Vaca Frita Beef

Vaca Frita Beef
Recipe photo may include foods and ingredients that are not a part of this recipe and not included in the nutrition analysis.
Source: Latin Comfort Foods Made Healthy. Recipe Credit: . Photo Credit: Mittera.
Vaca Frita, or "fried beef", is a decadent Cuban dish of tender, crispy pan-fried beef. This healthier version features leans flank steak simmered for over an hour. Then the beef is shredded and pan-fried with just a little bit of cooking oil spray. Save the broth from the simmered beef for future cooking, like for a soup base or for cooking rice.

Receta en Español aqui
  • Prep time
    10 min
  • Servings
    4 Servings
  • Serving size
    1/2 cup
Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

4 Servings

  • Serving Size
    1/2 cup
  • Amount per serving Calories 220

  • Total Fat 11g
    • Saturated Fat 3.1g
    • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 60mg
  • Sodium 200mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 6g
    • Dietary Fiber 1g
    • Total Sugars 2g
    • Added Sugars 0g
  • Protein 23g
  • Potassium 380mg
  • Phosphorus 195mg

Choices/Exchanges: 1 Nonstarchy vegetable, 3 Lean protein, 1 Fat



  • flank steak (cut into 4 equal pieces)
    1 lbs
  • medium onion (cut into quarters)
  • bay leaf
  • water
    4 cup
  • olive oil (divided use)
    1 tbsp plus 1 tsp
  • large onion (thinly sliced)
  • lime juice
    1/4 cup
  • garlic (minced)
    2 clove
  • salt
    1/4 tsp
  • black pepper
    1/4 tsp
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • lime wedges
    for garnish
  • chopped fresh cilantro
    for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the beef, quartered onion, bay leaf, and water. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until the beef is tender, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer the beef to a cutting board and let cool. To save the broth for another use, skim any fat and strain the broth, discarding the bay leaf. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat Add the sliced onion and cook, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very tender and begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, with two forks, shred the beef and transfer to a large bowl. Add the lime juice, garlic, remaining 1 tsp oil, salt, and pepper. Let stand 20 minutes.

  4. Spray a griddle or nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and heat over mediumhigh heat. Add the beef and caramelized onion and cook, turning occasionally, until the beef and onions are browned, about 8 minutes. Serve garnished with lime wedges and cilantro.