This Chipotle barbacoa is beef that is slow cooked in a smoky, savory sauce until it is fall-apart tender. A copy of the restaurant favorite that has tons of flavor and is perfect for burritos, tacos, nachos and other Mexican offerings.

When I’m in the mood for Mexican food, I turn to classics including salsa fresca, easy Mexican lasagna, chicken tinga, hearty charro beans and this Chipotle copycat recipe for barbacoa beef.

A platter of Chipotle barbacoa served with rice, beans and salsa.

When I eat at Chipotle, I always order the barbacoa beef. This slow cooked meat is tender, juicy and full of flavor! I decided to learn how to make Chipotle barbacoa at home, and the end result was a spectacular meal. Love Chipotle as much as I do? You should also try my copycat Chipotle carnitas recipe!

Chipotle Barbacoa Ingredients

Bowls of different spices and seasonings, and a beef roast.

This dish contains beef and diced onions, as well as many different seasonings to create a savory and smoky sauce including black pepper, cloves, cumin, salt and oregano.

How Do You Make Chipotle Barbacoa?

Start by cutting a beef roast into large chunks, then place the meat in a pan and sear it. Place the sauce ingredients including beef broth, chipotle peppers, lime juice, garlic, spices and apple cider vinegar in a blender, then puree until smooth. Transfer the beef to a slow cooker along with the sauce. Cook on low heat until the meat is super tender. Shred with a fork, then you’re ready to eat and enjoy!

Process shots showing how to cut and sear beef and onions.

Tips For The Perfect Dish

  • Any well marbled beef roast will work for this recipe including chuck roast, rump roast, brisket, or beef shoulder.
  • This dish makes for great leftovers! The cooked meat will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 days, or can be stored in the freezer for 2 months.
  • The heat level in this dish is moderate. If you prefer spicy food, you can add 1-2 more chipotle peppers. For a mild dish, just use one pepper and scrape out the seeds.
  • I really recommend taking the time to brown your meat before you put it in the slow cooker because this step adds a lot of flavor. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this step and simply place the raw meat in the pot with the sauce.

Quick Tip

Store the rest of your canned chipotle peppers and adobo sauce in a resealable bag in the freezer to use for future meals!

Process shots showing how to make barbacoa sauce and meat in a slow cooker.

Recipe FAQs

What is the barbacoa at Chipotle made of?

This dish is made with a well marbled cut of beef, such as beef shoulder. The beef is coated in seasonings and slow cooked until it can be easily shredded. This dish gets its characteristic smoky flavor from the addition of canned chipotle peppers.

What is the difference between Chipotle steak and barbacoa?

Barbacoa is a soft, slow cooked tender beef that is served in shreds. Steak is a different cut of meat that is seared on a grill and cut into bite sized pieces.

What kind of meat is barbacoa?

In the United States, barbacoa is made with a tougher cut of beef that is slow cooked until tender. In Mexicao, this dish is often made with other types of meat including goat and lamb.

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Chipotle barbacoa tacos topped with fresh salsa and cheese.

How To Serve Barbacoa

There are so many different ways to enjoy this shredded beef!

  • Burrito: Place the beef in a large flour tortilla along with black or pinto beans, cilantro lime rice, shredded cheese and chipotle salsa. You can also add other ingredients like guacamole or sour cream. For an extra special finish, place your folded burrito on a griddle to crisp up the sides, or else serve it with a topping of enchilada sauce and melted cheese.
  • Bowl: Layer Mexican rice or cilantro lime rice, beans, grilled peppers and onions, lettuce, salsa, barbacoa, sour cream, cheese and chipotle guacamole in a bowl, then serve and enjoy.
  • Nachos: Sprinkle shredded cheese over tortilla chips, then spoon the beef and some beans over the top. Bake or microwave until the cheese is melted, then add the toppings of your choice.
  • Tacos: Spoon the meat into flour or corn tortillas, along with lettuce, red onion, cilantro and cheese.
  • Enchiladas: Roll up the meat inside tortillas. Pour some enchilada sauce into the bottom of a baking dish, then add the rolled tortillas on top. Pour more sauce over the tortillas, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling.
  • Quesadilla: Add shredded cheese and beef to a large flour tortilla. Fold in half, then cook on a griddle or in a skillet until the tortilla is golden brown on both sides. Serve with corn salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
  • Salad: Layer the beef onto shredded lettuce, then add beans, corn, fresh pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and other toppings you like.

It’s totally worth the effort to make your own Chipotle barbacoa at home, the flavor simply can’t be beat!

More Mexican Style Recipes To Try

Love This Recipe?

Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments section further down the page.

5 from 20 votes

Chipotle Barbacoa

AuthorSara Welch
A platter of Chipotle barbacoa served with rice, beans and salsa.
This Chipotle barbacoa is beef that is slow cooked in a smoky, savory sauce until it is fall-apart tender. A copy of the restaurant favorite that has tons of flavor and is perfect for burritos, tacos, nachos and other Mexican offerings.
Time
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
Total Time8 hours 15 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Mexican
Serves 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds beef roast such as chuck, beef shoulder or brisket
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic finely chopped
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from can of peppers
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4

    teaspoon

    ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions 

  • Cut the meat into 4 inch pieces. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
  • Add the meat to the pan in a single layer and season generously with salt and pepper to taste. You may need to work in batches.
  • Cook for 4 minutes per side or until deep golden brown.
  • Transfer the meat to a slow cooker. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 2-4 minutes or until softened.
  • Place the onion in the crock pot with the beef.
  • Add the apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, beef broth, lime juice, cumin, oregano and cloves to a blender. Blend until well combined.
  • Pour the sauce into the slow cooker. Add the bay leaves and stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or until meat is very tender. Shred the meat with two forks, then serve and enjoy.

Notes

  1. Any well marbled beef roast will work for this recipe including chuck roast, rump roast, brisket, or beef shoulder.
  2. The heat level in this dish is moderate. If you prefer spicy food, you can add 1-2 more chipotle peppers. For a mild dish, just use one pepper and scrape out the seeds.
  3. I really recommend taking the time to brown your meat before you put it in the slow cooker because this step adds a lot of flavor. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this step and simply place the raw meat in the pot with the sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 386kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 651mg | Potassium: 839mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 54IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 6mg

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My husband and I loved this chipotle barbacoa! Tasted just as good as the one at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

  2. 5 stars
    You really managed to reverse-engineer Chipotle Barbacoa! I am impressed how much it’s like the restaurant version.

  3. 5 stars
    This Barbacoa is sooo tasty. I made it with chuck roast and it was falling apart, so flavorful. My whole family loves this recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    Succulent and delicious, made a double batch to store some in the freezer. I love that it’s so versatile as we use it in bowls and quesadillas and nachos.

  5. 5 stars
    This is it! This is exactly the recipe I have been looking for. Over the summer I’ve reached dinner boredom and needed some inspiration and this barbacoa is the perfect meal. Everyone is going to love it!

  6. 5 stars
    So happy to get this recipe! I’m a long-time follower and your recipes are the best. Love the addition of process photos. So helpful. My Chipotle has been extra busy these last few months for some reason, so I’m excited to make my own at home and avoid the lines. Thank you!

  7. 5 stars
    This dish is bursting with flavors. Looks delicious and I love the combination described to relishing it.