Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

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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:

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

4.78 from 22 votes
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
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 8 people


  • 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


Serves: 8

Calories403kcal (20%)Carbohydrates4g (1%)Protein48g (96%)Fat21g (32%)Saturated Fat9g (45%)Cholesterol141mg (47%)Sodium706mg (29%)Potassium807mg (23%)Fiber2g (8%)Sugar1g (1%)Vitamin A681IU (14%)Vitamin C1mg (1%)Calcium39mg (4%)Iron6mg (33%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword barbacoa, slow cookerr
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. Just came across this recipe and I’m planning to make it this week. Just curious what most people are using brisket or chuck roast??? I will update post with my review after I have made it.

  2. 5 stars
    Love this recipe. I’ve tweaked it a tiny bit to suit our taste, but the base recipe is still fantastic. I add cayenne pepper to spice it up, more garlic and more beef broth (I like a lot of liquid in mine, almost covers the meat). I also add a small can of tomato paste, not sure why I do this, but it turns out so good. I sometimes add a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, I think that tenderizes the meat a bit more (although it doesn’t really need it). My boyfriend and I enjoy this at least once a month, it’s our favorite.

  3. 5 stars
    My boyfriend really wanted Barbacoa tacos. It’s one of his favorites. I surprised him by making it for dinner one night. The stakes were high as he is apparently a Barbacoa snob. You would think he was Gordon Ramsey or something the way he was looking at me putting all of those spices in my Vitamix to blend. I used an I staple and just stick it on low for 4 hours while we went to the movies. I came home, and my house smelled amazing! He liked it so much he said it was better than Chipolte. Then he asked for the recipe. Thanks so much! ☺️

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing!! It’s a favorite in my home. My family, friends and coworkers love it. I really really recommended adding a but more salt and cooking this for 8 hours on low. But the last 1-2 hours, take the lid off. The broth will boil down and the meat will crisp up a little bit in the fat. This makes the dish so much better. My Tia’s were asking for my recipe. ?? I’m never sharing.

  5. Thank you so much for this recipe – it was delicious and enjoyed by all of my family, who rarely agree on a meal!

  6. I’ve made this several times in an Instant Pot, and it is delicious that way too, Here is how I make it with the same ingredients:
    Heat the oil in the Instant Pot on the Sauté setting.
    Sear the beef on each side, then cancel Sauté.
    Pour the chili mixture on top of the meat and add beef broth (if needed) until the meat is completely covered.
    Close the lid and set the Instant Pot on Meat/Stew for 35 minutes.
    Allow the pressure to come down naturally when done cooking.

    Thank you!

  7. I made it this evening and this was wonderful! I used my slow cooker and set it on high for the 6 hours. Use fresh squeezed lime juice. I did add a little more salt at the end of cooking. Paired this with cilantro lime rice and cut limes and mozzarella cheese. Would definitely make this again. My daughter loved it! Nice kick of spice if you love spicy.

  8. Looking forward to making this! I don’t have any of those peppers though. Would it still be tasty if made without? Serving little ones as well!

    1. Hi Jennifer!
      It should be just fine to not use the peppers but it will change the taste a little. It should still be tasty though. Please let me know what you think! Thanks so much for following along with me!

    1. Hi Katie!
      Yes, with less meat you will want to change the slow cooker time to 4-5 hours on low and then check it just to make sure that you don’t over cook it. I hope this helps! Thanks for following along with me!!

  9. 5 stars
    Very good! One comment said it was bland and we didn’t find that at all. Juicy tender and flavorful. Even my kids loved it. I highly recommend this recipe. Some of us topped it with a combination of pico de Gallo , guacamole and sour cream. On white corn tortillas since we have a wheat allergy in the home. Spicy but full of flavor with 3 chipotle peppers. Thank you for sharing

  10. I made this for a family weekend of pool-time and OMG was it good. Lots of compliments. Very easy to put together and just let it “do its thing” in the crockpot without having to babysit it all day. (the most lengthy part of prep was searing the beef, but it really does make a big difference.) I am making it again this weekend for a friends-dinner. Can’t wait to try it again! (Oh yeah, P.S., I didn’t add the cloves, otherwise, I made this recipe as-is.) Fabulous!!!!

  11. 5 stars
    I used this recipe for a get together with some friends of mine, half of whom were Mexican. They were amazed that a White Boy could cook an authentic Mexican dish like this! Thank you for helping this Cracker fit in!

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