Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa is made easy in the crockpot. Super tender with big, bold flavors, it’s perfect for tacos, burritos or any of your Mexican-themed meals!
We’re big fans of Mexican food around. G and I have such great love for the complex flavors of this cuisine, it’s probably what we cook at home or eat out at restaurants for most often. In fact, I have quite a few delicious authentic recipes on the blog we regularly enjoy for breakfast, lunch and dinner sides, cookouts, and entertaining.
Our current obsession nowadays is this Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa which I’ve made thrice already this week and presently have another roast gently simmering in the crockpot as I type to freeze for future meals. We can’t get enough of the amazingly tender and super flavorful shredded beef!
Before we proceed, let me just say that this barbacoa beef is not the authentic Mexican barbacoa which is traditionally made of sheep, goat, or beef wrapped in maguey leaves and steam-cooked in underground pits. Although that sounds like a spectacular culinary experience to try someday, this recipe here today is a copycat of Chipotle’s barbacoa beef.
While the restaurant’s version is slowly braised in a smoky blend of chipotle peppers and spices, we’re slow cooking ours in the crockpot for a full-flavored Mexican-themed meal that’s completely stress-fress.
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa
Dinner can’t get any easier than this! You get succulent, bold-flavored beef with minimal effort and five easy steps!
- Massage chuck roast with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. In a wide pan over medium-high heat, give it a good sear and then transfer into the crockpot.
- For extra depth of flavor, brown the onions and garlic in the same pan as the beef was seared in and deglaze the pan with beer and broth to get all the tasty caramelized brown bits on the bottom.
- Process the onion mixture with chipotle peppers in a blender until smooth and then pour in the slow cooker over the meat.
- Cook on LOW for 9 to 10 hours or on HIGH for 5 to 6 hours until beef is fork-tender.
- Remove the beef from the slow cooker and using two forks, coarsely shred. Pour the sauce over the meat and gently toss to coat fully.
How to make Pressure Cooker Barbacoa Beef:
Need dinner in a hurry? You can have this ready in less than an hour using the Instant Pot!
- Massage chuck roast with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. In a hot pan over medium-high heat, sear on both sides. If you want to do this step in the Instant Pot, you might have to cut the roast into large chunks to fit and sear properly in the pressure cooker.
- Remove the meat from the pan and transfer to the Instant Pot. In the pan, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add onions and garlic, stirring regularly to brown.
- Add beer and beef broth and bring to a boil, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Prepare the sauce by processing the liquid with the onions and garlic, chipotle peppers, vinegar, and spices in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour on the top of the meat in the pressure cooker.
- Cook on HIGH pressure for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn the cooker off and use the natural method to release pressure.
- Remove the beef from the pot and shred using two forks. Pour some of the sauce on the beef if desired.
This shredded beef barbacoa is not only perfect for busy weeknight dinners, but it’s also very versatile and makes for great leftovers. If you’d like to freeze the beef for future meals, make sure to store with the liquid to keep moist when reheated.
How to Serve Beef Barbacoa:
- Use as a filling for tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. Or enjoy sans tortilla over rice and beans for amazing burrito bowls!
- Make flautas or tacos dorados by wrapping the shredded beef in corn tortillas and deep frying until golden and crispy. Serve with guacamole for a guaranteed appetizer hit!
- Top over crunchy nachos or potato fries along with cheese, salsa, and sour cream for the perfect game day eats.
- Pile on Mexican bread rolls (bolillos) for scrumptious torta sandwiches.
- Stuff in flour tortillas with loads of shredded manchego or Qaxaca cheese and toast on a hot pan for gooey, melty quesadillas.
Watch the Video and See How Easy it is to Make Barbacoa Beef in the Crockpot
Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa
- 3 pounds chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1/2 cup mild beer
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1 can (7 ounces) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Massage chuck roast on all sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the beef and sear on each side. Transfer to slow cooker.
- In the pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring regularly until lightly browned.
- Add the beer and beef broth to the pan. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the liquid with the onions and garlic, chipotle peppers, cider vinegar, cumin, oregano, sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse until blended and smooth and pour on top of the meat in the slow cooker.
- Cook on LOW for about 9 to 10 hours or on HIGH for about 5 to 6 hours.
- Remove beef from slow cooker and shred using two forks. Pour sauce over shredded beef as desired and toss to coat fully. Serve hot.