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

4.80 from 24 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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Leave a reply
  1. I’ve read 2 comments that gave substitutions for the chipotles in adobo sauce, but are there any other ones you think would be good? I just can’t tolerate heat😢. Thank you!

    1. I’ve had it in San Antonio Texas it wasn’t spicy. I’d leave out all the spicy. Or just cut spicy ingredients in a quarter.

  2. Haven’t made yet, but wondering what your measurements would be for only a 2 person, and 1 year old would be?
    Would hate to buy 4lbs of meat, when we usually consume 1lb typically. (With extra for lunch packed next day)

    1. You can adjust the ratio on the slider on the recipe card if you want to make the portions smaller! Just click on the number of people that it serves and slide that down to 3. It will change all of the measurements for you!

  3. Great recipie will make it again! I subbed out the 4 chillies in abodo for 4 teaspoons of chipotle paste and beef stock cube instead of broth.

  4. Love this recipe and the base is absolutely versatile.

    I’ve made this with beef cheeks, chuck roast- and I actually used it as a base for shredded chicken for tacos and it was LIGHTYEARS better than most of the chicken Tinga recipes I’ve seen out there.

    Every time I make it, someone asks for the recipe and I always refer them to this site.

  5. 5 stars
    FANTASTIC! I didn’t change anything in the recipe except I used stew meat and it was SO TENDER and DELICIOUS! This was as good as any authentic Mexican restaurant in the Southwest! This is definitely a keeper!

  6. 5 stars
    I am in love with this recipe! Never gonna let it go. Thanks for posting it. I gonna take some to work for lunch.

  7. I’ve gotta tell you. I live in Mexico and have been searching for where to buy beef barbacoa for weeks. Then I found your recipe. I whipped it up in 5 minutes while I prepared for bed last night then left in in my Aroma rice cooker on low for 6 hours. This is the best barbacoa I’ve ever had. Thank you so much!

    1. If I were gonna make like street taco’s with this, how do you suggest I put them together and with what toppings ? Thank you

      1. The normal street food toppings for barbacoa are lime, onion, cilantro, salt, and if you’re brave, spicy salsa. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t overdo the toppings, the main star has to be the meat. And I suggest that you put a bit of the juice that was left in the pot into the tacos, to make them even softer.

  8. 5 stars
    We love this recipe! Better than Chipotle, which is hard to beat! 😉. We made our own burrito bowls! Homemade pressure cooker black beans, cilantro rice, this amazing recipe and toppings!!!!
    We did use brisket and for sure would again next time!
    We freeze everything to make future bowls when we crave it!
    You must try this recipe!!!!

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe is AMAZING!! Hands down one of my go-to recipes. Our family and friends rave when I make this and I have given the recipe out to so many people. Most compliments I have ever gotten on a meal. Oh and I LOVE the taste myself. No edits or altercations to the recipe were needed!

  10. 5 stars
    Great recipe. My son Makes this often for his fellow firefighters at the station. Some advice for those who find a chilies in adobo too spicy and overpowering one time when I didn’t have any in the pantry are used a can of Rotel tomatoes with green chile and a few dashes of liquid smoke to add the smoky flavor that you get from the chipotle in adobo and it was great and you don’t get the overpowering heat that you can get from the chipotles and is a great alternative if you don’t have the chipotles in adobo.

  11. 5 stars
    Super easy, tender and flavorsome! I had a 1.3kg brisket which I cut into 4 pieces to sear/seal. Once cooked, I removed and shredded with a fork then put it back in with the juices on high for about 30 mins. Perfect tacos and burritos. Thank you!

  12. 5 stars
    This recipe is so Bomb. Highly recommend! Amazing flavor. So many tasty dishes to add this meat to.
    Me and my honey love spicy food so I add a whole can of chipotles in adobo and a dried pepper like guajillo, depending on how spicy we want the dish. And more garlic. I found that deglazing the skillet with a some red wine (after the meat has been braised) adds another fabulous layer of flavor and gets all the tasty bits out of the pan. I cannot say enough good things about this recipe! Love it. Thanks Recipe Critic!!

  13. 4 stars
    Made this for last night dinner. It was so good, with a couple of but’s.
    The recipes shares to cut the brisket into large chunks. My chunks were not large enough as the shred was to small. This resulted in a low cook time of 6 hours vs. 8.
    A bit to spicy for my family. I added a bit of brown sugar and extra lime. I then made a sauce to top the taco with, same as the Mexican Street Corn, and that cut the head and was amazing.
    Brisket at my local market was $9#. As this is all slow cooker, I’d like to find a beef that cost less and still gives me a great chunk / shred.
    I’ll make this again as my home smelled amazing all day long.
    On a side note, we served this with homemade Naan that my wife makes. Seriously great dinner.

    1. 5 stars
      I tried this recipe and it was wonderful !!
      I am going to use the left over sauce for a soup base.. it’s delicious!!
      I used petite sirloin… Kroger’s (Fred Meyer in our area)had it for 2.99 is so tender and moist when used in a soup or stew!!

    2. Take the seeds out of the chipotles and add a lot of garlic. This will help with the spicy part. And the flavor is amazing!

  14. 5 stars
    Made this over the weekend and it was was great! Followed the recipe and was delicious! Thanks fro sharing all your wonderful recipes! Looking forward to the leftovers tonight, there wasn’t much left fed a family of 6!

  15. Complements on your recipe choices, seasoning and first hand advice.
    I seldom use a slow cooker anymore. And I don’t skillet fry nearly as much as I used to.
    I have a 6 qt. Instant Pot. And a Cooks Essentials 5+ qt. Air Fryer, as well as a Kitchen Aid counter top convection oven. These have markedly changed my cooking. Love them.
    And I much appreciate it when recipes include alternative choices for cooking i.e. your corned beef and cabbage hot pot alternative as opposed to your barbacoa recipe which doesn’t. There are increasing millions of us out here like this. Thanks

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