Vegan Ropa Vieja

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This vegan spin on classic Cuban ropa vieja features shredded soy curls in spicy sauce with juicy green olives and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. A delicious protein-packed comfort food dinner that’s easy enough for a weeknight!

The “meat” portion of this dish is made with soy curls. Are you guys familiar with these things?

Normally, I like to avoid using meat substitutes in recipes that I post, with the exception of the kinds I’m capable of making from scratch, like seitan. But even though I don’t actually know how to make soy curls, my understanding is that they’re minimally processed, so I’m okay with using them.

Also, they’re really good! And no, this post is not in any way sponsored by the people who make soy curls. I just think they’re great.

How to Cook with Soy Curls

Soy curls come dehydrated, so you need to rehydrate them by soaking them for 10 minutes. If you soak them in broth, they’ll take up the flavor of the broth, making your recipe that much more delicious.

From there, you can use them much like you might other meat substitutes or seitan. I like to pan-sear them with a few spices for a quick salad topper or sandwich stuffer.

For more tips and great info on soy curls check out this post from Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen. She’s also got bunch more soy curl recipes for you to try at the bottom of the post!

How to Make Vegan Ropa Vieja

Ropa vieja is one of those dishes that’s traditionally super involved and time-consuming.

Well, awesome news: this vegan version is waaaaaay easier.

Start by soaking those soy curls like we talked about. After ten minutes you can drain them.

Then, to “shred” our soy curls, we’ll just slice them into strips along the grain. That’s it! The thinner your sliced strips, the more stringy your soy curl “meat” will be, so put in as much or little effort as you like.

Now heat up some olive oil in a skillet. Sauté some peppers and onions for a few minutes, then add some garlic and spices. Cook that for about another minute. Your kitchen should start to smell great!

At this point you can add your shredded soy curls. Cook them for just a few minutes until the excess broth dries up and your soy curls start to brown a bit. Now you can add your garlic and spices, and let everything cook for another minute.

Red wine goes in next. Traditional ropa vieja is made with white wine, but we’re using red here to amp up the meaty flavor. Let the wine simmer until most of it has cooked off.

Stir in some crushed tomatoes, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and liquid smoke. Let everything simmer for a few minutes. You can add some water if the sauce gets too thick.

Take your skillet off of the heat, stir in some green olives and sprinkle everything with some fresh cilantro.

Serve your vegan ropa vieja with rice.

Vegan Ropa Vieja FAQ & Tips

  • Where can I find soy curls? I haven’t been able to find them in stores yet, so I order them online.
  • Is there a substitute for soy curls? None that I’ve tested with this particular recipe. You might be able to get jackfruit to work, using the cooking technique from this recipe, or seitan by using the method from this recipe to create shredded seitan. Or try a similar dish, such as my lentil picadillo.
  • Uncooked soy curls are perishable, so I recommend storing them in the refrigerator, or freezer for long-term storage.
  • Can this dish be made gluten-free? Yup! Just use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
  • Leftovers of this dish will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days.
  • Is there a way to reduce the sodium in this dish? Most of the sodium comes from the vegetable broth and soy sauce. Try using reduced sodium varieties and/or cutting back on the amount of soy sauce.
  • Is there a substitute for the wine? You can leave it out if necessary. Just skip steps 10 and 11 of the recipe.
  • If you do use wine, check with Barnivore to ensure the brand you choose is vegan.

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5 from 12 votes Print

Vegan Ropa Vieja

This vegan spin on classic Cuban ropa vieja features shredded soy curls in spicy sauce with juicy green olives and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. A delicious protein-packed comfort food dinner that’s easy enough for a weeknight!

CourseEntree CuisineCuban Prep Time 20 minutes Cook Time 25 minutes Total Time 45 minutes Servings 4 Calories 386 kcal Author Alissa Saenz


  • 6ouncesButler Soy Curls
  • 2cupsvegetable broth
  • 2tablespoonsolive oil
  • 1medium red bell pepper,sliced into strips
  • 1medium green bell pepper,sliced into strips
  • 1small onion,cut in half and then cut into half rings
  • 4garlic cloves,minced
  • 2teaspoonsground cumin
  • 1teaspoonsweet paprika
  • 1teaspoonsmoked paprika
  • ½teaspoonallspice
  • ¼teaspooncayenne pepper
  • ¼cupdry red wine
  • 1(14 ounce or 400 gram) cancrushed tomatoes
  • 3tablespoonssoy sauce
  • 1teaspoonred wine vinegar
  • ½teaspoonliquid smoke
  • cuppimento-stuffed green olives,halved
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼cupfresh cilantro
  • Cooked rice,for serving

US Customary – Metric


  1. Place the soy curls into a medium bowl and pour the vegetable broth over them.

  2. Allow the soy curls to soak for 10 minutes.

  3. When the soy curls have finished soaking, drain any excess vegetable broth.

  4. Place the soy curls on a cutting board, then use a large knife to slice each soy curl into thin strips running the length of the soy curl, creating a shredded texture.

  5. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with the olive oil and place it over medium-high heat.

  6. When the oil is hot, add the peppers and onion.

  7. Cook the peppers and onion for about 5 minutes, until they begin to tenderize and the onion starts to brown in spots.

  8. Add the shredded soy curls to the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes, flipping occasionally, until they begin to dry up and brown in spots.

  9. Add the garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, allspice, and cayenne pepper. Cook everything for about 1 minute, until the mixture becomes very fragrant.

  10. Stir in the wine and bring it to a simmer.

  11. Lower the heat and allow the wine to simmer until most of it has cooked off, about 4 minutes.

  12. Stir in the tomatoes, soy sauce, vinegar, and liquid smoke.

  13. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens up slightly.

  14. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the olives. Season the mixture with salt to taste.

  15. Sprinkle with cilantro, divide onto plates and serve with rice.

Recipe Notes

Nutrition information does not include rice.

Nutrition FactsVegan Ropa ViejaAmount Per ServingCalories 386Calories from Fat 185% Daily Value*Fat 20.5g32%Saturated Fat 1.2g6%Sodium 1583mg66%Potassium 319mg9%Carbohydrates 26.6g9%Fiber 9.4g38%Sugar 11.2g12%Protein 21.2g42%Calcium 9mg1%Iron 39mg217%* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.« Vegan Eggplant RollatiniCreamy Vegan Rice Pudding »

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This sounds great – how many servings does the recipe make – I didn’t find it within the recipe or at the nutrition section? I love Soy curls and have them in my freezer!


  • Hi, just to follow up, this is one of my go to recipes especially when I am cooking for someone who is mainly carnivore! I love thus recipe and make it frequently.


  • This looks so good and I will make it. So for the soy curls could I not use my seitan I make? The rest I have no questions. Let you know how we like it but it sounds promising . Thank you , Kerstin


    • Hi! I just wanted to say I made this tonight after work and it is fabulous! The only items I didn’t have on hand, was the green bell pepper, red wine and cilantro. I used a “beefy flavored” vegetable stock with a little added dry sherry in place of the wine. The flavors were spot on – and while it’s been many years since I had it back when I ate meat, this will be one of my go to quick and easy dishes.


      • What a great recipe. We had this last night. Only change I made was I omitted the oil, and used some of the soy curl soaking broth in its place. Delicious!


        • I made this a few nights ago–it was a big hit! My husband helped me cut the soy curls and said it was worth the time to cut them nice and thin.

          The flavors are excellent! I liked the texture a bit better the second day. I think next time I’ll try using shredded seitan instead of the soy curls (they aren’t easy for me to get–I just happened to have some this time). I don’t eat many meat substitutes, but now I’m on a mission to find one with a texture closer to the shredded beef dish I loved as a child.


          • This is the best one of your recipes we’ve made yet. Absolutely delicious. I had to stop myself from eating more. You rock, woman! You should form a band with other vegan cooking women and call it The Soy Girls!


            • Made this dish tonight and it was delicious. Normally I have to doctor up recipes to my liking but not with this one. The shredded soy curls mimic the juiciest shredded chicken you’ve ever had. If your serving this to someone that is die hard vegan, let them know it’s not chicken.


            • I made this for dinner tonight. It is a great hit! Really yummy! As usual, you recipes are spot on.
              Thank you!


            • This recipe is straightforward, inventive, and SO flavorful! Total home run. I will for sure be making this again!


            • Best thing I’ve made since becoming plant-based. So very delicious… I did add some baby kale and about a half cup of frozen peas. This will become a company staple.


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    Hi, I’m Alissa! I’m a former attorney turned professional food blogger. I love creating vegan recipes with bold flavors!

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