This Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef is ultra tender shredded beef that is seasoned to perfection. Use this beef to fill tacos, burritos, enchiladas and so much more!
Make it a complete meal with my Instant Pot Refried Beans and Easy Mexican Rice.
This saucy, juicy and ultra tender Barbacoa Beef is one of my favorite ways to make shredded beef tacos.
The meat just falls apart and is so incredibly flavorful. I usually just make simple street tacos and top with diced onion, cilantro and crunchy radish slices. Oh and don’t forget the lime!
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Recipe
What is Barbacoa?
Barbacoa is a method of cooking. It originated in the Arawak-speaking Caribbean with the Taíno people, from which the term “barbecue” derives. Barbacoa means to steam-cook underground for multiple hours until the meat is very tender and succulent. Types of meat that are traditionally used are sheep, goat, or beef.
Since most people don’t have the means to cook underground, it’s also acceptable to braise or slow cook to achieve the desired outcome.
What Meat Is Barbacoa Beef?
Barbacoa Beef is traditionally made with cow’s head, more specifically, the cheeks and/or tongue. Since most people don’t have immediate access to this type of beef, we’re using a Chuck Roast in it’s place. It’ll still give that tender, fall apart consistency you’re after.
Ingredients Needed For Juicy Barbacoa Beef
Here’s the basic list of ingredients you’ll need to make Barbacoa Beef in the slow cooker. As always, you can find the full list of ingredients in the recipe card below.
- Chuck Roast – cut into smaller pieces
- Beef Broth – low sodium
- Chipotle Chile Peppers In Adobo Sauce – you can find these in the Mexican aisle of the grocery store
- Garlic – whole
- Onion – roughly chopped
- Brown Sugar
- Ground Cloves
- Bay Leaves
- Lime Juice
How To Make Barbacoa Beef In Crockpot
Making Barbacoa Beef in the slow cooker is an easy process, but it does take time. The longer you’re able to cook the beef on the low setting, the better. I would recommend not cooking it on high because it’s just not as tender.
- SEAR BEEF Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper and then sear in a hot skillet on all sides until it’s browned, then place the beef in the bottom of your slow cooker.
- MAKE SAUCE In order to get that signature flavor, you’re going to either finely chop the chipotle peppers, onion and garlic into a paste, or I find it’s easiest to add the ingredients to a food processor and quickly pulse a few times.
- COOK ON LOW As I mentioned before, cooking this beef on LOW in your slow cooker is ideal because it allows time for the beef to get ultra tender. Let it cook for 8 hours before removing the beef and shredding.
- ADD LIME JUICE Pour lime juice into the sauce in the slow cooker and stir to combine, then add the beef back in and let it simmer in there for another 20 minutes on low heat.
What Is Barbacoa Sauce Made Of?
There are a few main ingredients that make barbacoa sauce unique.
Smoky chipotle peppers, lots of garlic, plenty of herbs and aromatics (cumin, oregano and cloves) and a touch of lime juice at the end to brighten all the flavors.
I like to add a touch of brown sugar to give it a deep, yet subtle hint of sweetness. You can leave it out if you’re doing keto or watching sugar intake.
When the sauce is slow cooked for several hours, the peppers, garlic and onion get nice and soft and practically melt into the beef.
How To Serve Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef
Barbacoa beef is fantastic because it can go into just about any sort of Mexican dish. Here are some ideas of how you can serve it.
- Street tacos – top with diced onion, cilantro and sliced radishes
- On Top Of Salad
- Burrito Bowls
The options are endless!
What Sides To Serve With Barbacoa Beef
More Delicious Mexican Recipes To Try
Craving more? I’ve got you covered with these delicious and totally easy recipes…
- Instant Pot Carnitas
- Slow Cooker Sweet Pulled Pork Tacos
- Ground Beef Tacos
- Crispy Baked Chicken Taquitos
I can’t wait for you to give this recipe a try! I know you’re going to love it!
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef
- 3 lb chuck roast, or beef cheeks
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1¼ cup beef broth, low sodium
- 5 medium chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
- 6 cloves garlic, whole
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 4 bay leaves
- ¼ cup lime juice, fresh
- Cut the beef chuck roast (or beef cheeks if using) into 6 chunks and season all over with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add in olive oil. Sear beef on all sides until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place seared beef in the bottom of a slow cooker.
- Meanwhile, combine the beef broth, chipotle chili peppers, garlic and onion in the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse several times to create a paste/thick sauce.
- Add in brown sugar, cumin, oregano, remaining 1 tsp salt, and ground cloves and stir to combine. Pour over beef in slow cooker and add in 4 bay leaves.
- Let beef cook on LOW heat for 8 hours. The beef should very easily fall apart. Remove the beef, shred with two forks. Stir the lime juice into the sauce in the slow cooker and return the beef. Cook an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Serve in tacos, burritos, enchiladas and more!
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Does this beef freeze well?
Yes, very well! It can last for up to 5 months when frozen.
Is there anything different I should do if I use beef tongue?
Any suggestions as to how to make it less spicy, like different peppers to use? Chipotle peers in adobo sauce were WAY TOO SPICY even more me, a spicy food lover. I tried adding additional beef stock, brown sugar and even added powdered chocolate for a mole type sauce. None of my efforts paid off :(.
Do the adobo peppers make it spicy?