picture. Thanks for your help!

  • Reply Maddie June 11, 2018 at 9:42 am

    I made this last night and it was amazing!! My first foray into cooking beef and it wasn’t too scary haha! I’m wondering- are there any uses for the leftover broth?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme June 11, 2018 at 12:50 pm

      oh wonderful! hmm…you can pour it over a bowl of rice?

  • Reply Mike Blough October 7, 2019 at 4:50 am

    5 stars
    Thank you for this post. I have made the original of this but really like this adaptation, especially as it relates to the braise ingredients and the use of fresh peppers when making the final dish. Maybe a dumb question, but I always assumed that the vegetables used in the initial braise are discarded, correct? Is this what you do?

    Thank you for your post.