Chicken Ropa Vieja

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This Cuban inspired dish is made with shredded chicken breast cooked in the slow cooker, then sauteed with bell peppers, onions, cumin and lots of Latin flavor! If you have leftover rotisserie chicken, you can use that instead and skip the slow cooker!

This Cuban inspired dish is made with shredded chicken breast cooked in the slow cooker, then sauteed with bell peppers, onions, cumin and lots of Latin flavor! If you have leftover rotisserie chicken, you can use that instead and skip the slow cooker!

Cuban cuisine is a favorite of mine and Ropa Vieja, which translates as “old clothes” is a dish I love. It’s traditionally made with shredded skirt steak, and served over white rice and fried plantains.

I created this lighter version a few years ago using lean chicken breast instead, sometimes I even use boneless skinless thighs or a combination of both. You can serve this over rice, with baked tostones (plantain chips) and a salad, in a burrito bowl with Cilantro lime rice, Southwestern black bean salad, lettuce and shredded cheese or over cauliflower rice if you want to keep it low-carb or Whole30.

And since so many are asking, although I have and love my Instant Pot, I still love my slow cooker! I have the 6 Quart Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker (affil link). I love it because you can adjust the time you want it to cook, and it automatically turns to warm when it’s done. It also has a probe for meat that automatically shuts off when done. I hated my old crock pot, it burnt everything and my food had a weird taste. This slow cooker is so great, I actually own several!

Chicken Ropa Vieja

5 from 2 votes
This Cuban inspired dish is made with shredded chicken breast cooked in the crock pot, then sauteed with bell peppers, onions, cumin and lots of Latin flavor!
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 4 hrs 30 mins
Total: 4 hrs 45 mins
Yield: 6 servings
Serving Size: 2 /3 cup


For the Slow Cooker:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, or boneless thighs (24 oz total)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 tomato, quartered
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, divided
  • 3 bay leaves
  • kosher salt

To finish:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced long
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp Spanish green olives, optional
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish


  • Place chicken, bell pepper, tomatoes, carrots, and half of garlic into the slow cooker. Add just enough chicken broth to cover the chicken and vegetables and add the bay leaves. Cook high for 4 hours, or low 6 to 8 hours, until the chicken is tender.
  • When done, remove chicken and shred with two forks; set aside. Discard vegetables and reserve the broth for later.
  • In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic, sliced onions, green peppers, and red peppers. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and wine, let it cook 2 to 3 minutes then add the cooked chicken, tomato sauce, and about 3/4 cup of the reserved broth to create a sauce. Season with cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Cover and simmer on low for about 8 to 10 minutes, adding more broth and seasoning if needed. Makes 4 cups.

Last Step:

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Serving: 2 /3 cup, Calories: 184.5 kcal, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Protein: 24.5 g, Fat: 6 g, Cholesterol: 61 mg, Sodium: 149 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1.5 g


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224 comments on “Chicken Ropa Vieja”

  1. Hi Gina! Did you change the recipe, or am I losing my mind? We love this recipe, but I haven’t made it in awhile. I dont remember tomato paste being in it when I made it before.

    1. I thought that too, however I read the description over and saw Cuban INSPIRED dish. So it technically is correct either way. 

  2. Hi Gina, just wondering if boneless, skinless thighs could be used instead of breasts, and if so, can they be added to slow cooker frozen? Thank you!

    1. Yes, that can work but I always make sure to thaw my chicken before putting them in the slow cooker for safety precautions.

  3. Gina, I doubt you’ll have a chance to see this, but just in case: could this cook on LOW for 6-8 hours in the crockpot? Thanks for all you do!

  4. Love this. Wondering why we don’t add everything together in the slow cover? Is the a specific reason for the two steps? Will the veggies disinigrate?

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  8. Made this Friday and it was a hit. I used chicken broth instead of water and served them in soft tacos with home made guacamole, sour cream, cheese and hot sauce. Everyone loved it!!

  9. What size of slow cooker do you use/should be used?  The photo looks like the ingredients come pretty close to the top of the slow cooker, but I don’t think 3 chicken breasts with the other ingredients would fill my 4 quart slow cooker very high and I worry about ingredients drying out.  

  10. Hello! Looks delicious! Can this be left on low for 8 hours so it can cook while I’m at work? Thank you!

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  12. I rolled them into burritos, baked them at 350° for 20 min. The last five minutes I covered them with a white cheese sauce, topped with fresh parmesan cheese. Amazing!!

  13. I made this last night and it was delicious! I plan on using the leftovers as taco filling and hearts of romaine as tortillas. Thanks for sharing all your great recipes on your website!!! :0)

  14. Hi Gina,

    I am a little unclear regarding above instructions. I made the slow cooker ingredients tonight. You have made no further reference to the other ingredients used in the slow cooker except the liquid and chicken. Am I supposed to discard tomato, garlic and carrots?  I do not see any in your picture. Thanks. In advance for clarifying (ASAP if possible).

  15. Made this for dinner last week and it was a huge hit! With leftovers, we added some chicken broth and avocado and made it a soup! We also used this chicken for Enchiladas! This is amazing! Thank you for another great recipe!

  16. wow I made this for lunch last night with my kids and they both liked it! My kids are picky eaters so I was surprised, can you post more recipes?
    I recently got the metabolic cooking and am trying to cook its recipes. Do you mind doing a tutorial on a couple of them? Here are the links to the recipes, please let me know,

  17. I made this for dinner last night for my picky teenage boy and husband..added a bit of chipolte powder to the sauce..they devoured it! Great recipe! I love healthy delicious ideas ..youve got some great ones!

  18. Avatar photo
    Marina Sanchez

    I made this for dinner today and it was sooo good. I have six kids ranging in ages from adults to teenagers and they all had some and loved it……which is a miracle because my kids are so picky. Thank you for this recipe, I will be making it often. Plus I love all the different ways you can eat it with.

  19. this is a great idea to wrap chicken…Looks so delicious & pictures make me mouthwatering!!Thanks for sharing with 'Hot & Spicy Treats' Restaurant in Satya niketan

  20. I love this recipe. Makes great quesadillas! I add shredded cheese before grilling and serve with sour cream. Yum!