Gimme Some Oven


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This homemade beef barbacoa recipe is easy to make in the slow cooker, and it’s SO flavorful and delicious! Perfect for burritos, tacos, salads, quesadillas and more. 

Barbacoa Beef -- tender, flavorful, and made extra easy in the slow cooker | #crockpot #slowcooker

What was the “cool” restaurant you begged your parents to take you to when you were a kid?

Growing up in Wichita in the 80s and 90s, I have to admit that my parents were way ahead of the whole “supporting local restaurants” trend, and we were regulars at our neighborhood Mexican and Chinese restaurants. But when we were ordering take-out on a busy evening, or going out to dinner with a bunch of family friends, or when we read enough books and earned enough stars on our purple holographic buttons….Pizza Hut was where it was at. Or more accurately, where we were at. Yes, many a landmark occasion in my childhood was marked with a Canadian bacon personal pan pizza and an ice cold Pepsi and friends nearby to celebrate. And then a few days later my sister and I would beg our parents to take us back. Actually, just a few weeks ago, my aunt ordered Pizza Hut for a family reunion and my inner 10-yr-old came out and I inhaled three pieces of thin pizza like they were the best. food. ever. Because in my childhood, they pretty much were.

But it seems like times have changed. When I was teaching kids music lessons for years, I couldn’t help but notice that the to-go cup that most frequently accompanied students into the studio was from none other than…Chipotle. My students were crazy about Chipotle. It seemed to be the place where their families went for a quick meal on the go, or where they would celebrate together with the team after the soccer game, and where (at age 9!) they could rattle off their preference for a chicken-burrito-bowl-with-black-beans-rice-corn-salsa-extra-cheese-no-lettuce by memory. And just like my sister and I years ago, they would beg their parents to take them there as often as possible.

Now granted, Chipotle will never have anything as cool as Book-It. (Sidenote: please tell me that you all read about this very important 30th birthday and the return of Book-It for adults!)  But I have to agree that I find myself popping in nowadays for a barbacoa salad bowl much (much) more than I order a pepperoni pizza. And I’m thrilled that — of all the fast food restaurants out there — Chipotle all the rage, and has become such a popular, affordable, fresh, generally healthy, and tasty place for a new generation of kids to eat. And, you know, all of those “kids at heart” too.

But as much as I love and always order the barbacoa salad there, I have to confess that it still doesn’t compare to the barbacoa recipe (a.k.a. shredded beef) I make homemade. It’s so flavorful, super tender, and perfect on just about anything. Also, it can be made simple in the slow cooker, and you can add as much of it to your tacos or burritos or salads or rice bowls as you’d like. Plus, the cost of making it homemade for a large family (or for leftovers) will probably only be a fraction of what you would pay eating out.

Homemade barbacoa, anyone?

Homemade Barbacoa Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Barbacoa Beef -- tender, flavorful, and made extra easy in the slow cooker | #crockpot #slowcooker

Traditionally, barbacoa is cooked over an open fire, or in a pit dug in the ground that has been covered with maguey leaves. But I live in a loft building downtown where open fires and pits are, you might say, “frowned upon”. So I go for the next best thing — my slow cooker.

To keep things as easy as possible, this recipe basically just requires you to toss all of your ingredients in the pot and let the slow cooker do all of the work. It will definitely yield a shredded beef barbacoa that has a few chunks of onion and garlic and green chiles in there, which I don’t mind. But if you want to take an extra step, you can pulse all of the extra non-beef ingredients (minus the bay leaves) together in a food processor or blender beforehand so that there are no chunks. Your call.

Some people also like to sear the beef in a tablespoon or two of oil in a saute pan before adding it to a slow cooker, which will result in some crispier edges and slightly richer flavor. But I think this beef is plenty tender and flavorful cooked 100% in the slow cooker. So also, your call.

Barbacoa Beef -- tender, flavorful, and made extra easy in the slow cooker | #crockpot #slowcooker

Then once the beef has simmered for hours, it will fall apart easily when you shred it with two forks…

Barbacoa Beef -- tender, flavorful, and made extra easy in the slow cooker | #crockpot #slowcooker

…and you will have the most tender, flavorful, delicious beef ready to serve.

Barbacoa Beef -- tender, flavorful, and made extra easy in the slow cooker | #crockpot #slowcooker

I like my barbacoa to be well seasoned, since I enjoy it most often served Mexican-street-taco-style, with just corn tortillas, chopped white onions and chopped fresh-cilantro (with maybe a sprinkle of cheese). So this recipe is loaded with easy seasonings — including chipotle peppers in adobo (a must) — that will make your barbacoa stand well on its own.

If you’re not into soft tacos, you can definitely serve this barbacoa meat Chipotle-style in a burrito, or “burrito” rice bowl, or a salad, or crispy tacos. Or it’s also great in everything from quesadillas, to enchiladas, to soups, to tostadas, to sandwiches and more. And, it freezes really well so if you’re single like me and want to have it for leftovers, it will be the barbacoa recipe that just keeps on giving.


Barbacoa Beef -- tender, flavorful, and made extra easy in the slow cooker | #crockpot #slowcooker

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5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 165 reviews
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 250 minutes
  • Total Time: 260 minutes
  • Yield: 0 About 8-12 servings 1x


This barbacoa recipe is simple to make in your slow cooker, and makes the most tender, flavorful, delicious barbacoa beef.




  1. Slow cook. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker. Toss gently to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the beef is tender and falls apart easily when shredded with a fork.
  2. Shred and toss. Using two forks, shred the beef into bite-sized pieces inside of the slow cooker. Toss the beef with the juices, then cover and let the barbacoa beef soak up the juices for an extra 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
  3. Serve. Use a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon to serve the barbacoa beef and enjoy!


Storage instructions: Any leftovers can be stored (with their juices) in a food storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Barbacoa Beef -- tender, flavorful, and made extra easy in the slow cooker | #crockpot #slowcooker

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635 comments on “Barbacoa”

  1. So incredible, I loved the ease of putting it together and that flavor was great! Whole family loved it, tasted like a fresher Chipotle bowl!

  2. Made this tonight, so good!!!

  3. This was absolutely amazing, the only barbacoa I will make going forward. I made this exactly as written, no substitutions or changes, it was perfect. Thank you for this wonderful recipe :)

  4. I have a sirloin tip roast. Will that roast the same?

  5. A crowd favorite each time I make it. It is quickly becoming a staple recipe in our home!
    D E L I S H

  6. Made this for an event at work. It was a hit. Amazing flavor. Absolutely delicious. Definitely going in the keep file to make again in the future!

  7. This was a crowd pleaser. I made for a family party and went back for seconds and it was gone!! Was the best taco filling I have ever made. Will definitely be making again very soon!

  8. I’d love to try this. Is it very spicy? My kids and I can’t handle anything but mild spice. ?

  9. Turned out delicious and so flavorful!!! Best part- easy to make! Definitely saving this for the future

  10. So delicious! This is a family favorite!

  11. This recipe was so delicious – even the picky eaters in my family ate it! The meat turned out really tender and had a great flavor.

  12. My reviews was supposed to be five stars but the stars didn’t display correctly on my phone…so I’m resubmitting!

    Best Barbacoa I’ve ever made – thank you!!!!

  13. I had to tweek it since I didn’t have lime juice, but I did have sour orange. Since I started it late I’m cooking on high, though I’m sure low would be better. I also couldn’t find my bay leaves lol.

  14. Made this recipe without the chipotle peppers or lime (hubby not a big fan) & is very picky with beef) OMG came out awesome! Hubby said this is the one!! Beeen dabbling with different barbacoa recipes a few years and WHOLE family gave this one a thumbs up its great!! Love that it’s not hard to make most ingredients are on hand – just can’t rave enough about it!!! I served it as tacos with diced onions, cilantro & lime and a homemade salsa- thank you so much!!! This is the one!

  15. One of my new favorites! So full of flavor!

  16. Y’all – you have GOT to make this. It is so freaking good. For once, the recipe sounded SO GOOD that I made it exactly as written and even measured the danged ingredients so I didn’t risk screwing up something as delicious as a good barbacoa. I was not disappointed. I blended the seasonings/broth the night before in my Ninja smoothie blender and tossed the bay leaves in so the next morning before work I just had to roughly cube the meat and toss it all in the pot. I used my IP on the medium slow cook setting for 8 hrs (the meat was still slightly frozen) and it then switched to warm for 3 hrs until dinner. It was perfectly cooked. Even without shredding and re-mixing, the outside of the meat had enough spice and flavor that I kept a bit to the side for our 2 yr old and then mixed the rest up for the adults. The toddler declared it “spicy!” and then continued to gobble it down. The adults agreed that it had a nice level of spice. We made burrito bowls but TBH you could eat it out of the pot with a fork and save some dishes. It’s that good. The chilis in adobo gave it the heat and smokiness we were looking for. I haven’t lived near Chipotle in years so I can’t compare this to their barbacoa but DANG it was good. I froze half of it for later but can’t imagine “later” will be too far away. 100% going into the recipe box.

  17. Was the most scrumptious barbacoa I’ve ever had! It’s also the first recipe I pinned first new to Pinterest and first I’ve made. Couldn’t have been better, so much flavor. Making it again for my birthday, Thankyou for a perfect recipe and accurate time frame ?❤️

  18. Good and easy! Used beef consommé instead of beef broth because that’s all I had and it worked fine.

  19. New family favorite. We enjoy it both as tacos and rice bowls. A definite keeper!

  20. This was AMAZING! Pure delicious bliss!

  21. Thank you so much for this recipe it’s soooooo good. I moved from south Texas where Mexican food is AMAZING to Colorado where I’m not sure if they know what it even is. My comfort food was always barbacoa, corn tortilla with avacado, dash of salt and gotta have the Big Red!! Yum yum!! This is by far the best I’ve ever had and I just want to thank you for sharing you made this Texas girl very happy, my husband is hooked to ?

  22. This is absolutely delicious! Made for a party and it was a definite hit!

  23. This is my fave barbacoa recipe! It’s so tasty and you can really moderate how spicy you want it with the chipotles. We make this very often!

  24. Delicious! Made this yesterday for a dinner party and everyone thought it was a keeper. I will definitely make it again!

  25. Wowee, so good! This came out amazing! Thanks for sharing your recipe, this will be going into my recipe box!

  26. This is a winner! My family (except my young son wouldn’t try it, but that’s not surprising) loved it. Said it tastes a lot like Chipotle. Thank you for sharing!

  27. Will definitely make this again. So easy and delicious!

  28. Made this Barbados beef recipe for taco night New Year’s Eve 2018-19..
    Was amazing!!!
    Everyone loved it, couldn’t get enough!!
    One of my friends is even a chef who owns his own restaurant and he loved it!
    Definitely a keeper ☺️❤️

  29. Can’t have garlic, will the recipe turn out good without it? Thanks

  30. I have made this in my crock pot and it got absolutely RAVE reviews. I’d like to try it in the Instant Pot – any suggestions on timing. Thanks!!

  31. I make this quite often. It is so flavorful. My kids love it too. So easy and so yummy.

    • This recipe has become one of our staples at home. It’s so easy to make and so delicious and really goes with any meal. We add it to our eggs, mushrooms and onions for breakfast, have it for lunch, eat it with dinner and just change up what we’re combining it with. It’s seriously the best.

  32. So delicious! Family and friends favorite
    I blend all the ingredients instead of chopping
    (Save time)
    Also I use fresh jalapeño peppers instead of can

  33. Absolutely delicious! Served it with avocado salsa.

  34. Unbelievably good! So so tasty – a total hit!!

  35. I was wondering how spicy this recipe was for children. My kids do not like overly spicy foods but would love to try this recipe as it feeds a lot and we are a very large family. Thank you!

  36. Amazing with a few changes…Barbacoa traditionally has some orange juice added. I added about 1/4 cup orange juice, and a good squirt of honey. This balances the flavors, and makes the flavor spectrum wider. I threw the entire piece of meat in a reusable bag with the marinade (left bay leaf whole) and then baked two days later. I love a traditional cast iron dutch oven, so I baked mine in the oven, lid on, without cubing the meat. 425 for the first 45 minutes, then 350 for the last several hours. Shredded the meat, and left in dutch oven at 225 for another hour until guests arrived. Homemade corn tortillas, with radish, avocado, cilantro, tomato, and other delish toppings. This recipe is a keeper.

    • Love the changes to this – I also added fresh squeezed oranges and honey and while I didn’t marinate as the other reviewer. I seared the meat whole and browned for 5 minutes on each side in some olive oil. Drained the fat, Poured the puréed ingredients popped it into my Dutch oven. Baked in 425 for 45 minutes, then reduced temperature to 325 for 2-2 1/2 hours more. Perfect!

  37. Excellent recipe. I used it to make fajita bowls & later, burritos.

  38. Made this tonight for husband of 18 years and he said it was the best meal I’ve ever made. I used the suggestion of putting in blender and pulsing and also added 1 extra chipotle. Sooooo good. Made sure to save this in favorites

  39. This was absolutely mouthwatering! It took four hours in the crockpot on high to be “shreddable,” but utterly delicious! A definite do-over.

  40. I made this in a crockpot and LOVED it! Can it be done in an instant pot?

  41. Hi, Can you double the recipe and cook as above?

  42. Just made this and halved the recipe. It was delightful! We will be making it for a family gathering soon. Thank you so much. The flavors are nicely balanced. I cooked it ahead of time and refrigerated it overnight. Of course, the fat rose to the top and solidified, so it was easy to remove before heating and serving. The flavor was even better the 2nd day. Perfect.

  43. Tried this recipe for the first time tonight, it actually came out better than expected. I’ve tried so many others and they went into the garage can. So I was really happy wen this turned out, I was told to save this recipe for next time.

  44. I made this on the stove tonight using some fresh roasted Hatch peppers & homemade tomatillo salsa. Amazingly good, thanks for the recipe!

  45. Awesome! Served over rice and beans first night and used leftover for quesadillas in the air fryer later in the week. Halved recipe since there are only two of us and made the perfect amount for two meals. Easy and delicious!

  46. The first time I made this recipe, I used chuck roast and I couldn’t stop raving about how good it was! Tonight, I was craving it, but I didn’t have beef, so I made it with chicken :-) It was just as tantalizing! Absolutely addicted to barbacoa now, thanks for such a flavorful recipe!

  47. Made it for my daughter’s 5th bday and set it up as a taco bar and it was such a hit! Next time I’ll have to double the recipe b/c there were no leftovers!

  48. College men loved this! No leftovers!

  49. I LOVE this recipe. I make it once a month. Recently, I bought an instant pot. I don’t suppose you have a recipe for this in the instant pot?
    Thank you!

  50. Would you recommend filtered or unfiltered apple cider vinegar? I’m excited to try it out!