Chicken Vaca Frita Recipe – Vaca Frita de Pollo

Are you craving a taste of Latin American cuisine that will transport your taste buds to the vibrant streets of Havana? Look no further than the Chicken Vaca Frita Recipe. This Cuban-inspired dish is a mouthwatering combination of tender, juicy shredded chicken and crispy pan-fried goodness.

In this article, we will take you on a culinary journey, sharing our secret recipe for chicken vaca frita that will have you coming back for seconds. Whether you’re an experienced home cook or just starting, this step-by-step guide will help you recreate the flavors of Cuba in your kitchen.

Chicken Vaca Frita Recipe


What is Chicken Vaca Frita?

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s first understand what exactly chicken vaca frita is. Translating to “fried cow” in Spanish, vaca frita traditionally refers to a popular Cuban dish made with beef.

However, in recent years, chicken vaca frita has gained popularity as a delicious alternative. The dish consists of marinated and braised chicken that is then shredded and pan-fried until crispy.
The result? A delectable combination of textures and flavors that will leave your taste buds dancing with delight.


To make the perfect chicken vaca frita, gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


1. Marinate the Chicken

Start by marinating the chicken thighs in a mixture of orange juice, lime juice, minced garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over it.

Massage the marinade into the chicken to ensure it is evenly coated. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but for best results, marinate it overnight.

2. Braise the Chicken

Once the chicken has marinated, remove it from the fridge and transfer it, along with the marinade, to a large pot or Dutch oven. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

3. Shred the Chicken

Using two forks, shred the cooked chicken into smaller pieces. Don’t worry about making them too uniform; some variation in size will add texture to your final dish.

4. Pan-Fry for Crispy Goodness

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shredded chicken in batches, spreading it out in an even layer. Let it cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes or until crispy on one side, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes or until crispy all over.

5. Serve and Enjoy!

Transfer your beautifully golden-brown chicken vaca frita onto a serving platter and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves or lime wedges for an extra burst of flavor. This dish pairs perfectly with white rice, black beans, and fried plantains – classic Cuban accompaniments that complete this culinary experience.

Elevate Your Chicken Vaca Frita

While our basic recipe is sure to impress, feel free to add your twist to this classic dish:

  • For a touch of spice: Add diced jalapeños or crushed red pepper flakes to your marinade.
  • Citrus lovers: Experiment with different citrus juices, such as grapefruit or a combination of lemon and lime, to create unique flavor profiles.
  • Instant Pot method: If you’re short on time, try adapting this recipe for your Instant Pot. Simply marinate the chicken as instructed, then pressure cook it for 10 minutes before shredding and pan-frying.

Conclusion. Chicken Vaca Frita Recipe

There you have it – the ultimate chicken vaca frita recipe that will transport you to the colorful streets of Cuba with every bite. With its crispy exterior and tender interior, this dish is sure to become a favorite in your household.

So gather your ingredients, put on some lively Latin music, and get ready to savor the flavors of this Cuban delight.


  • Can I use chicken breast instead of thighs?

While traditionally made with thighs, you can certainly use chicken breast if desired. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly, as breasts tend to cook faster than thighs.

  • How do I store leftovers?

Store any leftover chicken vaca frita in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply pan-fry in a skillet until heated through.

  • Can I freeze chicken vaca frita?

Yes, you can freeze chicken vaca frita for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. For best results, shred and pan-fry after thawing.

Now that you have mastered the art of making chicken vaca frita, why not try experimenting with other meats and flavors? This versatile dish can be adapted to suit your preferences and is a perfect addition to any Latin American-inspired meal.

So go ahead, add it to your recipe repertoire and impress your friends and family with this flavorful Cuban creation. ¡Buen provecho!

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