Cuban Ropa Vieja Recipe in the Instant Pot

Cuban Dish Ropa Vieja

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What is ropa vieja? The translation means old clothes, but I don’t know if it’s because old clothes are comfortable, like comfort food. Maybe it’s because you cook it as long as you would boil old clothes back in the day. Either way, my Cuban ropa vieja recipe translates to shredded beef deliciousness! 

Full disclosure, as yummy as this is, it’s not my favorite way to eat shredded beef. I prefer to make vaca frita (fried cow) with the ropa vieja meat, but that’s a post for another day. Ropa Vieja is my hubby’s favorite dish. He usually orders this when we eat out at a Cuban restaurant. Hey, sometimes this gal needs a night off, too! 

I used to make this dish with flank steak, what a newbie mistake! I learned Mami makes it with shoulder London broil, which is way cheaper. You can buy enough to feed a battalion (batallón) or have enough for great leftovers! 

authentic ropa vieja

I think Ropa Vieja is the king of leftovers because it tastes even better the next day, and you can make standout party food like shredded beef quesadillas, shredded beef empanadas, or shredded beef and maduros flatbreads. I love having appetizers for dinner, don’t you? It magically transforms dinner time into party time, especially with a glass of merlot.  

Mami always made ropa vieja in the pressure cooker. But all the cool kids are using the Instant Pot these days, and I wanna be cool, so I switched it up. This ropa vieja recipe’s directions are the same in either the Instant Pot affiliate link or the pressure cooker. 

Some folks make the Ropa Vieja in the slow cooker, but no matter how many recipes I’ve tried, it’s just not a winner. You really need to simmer the beef at a higher temp to get the sauce to reduce. Otherwise, it’s more like shredded beef soup… not a fan. You could, however, cook the beef in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low and then transfer the beef to the stovetop to finish it.

Ropa Vieja Rice Bowl

You can serve this over rice with twice-fried green plantains (tostones) or fried sweet plantains (plátano maduro). I’m really into rice bowls these days, so I like to try different bowl buddies, like:  

Traditional Cuban: Shredded beef, white rice, sweet plantain bits (maduros), and black beans (or you can use congri rice instead of the rice and beans). 

2nd Generation Cuban: Ropa Vieja, Brown Rice, Roasted Cauliflower, and cilantro. 

Mashed Cuban Bowl: Ropa Vieja, yuca mash, carrot slices, and Brussel sprouts. It’s like a deconstructed Cuban shepherd’s pie. 

I hope you enjoy this authentic Ropa Vieja recipe and try the other dishes you can make with the leftovers.

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Ropa Vieja Recipe

Cuban Ropa Vieja

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Instant Pot, Beef, Cuban
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Cuban


This shredded beef dish is one of the most popular dishes served at Cuban restaurants and a family favorite at my  house. It’s typically served with white rice and fried maduros. 


  • 2 lbs shoulder London Broil (Falda de Paleta)  
  • 1 medium onion, minced or sliced (your preference, I went with minced)  
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, sliced 
  • 2 tbs olive oil  
  • 16 oz can tomato puree 
  • 1/2 cup cooking wine (vino seco) I love using Artañan Vino Seco. It’s amazing!
  • 1/2 tsp cumin  
  • 1 tsp dried oregano  
  • 3 tbs green Manzanilla olives  
  • 1 tsp salt  
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper 


  • Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker Instructions: Cut the meat across the grain in three-inch pieces and pressure cook for 30 minutes. Reserve the broth. 
  • Let the meat cool and then shred with two forks or by hand. 
  • Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, and sauté until onions are tender and translucent for about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for one minute.  
  • Add the tomato paste, cumin, and oregano. Simmer for another minute. Add the tomato puree and wine and simmer for about 8 minutes.
  • Add the beef, salt, and pepper and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, until the sauce thickens and sticks to the beef. Add a little of the reserved broth if needed. 


Slow Cooker Instructions: Cut the meat across the grain into three-inch pieces. Place in a slow cooker with one cup of water and2 bay leaves and cook on high for four hours. 

Stove Top Instructions: Cut the meat across the grain in three-inch pieces simmer on the stovetop for about an hour and a half. 

Serving Suggestions: Serve as a traditional Cuban dish or mix it up with these alternatives.

2nd Generation Cuban: Ropa Vieja, Brown Rice, Roasted Cauliflower, and cilantro.  

Mashed Cuban Bowl: Ropa Vieja, yuca mash, carrot slices, and Brussel sprouts. It’s like a deconstructed Cuban shepherd’s pie.  


  • Serving Size: 8-10

Keywords: ropa vieja recipe, ropa vieja instant pot, ropa vieja meat, ropa vieja cuban food, authentic ropa vieja, best ropa vieja recipe, ropa vieja ingredients, cuban dish ropa vieja

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