If you’re wondering what to serve with your ropa vieja, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I list 33 of the most popular side dishes for ropa vieja.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best side dishes to serve with ropa vieja are black beans and yellow rice, maduros (fried plantains), yuca con mojo, and Venezuelan arepas. You can also go with polenta, cheesy Mexican squash, jicama slaw, baked potatoes, green bean salad, or buttermilk cornbread.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
Buttermilk skillet cornbread
There are loads of cornbread variations, but I always return to this Southern-style recipe.
It’s savory and sweet at the same time, with a moist, buttery crumb that’s simply irresistible (and perfect for mopping up any leftover sauce).
Pro tip: if you want those deliciously crispy edges, a cast iron skillet is the way to go.
Why we love this recipe: it’ll make the kitchen smell fabulous.
Black beans and yellow rice
Jazz up your rice side by adding lime juice, chopped cilantro, and black beans.
The lime juice and cilantro bring fresh flavors, while the black beans add a creamy texture.
Psst… you can also add chopped jalapenos for more heat.
Why we love this recipe: it’s made with basic cupboard items.
This slaw may not be traditionally Cuban, but it’s an excellent accompaniment for ropa vieja.
The crunch from the jicama is just what you need to contrast the tender, juicy beef.
And the simple but refreshing lime-cumin dressing will cut right through the ropa vieja’s rich, savory flavors.
Pro-tip: use a mandoline to get thin, uniform shreds of jicama.
Why we love this recipe: you won’t feel guilty having second helpings of this lighter slaw.
Unlike the Colombian version of arepas that’s usually stuffed with cheese, these arepas are left unstuffed.
This means you can tear them open and load them up with a hefty serving of ropa vieja for a delicious sandwich.
Psst… don’t forget to smear them with butter before stuffing them.
Why we love this recipe: you only need four ingredients to make these.
Yuca con mojo
Stick with ropa vieja’s Cuban roots and pair it with yuca con mojo.
This traditional dish involves boiled yuca, which may not sound like the most exciting food. But I guarantee you’ll change your mind once you taste it with the tangy, garlicky mojo sauce.
This recipe is best with fresh yuca, but frozen will work in a pinch.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a great way to enjoy an underrated vegetable.
Cheesy Mexican squash (calabacitas)
Looking for a veggie side dish that isn’t too boring? Look no further.
This Mexican classic features a medley of summer squash, zucchini, corn, and jalapenos.
But what makes it a favorite is the creamy cheese sauce.
Serve your ropa vieja alongside a serving of calabacitas for a nourishing boost.
Why we love this recipe: it’ll be a massive hit among kids AND adults.
Maduros is a popular Latin American dish that involves frying ripe plantains.
And since ripe fruits contain lots of sugar, you’ll get delightfully sweet and tender plantains with irresistibly caramelized edges.
Psst… are your plantains not ripe enough? This recipe includes tips on speeding up the ripening process.
Why we love this recipe: everyone will be clamoring for second servings.
Polenta is a great starchy alternative if you’re not in the mood for rice.
It’s a smooth dish that will soak up all the savory goodness from your saucy ropa vieja, making each bite extra tasty.
This recipe uses broth for a more flavorful polenta, but you can also use plain water if you want the corn flavor to shine through.
Why we love this recipe: you can use the leftovers for breakfast the next day.
Green bean salad
Tired of leafy green salads? Try this green bean salad instead.
The key to perfecting this dish is to just blanch the green beans – not cook them.
This ensures you get perfectly crisp-tender green beans that won’t turn soggy.
Pro tip: dry the beans well before tossing them with the lemony dressing to make sure it sticks.
Why we love this recipe: a serving only has 123 calories.
I love potatoes in all forms, but you can’t go wrong with good old baked potatoes.
And this recipe takes them to the next level by baking them twice.
This results in the softest, fluffiest interiors and golden crisp skins. YUM.
All they need is a generous helping of ropa vieja.
Why we love this recipe: there’s zero hands-on cooking involved.
It’s not traditional, but pasta makes a great base for your ropa vieja.
Any pasta works, but my favorite is homemade cavatelli – they’re curled inwards, making them perfect for catching that rich, tomato-based sauce.
And the best part? You won’t need a pasta maker for these.
Why we love this recipe: you can make a big batch and freeze the extra for future use.
The best side dishes to serve with ropa vieja
- Buttermilk skillet cornbread
- Black beans and yellow rice
- Jicama slaw
- Venezuelan arepas
- Yuca con mojo
- Cheesy Mexican squash (calabacitas)
- Green bean salad
- Baked potato
- Homemade cavatelli
What To Serve With Ropa Vieja
- 1 portion ropa vieja
- Prepare your ropa vieja according to your favorite recipe.
- In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
- Side dishes include: buttermilk skillet cornbread, black beans and yellow rice, jicama slaw, Venezuelan arepas, yuca con mojo, cheesy Mexican squash (calabacitas), maduros, polenta, green bean salad, baked potato, and homemade cavatelli.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!