Ropa Vieja (Cuban Beef + Peppers)

Ropa Vieja (Cuban Beef + Peppers)

Ropa Vieja is a popular Cuban dish that’s name translates into the phrase “old clothes”. It usually incorporates a tougher piece of beef, braised for a long time over low heat alongside onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. You can read a little bit of the dish’s fascinating origin and history here.

As the story goes, the nickname “old clothes” probably came about because the long shreds of beef and vegetables resembled old clothing being washed in a large pot. Ropa Vieja is considered a peasant dish, but it would for sure satisfy even the most sophisticated palette.

Ropa Vieja is one of my favorite meals to make for my family. I can make it a few days in advance and reheat on a busy weeknight. And it tastes even better when reheated!

Serve it alongside fried plantains, black beans, and fluffy rice. Or you can serve in a taco with shredded cheese, minced onions and fresh cilantro.

Ropa Vieja (Cuban Beef + Peppers)

Print Recipe
Serves: 6-8 Cooking Time: 4-6 hours (most inactive time)


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 large red peppers, sliced
  • 2 large flank steaks or 3 lbs. beef shoulder
  • 1 quart low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped



In a large Dutch oven or large skillet, add oil and set to medium-high heat. When pan is very hot, place beef in oil and sear on all sides. Sear until nicely browned on all sides, but do not cook through. Remove beef from pan, and set aside for a few minutes.


Turn pan to medium heat and toss in onions and peppers. Cook for a few minutes until slightly brown. Add tomatoes and garlic. Stir to combine. Return beef to pan and cover with beef broth and add salt. Cover and cook for 4-6 hours, until you can easily shred beef.


Finish with a glug of sherry vinegar and fresh cilantro.


The classic way to enjoy Ropa Vieja is alongside fried plantains or rice and black beans. My kids like to eat the meat inside a tortilla, like a taco. It's delicious either way!

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