Ropa Vieja (Instant Pot and Slow Cooker)

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Ropa vieja, a juicy and tender shredded beef stew, is braised in the most flavorful, umami-rich tomato-based sauce. 

Ropa Vieja

This recipe for ropa vieja is so easy to make – it’s a dump and cook recipe, which is basically the best kind of recipe there is. There’s minimal prep too. The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for it to finish cooking. If you use a slow cooker, it’ll take all day, but if you cook this in an Instant Pot, then you’ll only have to wait a couple of hours. Still a long time, I know, but it’s all hands-off time.

Ropa Vieja literally means “old clothes.” Kind of an odd name for a dish, but if you squint, this big juicy pile of meat and colorful bell peppers does kind of look like a pile of laundry, right? I mean… if your wardrobe happens to include a lot of brown. I guess that’s probably not the imagery I should encourage here? Don’t worry, y’all; this dish tastes nothing like laundry (and that’s something I never thought I’d write…).

Ropa Vieja

While this Cuban dish typically calls for flank steak, I suggest using beef chuck roast instead because it has more fat, more flavor, and, most importantly, it results in tender, juicy meat when cooked for a long period of time. I’d rather have melt-in-your-mouth shredded beef vs. tough and chewy shredded beef so if you agree, get the chuck roast, please.

Ropa Vieja

Want to keep things authentic? Then serve this savory stew with white rice, black beans, and fried sweet plantains. And don’t forget to top the ropa with something briny. I suggest pimento-stuffed green olives, but if olives aren’t your thing, you can always use capers for a hit of briny tang. I like capers, but I actually have an oral allergy to them (it’s so random, I know. they make my mouth itchy… 🤷🏽‍♀️), so I opt for olives.

Another tasty way to use all this meat: in tacos, a burrito bowl, or enchiladas. These are just a few ideas, of course.

My personal favorite way to eat ropa vieja is in a bowl, like stew, but with all the toppings! I top it with plenty of diced onion, diced jalapeños, avocado, chopped cilantro, and a big squeeze of lime. I know that’s Mexican-style, but the flavors go so well together.

This is also important but not crucial to the dish – do use different colored bell peppers if possible. Not only do they look great in the dish, but yellow and red bell peppers are sweeter than green, and that sweetness really complements the whole stew.

Alright, go make this! And while the stew simmers, go ahead and fold that laundry that’s lying around. 😉

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja (Instant Pot and Slow Cooker)

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja (Instant Pot and Slow Cooker)

4.77 from 34 reviews
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Servings 10

Ingredients
 

  • 1 3 – 3 ½ pound chuck roast
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves

Add Later:

  • 3 bell peppers I use a combo of green, red and yellow, sliced
  • Green olives with pimentos garnish

Instructions
 

Instant Pot:

  • Add all of the ingredients (except the ones listed under add later) to an Instant Pot.
  • Secure the lid, close the valve, and cook for 90 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure.
  • Shred the beef using two forks.
  • Press the sauté button, add the bell peppers and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until tender.
  • Stir in the green olives.

Slow Cooker:

  • Add all of the ingredients to a slow cooker.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until the meat is tender.
  • Remove the lid and use two forks to shred the beef.
  • Stir in the bell peppers and cook on low for another hour.
  • Serve with green olives.

Notes

  • I suggest waiting to add the bell peppers until the end so they don’t get too mushy and dissolve into the stew.
  • I also recommend using different colored bell peppers. Yellow and red bell peppers are sweeter than green and the sweetness complements the stew.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Ropa Vieja

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Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.

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Comments

  1. Susan says

    5 stars
    This was superb! My chuck roast was slightly smaller than what the recipe called for, but I used the measurements given for all other ingredients. I have a stove top pressure cooker so I just shaved 15 minutes off the timing given to compensate for that and the smaller piece of meat I was cooking. Easy to make and the flavors were complex. We especially loved the pop of the olives

  2. Sheri says

    5 stars
    I’m a huge fan of this recipe. When I’m searching I look for something using a good variety of spices because most times that equals yumminess and this is one of those recipes. I was lucky to find ground cloves in my cabinet as it’s one of those flavors you don’t wanna leave out if the recipe calls for it. I used my instant pot for this and free styled a little by adding one cup of beef broth (no burn alert) and a can of green chilis for a little more umph. This was delicious and I’ve bookmarked for the future. I’m looking forward to browsing around here for more! Thanks!!

  3. Eileen says

    4 stars
    I loved this in my instant pot, and tried it today in my slow cooker. Nope. Nope Nope Nope. Cooked through, but not remotely falling-apart done by the end of 6-7 hours on low. Nasty surprise for dinner time. Probably needs a lot more time, or cooked on high instead.

    Also FYI this has consistently taken me 30+ mins to shred. Makes a lot of food but also a lot higher effort than it seems.

  4. Sadiya Ahmed says

    I received a burn notice as well, and had to add A LOT of liquid for it to come to pressure. I guess the canned tomato was too thick. Crossing my fingers as it naturally released pressure.

    Sadiya

  5. Sadiya Ahmed says

    Hello again! If we can’t find smoked paprika, can we substitute that with additional paprika? Also, would the addition of lime, soy sauce, and worcestershire conflict with the current flavor profile?

    Thanks!
    Sadiya

  6. Sadiya Ahmed says

    Hello! Do we place the 3 pound meat in as one whole piece or cut into three big chunks? How much would the cook time be if divided into three chunks?

  7. Missy says

    5 stars
    This Miami Girl thinks you Nailed This recipe! We loved it. I added a few small things because I was worried about getting the burn notice (been happening to me alot lately. (Small can of tomato sauce, some beef broth on the bottom) I also seasoned the meat with Adobe and cut it in quarters. Great recipe, can’t wait to have the left overs tomorrow.

  8. Jim says

    Going to try in a few days, but have a question concerning the adding the pepper part and sauteing.
    Do you remove the contents then saute peppers or just add and set to saute?

  9. Anna Vasquez says

    1 star
    This did not work in my instant pot. I had to add a bunch of chicken stock because he kept saying”burn food” there isn’t enough liquid to use it on the instant pot. I guess my meat boiled or something cuz it was super tough and the recipe did not turn out good. I’m thinking in the slow cooker it would be fine.

  10. Jim M says

    I’m making this tonight… did you brown the roast before cooking for 90 minutes or put it in raw with all the ingredients?

  11. forepaughs says

    5 stars
    I normally make Ropa Vieja the old fashioned way in a heavy dutch oven where the meat is browned then removed and the onions, etc are sauteed. Much to my surprise, this recipe resulted in a super-tasty & super-tender meal that took 2 hrs less to make the the conventional method. I especially like the ease of no-browning. Cooking the peppers at the end is genius and pretty easy to do while the wife shreds the beef. Meal was so good wife has already put it on the calendar rotation.

    I made the following changes to suit our preferences and because we have an 8 qt IPot:
    – 2 carrots, peeled, cut in half
    – 2 celery stalks, peeled, cut in half
    – 6 oz can tomato paste
    – 1/2 cup dry white wine
    – cook time was 80 mins for 2.5# chuck

    THANK YOU for providing such a fantastic recipe.

  12. sarah rose says

    5 stars
    Okay sooooo I used to work at a top rated authentic cuban restaurant in Chicago… needles to say, my expectations were high; and I’ve had PLENTY of letdowns over my past four months with keto.
    THIS. …..
    wasn’t one of them. And I don’t even like meat. But I thought I’d give it a shot, so tender. Juicy. Simple. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money with such great uncertainty so I only bought a 2 pound chuck. It was AMAZING. I /cannot/ stop eating it. I threw in a lil bit of cauliflower rice, added jalapeño and a lot of fresh cilantro on top, and mixed in some chili powder last minute. Absolutely amazing. This was ALSO the first time I had ever used my instant pot… so if anyone else is an idiot like me: A tip… FOR SAUTE MODE TAKE THE LID OFF. Lollll. Thank you so much, Ashley. I was skeptical, but now I see why everyone is saying this is going to be part of their rotation. Yepppp!!!!!

  13. Aaron says

    5 stars
    Very smart to add the bell peppers at the end. I’ve made it several times without doing this and the peppers do become rather blown out; good flavor but kinda sad looking.

  14. BB3 says

    5 stars
    Sooo delicious! I chopped up the olives, almost as fine as for tapenade. As with most dishes, the taste gets better after a day or two. Next time I might let it sit an entire day before eating.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Trace says

    5 stars
    Amazingly good recipe! I made 3 tiny changes:
    A) I had the butcher cut the chuck roast in half, then cooked it the whole min & let it naturally release.
    B) I added a cup-plus of boxed low sodium beef broth so there would be more gravy (and because II knew I’d want to really cook down the peppers).
    C) I was out of plain paprika, so I used Kashmiri chili powder, which I got at one of the many ethnic grocery stores here in San Jose. (Spices are substantially cheaper there as well. Sauce was too spicy for me as a result, so in went 3 peeled chopped russet potatoes after the meat was out and the peppers done. Yum!!

  16. Karina says

    5 stars
    Came out fabulous. Couldn’t stop eating the sauce. The only thing I screwed up was the cook time; because it’s just me and my fiance, I got a 1.5lb chuck roast and tried to adjust the cook time but overcooked it just a tad so it didn’t quite shred. I tried to use the 30 min/pound rule and it backfired! If you have suggestions on cook times, that would be great! Either way, the flavors in this recipe are incredible and so simple to make at home. I will definitely make again! Thank you.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Karina, did you do a natural release? I don’t recommend a quick release for large cuts of meat. Since it sounds like it was tough I’m actually wondering if it could have used more cook time which is why I’m asking about the natural release. Hopefully we can troubleshoot the issue.

  17. William says

    5 stars
    I made this last night for friends. It was fantastic and everyone loved it. I did a couple of things different:

    I cubed the roast, salt and peppered it, and seared it in the instant pot. I think deglazed with a little Cabernet Sauvignon and sauteed the onions and garlic. I deglazed with just a littler more wine and added everything into the instant pot. I added a small, smashed jalapeno and then pressure cooked everything. I added the bell peppers at the end as suggested.

    This recipe will be on regular rotation at my house!

  18. Judi Athens says

    5 stars
    This is a delicious recipe!!! I’m obsessed. My chuck roast was nearly 4 lbs, so I had to give it an extra 15 minutes in the instant pot to get it fork-tender. Fantastic results. Thank you for this recipe! It’s going into regular rotation!

  19. Katia Guillaume says

    5 stars
    Super delicious! First time making Ropa Vieja in the instant pot and I love how simple it was. I was able to dump it all in and go vacuum the house! Using chuck roast definitely helps to make it more tender.

  20. Desiree says

    Question, what setting on the Instant Pot do we cook this on? You only say to cook for 90-minutes, but don’t indicate whether it’s High pressure, low pressure, etc. Thank you.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi! All of my recipes are written using the “manual” or “pressure cook” setting depending on the model of your instant pot. Also, they are all “high pressure” as that is the default setting, again unless otherwise indicated.

  21. John Wheeler says

    3 stars
    I’m not just real sure about this instant pot thing. The recipe made a very good shredded pot roast, frequenting cuban lunch counters in Miami regularly. I think my expectations were set a bit high. I recently goaded my wife into trying a slow cook recipe for ropa vieja I was amazed at what my gringo wife created. I tried to find the recipe to compare to this but can’t. I think the slow cook makes a differrence,as does some vinegar. we still ate it all and it was very good. I’m just not real convinced about instant pot doing in 90 minutes wht my crock pot takes all day to do.
    thank you for the recipe!

  22. Tina says

    5 stars
    Made this with some elk shank (off the bone) and it was amazing!!! My husband is not an olive lover, so thanks for the recommendation for capers. And thank you for providing both instant pot and slow cooker options. I’m never sure how to convert slow cooker recipes to my instant pot. HUGE SUCCESS!!!!

  23. Chris says

    5 stars
    This is crazy good. I added fresh jalapenos and cilantro because I had some on hand. I doubled the recipe so I have a batch in the freezer.

  24. Brett says

    5 stars
    I made this with a chuck roast like you suggested and it turned out delicious. This is a perfect “street taco” recipe. Thank you for teaching us this yummy dish!

  25. Joel says

    I have my 3lb chuck roast. Is 14.5 oz or diced tomatoes enough liquid along with the fat it in the meat to ensure the IP does not dry out and burn during the 90 minute pressure cook time? Is there a low pressure cook setting that I should use?

  26. Martha says

    5 stars
    I was a skeptic about using an instant pot to make ropa vieja. Skeptic no more! This recipe is fantastic! I added about 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne and just a little white wine vinegar (just how I learned to make it). It was “WOW” all around the table. This tasted just like my Abuelita used to make. <3 Thank you very much for sharing!

  27. Jillian says

    5 stars
    Used 3.5 pounds of chuck roast. Opted to add hefty spoonfuls of capers and brine instead of Spanish olives, based on what my family likes. It was delicious as dinner but it’s been mind-blowing as lunchtime leftovers. So good! Looking forward to trying some of your other recipes.

  28. Julia says

    Hi. I am new to the Instapot and will be trying your recipe this weekend. After cooking/shredding the meat, do I take it out to sauté the peppers? or keep everything in the pot?

    Thank you.

  29. Wendy B says

    5 stars
    I was searching for a keto dish for the husband. This hit it out of the park. Served with some rice for the me and the 7 y/o daughter (who loved it)

    I threw it all in and came back 3 hours later and just finished up the bell peppers. Couldn’t have been an easier weeknight meal.

    This is going into rotation! Will probably also make one for as a freezer dump meal for the future!

  30. Annie says

    5 stars
    Delicious!! The leftovers were more delicious as I was able to scoop out the fat and the meat just marinaded. Love it. Thank you.

  31. Shant says

    5 stars
    Made it in the IP tonight. Turned out great.

    One thing I’d do differently next time is cut the roast into a 2-3 pieces at the start, to help cook it through faster. After 90 minutes it was cooked all the way through but the middle hadn’t gotten tender enough yet to easily come apart with forks. Smaller pieces should help.

  32. Jordan says

    4 stars
    Flavor was amazing! I cooked a 3.5lb outside round roast for this recipe(only thing that was available) due to the toughness of the cut I was forced to extend cooking time to almost 3 hours but it was worth the wait!

  33. Jessica P says

    5 stars
    Any idea how to measure out a serving from leftovers? I.e one cup of ropa vieja = one nutritional serving? Thanks! Recipe was great.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Jessica, I’m so glad you liked it! My nutritional info is based on 10 servings but I believe there are other nutritional calculators online you can use to try and get the info you need – sorry I can’t be of more help!

  34. Jeremy Brooks says

    5 stars
    Could I sub in Brisket? This is one of my favorite dishes but it always takes so long the traditional way.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Jeremy, I haven’t tried this recipe using brisket but I don’t see why not. You may want to reduce the cook time though – it takes me 60 mins npr to cook a 2.5 pound brisket – maybe try 70 minutes npr for a 3-3.5 pound brisket? Let me know how it goes!

  35. Oscar Arango says

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was top notch! My 9 year old daughter officially added it to here Top 10 all time favorites. I did quick release on the instant pot and it did not affect the dish at all, the meat just fell apart. I used a chuck roast. So easy and delicious!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Dana, I haven’t tried doubling this recipe but my guess would be to leave the cook time the same – the pot will take longer to reach pressure. If it’s not done when you open it then you can always add an extra 20 minutes.

  36. Jen says

    5 stars
    Made this last night and it tastes even better as lunch leftovers. I could not find plantains so I decided to make Mexican style like you (onions, jalapeno, lime). As always, excellent recipe!

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