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Classic Cuban Vaca Frita

Vaca Frita is a classic Cuban dish featuring crispy shredded beef with a tangy marinade, sautéed onions, and a burst of lime. It’s a simple meal that’s packed with flavor.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Units Scale

1.5 pounds flank steak
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 limes, juiced
1 orange, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
Additional lime wedges for serving


Boil the flank steak with salt in a pot of water until tender, about 1 to 2 hours, then drain and let it cool.
Shred the beef by pulling it apart with your fingers or using two forks. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the minced garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, lime juice, and orange juice to create the marinade.
Add the shredded beef to the marinade, ensuring all pieces are well-coated. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to enhance the flavors.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated beef to the skillet in batches, and sear until each batch is crispy and browned on both sides.
Remove the crispy beef and set it aside. In the same skillet, sauté the sliced onion rings until they are translucent and slightly caramelized.
Add the crispy beef back into the skillet with the onions, and toss together for a couple of minutes.
Serve immediately with lime wedges and your choice of side, such as white rice and black beans or fried plantains.


Allowing the beef to marinate for a longer time will infuse more citrus flavor.
For additional color and flavor, garnish with cilantro before serving.

  • Author: Shannen Mitch
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Cuban
  • Diet: Halal


  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 290 kcal
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Sodium: 630mg
  • Fat: 15g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 10g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 5g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Cholesterol: 60mg

Keywords: Cuban Vaca Frita,Crispy Shredded Beef,Citrus Marinated Beef,,,,