Cuban Recipe for Ropa Vieja – Instant Pot Recipe


Try my quick and easy Instant Pot Version of an authentic Cuban recipe for Ropa Vieja with tender beef braised in a rich tomato base with onions, peppers, olives, raisins and capers. Tastes best served with plantains and rice. Dairy-free, low carb & Gluten-free.  Jump to Recipe 

a serving of authentic Cuban Instant Pot Ropa Vieja served on rice

What is Ropa Vieja?

Have you tried Cuban Ropa Vieja? This Cuban Pulled Beef recipe is a savory Latin slow-cooked meat dish made from flank steak braised with plenty of spices, onions and bell peppers. The meat is shredded, then mixed with tomatoes, marinated pimentos or bell pepper, olives, capers and raisins. Along with the pickles, I also make sure to add some pickle juice as I just LOVE the briny kick it adds. Serve it over white rice to soak up the delicious sauce!

Why is ropa vieja called ropa vieja?

Ropa vieja started life in Spain and its name literally translates to ‘old clothes’. Legend has it that a penniless old man once shredded and cooked his own clothes as he could not afford food for his family. He prayed over the pot and a miracle occurred, turning the unappetizing mixture into a rich meat stew.

The recipe for ropa vieja is over 500 years old and originated with the Sephardic Jews in the Iberian peninsula of Spain. Because cooking was not allowed on the Sabbath, the Sephardi would slow-cook a hearty stew the night before. 

The dish then made its way to the Americas with the Spanish, where it became a staple all dish across the Caribbean and Cuba. And although the recipe has been tweaked and adapted over the years, the base of ropa vieja remains today as it always has.

Here is a quick and simple recipe for Ropa Vieja in the Instant Pot. 

a skillet filled with chuck roast ready for Ropa Vieja recipe

Which meat to use for Ropa Vieja? 

Typically this traditional Cuban dish is made with flank steak, which is lean and has long shreddy fibers. This is how the shredded beef dish earned the name “old clothes.

While flank steak might be the traditional choice, I find it can be a bit tough, which is why I prefer chuck roast with its higher fat content and tenderness. At the end of the day, this Cuban pulled beef recipe will be good with whatever cut you have on hand. 

Ingredients used for Ropa Vieja: 

  • Meat = we use beef here and the best cuts are chuck roast, sirloin tip roast. However, flank steak is the authentic cut. You could make this with pork shoulder too.
  • Tomatoes = canned fire roasted whole tomatoes are best. I also add some tomato paste to make this even richer.
  • Spices and herbs = salt, pepper, oregano, smoked paprika, cumin,  turmeric, and a pinch of cinnamon. Cinnamon and turmeric are optional but I LOVE what it does to the dish.
  • Vegetables = onion, garlic, bell pepper
  • White wine – you could use red vine instead, but white is the authentic way
  • Pickles = capers, olives, bell peppers, plus some of the pickling juice

beef being seared on high heat in an Instant Pot to make Cuban recipe for Ropa Vieja

How to serve Ropa Vieja? 

This melt in your mouth Cuban meal is a nice change from your typical stew, too. Serve it the authentic Cuban way with rice and beans, tortillas, and fried plantains. Cauliflower or potato puree are great sides too. Or, just be a savage and just eat it straight from the fridge with tortilla chips.

Can I make this without an Instant Pot? 

This recipe for Ropa Vieja can also be cooked in the Dutch oven. Follow the recipe exactly as described, just on the stovetop. Then instead of pressure cooking, transfer the covered Dutch Oven in the oven, and simmer for 3 1/2 hours at 300F. 

side view of a bowl with rice and Cuban Pulled Beef Ropa Vieja

Tips: 

  • Don’t skip the pickling juice – it adds a briny taste and a bit of acidity you will LOVE! 
  • To keep this low carb, skip sugar and add stevia or a keto/low carb sweetener of your choice. 
  • Raisins are optional. If you skip them, add a bit more sweetness, in the end, to balance out the acidity. 
  •  Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. This is important as a forced steam release affects the texture of the meat. 

For more delicious hearty stews, try my: 

Did you make and love this recipe for ropa vieja? Give it your review below! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram!

side view of a serving of Cuban Ropa Vieja made in the Instant Pot served on Rice
5 from 3 votes
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Recipe for Cuban Ropa Vieja - Instant Pot

Try my quick and easy Instant Pot Version of an authentic Cuban recipe for Ropa Vieja with tender beef braised in a rich tomato base with onions, peppers, olives, raisins and capers.  Tastes best served with plantains and rice. Dairy-free, low carb & Gluten-free. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean, Cuba
Keyword Cuban ropa vieja recipe, Instant Pot Ropa Vieja, recipe for ropa vieja
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 450 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 kg Chuck roast, sirloin tip roast or flank steak cut into chunks - / 2 1/2 pounds
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ghee or avocado oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 bell peppers any color, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp sugar or sweetener - if using sweetener, add in the end of the cooking time, not now
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup white wine or red wine
  • 1 28 once can diced tomatoes fire roasted
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp capers + 1 tbsp liquid
  • 1 cup jarred pimento peppers with some liquid
  • 3/4 cup olives
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoon olive pickle juice

Instructions

  1. Season the beef on all sides with salt and pepper. If you want, you can dust it with some flour - this makes for an especially nice and thick gravy. Put the avocado oil in the Instant Pot and push “Sauté”, then push “Adjust” to increase the heat to high. When the ghee is hot, add beef and brown for ten minutes, turning the pieces halfway through. Transfer the beef to a plate that allows for juices to gather.

  2. Reduce heat and add the onion and peppers and sauté, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes, until softened and reduced in volume. Add sugar and caramelize.

  3. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and spices apart from paprika and cook for about a minute. Add tomato paste. Pour in the wine and let it bubble away for 2-3 minutes, until most of the liquid is gone.

  4. Add the tomatoes, paprika and bay leaves, and press “Keep Warm/Cancel”. Return the beef to the pot along with any juices on the plate, and stir to combine.

     Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the valve is turned to “Sealing”. Push “Manual” and use the plus button to increase the time to 40 minutes. Cooking will begin automatically.

  5. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. This is important as a forced steam release affects the texture of the meat. 

  6. Carefully remove the lid, transfer the meat to a plate, and shred it with two forks. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Return shredded meat to the pot along with olives, capers, pimientos, some of the pickling juices mentioned, the raisins, and stir. Push “Sauté” and cook for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is thickened.

Recipe Notes

 

  • Don't skip the pickling juice - it adds a briny taste and a bit of acidity you will LOVE! 
  • To keep this low carb, skip sugar and add stevia or a keto/low carb sweetener of your choice. 
  • Raisins are optional. If you skip them, add a bit more sweetness, in the end, to balance out the acidity. 


5 Comments


  1. This turned out fantastic! We used it as a taco filling for Cuban Tacos! Even better the next day!

  2. Marie Breizameter


    Das war sooooo lecker! Wir haben es mit Brokkoli Reis und Salat gegessen. Den Rest gabs als Füllung für Wraps! Gibts auf jeden Fall wieder! Achja, und wir haben statt Rosinen ein paar gehackte Aprikosen rein. Das war richtig gut!

  3. Christopher Sommerfeld


    Gabs schon zwei mal! Einmal mit Reis und einmal mit Kartoffeln! Die Reste hab ich einfach mit Karoffelpüree überbacken – das war auch am nächsten Tag noch so mega gut!

  4. Pingback: Gefüllte Paprika Vegetarisch mit Linsen - Mexikanische Chiles en Nogada

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