One Pot Recipes

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

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The best quick and easy slow cooker barbacoa beef recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. Moist and tender beef melts in your mouth. Perfect for tacos, burritos, enchiladas. Also known as pulled or shredded barbacoa chipotle.

If you use a crockpot, you know that Slow Cooker Recipes are the most convenient and easiest recipes ever. They typically involve just dumping everything in the pot, covering and cooking for a few hours. It’s great for people with busy lifestyle that still want healthy homemade meals and today’s recipe is no exception. It’s super flavorful and better than anything you would get at restaurants! It also serves a lot of people.

Easy Barbacoa Tacos

Some people confuse this with carnitas but there is a major difference. Carnitas are typically the shoulder of pork that’s been seasoned and braised with herbs and spices until tender. Then’t it’s pulled apart and oven-roasted until crisp.

On the other hand, barbacoa, is traditionally slow cooked beef cheek and head in a wooden open fire pit in the ground that’s been covered with maguey leaves. However, in America, it’s usually just spicy, shredded, slow-braised tender beef (chuck roast) that’s pulled apart. They are both used as fillings in tacos, tamales, burritos, sandwiches e.t.c.

More Mexican Meals

Crockpot Chipotle Barbacoa Meat

What is barbacoa beef? What is traditional Mexican barbacoa meat made from?

It’s an authentic Mexican dish that’s usually made with beef, goat or lamb. It’s seasoned with Mexican herbs and spices and slow cooked or braised until tender. Then, it’s shredded and used as fillings in tacos, burritos e.t.c.

In some parts of Mexico, it’s a combination of different parts of cow meat. However, due to health regulations, what we enjoy today in America does NOT include brains and is usually chuck roast and cheek meat and sometimes (very rarely!) tongue.

At Chipotle restaurants, it’s made from a huge cut of beef shoulder clod that that weighs about 30 pounds!

How to make barbacoa in crockpot?

  1. Add meat, broth, lime juice, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce,
  2. Mix.
  3. Cover and cook.
  4. Uncover and shred.
  5. Enjoy!

What sides to serve with Chipotle barbacoa recipe?

It’s usually served alongside soft and hard tacos and various toppings of your choice (detailed list below).

You can also serve it with a side of quinoa or zoodles (zucchini noodles) or Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash, although my favorite is Cilantro Lime Rice (One Pot).

A simple green salad always a great side dish. Try this Tomato Avocado Salad or this Mexican Corn Salad.

Some people also serve with a side of refried beans (store-bought or homemade).

Shredded Barbacoa Beef Filling

How to serve shredded beef?

You can serve it as an add-in or filling in:

  • Tacos or Taco Bowls
  • Burritos or Burrito Bowls
  • Quesadillas
  • Enchiladas
  • Tamales
  • Salads
  • Casseroles
  • Sandwiches
  • Pizza
  • Dips
  • Nachos
  • Pastas
  • Casseroles

Toppings for barbacoa tacos

Lettuce– Adds a lovely color and fresh crunch.

Shredded cheese– Mexican cheese blend is awesome!

Sour cream– Use full fat for maximum flavor.

Guacamole– Homemade or store-bought both work well.

Jalapeno slices– For a spicy kick.

Fresh herbs– Such as roughly chopped cilantro.

Avocado– Dice them or slice them.

Finely chopped onions- Red onions are best.

Tomatoes– Use finely chopped ripe tomatoes.

Salsas- Such as Corn Salsa (One Bowl), Mango Salsa (One Bowl), Pineapple Salsa (One Bowl), Strawberry Salsa (One Bowl), Pico De Gallo Salsa (One Bowl).

Mexican Shredded Beef

Tips and Techniques

Can I cook on high heat in crockpot? No. The best tender, “melt in your mouth” texture comes from cooking it “low and slow.”

Don’t discard the broth- Because it’s loaded with flavor and also keeps the meat juicy and moist.

Use low sodium broth– Because it prevents this meal from becoming too salty.

Can leftovers be frozen? Yes. When it cools down completely, store it in a sealed container for up to 1 month.

Should I brown meat? This is an optional step. Some people like to sear the meat in a pan with butter or oil over stovetop. It’s believed that this adds more flavor but I haven’t noticed a difference.

What are chipotle peppers? They are smoked jalapenos in adobo sauce. The peppers are spicy but the the sauce is not. However, it should not be discarded because it’s packed with flavor!

Adjust the spice level- By adding more or less chipotle peppers.

Can you make it without slow cooker? It can be made in an instant pot (pressure cooker) or stovetop and even oven but you will need to add more broth to prevent burning.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Recipe
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Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Quick and easy slow cooker barbacoa beef recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. Juicy, tender beef melts in your mouth. Perfect filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas.
Yield: 8 People



  • Add all the ingredients in a crock-pot.
  • Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours (You can cook on high for 3-4 hours but the best results come from low and slow cooking).
  • Remove and discard bay leaves. 
  • Shred with 2 forks and toss everything together. 
  • Garnish with finely chopped cilantro. Enjoy!


  • Read all my tips above.
  • Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 


Calories: 422kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 44g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 156mg, Sodium: 313mg, Potassium: 795mg, Fiber: 1g, Vitamin A: 335IU, Vitamin C: 1.6mg, Calcium: 62mg, Iron: 5.9mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 422
Author: Abeer

Happy cooking everyone!

5 comments on “Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef”

  1. Wow… so good! This was a great recipe, thank you so much! My chuck roast was only 2.5 lbs, but the calculator did amazing job with the proportions.

  2. It’s best recipe I have tried – I also add some bbq sauce and some Worcestershire sauce like a tablespoon.

  3. I just made this barbacoa and it is so much better than our Mexican restaurant, I also made pork carnitas so awesone.thank you for coming.

  4. it was wonderful. couldn’t get enough. ready to make it again very soon. great flavor.great recipe.

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