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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


  • 4 lbs beef brisket or beef chuck roast will also work
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 - 4 chipotle chilis in adobo
  • 1 1/4 cups beef broth
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp salt then more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice


  • 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!
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About Alyssa Rivers

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Alyssa Rivers and the food blogger behind The Recipe Critic. The blog launched in 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family. Each recipe is tried and true, family-tested and approved.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. This may be a very dumb question, but should I dump the juices from browning the meat in with the meat? I’m afraid if I do and I’m not supposed to, it will dilute the flavor too much . On the other hand, if I’m supposed to, and I don’t, then it might be dry and the taste too strong

    1. I like to always drain my grease/juice from the meat prior to adding any other ingredient. It is a preference though. Enjoy! XOXO

  4. This is an amazing recipe! I live in the desert southwest and this is way better than Chipotle’s and have shared with my friends. 5Stars all the way! MKe the sauce a day ahead so all those wonderful flavors can marinate!

  5. I just made this recipe today however since I didn’t have beef BROTH, I just used tomato sauce since I’ve made another recipe that uses that, and it came out DELICIOUS! I also added half an onion to the mix.

  6. This was incredibly delicious and easy to make! My jalepeno plant is in full bloom right now so I also de-seeded one of those in threw it in while making the sauce. Served it with pico, avocado slices, sour cream, and fresh cilantro. Will definitely make again. Thanks for posting!

  7. Thanks for this recipe. I often don’t make something I never tried before but broke the rule for Father’s Day. Had 11 family members over and they loved it…this includes little, picky kids. Very moist and flavorful. Plus… Did you know that if u drain 1/2 of the sauce that u can use a hand mixer to shred the beef instantly (a trick I saw on You Tube)

  8. I was craving Barbacoa tacos and wanted to try making it at home. This recipe filled that craving! Delicious! So much so that I am making it again after just a couple of weeks. The smell of the sauce as I was preparing it told me the flavor would be spot on. Oh so good!
    I would love to know if the leftovers freeze nicely or if I should cut the recipe?

    1. AW! That is perfect! I am so glad that you enjoyed these and that they were a hit! Freezing this meat is a great idea! It freezes nicely and tastes just as good when reheating! Hope you are able to make it again soon! Thanks so much for sharing and following along with me! XOXO