Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja Recipe

We love Cuban-inspired meals as they never lack flavor. If you've ever had a good Cuban sandwich or even tasty Cuban-style pork, you are familiar with the flavor-packed nature of Cuban meals.

Ropa vieja is a Cuban, tomato-forward, shredded steak dish. It is actually the national dish of Cuba, according to The Daring Gourmet. This flavorful meal is best served over rice or in tortillas. The name ropa vieja translates to "old clothes" from Spanish, as a nod to the visual appearance of the shredded texture.

Recipe developer and registered dietitian nutritionist, Kristen Carli, MS, RD, brings us this easy version of ropa vieja that can be made in a slow cooker. Throw the ingredients in the slow cooker before you head to work, and arrive home to a tasty, ready-to-go dinner, and not to mention a delicious-smelling kitchen. Follow our step by step guide below to make this recipe.

Gather your ingredients for ropa vieja

To make this Cuban steak dish, you will need a variety of ingredients. Gather your flank steak, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, minced garlic, pimento-stuffed green olives, capers, salt, pepper, ground cumin, chili powder, paprika, and dried oregano. To serve, you can select your preferred source of carbohydrate. You can serve ropa vieja in tortillas as a taco or burrito, or you can serve it over rice. We personally love this dish in corn tortillas.

Start by searing the steak

Before adding the ingredients to the slow cooker to cook all day, you'll want to sear the steak. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the steak and cook for three minutes. Once the three minutes is up, flip the steak and continue to cook for three more minutes on the other side. This will give the steak a good sear on both sides. Don't worry about cooking the steak all the way through — it will finish cooking in the slow cooker.

Build the dish in the slow cooker

Once the steak has seared, add it to the bottom of a large slow cooker. A small slow cooker will not work for this recipe. Be sure to use a slow cooker that is at least able to hold 6 quarts. Once the steak is in, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, minced garlic, olives, and capers.

Now, all that is left to make this delicious dish is to add the seasoning. Add the salt, pepper, ground cumin, chili powder, paprika, and dried oregano. Cover the slow cooker with the lid. Plug it in and turn it to high. Allow the slow cooker to cook on high for at least six hours. While the steak cooks and the flavors meld, your home will smell delicious. Don't dive in just yet! Be patient — it will be worth it.

Shred steak and serve

When the 6 hours is up, remove the lid of the slow cooker. Using two forks, shred the steak until no large pieces remain. Give the contents of the slow cooker a big stir in order to get the shredded steak immersed in the sauce. Return the lid to the slow cooker. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes to allow the steak to soak up the sauce.

Once that 30 minutes is up, you're ready to serve and enjoy! Carli recommends serving this dish with tortillas or rice, though you could even eat this ropa vieja on its own. Whichever way you choose to serve it, we think this ropa vieja will hit the spot!

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
This ropa vieja comes together easily in the slow cooker, leaving you with delicious tomato-infused steak.
Prep Time
Cook Time
ropa vieja in tacos
Total time: 6 hours, 46 minutes
  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • 1 (28 ounces) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounces) can tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ cup pimento stuffed green olives
  • ¼ cup capers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Optional Ingredients
  • tortillas, for serving
  • rice, for serving
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the flank steak. Cook for 3 minutes on each side to get a nice sear.
  2. Place the steak in a large slow cooker.
  3. Top the steak with crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, minced garlic, green olives, and capers.
  4. Add salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and oregano.
  5. Cover the slow cooker with a lid. Cook on high for 6 hours.
  6. Shred the steak with 2 forks and continue to cook for another 30 minutes.
  7. Serve in tortillas for tacos or over rice.
Calories per Serving 205
Total Fat 9.1 g
Saturated Fat 3.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 61.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 10.5 g
Dietary Fiber 3.0 g
Total Sugars 5.7 g
Sodium 529.4 mg
Protein 21.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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