Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Melt-in-your-mouth Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa is so easy to throw together! Cooked low and slow for 8 hours, prep takes just 10 minutes, and let the slow cooker do the rest. It’s perfect for tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, and you can also make a large batch and freeze half for later!

Mexican fall-apart-tender meats are one of the best things in life! My Instant Pot Carnitas takes just 30 minutes to cook in the instant pot, and my Crockpot Mexican Chicken is deliciously tangy and spicy!

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef in a white dish with a fork.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

I love the Beef Barbacoa from Chipotle so much I had to try making it at home. This Barbacoa Beef is cooked low and slow in the crockpot until it is fall-apart tender. It’s the perfect topping for burrito bowls or tacos.

This Beef Barbacoa recipe is super easy to make. Throw all of the ingredients together into a slow cooker a let the crockpot do the rest.

The chipotles in adobo make this Barbacoa Beef smoky with a hint of spice. I add 4 peppers to my beef as well as a little sauce for an extra kick. I also add garlic, freshly squeezed lime juice, beef broth, diced green chilies, and tons of spices. The meat is loaded with flavor and is incredibly tender! After the beef is done cooking I remove it from the slow cooker and shred it. I pour the juices from the slow cooker on top and let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes. This allows the meat to soak up all of the juices and flavor.

What is Barbacoa?

Traditional Barbacoa originated from Mexico and consists of either lamb, beef, or goat slowly cooked in lots of spices over low heat. The cut of meat used is typically chuck roast, brisket, or beef cheeks. Cooking it low and slow creates melt-in-your-mouth tender and flavorful meat and is perfect to use in tacos, burritos, salads, and more!

Ingredients for Beef Barbacoa

  • Beef: I chose chuck roast as the cut for my beef barbacoa recipe. I trimmed the fat to avoid grease in the end, and also cut the meat into 2-inch cubes so it would braise faster. Other cuts of meat that are great in this recipe are brisket and beef cheeks. Beef cheeks are especially tender and delicious – highly recommended!
  • Broth: Beef broth adds saltiness and a ton of flavor. You can buy beef broth or beef stock at the store, or use a stock cube dissolved in water.
  • Garlic: Plenty of garlicky goodness really adds umami to the barbacoa!
  • Chiles: I added both chipotle chili peppers in adobo and a can of diced green chiles. The chipotles are slightly smoky and both peppers bring on the heat! Use fewer chipotles if you don’t want too much heat. I like it a little spicier!
  • Lime & apple cider vinegar: Acidity is important in this recipe as it helps to break down the meat even more. The lime adds a beautiful zesty flavor too.
  • Spices: The spices consist of cumin, oregano, onion powder, cloves, and also bay leaves. The cumin, oregano, and bay leaves are classic Mexican spices, the cloves bring in some extra warmth and an addictive taste. You’ll love it!

How to make Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

This barbacoa beef recipe could not be easier to make. Simply add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and toss to combine.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the beef is tender.

When the beef is tender spoon it out of the liquid and into another dish or cutting board. Shred with two forks into bite-sized pieces.

Remove the bay leaves. Spoon the liquid from the slow cooker on top. Allow the beef to rest for 10-15 minutes. This allows the beef to soak up some of the liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately!

Beef Barbacoa with a fork and a spoon, and limes to garnish.

What can you make with this Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Serve this Shredded Mexican Beef on tacosburritosburrito bowls, enchiladas, or with rice. You can even serve it with cauliflower rice for a low-carb option! Any way you serve it is amazing!

What to serve with Beef Barbacoa

Can you freeze this?

This recipe makes a great freezer meal! Simply cook as directed and freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Alternatively, you can freeze cubed chuck roast and the rest of the ingredients raw in a ziplock bag. Freeze for up to 3 months! When you are ready to eat take it straight from the freezer and place it into the slow cooker. Cook for 8 hours on low or until tender.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

  • Store leftover barbacoa beef in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Reheat it in a pot on the stove, in the microwave, or in the oven until piping hot. You may want to add a little water to keep it from drying out. You can either add water directly to the meat or place it in a small dish beside the meat if you’re reheating it in the oven or microwave.

Tips for Success

  • Try different cuts of meat. Brisket, chuck roast, and beef cheeks are all perfect for this recipe! Try a different cut each time you make it to find out which is your favorite!
  • Add more or less spice. If you like a lot of heat like me, add in a couple of extra chipotles in adobo. Not so much a fan of heat? Just add 1 or 2 instead of 3-4.
  • Try cooking it in an instant pot! Check out my Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef recipe for the full instructions – it’s super easy!

Beef Barbacoa in a white dish with a fork and a spoon, and limes to garnish.

If you love this recipe try some of my other Slow Cooker Beef Recipes

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Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

5 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef. Cooked low and slow for 8 hours! Perfect for tacos, burritos and quesadillas!

Ingredients

  • 3 pound chuck roast fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3-4 chipotles in adobo chopped (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Images:
  • Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and toss to combine.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the beef is tender.
  • Remove the bay leaves.
    When the beef is tender spoon it out of the liquid and into another dish or cutting board. Shred with two forks into bite sized pieces.
  • Spoon the liquid from the slow cooker on top. Allow the beef to rest for 10-15 minutes. This allows the beef to soak up some of the liquid.
    Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately!
Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef
Amount Per Serving
Calories 324 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 117mg39%
Sodium 268mg12%
Potassium 618mg18%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 33g66%
Vitamin A 324IU6%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 52mg5%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Beef, Chuck Roast, Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef, Tacos

Originally published Sep 21, 2016

 

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Comments - page 1/2

  • S.Lynn

    We just butchered a steer so I was looking on ways to use the chuck cut. This sounds wonderful. It’s in the oven now on low for 6-8 hours. I’ll let you know!

  • I think I’ll try this with some pork shoulder. i prefer to brown my meat well first or throw it on the grill. Adds a nice extra layer of flavor! Thanks for the great recipe!

  • tracy morales

    I would assume i could just buy stew meat, rather than have to cut it up anyways, correct?

    • Hi Tracy,

      That is totally personal preference I really like chuck roast because it gets super tender. To me it’s worth the extra time of cutting it.

      Thanks!

      Kelley

  • Kerri

    Do you think I could put all of these ingredients in a freezer bag along with the uncooked beef for cooking later? After thawing. The only ingredient I’m unsure about is the acv and lime juice. Going to have a freezer meal make ahead Day and love this recipe. Wanted to double and have on hand.

    • Hi Kerri!

      I have never personally tried it but I think you should be ok prepping everything and freezing it for later. I agree with you about holding off on the acv and lime juice. I would put those in the slow cooker when you ready to eat the meal.

      Let me know how you make out! Thanks!

      Kelley

  • Wonderful! I have tried a couple Barbados Beef recipes but this one is hands down the best. This is my go to shredded beef recipe. Try it you will not be disappointed!

  • G. Grocke

    Absolutely loved this recipe! Besides using the meat for tacos, we made paninis with pepper jack cheese on sourdough bread.

  • Mrs. Huhta

    Hi Kelley,

    The picture looks like it’s topped with cilantro…is that correct?

  • Laya Iliria

    Hi! If you are doubling the meat, would you double the sauce?

    Thanks!

  • Cinda

    I am using this recipe.. it sounds really good… But did you realize Barbacoa is cow cheek? I grew up in a Hispanic household, and we ate barbacoa all the time.. My mom would add a roast in it to make it stretch… But if it doesnt have the cheek it’s not barbacoa. I do like the recipe, and I will try it though.

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