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Vaca Frita

  • Author: Cristina Curp, FNTP
  • Prep Time: 8 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker & Sauté
  • Cuisine: Cuban
  • Diet: Gluten Free


A Cuban classic made by shredding beef and refrying it until crispy with onions and lots of citrus! Simultaneously juicy & crisp- this ‘fried cow’ is so much more appealing than it sounds in English.



  • 2 to pounds boneless Chuck roast
  • 2½ teaspoons fine Himalayan salt, divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or avocado oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 3 limes, juiced 
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (optional)


  1.  Rub the roast with 2 teaspoons of salt. Place in a slow cooker and add the bay leaves and vinegar. Add water until the beef is just submerged. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  2. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and discard the liquid. Place the beef in a storage container, cover it, and set it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make and serve this dish. If you’re making it right away, put the beef under a fan to cool before shredding.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, place the oil in the skillet and add the onion slices. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions will become tender, translucent, and sweet.
  4. While the onions cook, shred the meat by hand, removing any unsightly chunks of fat. Make sure to shred it into fine threads. The thinner the pieces are, the more they will crisp up!
  5. Remove the onions from the skillet and set them aside. Don’t clean the pan. Add half of the shredded beef to the skillet over medium heat.
  6. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring once halfway through. After 8 minutes, there should be some pieces of meat stuck to the bottom of the pan; add the juice of 1 lime and use a spatula to scrape them up.
  7. Mix in half of the cilantro and half of the cooked onions. Stir to combine and immediately remove from the skillet. Repeat with the remaining shredded beef, lime juice, cilantro, and onions.
  8. Place both batches of vaca frita in a serving bowl and toss with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt before serving. 


  • Serving Size: 4oz
  • Calories: 293
  • Fat: 14g
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Protein: 38g