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Instant Pot Ropa Vieja

This Instant Pot Ropa Vieja recipe is inspired by the flavors and ingredients in Cuba’s national dish! Incredibly tender morsels of beef are braised in a flavorful, tomato-based sauce with plenty of peppers, olives, and lime! Naturally low carb, keto, paleo, and Whole30.

ropa vieja on a dish with plantains

Can I make Ropa Vieja in Instant Pot? YES, this classic Cuban dish typically calls for flank steak or skirt steak, but this take on Ropa Vieja uses chuck roast. Your pressure cooker will take care of converting the tough roast into soft and succulent braised beef!

New to ropa vieja? Let’s discuss. Known today as one of Cubas’s most notable dishes, Ropa Vieja turns tough cuts of meat into fall-apart bites of beef braised in a rustic, umami-forward tomato sauce. The flavors are unlike anything else when finished with briny olives and fresh lime juice.

Fun fact: Ropa Vieja translates to “old clothes,” which, oddly enough, makes perfect sense. The Roja Vieja sauce is so tasty that it can make old clothes taste good (but not really).

You can serve your Instant Pot Ropa Vieja with traditional sides like Cuban rice and beans. You can also use the braised beef in tacos, burritos, tamales, and enchiladas! Needless to say, your homemade Ropa Vieja won’t go to waste!

❤️ This Instant Pot Beef Recipe Is . . .

  • Wholesome. The ingredients are healthy, fresh, and natural.
  • Comforting. The dish is packed with cozy, aromatic flavors.
  • Time-saving. The meat falls apart much quicker than slow cooking.
  • Great weeknight dinner. This is a meal everyone will enjoy.
  • Versatile. You can use repurpose the meat in many dishes!

🫑 Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chuck roast – Traditional recipes call for flank steak or skirt steak, but since we’re pressure cooking, chuck roast works just as well. This is an excellent protein to stock up on when it’s on sale and freeze.
  • Cooking oil – A quality cooking oil like avocado oil or olive oil to sear the outside and create a gorgeous crust.
  • Yellow onion & bell peppers – This veggie combo adds delicious sweet, savory, and tangy notes to the sauce. Use a medley of bell pepper colors, if possible.
  • Garlic – Fresh minced garlic, please. The jarred stuff just doesn’t cut it.
  • Diced tomatoes with chilies – A tried-and-true can of Rotel will do the trick.
  • Beef broth – This is liquid to prevent the Instant Pot from issuing a burn notice. You can also use beef bone broth or beef stock here.
  • Spices & seasonings – Smoked paprika, cumin, and dried oregano for warm, spicy, and rustic flavor.
  • Green olives – If you can find pimento-stuffed green olives, they make a world of difference, but you can also unstuffed olives here.
  • Lime Juice – You’ll add this at the end to brighten up every flavor. Fresh lime juice is key.

🥣 How To Make Ropa Vieja In The Instant Pot

1️⃣ Prep meat for Instant Pot. Cut your chuck roast into 3 large pieces and dry them with a paper towel.

2️⃣ Brown beef. Pour the oil into the trivet of the Instant Pot and turn on SAUTE mode. Once hot, sear the pieces on each side for 2-3 minutes. Repeat until each side develops a browned crust. Remove and set aside on a plate.

3️⃣ Saute peppers & onions. Add the sliced peppers and onions to the inner pot and cook until soft (about 5-7 minutes). Then, stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

4️⃣ Deglaze and season. Next, add the canned tomatoes & chilies along with the beef broth, and deglaze the inner pot. Don’t forget to scrape up any browned bits! Finally, add the dried spices and stir to combine.

5️⃣ Pressure cook Ropa Vieja. Add the browned pieces of steak back into the pot, secure the lid, and program your Instant Pot to cook on manual HIGH pressure for 40 minutes. Once finished, do a quick release, then turn the pressure cooker off.

6️⃣ Shred and serve. Let cool a bit, then shred the meat with two forks or meat claws. Return the shredded meat to the pot, stirring it with the juices. Add the lime juice and olives, stir, and serve hot!

💭 Recipe Tips

  • Sear, then cook. The most challenging step is searing the meat, but it’s also the most important! When you sear a steak, the natural sugars and protein caramelize, creating a delicate crisped layer on the surface of the meat and adding dynamic flavor to the final dish.
  • Cooking liquid. For this Instant Pot Ropa Vieja to work, there must be at least 1 cup of liquid. Otherwise, you’ll get a burn notice.
  • Shredding the beef. Sure, you can shred the roast with a couple of forks, but that’s no fun. So instead, use these meat claws and shred like a bear! You can also use a stand or handheld electric mixer to do the job.
  • Add the olives and lime juice LAST. No need to cook olives and fresh lime flavor falls flat when heated. That said, add both ingredients at the very end for the best results.

🌶️ Variations

Protein – Beef is customary, but the rich, tomato-based ropa vieja sauce pairs perfectly with any protein.

  • Chicken Roja Vieja: Swap the steak for chicken thighs or chicken breasts.
  • Pork Roja Vieja: You can also make this with pork butt or shoulder.

Peppers – The more peppers, the merrier. Cubanelle, poblano, and any sweet pepper work. To turn up the heat, add a sliced jalapeno or two.

🧊 Storing & Freezing

Storing: After cooling to room temperature, store ropa vieja in a shallow, airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Freezing: Ropa vieja freezes beautifully, so it’s an excellent option to include in your stash of freezer meals. If freezing, skip the olives and lime juice for now. Let the stew cool, then freeze in a zip-top freezer-safe bag or container for 3-4 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating in a large pot. Once hot, add the lime juice and olives and serve.

❔FAQ

How long do you cook Ropa Vieja in a pressure cooker?

After browning the chunks of beef, pressure cook for 40 minutes on manual HIGH. Expect your pressure cooker to take an extra 10-15 minutes to preheat before the timer starts to count down.

How do you brown meat in an Instant Pot?

As a rule of thumb, the cooking oil must be HOT. There isn’t a preheat mode, so use the SAUTE mode to heat your cooking oil. While the oil heats, pat the meat dry and season. Using tongs, lower the meat into the pot and sear for 2-3 minutes undisturbed. Flip, then sear the opposite side. Continue until the surface is browned completely. Prop the meat upright against the inner pot to sear the sides.

What meat is Ropa Vieja traditionally made with?

Flank steak. It’s lean and can dry out quickly, but when quickly seared and braised in the tomato-based sauce, the connective tissues deteriorate, leaving incredibly tender morsels of beef.

🥘 More Instant Pot Dinner Recipes

Instant Pot Beef Short Ribs
Instant Pot Pork Ribs
Instant Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken
Instant Pot Hamburger Helper
Instant Pot Pasta with Meat Sauce
Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas

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ropa vieja on a dish with plantains

Instant Pot Ropa Vieja

This Instant Pot Ropa Vieja recipe is inspired by the authentic flavors and ingredients in Cuba's national dish! Incredibly tender morsels of beef are braised in a flavorful, tomato-based sauce with plenty of peppers, olives, and lime!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 508kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chuck roast
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 cups bell peppers sliced
  • 1 cup yellow onion diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic minced
  • 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes with chilies Ro-tel
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives sliced
  • ¼ cup lime juice freshly squeezed

Instructions

  • Cut the chuck roast into 3 large pieces and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Pour the oil into the trivet of the Instant Pot and turn on SAUTE mode. Once hot, sear the chuck roast pieces on each side for 2-3 minutes. Repeat until each side forms a browned crust. Remove and set aside on a plate.
  • To the inner pot, add the peppers and onions and cook until soft (about 5-7 minutes) Then, stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  • Next, add the canned tomatoes & chilies along with the beef broth to deglaze and scrape up any browned bits. Add the dried spices and stir to combine.
  • Add the browned beef chunks back into the pot. Secure the lid, seal the pressure valve, and set the instant pot to cook on manual HIGH pressure for 40 minutes. Once the pressure cooker is finished, do a quick release and press the OFF button.
  • Remove the chuck roast and shred the meat with forks or meat claws.
  • Return the meat to the instant pot, and stir it in with the juices. Finally, add the lime juice and olives, stir, and serve hot. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 508kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 786mg | Potassium: 1102mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2099IU | Vitamin C: 75mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 6mg

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