Crockpot Ropa Vieja with Cuban Style Rice

Oh lord.

Regionals workouts were announced.

I don’t really want to talk about it. Or think about it. Or dream about it. Or cry about it.

All of which I’m going to do.

Wait, wait, wait. You want me to SNATCH a 70lb DUMBBELL over my head….HOW MANY TIMES?! And I have to deadlift WHAT? Oh wait, I have to actually make it to the 3rd day to deadlift 225#…and that ain’t gonna happen.

The moral of the story, if you want to chat at Regionals, I’ll be in the bathroom, sh*tting myself from nerves. I plan on video taping myself that weekend to show what I eat during competitions, but that video is already doomed. No way am I going to be able to consume actual food while competing, and filming myself in the bathroom is SUPER socially unacceptable. I can only go so far on my blog without sending people in the other direction.

3 more weeks until Regionals. I’m excited, real excited. My gym, CrossFit Broadway, has a team going, as well as Jason Kelly going as an individual. How cool is that?! I love my gym, so much. And I love CrossFit. So so much.

ANYWHO, enough about working out. Let’s get to what really matters. The food. This dish is a cuban style dish that I altered to how I would like it. It usually has olives in it but I hate olives so I just made it how I think makes sense. Deliciously. Laura rates the dish a 9 out of 10 and said she couldn’t tell the difference between the cauliflower rice and regular rice. BOOM. Test it out with your non paleo eater friends. Do it. Dare ya.


Crockpot Ropa Vieja with Cuban Style Rice

  • Yield: 6-8 1x



For the ropa vieja

  • 1.52lbs chuck roast
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the Cuban rice

  • 1 head of cauliflower, stem removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 thick sliced of bacon, diced
  • 1 (4 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Pull out your handy dandy crock pot.
  2. Add your onions and peppers to the bottom of the crockpot.
  3. Plop your chuck roast on top and cut 4 deep slices into the chuck roast and push your garlic cloves into the roast.
  4. Now add all your spices and salt and pepper.Then add your tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, capers, and bay leaf to the rest of the crockpot.
  5. Place on low for 6-8 hours or high for 5-7 hours.
  6. When your ropa vieja is almost done, it’s time to cook your rice
  7. Add your chopped cauliflower to a food processor with the shredding attachment. And rice all the cauliflower up.
  8. Add your diced bacon to a large saucepan and cook down up bacon has browned and cooked almost completely through.
  9. Then add your cauliflower, tomato sauce and spices to the saucepan. Mix thoroughly then cover.
  10. Let cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring randomly to help incorporate all the flavors.
  11. Once your ropa vieja is done cooking, use a couple fork to shred your beef in the crockpot. Serve ropa vieja on top of cuban cauliflower rice
  12. Consume. A lot. Like Laura and I just did.

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PaleOMG Crockpot Ropa Vieja with Cuban Style Rice



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I may be compensated through my affiliate links in this post, but all opinions are my own. This compensation helps with expenses to keep this blog up and running!

Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


140 thoughts on “Crockpot Ropa Vieja with Cuban Style Rice”

  1. Cant wait to try it…looks delish! And just got notice that my black tank shipped can’t wait to wear it!
    Good luck at regionals…I’m glad it’s not me lol

  2. I can feel your pain Juli. I’m going to the Australian regionals as part of a team and I’m a little scared too.

  3. This sounds delicious! YAY for another person who hates olives! I’ve tried… I’ve really tried… but I just can’t do it. Ick. I threw up a little in my mouth just now just thinking about it…

  4. Mira pa’ ya chica, cocinaste algo cu’ano!!!

    I figured replying in some very CUban spanish made sense 😛

    I’ve had ropa vieja many times, but i’ve never made it, and you know what… this will be the first time and i’ll follow your recipe! I just got an awesome crockpot that after being refurbished and then getting dented on the way over came out to $24, from $80! So i’m keeping it!

    Right now i’m looking up some Peruvian food for you to try. I know i mentioned it before.. i’ll get to it, i promise!


  5. Ashley Smashley

    YUM! Can’t wait to make this one! You are going to kick ass at regionals and I’m gonna be there screaming my head off for you!!! I can’t wait to cheer you on!! 🙂 Geeeeeeet it!

  6. Looks delicious! I think I’ll try it this weekend. For those of us who like olives, any suggestions on how to adjust the recipe?

  7. I have a head of cauli screaming to be used up in the fridge, can’t wait to make ‘rice’ with it! I’m going to watch the regionals in the north east on day 3, can’t wait to see these workouts wow!

  8. This looks great! Definitely going to try next week. I’ll be working the regionals out here in SoCal, look forward to seeing you at Home Depot Center in the games! 🙂

  9. Go give it your best. In my opinion, Headquarters jumped the shark on these WODs. Brutal. Just know you will be in the same boat as the other athletes. Keep training hard and you will be able to snatch 70# dbs as well or better as everyone else. Be sure and go into the weekend with your shoulders rested. You are going to need them. Go kick some @$$.

    Desserts are nice, but give me meat. Wow. This looks awesome.

  10. Everytime I cook a roast (tri tip or chuck) in the crockpot it is super tough and dry and all around terrible. When I put it in a roasting pan in the oven, it’s heaven. What gives?

  11. Sounds yummy! Quick question- for the tomato sauce, do you mean tomato paste or marinara? Thanks! Love your blog btw!

    1. you can get cans of tomato sauce right by the cans of diced tomatoes and tomato paste. it’s just thinner than tomato paste (a lot like marinara, just with nothing added to it)

  12. You are going to kick ass at regionals!! Just think of all of us out here in internet land cheering you on, because we will be. You are my personal menu planner, totally behind you all the way!
    Can’t wait to try this recipe. One of my daughter’s hates olives, but she never complains when I cook with them. I will try this one. The rice looks excellent too.
    I have a question. What size do you wear in your PaleOMG tank? Must get one!

  13. OMG I’m soooo happy I found your blog!!!!!!!!! First let me tell you that I found it by doing a Google search for “are bananas paleo?” lol (Can you tell I’m new to Paleo? lol). I was pleasantly surprised when I came across your Banana Bread French Toast (which I’ve already printed and added to my Paleo recipes binder and will be making next week). And now I hit “Home” and came across Cuban Ropa Vieja??? Seriously? I LOVE you!

    Good luck at Regionals! Next weekend I’m driving to West Palm Beach, Florida to support my box’s team.

  14. How come every time I rice thecauliflower it looks like it exploded all over the kitchen? You make it sound so simple: cut the florets and pulse them into rice-sized pieces and add to your other foodstuff…and yet it’s always a big pain in the ass to wipe up. Your recipe looks delicious (with olives–yay!), but then I think about the rice mess…

  15. OMG, this is a winner! Tastes amazing and so easy to make! Earned a 100% approval rating by boyfriend who mumbled, “I love paleo” as he practically licked his plate clean. Will definitely be making this again very shortly. Thanks, Juli for this wonderful recipe! I love that not only was it delicious and easy to make but also cheap! 100% grass-fed, two pound chuck roast was $11 from my local farmer, I had most of the other ingredients on hand. Two dinners, two lunches next day, plus enough for 1 more dinner for me for less than $20! Paleo does not have to be expensive!!!

  16. Easy, love all the crock pots recipes – this was sooo good will become a regular dish. The Paleo rice was unbelievable! thank you!

  17. So my husband and I, after an evening if LOTS of wine, stopped by a local all night Cuban joint and stuffed ourselves with Ropa Vieja. The next morning we continued the stuff fest. He said, during mouthfuls-Wish Paleomg would have this recipe. NO LIE the next day you posted this recipe!!!!!!!!!
    I am cooking the cauliflower as we speak while the roast simmers in the crock. So excited!

  18. This is one of the best things I have EVER eaten!!! My 3 year old and 20 month old (along with the hubby) agree!

  19. OMG I have this cooking in the crockpot right now. I cannot wait to get home from Crossfit tonight to have this yummy meal waiting for me. Thanks!

  20. Made this last night for some non paleo friends, they tore it up! Nice flavors.. I may try it next time with pork. Thanks Juli! Have you ever considered putting together a cook book? You’d make bank!

  21. Tanya Montgomery

    I’m making this for dinner tonight and I can’t wait! It looks SO yummy! Thank you! =)

  22. I made this overnight for dinner tonight and woke up to its amazing aroma! Really excited to eat it but I can pretty much tell it’s a winner already. Thanks!! And I would TOTALLY buy your cookbook – you have great recipes and I love your blog commentary.

    1. To update, now that I’ve eaten it: YUM! My non-paleo friends happily ate it too. I really don’t enjoy cauliflower by itself but I loved it here! Bacon makes everything better 🙂

  23. This was sooo good! I made it for dinner and my boyfriend had 2 platefuls of it. And then wanted the leftovers for dinner the next night! I had it for dinner and then again for lunch the next day. Making it again next week. YUM!

  24. Seriously, seriously one of the best things I’ve ever made EVER. I love all your recipes I’ve tried so far. I am obsessed!

  25. Just made the cauli rice again for Cinco de Mayo leftovers and my non paleo friend chose it over the actual rice. Yay!

  26. This is by far one of the better meals I’ve made in I don’t know how long. I feel like I’m gonna have a food baby but am totally pleased with myself nonetheless. Oh yeah – paired it with the sweet potato brownies for dessert. Everyone raved!

  27. This was fantastic!! Served it to my parents (not paleo folks) last night and they were amazed when I told them it wasn’t rice! My dad even said mom should make it to serve to company!! Yummy!! Thanks so much for making my paleo life so easy!

  28. So very delicious! I wish I would have read your blog before the recipe though cause I love olives… next time I make it. I really love your recipes. Keep em coming please.

  29. I plan on making this tonight. Just wondering if anyone added any extra fluid to theirs? I am planning to impress lol and am fearful of having it dry out….but I have been eyeing this recipe for a while. Love your site; love your humor!

  30. I have tried to make various shredded meats throughout my short stint with Paleo, and haven’t had much luck getting them to be FLAVORFUL. This recipe was an exception!! SO delicious and I was astounded at how yummy the “rice” was. I fed off of the recipe for the whole week, and it only got better as the flavors melded. I’ve yet to be disappointed with any of your recipes! Thank you!!!

  31. Just made this recently and like all your other recipes I’ve tried, it was love at first bite!!! Your by far my favorite paleo recipe site and blog!!! Keep those recipes churning!!! 🙂

  32. Just made this last night and it was so good!! Love the flavors! I had a lot of liquid, so if anyone else has the same issue just skim the fat off and reduce the sauce in a pan. Love the site and love the recipes!!

  33. This is amazing!! the meat was perfect and my kids LOVED the “rice” which they miss so this is a perfect recipe to add to my collection. You are a rock star!! Thank you…..

  34. Whoa…. I stumbled upon this page from google. And the nom factor of this recipe aside… you spell your name like I do. Weird. I’ve never met another Juli with no e. *high fives and walks away from computer to start cooking dinner*

  35. I retract my previous statement. I let the rice simmer a bit longer and it turned out amazing! This recipe is definitely going to become a regular.

  36. Just finished having this for dinner. WOW delicious!!! I think it would also be great with a pork butt or shoulder instead of the beef. Added a little hot sauce to kick it up a notch. Thanks for another awesome recipe Juli! You are the best!

  37. I just made the rice to have with shredded mexican style pork I had already made and the rice was fantastic. My wife who doesnt even like cauliflower loved it. Thanks Juli.

  38. I’m not strictly committed to the Paleo Diet but my husband is a firefighter and does CrossFit. He told me about the Paleo Diet and I’ve been intrigued for some time! We have a little boy and in my efforts to cook healthier meals for our family I’ve been trying your recipes and we love them! This one was a hit (I held off on the capers for the kid), even with our non-Paleo guests! Thank you for these recipes. I will be buying your cookbook and spreading the word. Hopefully by then I’ll be looking and feeling better to show off the benefits of eating ‘cleaner!’

  39. Hi, Having lived in Miami for 20 years, I’ve eaten ropa vieja many times as it’s one of my fav cuban dishes. I’ve also made it, but never in a crock pot. Today I did. I substituted the peppers and diced tomatoes for a large jar of salsa as that’s all I had on hand and it was D.E.L.I.S.H. The best ever. We really enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing.

  40. Delicious and flavorful! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Made exactly as directed plus added back in the green olives.

  41. oh man this was amazing! I just started exploring the paleo lifestyle after falling in love with cross fit a month ago. Your recipes are spectacular! Thanks for te inspiration

  42. Ooh, I’ve been trolling your recipes for something to cook for family members coming to show them eating healthy doesn’t have to suck, or taste like crap, or be overly expensive. And that doesn’t involve a lot of work for me (yay crockpot!) I think we have a winner here. I’m also pretty sure I will need to make this 5 or 6 times in the next week and a half, you know, just to make sure I can make it properly. Yeah, that’s it.

  43. I just made this and it smells so good. I used 2lbs chuck roast and after 9 hours it still wasn’t tender. I shredded it the best I could but do you think it was just a fattier or not fatty enough piece of meat? Either way, everything about this recipe was amazing. I’m guessing I should just inspect the meat a little better before buying. Has anything like this ever happened to you?

  44. My husband and I loved this recipe! He loves rice, but thought the cauliflower rice was awesome! We will definitely be making this again!

  45. Growing up my mother would make ropa vieja ,with diced up potatoes. I’m gonna give it a shot with sweet potatoes. What do you think of that addition,or should I dice up dice up some squash?



  46. Pretty new to paleo … like a month.

    Tried this for our first paleomg dinner.

    Loved it!!!

    Thank you so much, you totally rock.

    Phil & Allison in west fla.

  47. I added kalmata olives, 3 T chopped, omitted the peppers and used brisket. Amazing. This will be my Passover brisket recipe this year. Delicious!

  48. I would love to say how good this recipe is, but I can’t. I decided to make this on a busy day that was followed by my daughter’s softball game in the evening. No time to cook dinner = crockpot meal. The recipe sounded great and I was looking forward to eating it. Then I realized that I had a medical test the next day and could only eat certain foods that were not contained in this recipe. I figured it made enough that there would be leftovers, so I’d have some the next day. Well, my daughter ate a huge portion, my husband had seconds, and then he took what was leftover to work with him the next day. Needless to say, I haven’t tasted the recipe, but my family loves it! Guess I’ll be making this again. 🙂

  49. Ok…this calls for 4 garlic cloves, peeled. I have minced. Will that work as well? & how much should I use of it?
    Thanks!! 🙂

  50. This sounds amazing! No crockpot though. What do you suggest for time and temperature for a Dutch oven in the oven ?

  51. I realize this post is over a year old, but had to share that this was my first attempt at cooking Paleo, and it was WONDERFUL. I am a great “country” cook, so the part I have dreaded the most about cooking paleo was my fear of spending the time/energy/expense just to feed my family nasty dishes. I fed this to my fiancée mounded in big bowls and we both loved it. So savory and scrumptious, both the “rice” and the tender, flavorful beef. And he felt good enough afterwards (i.e., not carb weighed-down) that he folded the laundry and cut grass! I will be relying on your website from now on for tasty, healthy recipes!

  52. I am excited to try the Cuban rice recipe but I am unclear about the quantity of rice for portion sake. Please help!

  53. What a great meal! Using the shredder/grater attachment for ricing the cauliflower is genius! In the past I’ve just used the standard processor blade, and it turns out more like cauliflower “couscous”…thanks!

  54. Made it, loved it..also made arepas too. I cant eat this without arepas being venezuelan, soo meh somehow paleo. whatever. 🙂 it was amazing. you’re brilliant.

  55. OMG i am in LOVE with ropa vieja. i live in the northeast, and anytime my mom and i used to go to NYC, we would go into union city, NJ on the way home and pick up about 10 dinners from this cuban place called el unico super cheap, and soooo good. lots of carbs and fat and carbs with some fat on top. making this ASAP

  56. Love ropa vieja, and just got a slow cooker – so I’m thrilled about this recipe.

    Quick question, though – I just made the recipe, and ended up with a ton of excess water in my slow cooker. Any idea why this happened, and how to fix it?

  57. This dinner was AMAZING! My picky kids ate everything and even asked for seconds!!!! I made enough to have left overs for tomorrow but Im not sure there will be any left! Delicious!

  58. This is the second recipe I have tried off of your website, and my family and I LOVED it!! I ordered your cook book. Everything looks so delish and easy to prepare!!! Yummo!

  59. This was really tasty and so easy! Especially loved the rice…I could just eat that all day. And great tip about using the shredding attachment…I’d been doing it wrong this whole time!

  60. I was just wondering if you think this recipe would work just as well with a pork loin/shoulder? Sounds delicious! Definitely adding it to my list to try next week!

  61. Hi this looks soooo amazing! I’m currently making 100daysofrealfood’s pulled pork but this is next! One question please – is the small can of tomato “sauce” the same as tomato paste in Australia? As in the thick reduced intense stuff, or is it tomato passata, the Italian tomato purée that’s basically just whiz zed tomatoes? TIA!

  62. Made this after seeing on Facebook that it’s one of your favorites. I liked a new way to prepare cauliflower rice, and I really love that you don’t hold back on spices and seasoning. Thanks!

  63. Just had this tonight and it was DELICIOUS! Thank you so much for all the good and yummy recipes you put on line!

  64. Hi Juli,

    I don’t own a crock pot. I’m more of a “last minute Lucy”, so I’m in the process of converting your recipe here into a Pressure Cooker recipe. I cooked it tonight and hubby raved about it. I also loved it! (forgot to add the olives back, which we love)

    I did 30 minutes at pressure, then took the lid off, added the peppers, then another 15 at pressure again. I think it needs 45 + 15 so that it really shreds like you’ve done here, which looks amazing… mine wasn’t quite ready to fall apart, but was still great nonetheless!

    My first time making cauliflower rice too! thanks for being the inspiration! xx Kate

  65. I can’t wait to try this recipe. I was just curious if you need to add any water or broth to the crock pot for moisture.

  66. I discovered this blog over the weekend. Been cooking paleo for a year and a half; this blog is AWESOME and a real life changer!!! I made the ropa vieja and ate it tonight and it may be the best dish I’ve ever cooked besides Thanksgiving!

  67. The ropa vieja was amazingly good and so easy! Didn’t get to make the cauliflower rice with it, but look forward to trying it next time around. This will definitely be on regular dinner rotation at our house. Thanks for the recipe.

  68. Hi Juli, I must say that I haven’t had a dud recipe from you yet! Loving your creativity!
    Just a little note that I think the cauli rice needed more tomato sauce (assuming this is passata? I’m in Australia). I also found that the ropa vieja needed a good bit of salt to make bring the flavours out and make it amazing! Thank you for sharing….I think I’ll need to invest in some of your recipe books soon. 🙂

  69. Very good! I made it in the pressure cooker instead, due to time crunch. For anyone else interested, it took about 50 minutes of pressurized time over medium heat.

  70. AMAZING recipe, I loved it and non-paleo husband loved it.

    Another note for pressure cooker users…used my Instant pot pressure cooker. Seared meat first then threw onions and peppers under the seared meat, threw everything else on top and set for Meat/Stew, increased time to 50 minutes and let it go. Used natural steam release and it was falling apart perfect.

    Next time I will use something other than chuck, however, not afraid of fat, but this was extreme…maybe I just got a bad cut.

    Thanks for the recipe Juli!!

  71. About to make this cause it sounds so yum. Curious. What’s the difference between using the shredding (grating?) attachment and just putting it in there with the blade? I know the blade makes the cauliflower smaller so is it better if it’s bigger? I have a very picky family that hasn’t liked any of my cauliflower recipes thus far so really trying to get this right 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  72. Fed it to my non paleo friend last night and the boyfriend who eats most of what I cook up, they said it was really good and had seconds:). Now what to do with the pound of roast left over haha!

  73. We just polished off the entire thing in one sitting (4 of us). My kids even loved the “rice”. This was SO FRIGGIN’ good!

  74. Dang…this was good!!!! First time I have ever commented on anything. Because it was that good…..thanks!

  75. Made this tonight and it is so good! I made more than I need in the hope of freezing it for future meals. Has anyone tried freezing it?

  76. Love this recipe Juli ! pretty sure it’s what made me buy your cookbook. Keep up the great ideas. Tonight will be the 4th time I have made it and it never gets old. I even served it for guests! Your recipes are wonderful:)

  77. WOW this turned out amazing. Wowwwwwww. I used pork shoulder roast and I added the green olives back in 🙂

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