Instant Pot Cuban Shredded Beef (Ropa Vieja)

Ropa Vieja is probably the most delicious dish with the most unappetizing name. It literally means  “Old Clothes” in English, but that’s not a description of how it tastes. I promise. It got it’s name because the meat is shredded after cooking and the vegetables are cut in long strips. After they have been cooked for hours in a tomato based sauce, the finished product looks like tattered and shredded clothes.

Regardless of the name, it is probably my favorite dish of all time. However, before I found the Instant Pot, I rarely get to eat it because it takes so long to make. The cut of beef traditionally used is the flank, which comes from the underside of the belly, meaning it has very little fat and thus it can be tough as leather if not cooked for hours. Now, using the IP, I can make it in about an hour and it tastes just as good, if not better.

My families recipe is pretty straight forward; beef, onion, garlic, pepper, and pimentos. However, depending on what region of Cuba you go to, the ingredients may vary slightly. Some recipes use less tomato sauce and more wine, while others have a thicker sauce. Some include green olives, caper, or red peppers. that said, it is traditionally always served over white rice.

Here’s my step by step video tutorial….

Instant Pot Shredded Beef (Ropa Vieja) 

Recipe by Lana Horruitiner Perez

1.5 to 2 lb Flank Steak (if using a 2 lb or larger size steak, cut it in 2 pieces before cooking in order to ensure it cooks through)

3 Tbl Olive Oil

1 Yellow Onion, sliced in thin strips

1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced in thin strips (You can use 1/2 Red Bell Peppers and 1/2 Green Bell Peppers)

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1 tsp Salt, plus extra

1 tsp Pepper

1/2 Tbl Onion Powder

1/2 Tbl Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp Cumino (aka Cumin)

2 Bay Leaves

1/3 cup White Wine

3/4 cup Water

2 heaping Tbl Tomato Paste

1 14oz can Diced Tomatoes

1 jar diced Pimentos with liquid

-Sprinkle Flank Steak liberally with Salt.


-In a bowl or large measuring cup add the 1/3 cup White Wine, 3/4 cup of Water, and the 2 Tbl Tomato Paste. Mix together and set aside. 20180627_171712

-Press “SAUTE” button on the Instant Pot. Add 2 Tbl of Olive Oil. Once the oil is hot, place the Flank Steak into the Instant Pot and sear each side approximately 3 mins per side. Once both sides are seared and have good color, remove the steak and place in a bowl to rest.


-Turn the Instant Pot off and then press “SAUTE” button once again and then press the “ADJUST” button until the screen reads “LOW”. (Some IP models allow you to adjust the temperature when sauteing. I like to sear meats on “NORMAL” and cook the vegetables on “LOW”. However, if your model does not allow you to adjust the temperature, then you can saute the vegetables at the same temperature as the meat, just add 1 Tbl of water to help keep the vegetables from cooking to fast and browning too quickly.) Add the remaining 1 Tbl Olive Oil, Onions, Peppers, and 1 pinch of Salt. Stir and cook the vegetables until the onions become translucent and start to brown just a little bit, approximately 6 minutes. As you stir, scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. 


-Add the Garlic, stir, and cook for 30 seconds.


-Add the Wine, Water, and Tomato Paste mixture tot eh Instant Pot. Add 1/2 Tbl Garlic Powder, 1/2 Tbl Onion Powder, 1/4 tsp Cumin, 1 tsp Salt, and Ground Pepper. Stir. (If you prefer you can use 1 Tbl Adobo and 1 packet of Sazon instead of the individual spices.)


-Add the Steak on top of the liquid mixture in the pot and pour the can of Diced Tomatoes, jar of Pimentos, and 2 Bay Leaves on top of the steak. Keeping these on top of the steak will keep you from getting a burn signal.


-Lock the Instant Pot lid into place and make sure the valve is set to Sealed position. Pressure cook on HIGH for 45 mins, NPR for 25 minutes, and the QR the rest of the way if there is any extra pressure left.

-Take just the steak out and place in a bowl. Press the “SAUTE” button so the liquid will boil and reduce a little while you shred the meat.

-Using 2 forks Shred the meat.


-Once you are done shredding the beef, add it back tot he pot and stir. Serve over rice. Enjoy!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Bridget Vega says:

    I am going to try it this way


  2. Rich says:

    Thank you for sharing this easy to follow recipe for one of my favorites!

    Is there anything that might make a good substitute for the white wine and olive juice if I didn’t Happen to have those on hand?


    1. drlanaperez says:

      You are so welcome! For white wine, just use chicken broth. You can leave the olive juice out or use capers. Maybe at the end add a touch of lemon or lime juice to bring out the acid.


      1. Rich says:

        I purchased everything you listed in your original recipe today. Thanks anyways for your alternatives, because I did have those items in my fridge! I always wondered what I could do with the capers. Lol


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