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Barbacoa Beef that is AMAZING and tender and is better than any restaurant I have had! The flavor is amazing and it slow cooks to perfection!

This barbacoa can be made in so many variations. Add it to your favorite taco, burrito or even salad! If you love Mexican food, enjoy a refreshing Horchata Drink and Seven Layer Dip with chips to make this a complete meal.

Barbacoa in a taco with tomatoes, onions and lettuce over top with limes on the side.

Barbacoa Beef

Reason #346 why I love my slow cooker. It slow cooks this barbacoa beef to perfect tender and juicy melt in your mouth perfection. Is there anything better than barbacoa beef that is slow cooked all day and it just falls apart because it is so tender? I don’t think so! And I am pretty particular when it comes to eating beef. It has to be tender and juicy. I just can’t do that dry and chewy beef.

My hubby is a huge fan of Chipotle. I wanted to make this barbacoa beef for him and when I heard that it is better than Chipotle’s I couldn’t wait to make it. Just look how amazing and juicy that barbacoa beef looks! It shreds so easily and the flavor is so dang good! This barbacoa beef recipe is so simple to make and the slow cooker does all the work. It is one of the easiest and most delicious barbacoa recipes I have made.

What is Barbacoa?

Barbacoa is known to be an authentic Mexican meal that is made with beef, goat or lamb meat. The meat is heavily seasoned with chilies and spices then slow cooked until perfectly tender that it literally falls apart easily. Once it is cooked, the barbacoa is used to fill tacos, burritos and salads. It is one of the best meats and tastes amazingly delicious!

Barbacoa Beef Ingredients:

My husband said that this instantly became one of his favorite meals. He thought it was even better than Chipotle and we made it right at home! You are going to love it just as much as we did!

  • Beef Brisket: Super tender beef that will soak in all the seasonings and spices making this barbacoa irresistible.
  • Vegetable Oil: This will be used to seer the beef before placing it in the slow cooker.
  • Chipotle Chili in Adobo: Adding a little heat. If you prefer not to have too much spice, just reduce the amount.
  • Beef Broth: Soak the beef in beef broth making it tender and juicy.
  • Minced Garlic: Fresh is best but you can use the minced garlic already minced.
  • Ground Cumin and Dried Oregano: Together these seasonings build a flavorful coating.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: Just add a pinch.
  • Ground Cloves: Brings on a strong flavor to soak into the barbacoa beef.
  • Fresh Lime Juice: Always my favorite when making Mexican food. It gives this barbacoa a zest.

How to Make Barbacoa Beef:

This beef has just enough of a kick to give it some awesome flavor and the spices come together perfectly. I love beef brisket so I used that and pan seared large cubes. It smelled so amazing while it cooked all day in my house and when it was finished it just fell apart.

  1. Prepare the beef: Cut the beef into large cubes. In a large skillet over medium high heat add the vegetable oil and sear the beef on each side. Transfer to your slow cooker.
  2. Blend the seasonings: In a food processor add adobo chilis, beef broth, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cloves, and lime juice. Pulse until blended and pour on top of the meat.
  3. Slow Cook: Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 6 hours. Shred the meat with two forks and turn on warm.

The Recipe Critic Pro Tip:

For the most tender barbacoa beef cook on low instead of high for this recipe.

Beef barbacoa in a slow cooker with tongs pulling up a bit of the beef to be shown in the photo.

Sides to Serve with Barbacoa Beef:

What Should I Serve Barbacoa Beef In?

There are so many options for enjoying this beef barbacoa recipe. Stuff your barbacoa in a taco or burrito, fill a bowl or a wrap or add it to any salad or nacho. It is that simple and makes a complete meal within minutes.

  • Tacos
  • Burritos
  • Bowls
  • Wraps
  • Salads
  • Nachos
  • Quesadillas
  • Enchiladas

Recommended Toppings for Barbacoa Beef:

Have fun with your barbacoa. Show it off and enjoy the tender, juicy flavors in every bite! These toppings for barbacoa is perfect and will create endless amounts of recipes.

  • Lettuce: For a salad romaine or even iceberg are delicious to top
  • Cheese: Mix up your favorite cheese together like monterey jack, Mexican blend, cotija or queso fresco.
  • Tomatoes: Dice up fresh tomatoes to layer on top.
  • Avocados: Slice up a ripe avocado and lay over top.
  • Cilantro: Great for garnish and color but also adds a hint of flavor.
  • Radishes: If you are a radish fan, add these for a bitter crunch.
  • Onions: Dice them or slice them in anyway that you prefer.
  • Guacamole: My homemade guacamole is always a treat or a store bought one works for ease.
  • Salsa: A simple salsa is always tasty or a chunky one like Mango Lime Avocado Salsa is fresh and fun.
  • Lime Chipotle Hummus: Spread hummus along the side of a tortilla or burrito.

Beef barbacoa in a taco with tomatoes, onions and cilantro garnished with two limes on the side.

More Amazing Mexican Recipes:

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Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

4.81 from 26 votes
By: Alyssa Rivers
AMAZING and tender beef barbacoa that is better than any restaurant I have had! The flavor is amazing and it slow cooks to perfection!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people


  • Alyssa Also Recommends:
  • Want to make this even easier? Here are a few products that I LOVE:
  • Utopia Kitchen Cooking Knives
  • Staub Cast Iron Skillet
  • Crock-Pot Cook & Carry



  • Cut the beef into large cubes. In a large skillet over medium high heat add the vegetable oil and sear the beef on each side. Transfer to your slow cooker.
  • In a food processor add adobo chilis, beef broth, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cloves, and lime juice. Pulse until blended and pour on top of the meat.
  • Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 6 hours. Shred the meat with two forks and turn on warm.



Updated on February 27, 2020
Original Post on April 1, 2016


Calories: 403kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 48gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 706mgPotassium: 807mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 681IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!

About Alyssa Rivers

Alyssa Rivers is the author of 'The Tried and True Cookbook', a professional food photographer and experienced recipe-developer. Having a passion for cooking, her tried and true recipes have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Food, Buzzfeed and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Have made this recipe two years in a row for our holiday party. Great both times but the second I added a 10 adobo chilis(double recipe), added another tsp(probably more than than) and 1/2 cup of honey. This curbed the heat and really pulled it together. Crisping up the meat on a skillet also helped the juiciness as a couple people here also pointed out. I serve on tortillas with quartered cherry tomatoes, cilantro and onion. 9 of 10 recipe. Thanks!

  2. Made today exactly as directed. My husband informed me he will no longer eat ground beef tacos, this is the new standard. They were fantastic.

  3. This was very tasty but a little too spicy for me. Next time I’ll use just two peppers. Also I added more lime juice and a little honey – I love sweet and sour.

  4. Hi, I am making this for the first time. And I put the whole 11oz can of Chipotle Peppers in! And it’s too spicy. How can I fix this? Thanks!

    1. Read the recipe!
      I guess you’ve never had canned chipotle in adobo sauce before.
      I’m afraid there is no fix for this one.

    2. When I make it too spicy I add a cup of pineapple juice and a few tablespoons dark brown sugar. It reduces the spiciness quite a bit. My husband’s family is from a northern Beach town in Mexico and there barbacoa recipe has sliced pineapple in it along with the adobo Chipotle’s, its a blend of fresh citrus flavor with a spicy kick.

      1. I agree with the citrus add. I typically add the juice from a large orange to mine, but otherwise similar to this recipe. I really like the sweetness that an orange imparts, but pineapple sounds like it would be awesome too (haven’t tried).

  5. I just made this as tacos for dinner tonight with toppings of grilled red onions, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, avocado, hot sauce, a sprinkling of cojita cheese. My stepson just told me it was “restaurant quality!” Thank you for the great recipe!

    1. Hi can you tell me how many portions you could do with serving two street size tacos? Im from uk and im setting up mexican street food stall so wondered how much tacos can get out of weights.

  6. I am worlds worst cook. Made this as per instructions and came out fantastic. My Mexican friend took home and they loved it. A little spicy for my tastes, but still very good. Thanx

  7. Brisket, Barbacoa Beef, call it what you want. It’s a fantastic recipe and a big hit at home and with the food critics at work.

  8. I smoked my brisket last time I did this it was amazing. Now got a proper 7 lb flat to smoke a little longer till it stalls. Also cutting up chunks in rectangular portions with the grain to give longer strips of brisket. Love the slow cooker ingredients, wife won’t stop talking about and now I am making it for her friends.

  9. That’s not barbacoba. That’s brisket. Barbacoba is usually the head of the animal or toungue or cheek. You made slow cooker brisket. Either way it looks good and I may try it. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You should totally try it! It is brisket and it’s somehow even better with pork (if you eat that). My husband is always extremely happy when I make this recipe ? plus it’s so simple it isn’t a hassle to make before going to work.

  10. I made the barbacoa beef and doubled the recipe. I set the crockpot on high for 6 hours. It turned out great! When it was done I shredded the meat and removed some of the juices. I added a little more salt and about 3-4 tbsp more of the adobo sauce, to add a little more kick at the end. I wish I had some cilantro to add, darn it! I think next time I will add some cilantro, onion, and diced green chilies! Also, if time permits I will try 8 hours on low.

  11. This is such a great recipe! I used 2kg beef cheek instead of brisket and it was so tender and juicy! I served it in Tortillas with a Chipotle slaw – highly recommend this recipe!

    1. Hmm. I will try this but with cow tongue, cause that’s how they make it down here on the border. My husband loves loves loves barbacoa! But it can get expensive buying 10 of them for $50! Yikes!

  12. I love this recipe! Imake this at least 3 times a month. Idivide it into 3 meals and use it in different recipes. My favorite is squeezed out and chopped up alittle and put in a Caesar salad. I took it to a church lunch and everyone wanted the recipe for the meat. I use chuck it is easier to get here.

  13. Alyssa,
    I’m excited to try this recipe, but do you have an Instant Pot variation? Like, less beef broth, HIGH for 7min and NR.
    Thank You

    1. I don’t just yet! That sounds even better;)! Let me know how it turns out if you make it in the Instant Pot!