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Whether you want to avoid cranking up your oven or stove during the summer heat or just want to make an easy meal for a crowd that truly delights, choose this barbacoa recipe. My whole family loves when I make it because you can guarantee I’ll be stuffing sandwiches, tacos, burritos, and quesadillas with this melt-in-your-mouth beef!

Best Barbacoa Recipe

As per tradition, barbacoa meat is cooked over a fire. But save yourself the labor and let your slow cooker do it. You’ll be treated to results that are just as tasty without breaking a sweat!

Easy Barbacoa Recipe

What could be easier than rounding up ingredients and putting them in the slow cooker together? Exactly! That frees you up to do a million other things. Barbacoa is so easy to throw together, you could even do it before you head to work and have it waiting for you when you get home.

Barbacoa Meat Ingredients

  • Chuck roast – This typically tough meat renders tender when slow-cooked. Choose a 3-pound size for this barbacoa meat recipe.
  • White onion – Chop it up for a pungent addition.
  • Beef broth – Gotta’ give your meat some liquid to cook in.
  • Fresh lime juice – Adds that exotic touch.
  • Chipotle chilis – Choose the ones in adobo spice that are chopped for this chipotle barbacoa recipe.
  • Seasonings – You’ll need 8 minced garlic cloves, ground cumin, dried oregano, a pinch of ground cloves, 4 bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste.

Becoming a vegetarian is big missed steak.

How do you Make Barbacoa from Scratch

First, you’ll pat the beef dry with paper towels and season it all over with the salt and pepper. Put it in the slow cooker and then add everything else. Cook it on low for 8 hours. When it’s done, you can use 2 forks to shred the meat and then serve it in any format you’d like – within warm corn tortillas, as a burrito bowl, on top of salad, or anything else.

Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Barbacoa Every Time

  • Let the meat rest. The best thing you can do is let the chuck roast come to room temperature first before you put it in your slow cooker. You don’t have to, but this will ensure it cooks perfectly.
  • Choose a chuck roast with lots of marbling. You’ll be guaranteed richer flavor from your barbacoa.
  • Assemble everything first. It’s so much easier to put barbacoa together when you set out all your seasonings and ingredients to add into your slow cooker.

How to Cook Barbacoa

As I mentioned, they traditionally cook barbacoa over a fire. But for this slow cooker barbacoa recipe, you can use your slow cooker and beat the heat with this mouth-watering meat!

How Long to Cook Barbacoa in a Slow Cooker

Because the meat for barbacoa is tough by nature, going slow and low when making crockpot barbacoa is the key to rendering it into that fall-apart-perfect texture. As such, you’ll cook it on low for 8 hours.

What is Texas barbacoa?

Texas barbacoa copies the more traditional way of making this Mexican dish. They use beef cheeks to make their barbacoa.

Where did barbacoa come from?

Barbacoa is a dish that originated from Mexico. Mexican barbacoa has become so popular that you’ll find it more easily, though it is much more cost effective to make it yourself.

How is traditional barbacoa made?

Made the traditional way, barbacoa uses either beef, goat, or sheep and cooks it over a fire or underground in an oven. But this process can be replicated in the slow cooker for an easier way to make it at home.

What kind of meat is barbacoa?

Barbacoa is made from beef. In this recipe, chuck roast is used. It is typically tough meat but when slow-cooked in this way, it becomes tender.

What does barbacoa taste like?

In a word: delicious! It’s got a melty mouth texture with adobo and spices that just come together beautifully for a more exotic flavor.

What meat does Chipotle use for barbacoa (Chipotle barbacoa)?

If you love Chipotle barbacoa, they use the meat from the shoulder because it’s fatty enough to render down during slow cooking to make it juicy. This recipe will help you make your own version any time you want it, and for less!

What’s the difference between barbacoa and carnitas?

When it comes to barbacoa, it’s all about the slow-cooking method that makes the meat tender and then shredded up. Barbacoa can be made with beef, lamb, or goat, meanwhile carnitas are made with pork. Carnitas are slow-cooked but left in large chunks that get browned in a skillet afterward until crispy.

Is barbacoa a cow tongue?

No, it’s usually chuck roast, a tough shoulder portion that cooks to tender perfection when in a slow cooker.

What is barbacoa sauce made of?

The barbacoa sauce in this recipe is made with beef broth, garlic, cumin, oregano, ground cloves, fresh lime juice, onion, chipotle chilis in adobo, and bay leaves.

What goes well with Barbacoa

Barbacoa tacos (tacos de barbacoa) are one my favorite ways to serve up barbacoa meat. Aside from tortillas, rice, and salad, barbacoa is great with guacamole, Mexican street corn, salsa, black bean soup, refried beans, and avocado tomato salad. Pair it with your favorite Mexican sides!

How to Store Barbacoa

Once it has cooled, store your barbacoa in the fridge in an airtight container to keep it fresh.

How Long Does Barbacoa Last?

In the fridge, you can keep your barbacoa for 5 days. If there’s simply too much to polish off in that time, put it in the freezer.

Can You Freeze Barbacoa?

Barbacoa is the perfect freezer meal, making it a wonderful item to have ready for meal prep. I like putting it in a zippered freezer bag. Label it well and leave a little room at the top and you can keep it for about 3 months.

How to Reheat Barbacoa?

Just remember to defrost your barbacoa in the fridge the night before. Then you can heat it on the stovetop in a skillet.

Watch How To Make Barbacoa (Video)

Authentic Barbacoa Recipe

5 from 17 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 25 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 344
This Beef Barbacoa Recipe in the slow cooker is out of this world! By slow cooking the beef in a crock pot it not only makes cooking simple and easy, it also makes the beef barbacoa incredibly tender and easily shredded. The blend of seasonings and taste is deliciously balanced!



  • 3 lb chuck roast
  • 1 white onion (chopped)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 6 chipotle chilis in adobo (chopped)
  • 8 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice


  • Pat chuck roast dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker Add the onion, beef broth, chipotle chilies, garlic, cumin, oregano, cloves, bay leaves, and lime juice and cook on low for 8 hours. Shred and serve in warm corn tortillas.
Calories: 344kcal
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican


Calories: 344kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 455mg | Potassium: 704mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 650IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 7mg

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Author Megan Miller

I’m a mom of two, food and wine lover, and recipe creation enthusiast. Good food brings families together. Which is why I’m devoted to sharing my best recipes that are simple enough for even the beginner cook that your family will love!

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