This succulent, tender, and flavorful braised Beef Barbacoa recipe is slow cooked and definitely a crowd favorite. You’ll love this flavor-loaded barbacoa that comes together easily in your slow cooker, it’s insanely good. Enjoy this juicy beef in a variety of ways to make burrito bowls, tacos, salads, and sooo much more!

braised beef barbacoa in slow cooker with two forks

This time of year is one of my favorites. Spring has really been doing its big one with the beautiful weather thus far. The seasonal produce is popping off at the farmer’s markets. The NCAA women’s basketball tournament was one for the books (go SC Gamecocks!!! 😤). Not to mention the NBA playoffs are underway + the WNBA season is very much on the horizon. All in all, my basketball-loving self is thriving. And of course, the recipe development doesn’t stop; this barbacoa recipe is top tier and I’m thrilled to finally share it!

Why This Recipe Works & Why You’ll Truly Enjoy It:

  • IT’S SIMPLY SO GOOD! Idk bout you but juicy and flavorful beef is one of the best things to grub on imo. Every time I make it, everyone loves it!
  • CELEBRATING, MEAL-PREPPING, AND MORE! If you’re hosting an event or need to cook up something that feeds a crowd, this barbacoa recipe is it. It’s perfect for gatherings, potlucks, or big holiday-centered festivities like Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and everything in between.
  • RECIPE VERSATILITY ON A MILLI! From burrito bowls to tacos to nachos, this one right here is super versatile! There are a million different ways you can use up a batch of barbacoa.
braised beef barbacoa in bowl with rice, lettuce, and salsa

Homemade Beef Barbacoa 🤤

Now a lot of people are familiar with the Chipotle restaurant, yes? If not, it’s a famous restaurant chain that serves up delicious meats, beans, rice, and plenty of accoutrements and toppings to make your meal complete. One of the meats they serve, my usual go-to, is their beef barbacoa.

What is beef barbacoa? It’s shredded beef that’s meltingly tender and full of flavor, sooo good. This recipe was inspired by my love for traditional Mexican dishes that can be enjoyed at home for home cooks like you and me.

Barbacoa is a recipe that keeps on giving, friends. Real talk, I’m so serious. The possibilities for serving are endless…use up that barbacoa for rice bowls, tacos, burritos, nachos, salads, and anything else your crafty mind can conjure up!

ingredients for braised beef barbacoa laid out on white surface

Ingredients Needed For This Barbacoa Recipe:

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Beef chuck roast: Good ole hearty chuck roast is the star of the show!
  • Salt & pepper: For seasoning the beef.
  • Oil: For searing the beef before slow cooking.
  • Aromatics + flavor enhancers: Onion, diced green chiles, garlic, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, liquid smoke, beer, and chipotle peppers. Every single one of these ingredients elevates the overall flavor profile into orbit. It’s giving you flavor-loaded deliciousness galore, whew!
  • Spices: I use cumin, oregano, ancho chili powder, cloves, and bay leaves. These spices add depth and plenty of fragrance that are chef’s kiss.
  • Fresh herbs: To finish off this barbacoa, we’ll toss in some fresh chopped cilantro for a nice herbaceous punch and flair.
seared beef chunks in cast iron skillet

How To Make Homemade Barbacoa:

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Season the beef. Generously season the chuck roast with salt and pepper.
  2. Brown the chuck roast. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, working in batches, add the beef chunks. Sear the beef on all sides until a deep brown crust appears, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer the browned beef onto a clean vessel and repeat the process until all the beef is browned. *Browning is key for major flavor to be unlocked!
  3. Assemble the braise. Transfer all the browned beef into your slow cooker vessel. Then add the onion, green chiles, garlic, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, oregano, chili powder, ground cloves, liquid smoke, bay leaves, beer, and chipotle liquid. Gently stir/toss all the ingredients together until all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Slow-cook. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours- until the beef is cooked through and fall-apart tender.
  5. Shred the beef. Shred the tender beef with two forks right in the slow cooker vessel. Stir the shredded beef with the braising liquid until nicely saturated. Sprinkle in the fresh chopped cilantro and stir again to combine.
  6. Serve. You can enjoy this braised beef barbacoa in several ways! Bowl-style with rice, lettuce, beans, salsa, guacamole or sliced avocado, and/or other toppings! Alternatively, make tacos/burritos or nachos with your beef barbacoa, too! Ayyyee! 👅

Alternative Cooking Methods For This Barbacoa Recipe:

Personally, I love using the slow cooker for this recipe, however, you can also achieve the same results in the Instant Pot and Oven. Here’s how:

  • Instant Pot method: Follow the same instructions in the recipe card below to brown the beef- but in your pressure cooker on the sauté function. Then add all ingredients into the pressure cooker vessel. Cover the IP with lid to seal, and set it to the manual high-pressure function: set the time for 55 minutes. After the cooking cycle is complete, let pressure release naturally in the “vent” position or according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until all steam has ceased. Then shred the beef, stir well, and serve.
  • Oven method: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Follow the same instructions in the recipe card below to brown the beef in a large dutch oven (at least 5 quarts) on the stovetop. Then follow the same steps to add all of the remaining ingredients into the dutch oven and cover with a lid. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise for 3 ½ – 4 hours. Then shred the beef, stir well, and serve.

Storing & Reheating:

Storing beef barbacoa– Keep the barbacoa stored inside an airtight container in the refrigerator where it will keep for 4-5 days. Alternatively, you can freeze it in freezer-safe containers where it will last for 3 months.

Reheating barbacoa– If frozen, let the barbacoa thaw overnight in the fridge. I recommend reheating in a skillet on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through or you can microwave it if you like!

braised beef barbacoa with rice, salsa, and lettuce in bowl

If you love slow-cooked meats, you def need to try this Barbacoa recipe, y’all. It’s truly one of our favorites! Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

More Latin-Inspired eats:

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braised beef barbacoa in slow cooker with two forks

Braised Beef Barbacoa

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  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Latin-Inspired
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Description

This succulent, tender, and flavorful braised Beef Barbacoa recipe is slow cooked and definitely a crowd favorite. You’ll love this flavor-loaded barbacoa that comes together easily in your slow cooker, it’s insanely good. Enjoy this juicy beef in a variety of ways to make burrito bowls, tacos, salads, and sooo much more!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 lb beef chuck roast, fat trimmed & cut into 3-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • 23 tablespoons olive oil, for browning
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (4-ounce) can fire-roasted diced green chiles
  • 10 cloves of garlic (crushed) or 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
  • 1 tablespoon Ancho chili pepper powder (or dark chili powder)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons hickory liquid smoke
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup Mexican-style beer, I use Modelo (or beef broth as sub)
  • 34 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro, to finish, plus more for serving

For serving bowl-style:

  • Rice of choice
  • Chopped iceberg/romaine lettuce
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Salsa, guacamole, lime wedges, and sliced jalapeños, as desired

Instructions

  1. Season & rest the beef. On a large plate or medium-rimmed baking sheet, generously season the chuck roast chunks with salt and pepper on all sides. Set the beef aside to rest and allow it to come up to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. 
  2. Brown the chuck roast. In a large skillet/pot over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil. When hot, gently swirl the pot around to evenly coat the bottom. Add a few beef chunks into the pot, working in batches, careful not to overcrowd. Sear the beef on all sides until a deep brown crust appears, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer the browned beef onto a clean vessel and repeat the process until all the beef is browned- adding the additional 1 tablespoon of oil if your pot looks dry. 
  3. Assemble the braise. Transfer all the browned beef into your slow cooker vessel. Then add the onion, green chiles, garlic, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, oregano, chili powder, ground cloves, liquid smoke, bay leaves, and beer (or beef broth). Place the chipotle peppers in the body of a high-speed blender or food processor along with ⅓ cup of water and blitz together until smooth. Then add the chipotle liquid into the slow cooker. Gently stir/toss all the ingredients together until well combined.
  4. Slow-cook the beef barbacoa. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours- until the beef is cooked through and fall-apart tender.
  5. Shred the beef. You can do this in 2 ways. Shred the tender beef with two forks right in the slow cooker vessel itself or remove the beef and place it on a large plate/rimmed baking sheet and shred with two forks. Lastly, stir the shredded beef with the braising liquid until nicely saturated. Sprinkle the ½ cup of fresh chopped cilantro in and stir again to combine.
  6. Serve. You can enjoy this braised beef barbacoa in several ways! Our favorite way to devour this dish is bowl-style with rice, lettuce, beans, salsa, guacamole or sliced avocado, and/or other toppings! Alternatively, feel free to make tacos/burritos or nachos with your beef barbacoa, too! A garnish of chopped cilantro and extra lime wedges for squeezing, if desired, is chef’s kiss. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Instant Pot method: Follow the same instructions to brown the beef- but in your pressure cooker on the sauté function. Then continue to follow the instructions by adding all ingredients into the pressure cooker vessel. Cover the IP with lid to seal, and set it to the manual high-pressure function: set the time for 55 minutes. After the cooking cycle is complete, let pressure release naturally in the “vent” position or according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until all steam has ceased. Then shred the beef and serve.
  2. Oven method: For this method, preheat the oven to 325°F. Follow the same instructions to brown the beef in a large dutch oven (at least 5 quarts) on the stovetop. Then follow the same steps to add all of the remaining ingredients into the dutch oven and cover with a lid. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise for 3 ½ – 4 hours. Then shred the beef and serve.
  3. Please read blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.

Recipe by: Quin Liburd- Butter Be Ready

Photography by: The Mindful Hapa