vegan cuban ropa vieja recipe

Ropa Vieja Vegan Recipe

What is Ropa Vieja 

Vegan Ropa Vieja is a delicious savory, warm, Cuban dish made from peppers, jackfruit, onions and olives. Cuban Ropa Vieja traditionally is made from shredded beef and translates to “old clothes.”  

Origins of Ropa Vieja  

According to legend, there was a man so poor he was forced to shredded and cooked his clothes to feed his family. He prayed over the cooking clothes and a miracle occurred. The cooking clothes turned into a beef stew!  This dish originated from the Spanish Sephardic Jews living along the Iberian Peninsula. Since no cooking could be done on the Sabbath, they would slow cook the meal the day before. From Spain, Ropa Vieja traveled to Cuba and around the Caribbean. Although this meal has slightly evolved the basics remain the same.   

Fun Fact

Hawaii has the largest consumption rate of Spam in the world.

How to eat Ropa Vieja 

Ropa Vieja can be served as both a main or side dish. Typically, the consistency is like a stew and served over rice. Along with Ropa Vieja it is typical to also have Cuban black beans or platanos. Though it can also be eaten inside a tortilla with rice and beans.  

ropa vieja recipe
ropa vieja recipe

Recipe Rundown 

Jackfruit: Since this is a vegan recipe, Jackfruit is used to replace the shredded beef. We used organic young canned jackfruit in brine. After opening the can we drained the jackfruit and rinsed them well. Jackfruit hold moisture well so be sure to rinse the jackfruit to get rid of excess brine flavor. In addition, the jackfruit in can form might look like little bulbs and not so much like shredded beef. For this the Jackfruit may need to be pulled apart. We used our hands but feel free to do this however you would like!  

White onions + Garlic cloves: As with many dishes, but specifically in Cuban cuisine, onions and garlic are in basically every dish. Julienne onions are used as well as fresh chopped garlic cloves. If you don’t have onions and garlic on hand, feel free to use garlic powder and onions powder. It is important to note that both these ingredients are essential and important to this dish. Especially for textural purposes.  

Bell Peppers: This is another important ingredient in Cuban cuisine. The bell peppers are great not only for taste and texture but also for color. We love to use yellow, red and orange bell peppers. Traditionally green bell peppers are not used. They are also sliced julienne, like the onions. The same of this dish translated to “old clothes” so the theme of all the vegetables is to be sliced as if they were shredded clothes.  

Green Olives: Typically, pimiento stuffed green olives are used for this dish. These olives are also referred to as Spanish olives. Though Spanish olives are best, we used green olives because our grocery store was out of the pimiento stuffed olives. Feel free to use whatever is available! 

Diced tomatoes + Tomato paste: These ingredients are essential and the base of flavor for the whole dish. Something to be mindful if the diced tomatoes are canned, they’re more likely to be slightly more acidic than fresh tomatoes. We used canned diced tomatoes but fresh works too! 

Vegetable broth: We used a premade vegetable broth but something like a bouillon cube or better than bouillon would work too! The vegetable broth gives the recipe more flavor. 

Spices: Spices are essential in this dish. We used Cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.   

Vegan Ropa Vieja
Vegan Ropa Vieja

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Luna & Nate

Vegan Ropa Vieja

Recipe by Cooking Up Vegan Course: MainCuisine: CubanDifficulty: Medium


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Cooking time




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Vegan Ropa Vieja is a delicious savory slow cooked Cuban dish. Made with jackfruit, this recipe is the perfect side or main course.


  • 2 Each 2 White Onions

  • 12 Each 12 Garlic Cloves

  • 2 Each 2 Bell Peppers

  • 30 Each 30 Green Olives

  • 3 Cups 3 Jackfruit

  • 28 Oz 28 Diced Tomatoes

  • 4 Cups 4 Vegetable Broth

  • 3 Oz 3 Tomato Paste

  • 2 Tbsp 2 Cumin

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Coriander

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Smoked Paprika

  • 4 Each 4 Bay Leaf

  • TT TT Salt & Pepper


  • Begin by draining and rinsing the jackfruit. Be sure to squeeze out any excess moisture.
  • Next thinly julienne the onions, garlic, and bell peppers.
  • Break the olive in to pieces. If you are using large olives use only half of the amount (15).
  • Start to sweat the onions, bell peppers, olives and garlic over medium-low heat.
  • While the veggies are caramelizing, sear the jackfruit in a separate pre-heated pan on medium-high heat. Turn the jackfruit every couple of minutes until cartelized, then set aside.
  • Once the onions have caramelized, add in the tomato paste and the seasonings, and stir, cooking the tomato paste for 3-5 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan by adding in the vegetable broth.
  • After the pan is deglazed, add the diced tomatoes and bay leaf, and stir to mix. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Once the mixture begins to simmer, add in the seared jackfruit, and continue simmering on low for 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour, taste and adjust any seasons you like, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve the jackfruit ropa vieja over rice. Feel free to garnish with things like cilantro, hot sauce, avocado, or anything else you desire.

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Nutrition Facts

8 servings per container

Serving Size1 servings

  • Amount Per ServingCalories165
  • % Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 5.2g 8%
    • Saturated Fat 0.7g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 172mg 8%
  • Potassium 459mg 14%
  • Total Carbohydrate 25.3g 9%
    • Dietary Fiber 3.4g 12%
    • Sugars 4.4g
  • Protein 2.7g 4%

  • Calcium 6%
  • Iron 15%

* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


  1. I loved that you included the history of this dish. I’ll keep an eye out for jack fruit.

    • Cooking Up Vegan

      Yes, of course! Luna grew up eating her grandmothers Ropa Vieja. We have found jackfruit mostly at health food stores!

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