This Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef recipe is perfect for busy weeknights or your next Taco Tuesday. With only 15 minutes of prep time, let your pressure cooker do the work for you and have dinner on the table in just over an hour!
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What Is Barbacoa, Exactly?
Traditionally, barbacoa is an authentic Mexican method of cooking a protein like lamb, goat, or beef that yields tender and juicy meat. It’s traditionally steam-cooked underground, but modern barbacoa can be prepared over an open fire, on the stove, in a pressure cooker, or in a slow cooker. It’s prepared in a flavorful marinade that yields a delicious broth the meat is shredded in before serving in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or simply over rice.
What’s the Difference Between Barbacoa and Carnitas?
Carnitas is a traditional Mexican dish comprised of braised pork that is then broiled to get crispy on the outside while remaining juicy on the inside.
While barbacoa and carnitas may appear similar, they couldn’t be more different. The most notable difference is in the type of meat used in each. While barbacoa can be made with lamb, goat, beef, or pork, carnitas are typically made with only pork. (Although I did come up with a delicious Chicken Carnitas recipe!)
- Chuck roast (2 pounds, fat trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes)
- Beef broth (low-sodium is best)
- Chipotles in adobo (peppers only)
- Canned diced green chilies
- Fresh-squeezed lime juice
- Apple cider vinegar
- Spices: Bay leaves, ground cumin, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cloves, salt, and fresh-cracked black pepper.
How To Make Instant pot Barbacoa Beef
- Sear the Beef: Set the Instant Pot to the SAUTE option, preheat the oil, and add in chuck roast to brown. Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown on both sides. Turn off the Instant Pot.
- Cook: Pour in beef broth, chipotles in adobo, green chilies, lime juice, apple cider vinegar and dry seasonings. Stir to combine, and then cover and set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on HIGH for 60 minutes.
- Shred the Beef: Allow the steam to naturally release. Carefully remove lid, and shred beef (I typically just leave it in the Instant Pot and shred it in there)
- Serve: Using a slotted spoon, remove shredded beef and serve immediately in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or simply over rice. Save that broth to spoon on top of the beef or for a soup later!
Tips for making instant pot barbacoa beef
- Spice it up with some cayenne pepper, dried crushed red pepper flakes, or diced jalepenos.
- Add some canned tomatoes if you want a more tomatoey barbacoa. Fire-roasted is best. And use the juice!
- Turn the leftover broth into a reduction by cooking in a skillet on the stove until thick, or cook in the Instant Pot on the SAUTE function after you’ve removed the meat and spooned some liquid over to prevent it from drying out. Serve over the barbacoa before serving or over some Spanish rice.
Taco Topping Suggestions
- Chipotle Corn Salsa Recipe
- Homemade Guacamole
- Pico De Gallo
- Pickled Red Onions
- Black Bean Corn Salsa
- Salsa Verde
Side Dishes To Serve With Barbacoa Tacos
- Store your leftover Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freeze any cooled barbacoa in an airtight, freezer-safe container or plastic bag for up to 3 months.
- Reheat frozen or chilled barbacoa in the microwave with some reserved broth or water until warmed through.
More Easy Instant Pot Recipes To Try
Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef
- 2 pounds chuck roast, fat trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- 3-4 chipotles in adobo, peppers only
- 4 ounce can diced green chilies
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 whole bay leaves
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- salt and pepper
- Sear beef: Set the Instant Pot to the SAUTE option. Heat oil then add in chuck roast. Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown on both sides. Turn off the Instant Pot.
- Add all of the ingredients to the Instant Pot: Pour in beef broth, chipotles in adobo, green chilies, lime juice, apple cider vinegar and the rest of the seasonings. Stir to combine. Pressure cook: Cover and set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on HIGH for 60 minutes.
- Shred beef: Allow the steam to naturally release. Remove lid and shred beef (I typically just leave it in the Instant Pot and shred it in there)
- Serve: Using a slotted spoon remove shredded beef and serve immediately in tacos, burritos, or simply over rice.