Mini Vaca Frita Sliders

Mini Vaca Frita Sliders

Vaca Frita Sliders, a classic Cuban dish that’s ready for Summer! Crispy, shredded beef marinated in lime and garlic, topped with a cilantro aioli sauce, on sweet Hawaiian dinner rolls.

If you’ve never heard of vaca frita, it’s quite the popular Cuban dish. It’s flank steak, cut in pieces, boiled until tender, then fried to give you a crispy exterior with a tender, tangy interior. It makes for one heck of a mouthwatering dish!

Ropa vieja and vaca frita are cooked similarly except vaca frita is fried. Ropa vieja literally translates to “old clothes” and vaca frita translates to “fried cow”. I promise both of these dishes taste a million times better than they sound! Let’s focus on vaca frita for this recipe, shall we?

To be honest, I’m actually not a huge meat eater. WHAT. I know. I’m sure my grandparents just rolled in their grave after I said that. When I go to restaurants, I usually order fish. At home, chicken dishes are my go-to (and pulled pork too, duh). One would think I wasn’t born in a Cuban household, huh?

Not to worry though, I grew up having steak for dinner, pan con bistec with grilled onions (Mmm, steak sandwiches on Cuban bread), ropa vieja, and juicy homemade burgers that only Mami knew how to make best.

Vaca Frita, which wasn’t much of a staple in my home but is absolutely delicious, is usually served with fluffy white rice. I, however, wanted to stray away from the traditional by making something fun for the Summer.

Crisy, tender meat with chopped onions instead sweet rolls. Easy to assemble. Great for a pool day. Mini in size but BIG on taste. I also made a creamy aioli sauce with cilantro to top these babies. You will love making these for family and friends!

I can't wait to make Mini Vaca Frita Sliders!Click To Tweet

Crispy, shredded beef marinated Cuban-style with lime and garlic topped with a cilantro aioli sauce on sweet Hawaiian dinner rolls.
Mini Vaca Frita Sliders with Cilantro Aioli
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 10 mins
Vaca Frita Sliders, a classic Cuban dish that's ready for Summer! Crispy, shredded beef marinated in lime and garlic, topped with a cilantro aioli sauce, on sweet Hawaiian dinner rolls.
Servings: 12 mini sliders
  • Original Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls
Vaca Frita
  • 2 lbs flank steak cut in 4 pieces
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons dry cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions sliced or chopped
  • 2 small limes cut into wedges
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon salt
Cilantro Aioli
  • 3/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup of cilantro
  • juice from 1/2 lime
Vaca Frita
  1. Place the meat in a deep pan with enough water to cover the meat. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns.
  2. Cover the pot, and simmer until the meat is tender, about 45 minutes +/-. Remove pot from heat, and allow the contents to cool down. Once the steak has cooled down a bit, remove it from the pot and pull apart the beef using two forks or your fingers.
  3. Add the garlic powder, black pepper, ground cumin, onion powder, salt, dry cooking wine and lime juice, and mix everything into the meat using your hands. Set aside.*
  4. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onions until they are tender about 10 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium-high, then add the shredded beef in batches. Cook the beef, turning once or twice, until crispy, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter.
Cilantro Aioli Sauce
  1. Stir mayonnaise, cilantro and lime juice in a bowl until well combined.
Assemble the Sliders
  1. Layer the vaca frita with some cilantro aioli sauce on a sweet Hawaiian dinner roll. Serve with lime wedges.
*You can place the cooled pot of meat in the fridge to marinate overnight and fry the next day. Or simmer the meat early in the morning and fry hours later for dinner that night.

If you’ve made this or any other recipe, tag me on Instagram with #asassyspoon or comment below. I’d love to hear from you! Also, never miss a post by signing up for email updates + receive a FREE weeknight meal plan!

Thank you for being here! <3

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4 thoughts on “Mini Vaca Frita Sliders”

  • I’m not much of a cook, but I’ll try to concoct this on my own. It sounds delicioso! There’s a restaurant in Miami, Havana Harry’s, that serves “Las tres vacas”. It’s a combination of vaca frita de res, pollo, and puerco. I don’t care for pork, so I always have “las dos vacas”. If you’re ever in Miami, this is the go-to place for vaca frita!!!

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