This Vaca Frita is Cuban Shredded Beef  that is moist, tender, and crispy on the outside. It’s beef infused with orange and lime juice for a mojo flavor. Your family will love this Vaca Frita.

Vaca Frita


(originally posted 2013)

If you name her, she will come. That’s my theory. I’m in the final countdown until this baby joins our family. Hopefully this week.

I so graciously gave my husband the rights to naming this baby girl but as the big day comes closer, I’m second guessing my decision.

He’s in no rush to come up with a name. We usually decide after a couple days in the hospital with the birth record people breathing down our neck and I don’t want to do that this time.

I just don’t love any names yet. We’ve both made lists and only have one name that matched and we both weren’t ecstatic about it. So…any ideas?

I like names that are not too crazy but not too common. I already have a daughter named Gracie Belle (after my grandma) so it can’t be anything like that.

It’s no secret that I’ve been all about meat this pregnancy. This Cuban shredded beef is moist and tender with a crispy flavorful outside.

The meat is infused with garlic and onion flavor (like this Korean beef) and brightened with fresh orange and lime juice just like this Mojo Pork Tenderlion.

Eat it with a side of rice and beans or roll it up in a tortilla for a savory meal. I’m in the heart of Cuban cuisine here in south Florida and I would take this over any Cuban restaurant version I’ve tried.


chunks of beef

Start with cutting your beef roast into chunks. Simmer for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.


After you’ve cooked the meat, cover it in foil and pound it with a meat mallet. If you don’t have a meat mallet, use a large saucepan and get some aggression out.

I felt a little like a Stepford wife gone psycho here. You can even see my son in the background doing his homework – probably thinking I had lost it as I splattered him with shredded meat.

Vaca Frita


After you’ve beaten it into submission, crisp it up in a saucepan and add garlic, cumin, orange juice, and lime to brighten up the flavor. If you’ve made these Pork Carnitas, you’ll find these are a very similar crispy beef version. The perfect Vaca Frita has crispy edges. Vaca Frita literally means fried cow. 

Vaca Frita


Vaca Frita

Vaca Frita

4.70 from 10 votes
This Vaca Frita is Cuban Shredded Beef  that is moist, tender, and crispy on the outside. It's infused with orange and lime juice for a mojo flavor. Your family will love this Cuban beef.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 4 -6 servings


  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled apart at seams, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth or vinegar


  • Bring beef, 2 cups water, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt to boil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until beef is very tender, about 1 hour 45 minutes. (Check beef every 30 minutes, adding enough water so that bottom third of beef is submerged.) Remove lid from skillet, increase heat to medium, and simmer until water evaporates and beef starts to sizzle, 3 to 8 minutes.
  • Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to rimmed baking sheet. Pour off and reserve fat from skillet. Rinse skillet clean and dry with paper towels. Place sheet of aluminum foil over beef and, using meat pounder or heavy sauté pan, pound to flatten beef into 1/8-inch-thick pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Some of beef should separate into shreds. Larger pieces that do not separate can be torn in half.
  • Combine garlic, oil, and cumin in a small bowl. Combine orange juice and lime zest and juice in a second bowl.
  • Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons reserved fat in now-empty large skillet over high heat (don't discard the rest yet). When fat begins to sizzle, add sliced onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion slices are golden brown. Add chicken broth or vinegar and cook until liquid evaporates. Remove onions from the pan. Return skillet to high heat, add 1 1/2 teaspoons reserved fat, and heat until it begins to sizzle. Add beef and cook, stirring frequently, until dark golden brown and crusty, 2 to 4 minutes. It's important to get it nice and crisp.
  • Reduce heat to low and push beef to sides of skillet. Add garlic mixture to center and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat, add orange juice mixture and onion, and toss to combine. Season with pepper to taste. Serve immediately with lime wedges. Can be used as taco filling or just plain.


I haven't tried it but I definitely think you could cook the meat in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low instead of on the stove top in step 1 of the instructions. Reserve fat from slow cooker and continue to step 2 in the instructions.
Cuisine: Cuban
Course: Main Course
vaca frita