This slow cooker barbacoa recipe is so easy to make and is the perfect filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas and more! Cubes of beef are simmered in the crock pot with chiles, garlic and spices until they become ultra tender. This recipe is great for feeding a crowd!
Taco night is always a big hit at my house, and my kids love to make their own Mexican food creations! I get tired of the same old ground beef tacos sometimes, and decided to add this easy and delicious slow cooker barbacoa beef to our dinner rotation. It’s super tender and flavorful meat that’s perfect for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, you name it! Best of all, the prep time is only 10 minutes. Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker, go about your day, and dinner will be waiting for you when you get home! How can you go wrong with that?
What kind of meat is barbacoa?
Typically in America, you’ll find that barbacoa is made with beef, although sometimes you’ll also see it made with lamb. In Mexico where this dish originated, it’s often made with goat meat!
How Do You Make Barbacoa Beef?
This recipe starts with fresh cubed beef. I use cubes of chuck roast, but you could also use brisket if you prefer, or even beef stew meat. The meat is seasoned with garlic, canned chipotle peppers and a variety of spices. The beef simmers in a slow cooker until it’s tender enough to be cut with a fork. When you’re ready to eat, simply shred the meat and serve.
Tips for barbacoa
- Chipotle peppers come in a can and are actually smoked jalapenos in adobo sauce. While the peppers are spicy, the sauce is not, but packs all of that great flavor. Since I’m feeding kids who are sensitive to spice, I use one chipotle pepper plus a tablespoon of adobo sauce in this recipe to keep the heat in my beef barbacoa to a manageable level. If you prefer spicy, go ahead and use 2 chipotle peppers.
- You can freeze any remaining chipotle peppers for another use.
- This recipe can be frozen for up to 2 months. Simply place your cooked meat in a freezer safe container, then thaw in the fridge and warm in a pan over medium heat.
- This recipe makes a lot of meat – you can easily cut the recipe in half for a smaller group.
- If you want to add an extra layer of flavor, you can brown your beef in a little oil before you place it in the crock pot. This is an optional step.
My favorite way to serve barbacoa beef is in tacos, in these photos we’ve got flour tortillas, plenty of beef, and fresh avocado tossed with a little lime juice and cilantro. I also like to add pickled red onions when I have them on hand. This barbacoa is similar to what you’d get at the Chipotle restaurant, except you can make it at home yourself and without a ton of effort!
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Barbacoa Beef Video
Barbacoa Beef (Slow Cooker)
- 4 lbs chuck roast or brisket cut into large cubes
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano use Mexican oregano if possible
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 canned chipotle pepper
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Place the meat in a slow cooker. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, chipotle, adobo sauce and beef broth. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6-8 hours. Shred the meat with two forks and remove bay leaf. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
This post was originally published on October 4, 2017 and was updated on February 29, 2019 with new content.