This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Prepare a classic Cuban favorite easily with our Mini Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja recipe. Designed for a single serving meal, this dish combines tender shredded beef with a flavorful tomato and pepper sauce, all made in your mini crockpot. It’s perfect for anyone cooking for themselves, offering complex flavors with minimal effort. Enjoy authentic Cuban inspired cuisine with this simple, fuss-free recipe, ideal for a delicious and satisfying meal.

Want other single serving mini slow cooker recipes? Try our succulent Ribs, robust Pot Roast, savory White Chicken Chili, and homestyle Meatloaf. These easy recipes are perfect for a no-stress, delicious meal for one.

Why You’ll Love This Small Slow Cooker Recipe

  • Tender and Flavorful Meat: The slow-cooked shredded beef in this Ropa Vieja is so tender it practically melts in your mouth, packed full of flavor that’ll make you crave seconds.
  • Ultimate Convenience: Set up your mini slow cooker in the morning and come home to a scrumptious, fully-prepared meal. It doesn’t get easier than this.
  • Spice It Up: With a blend of spices like oregano, cumin, and paprika, this Cuban shredded beef is a flavor powerhouse that will elevate your mealtime experience.
  • Versatility Galore: Serve it over rice, in tortillas, as a sandwich filling, or with a side of beans. The possibilities are endless, and the leftovers are perfect for reinventing into tacos or sandwiches.
  • Nutritionally Balanced: Not only is this dish a taste sensation, it’s also a nutritional one-stop-shop, loaded with protein and veggies.
  • Budget-Friendly: Make the most of an economical cut like chuck roast, transforming it into a meal that tastes like a splurge.
a bowl of ropa vieja on a silver tray next to fresh parsley.

What Is Ropa Vieja?

Ropa Vieja is a classic Cuban dish known for its rich flavors and tender, shredded beef. The name translates to “old clothes” because the shredded beef looks like tattered fabric. Traditionally, this dish is slow-cooked on the stovetop with a blend of spices and vegetables. In this updated version, we use a crockpot to make the process easier without losing any flavor. Perfectly portioned for one, our single serving ropa vieja recipe is ideal for a 1.5-quart slow cooker. No more worrying about leftovers – just enjoy the right amount of this delicious dish.

Ingredients

ropa vieja ingredients on a kitchen counter.

Remember, you can always tweak these ingredients to suit your preferences or dietary needs, but these notes should give you a solid starting point.

  • Onion: Adds sweetness and flavor to the dish. You can use white, yellow, or red onions based on your preference. Use leftover onions in Chicken Paprika and Creamy Tomato Soup.
  • Bell Pepper: Although I prefer using a red bell pepper, you can use any color of bell pepper you like or even substitute with poblano peppers for a slightly spicier flavor. If you don’t have fresh bell peppers, you can use frozen bell pepper strips. Consider using leftover bell peppers in Lo Mein, Crab Cakes, or Pepper Steak.
  • Seasonings: Use dried oregano, paprika, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, ground turmeric, salt, and black pepper for the essential flavor profile of the dish. Feel free to tweak the amounts to suit your taste preferences.
  • Chuck Roast: Chuck roast is a flavorful cut of beef that becomes tender when slow-cooked. You can substitute chuck roast with other cuts like bottom round or rump roast. If you have a bit of beef leftover, consider using it to make a Slow Cooker Pot Roast.
  • Avocado oil: Used for browning the roast, contributing to its rich flavor. Canola oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, or even butter can be used as alternatives.
  • Garlic: If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use garlic powder or minced garlic from a jar.
  • Beef Broth: Enhances the beefy flavor of the dish. You can substitute with vegetable broth. Extra beef broth can be added to Taco Soup or Irish Stew.
  • Tomato Paste and Diced Tomatoes: Tomato paste adds thickness and intensity, while canned diced tomatoes provide texture and acidity. Use these leftover ingredients in Baked Black Bean Tacos and Spanish Rice.
  • Spanish Olives: Adds a briny, tangy flavor and a unique texture to ropa vieja. You can use green or black olives if you only have those on hand. You can also omit them if you’re not a fan of olives, but they do contribute to the dish’s distinctive flavor.

If you have any ingredients leftover from this easy ropa vieja recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder.

Recipe Variations

If you’re looking to jazz up your single serving ropa vieja, these variations offer intriguing twists to the classic recipe.

  • Chicken Ropa Vieja: Substitute the beef with boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts. Cook them until tender in the slow cooker using the same seasonings and ingredients. Shred the chicken and proceed with the recipe as usual. It’s a lighter and equally flavorful alternative.
  • Spicy Ropa Vieja: Add some heat by including diced jalapenos, red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper in the seasoning mix. For an extra kick, drizzle hot sauce over the finished dish.
  • Ropa Vieja Tacos: Serve in soft flour tortillas with your favorite toppings, such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.
  • Cuban Sandwich: Use ropa vieja as a filling for a classic Cuban sandwich. Layer the shredded beef, pickled, Swiss cheese, and mustard between slices of Cuban bread or French bread, then press and grill until crispy.
Save This Recipe!
Get this sent to your inbox, plus get weekly recipes from us – all for free.

How To Make Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja

These step-by-step photos and instructions help you visualize how to make traditional ropa vieja in a mini slow cooker or in a mini Crockpot. See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  1. Add the sliced onions and bell peppers to the bottom of a 1.5 or 2-quart slow cooker.
sliced onions and red bell peppers in the base of a slow cooker.
  1. In a separate small bowl, blend together the oregano, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, and pepper to create your seasoning mix. Keep this nearby for the next step.
ropa vieja spice mix in a small bowl on a kitchen counter.
  1. Pat the chuck roast dry using paper towels, then generously coat all sides with the seasoning mix you just prepared.
chuck roast coated with  ropa vieja seasoning on a blue plate.
  1. In a 10-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Sear the seasoned roast in the skillet, aiming for a golden-brown crust, about 2 minutes per side. Once seared, transfer the roast to a plate.
chuck roast being seared in a skillet on the stove.
  1. Using a sharp knife, create two small slits about an inch deep on the top of the roast. Use your fingers to slightly widen these slits, then insert whole garlic cloves into the openings.

Pro Tip: This method of inserting whole cloves of garlic infuses the meat with the delightful flavor of garlic. As the roast cooks, the garlic gradually seeps into the meat, imparting a savory richness that will delight garlic enthusiasts. The cloves themselves soften and mellow during cooking, providing a pleasing surprise in each bite. Studding the beef with garlic not only enhances the taste of the ropa vieja but also amplifies its appealing aroma.

two whole garlic cloves inserted into a seared roast.
  1. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker, placing it on top of the previously layered vegetables.
beef on top of onions and garlic in the base of a small slow cooker.
  1. In another small bowl, whisk the beef broth and tomato paste together until well mixed. Pour this liquid over the roast in the slow cooker.
tomato paste and beef broth mixed together in a small bowl.
  1. Add the diced tomatoes and olives into the slow cooker.
ingredients to make ropa vieja in a crockpot inside the slow cooker base.
  1. Secure the mini slow cooker’s lid and set it to cook on low for 8 hours, or if you’re short on time, on high for 4-5 hours.
  2. After cooking, remove the roast and shred it using a fork. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, stirring it into the juices and vegetables. Let it cook for an additional 10 minutes to meld the flavors.

Be mindful that different brands of beef broth can vary in sodium levels, making some saltier than others. Always give the finished dish a taste test and adjust the salt as needed.

Enjoy your Ropa Vieja on its own for a low-carb option, or pair it with rice to make the meal more hearty.

ropa vieja in a slow cooker.

Expert Tips

  • Before you start cooking, make sure to read the entire recipe, including the Ingredient Notes section, and examine the process photos. This detailed guide will help you understand how the recipe unfolds, ensuring your Crockpot Ropa Vieja turns out perfect every time. All the information you need is found within the body of this recipe post, so don’t miss a thing!
  • Searing Technique: When searing the beef, make sure the skillet is hot before adding the roast. Sear each side until it forms a deep, caramelized crust. This step seals in the juices and enhances the flavor of the final dish.
  • Garlic Insertion: While inserting garlic cloves into the beef, try to distribute them evenly throughout the roast. This ensures that the garlic flavor is evenly distributed as the beef cooks.
  • Slow Cooker Size: Ensure the slow cooker you use is the appropriate size for the recipe. A 1.5 or 2-quart slow cooker is ideal for a single serving, as it allows for proper heat distribution and thorough cooking.
  • Vegetable Placement: Placing the onions and bell peppers at the bottom of the slow cooker helps to create a flavorful base for the beef. The vegetables will soften and absorb the delicious juices as they cook.

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy your Cuban ropa vieja to the fullest with these side dish inspirations. From classic rice pairings to low-carb alternatives, these options are bound to elevate your meal.

  • White Rice: The rice absorbs the delicious sauce and balances the rich flavors of the dish.
  • Black Beans: A classic pairing with ropa vieja, beans are a hearty and nutritious side. You can serve them as a side dish or mix them with the beef for added protein and texture.
  • Pickled Onions: Provides a tangy and crunchy topping that enhances the flavor of ropa vieja. They’re easy to prepare and can be served on the side.
  • Lime Wedges: Squeezing fresh lime juice over the ropa vieja can provide a zesty and citrusy contrast to the richness of the beef.
Ropa vieja with rice on a blue plate next to a bowl of black beans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different cut of beef?

While chuck roast is commonly used in ropa vieja recipes, you can substitute it with cuts like bottom round, rump roast, sirloin, or beef stew meat.

What can I do if the ropa vieja sauce is too thin?

If the sauce is thinner than you’d like, you can simmer it on the stovetop in a separate saucepan to reduce and thicken it. Alternatively, you can mix a small amount of cornstarch with water and stir it into the sauce to thicken it.

Is it necessary to sear beef before slow cooking?

Searing the beef before slow cooking is recommended as it enhances the flavor and texture of the dish. It’s an extra step, but it significantly contributes to the overall taste.

How should I store leftover ropa vieja?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To freeze, place in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Explore More Mini Slow Cooker Recipes

Looking for more mini slow cooker recipes tailored for just one person? Check out a few of our mini crock pot recipes that promise maximum flavor with minimal effort.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

If you’ve made this slow cooker ropa vieja recipe, I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Please rate the recipe and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Snapped a photo? Tag us on Instagram; we’d be thrilled to see your creation!


Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja For One

5 from 10 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
Easily make Cuban-inspired Ropa Vieja with our single serving slow cooker recipe. Perfect for one, this dish features tender beef in a savory sauce with minimal effort. Enjoy this flavorful meal without the hassle.

Ingredients 
 

  • ½ small onion -sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces
  • 1 small red bell pepper (or ½ medium-sized bell pepper), sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces boneless chuck roast
  • ½ tablespoon canola oil or use vegetable oil or avocado oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with some of the juices from the can. (This is about ½ of a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes.)
  • 6 Spanish olives
Save this Recipe!
Get this recipe sent to your inbox, plus get weekly recipes from us – all for free.

Instructions 

  • Add the sliced onions and bell peppers to the bottom of a 1.5 or 2-quart slow cooker.
  • In a separate small bowl, blend together the oregano, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, and pepper to create your seasoning mix. Keep this nearby for the next step.
  • Pat the chuck roast dry using paper towels, then generously coat all sides with the seasoning mix you just prepared.
  • Heat the oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat.
    Sear the seasoned roast in the skillet, aiming for a golden-brown crust, about 2 minutes per side. Once seared, transfer the roast to a plate.
  • Using a sharp knife, create two small slits about an inch deep on the top of the roast. Use your fingers to slightly widen these slits, then insert whole garlic cloves into the openings.
    Pro Tip: This method of inserting whole cloves of garlic infuses the meat with the delightful flavor of garlic. As the roast cooks, the garlic gradually seeps into the meat, imparting a savory richness that will delight garlic enthusiasts. The cloves themselves soften and mellow during cooking, providing a pleasing surprise in each bite. Studding the beef with garlic not only enhances the taste of the ropa vieja but also amplifies its appealing aroma.
  • Transfer the beef to the slow cooker, placing it on top of the previously layered vegetables.
  • In another small bowl, whisk the beef broth and tomato paste together until well mixed. Pour this liquid over the roast in the slow cooker.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and olives into the slow cooker.
  • Secure the slow cooker’s lid and set it to cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.
  • After cooking, remove the roast and shred it using a fork. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, stirring it into the juices and vegetables. Let it cook for an additional 10 minutes to meld the flavors.
    Pro Tip: Be mindful that different brands of beef broth can vary in sodium levels, making some saltier than others. Always give the finished dish a taste test and adjust the salt as needed.
    Enjoy your Ropa Vieja on its own for a low-carb option, or pair it with rice to make the meal more hearty.

Notes

  • Before you start cooking, make sure to read the entire recipe, including the Ingredient Notes section, and examine the process photos. This detailed guide will help you understand how the recipe unfolds, ensuring your Crockpot Ropa Vieja turns out perfect every time. All the information you need is found within the body of this recipe post, so don’t miss a thing!
  • Searing Technique: When searing the beef, make sure the skillet is hot before adding the roast. Sear each side until it forms a deep, caramelized crust. This step seals in the juices and enhances the flavor of the final dish.
  • Garlic Insertion: While inserting garlic cloves into the beef, try to distribute them evenly throughout the roast. This ensures that the garlic flavor is evenly distributed as the beef cooks.
  • Slow Cooker Size: Ensure the slow cooker you use is the appropriate size for the recipe. A 1.5 or 2-quart slow cooker is ideal for a single serving, as it allows for proper heat distribution and thorough cooking.
  • Vegetable Placement: Placing the onions and bell peppers at the bottom of the slow cooker helps to create a flavorful base for the beef. The vegetables will soften and absorb the delicious juices as they cook.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 730kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 63g, Fat: 42g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 21g, Trans Fat: 0.03g, Cholesterol: 192mg, Sodium: 1066mg, Potassium: 2031mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 3086IU, Vitamin C: 127mg, Calcium: 100mg, Iron: 4mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Receive Our Latest Single Serving Recipes!
Sign Up for the weekly One Dish Kitchen Newsletter!!
Red 5-inch square baking dish with One Dish Kitchen branded paper sleeve around it.

Make 80+ Recipes With This Dish!

Ideal for home chefs, this individual square ceramic baking dish is safe for oven, microwave, freezer, and dishwasher. Simple to use & easy to clean!

Welcome!

I’m Joanie and I’m incredibly happy you’re here! Our aim is to inspire individuals with access to single serving recipes, education, and a supportive community that will enable them to enjoy the preparation of a meal that will nourish both body and soul.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




13 Comments

  1. Gerard Vande Logt says:

    This was so good. It made my tongue flap so fast that my teeth wanted to dance. The blend of spices was perfect. I did add half of a jalapeno chopped up. That’s just me.

  2. Jan Tinney says:

    Made Ropa Vieja today. Lovely blend of spices. Will be on my frequently used list.

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

  3. Leona Gustafson says:

    I loved this the first time I made it! I made it a second time last evening and couldn’t eat it all at one sitting. So I saved the leftovers for lunch, and just as I suspected, it was even better. I have yet to find a stew (and that’s what this is) that isn’t better when it’s reheated.

    I’m 83 years old and have been cooking since I was 7. Mom was sick and told be what to do from her sickbed. The very first meal that I cooked was beef stew. I’ve been alone for five years now and cooking for one was a real problem until I found you! I can still cook for large groups, but you saved me from dull meals. I LOVE this site and will stick with it.

  4. Wendy Wright says:

    Absolutely delicious! I added a touch more cinnamon and used Hungarian paprika, and the flavors were amazing. I’m going to make this again.

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it.

  5. Ray W. says:

    I prepared this recipe tonight with a few changes. I used chopped garlic from a jar. I didn’t have Spanish olives, so I used black ones. This recipe made enough for two helpings with a little left over for my lunch tomorrow. I will definitely make it again.

  6. BP says:

    So easy and absolutely delicious! Definitely made enough for two servings for me and I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow!

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed the Ropa Vieja! Thank you.

  7. MB says:

    For those of us without a slow cooker, do you have instructions to prepare “ropa vie for one” another way?

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      Thanks for your interest in the “Ropa Vieja for One” recipe! I understand not everyone has a slow cooker. While I haven’t tested this specific recipe on the stove, you could potentially adapt it using a Dutch oven. Here’s a general guideline:

      Sear the beef on all sides in a hot Dutch oven to lock in flavors.
      Cook the beef low and slow for several hours.
      Since I haven’t tested the stovetop version, I can’t provide specific measurements for broth or other ingredients. Feel free to experiment, and if you do, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  8. J. Hegyi says:

    Good recipe.

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      Thank you!