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Best Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Slow cooker beef barbacoa is an easy way to make shredded beef tacos! Tender and full of flavor, your family is sure to ask for seconds.

crockpot barbacoa

Do you love ordering this type of meat at Chipotle or your favorite restaurant? Now you can make a batch of slow cooker beef barbacoa right at home! That means it’s cheaper and you don’t even have to leave the house. Just one of our favorite easy Crockpot recipes. 😉 (affiliate links present)

Crockpot Barbacoa

I have had this stuffed into an enchilada at our favorite Mexican food place. I asked once what type of meat was inside and this was it! With all the smothered cheese and rice I just couldn’t make it out. First I experimented and made it in my pressure cooker (will share that recipe below). This time my other pot wanted a try.

What is traditional barbacoa made from?

It started with lamb or goat but these days people typically use pork or beef. It’s a bit cheaper that way but any of the 4 would work great. You can make it this way, on the stove, or over an open fire even. Low and slow is always best if you ask me when it comes to large chunks of meat.

Let’s talk a little bit about slow cooking shall we?? First off I have a few different varieties and I love them all. Each one has an occasion to be used like….

  1. This is my favorite 6 quart programmable one with a locking lid so it’s great for bringing to a potluck too.
  2. If you just want to serve a few appetizers you should get this one that sit side by side one another.
  3. I prefer not to use liners, but rather just spray olive oil inside before adding my food for easier cleanups.

Let me give you a peek of my pretty thang I bought recently. It goes with my kitchen so I can just leave it out on the countertop all the time. 😉

crockpot

There isn’t necessarily a specific cut that is used. Chuck roast works well to soak up flavors for sure, and that is really inexpensive. I have not tried this with a frozen roast and probably wouldn’t. I want it to have a LONG time soaking in all of those seasonings and sauce so it gets that deep rich flavor you’d expect.

Slow Cooker Mexican Beef Barbacoa

Of course when it comes to the rub, or if you add one, that part is up to you. You could use a bottled steak seasoning that is a bit peppery, an amped up taco seasoning type with chipotle peppers like we have here, or use our tri tip rub.

Heat is another add in that you can adjust to your taste buds. Smoked green chiles, diced hot chipotles in adobo sauce or canned are another choice to use.

crockpot Barbacoa beef

Slow Cooker Chuck Roast

You will want to cut your piece into smaller chunks. This will make it become as tender as possible and get more and more of the flavors really soaked in. You can trim a little of the fat off at that point but leave some on, that will give it moisture.

  1. Defrosted chuck roast, if not use our frozen Crockpot chuck roast timing
  2. Taco seasoning is a great way to add a ton of different seasonings all together in one shake.
  3. Garlic powder
  4. Cumin
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. Chipotle peppers come canned with adobo sauce, that’s the handiest form. They can be mild all the way to quite spicy.
  7. Apple cider vinegar
  8. Beef broth or stock
  9. Fresh cilantro and limes
  10. Bay leaves are optional
  11. You’ll need a Crock pot too of course to get it super tender

Then whatever you want to serve it in or on. Like white rice is a favorite for burrito bowls followed by serving it up as tacos.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa

That is really it, once you toss everything together so it is nicely coated you just cover and cook it. Let it slow cook and do all the work for you beyond that. Start it in the morning and just let it go, no need to stir the contents during the day. Leave it on low so it will fall apart easily at the end, high isn’t recommended.

Since it is cut into chunks initially there is no wait after the cooking time is over to let it rest either. Typically you’d want to remove beef and account for an extra 30 minutes or so to keep it tender and juicy before slicing. This way is much faster and easy to eat as it’s already in bite size pieces.

You can leave as is or shred at the end, we like doing that. Serve with some black beans inside tortillas with cheese or over a bed of Jasmine rice.

barbacoa slow cooker recipe

Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Remember this timing is for when you have time (and the memory) to put the food into your low and slow cooker in the morning. If you forgot I have instructions to use your pressure cooker below instead. Both come out incredibly well and I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. It just comes down to remembering. 😉

  • Cut meat into large bite size chunks. Spray slow cooker with non stick spray. Add meat into pot and sprinkle with all the seasonings listed. Add chipotle peppers and toss everything together.
  • In a bowl mix vinegar, lime juice and beef stock together. Pour this mix over the meat.
    • alternatively you can add all ingredients other than meat into a food processor to blend and smooth, then pour
  • Cover and cook this mixture on low for 6-7 hours or until meat is fork tender and can easily shred with 2 forks.

It’s fun to buy those little Hawaiian rolls and pile this on top to serve as sliders for dinner. If you need football party food ideas this is a great one too. You can leave it on warm for a few hours after it is done and people can enjoy it all evening long.

barbacoa beef

How do they make barbacoa?

Depends on whom they is in your opinion but traditionally this dish is cooked in an underground oven of all things. If you live in 2021 like me that is probably a no go and you’re looking for another modern method like this one. Lamb, sheep, goat or beef is used with tons of spices and seasonings.

You could use any of these other type of meats as well but this easy beef recipe is the cheapest of the 4 by far. Add to the heat or tone it down to your liking and enjoy it how you remember as a child. It may not be the prettiest served dish but boy does it make up for it in a ton of flavor my friends.

If you want to make this faster, try our Instant Pot barbacoa beef recipe too. This one cuts down the 7ish hours to closer to 60 minutes total including prep so there is a big difference for sure.

barbacoa beef

What does Barbacoa taste like?

If you have been to any Mexican restaurant in the past I bet it is on their menu. It’s very popular and if you’ve had it there you’re likely to want to make it yourself at home using this method. Shredded beef is obvious as far as the look and texture go but the taste is like no other.

Not sweet (though you could add a bit of brown sugar) with TONS of flavor is all that comes to mind. Have a glass of water next to you with your first bite in case you aren’t sure how much heat you can handle. You can find chipotle peppers in a can in different heat levels though so I suggest starting with medium or mild.

If you have leftovers make sure you add the liquid into your container too so it stays really moist. Allow it to completely cool to room temperature before storing it into the fridge. Rewarm in a bowl in the microwave with juices for about 1 1/2 minutes stirring intermittently.

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Slow Cooker Barbacoa

Slow cooker beef barbacoa is an easy way to make shredded beef tacos! Tender and full of flavor, your family is sure to ask for seconds.
Course Entree, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword barbacoa, beef, crockpot, slow cooker
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Servings 8
Calories 273kcal
Author The Typical Mom

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cut meat into chunks. Spray slow cooker with non stick spray. Add meat into pot and sprinkle with all the seasonings listed. Add chipotle peppers and toss everything together.
  • In a bowl mix vinegar, lime juice and beef stock together. Pour this mix over the meat.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until meat is fork tender and can easily shred with 2 forks.

Video

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Barbacoa
Amount Per Serving (2 oz)
Calories 273 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 98mg33%
Sodium 514mg22%
Potassium 530mg15%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 119IU2%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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