Ropa vieja is a classic Cuban dish and has been named one of the nation’s top dishes, but the dish actually originated in Spain.

Ropa vieja translates to old clothes as the recipe was usually made using leftover ingredients. The hearty stew consists of shredded flank steak that is simmered slowly in a tomato base with sofrito, which consists of onions, peppers, garlic and tomato. 

The first known recipe of this dish was in 1857, and it has now made its way to restaurants everywhere, which is no surprise considering its’ bold flavors. 

The meal is typically served alongside rice, beans and plantains, but it works perfectly as a topping on tostones or tortillas as well. 

If you’d like to make this recipe for yourself, follow the steps below! 


  1. In a large pot with water, add garlic cloves, half an onion, quartered, whole pepper and bay leaves. Season generously with salt.
  2. Season the steak with salt and pepper and add to the pot.
  3. Bring to a boil and let cook until tender, about 35-40 minutes.
  4. While the steak is cooking, prep your vegetables. Deseed and thinly slice the bell peppers. Slice the remaining one and a half onions and set aside.
  5. When the meat is ready, add it to a medium bowl and shred. Strain the water from the pot and set aside about 3 cups. (It works as a great consommé)
  6. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, add oil.
  7. When the oil is ready, add the onions and bell peppers and sauté until soft, about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and the consommé you set aside, and mix.
  9. Add all the seasonings and steak back to the pot, and mix.
  10. Let simmer on low for about 30 minutes or until the sauce has reduced.
  11. Add the cilantro and olives. Stir thoroughly.
  12. Serve with rice along with any of your favorite sides and enjoy!


  • 2 lbs flank steak
  • 2 onions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp whole pepper
  • 3 bell peppers, sliced — you can use a variation of colors (I used green and orange)
  • 5-7 garlic cloves
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp adobo
  • 5-7 spanish olives, sliced (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste



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