This Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef recipe is super-easy to make in the pressure cooker, it’s full of big flavors, and it is perfect for tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas and more!
Alright, now that Easter weekend with its delicious carrot cake and scalloped potatoes is behind us, I am diving full speed ahead into the next (and, in my opinion, most delicious) holiday season of the year…
I mean, let’s be real, I will take just about any excuse to eat Mexican food as often as humanly possible. But I love when late spring rolls around each year and the entire world comes together to celebrate the country who introduced us all to the brilliance of things like…margaritas. And enchiladas, huevos rancheros, tamales, margaritas, mole, horchata, quesadillas, and a thousand other faves. And, of course, my personal favorite…chips and salsa. And everyone’s favorite on Tuesdays…TACOS.
It’s not a Tuesday at our house if it doesn’t include some form of tacos for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And ever since we moved across the ocean and I had to minimize my kitchen appliances, I’ve turned into an even bigger fan of using my Instant Pot to cook so many of my favorite slow cooker recipes. Case in point?
My favorite barbacoa recipe.
Barbacoa Beef…in the Instant Pot!
I originally shared my recipe for barbacoa beef — made in the slow cooker — about 4 years ago here on the blog. And since then, thousands of you have made and loved it. (Yay!) But lately, everyone has been asking how to translate it to the Instant Pot(affiliate link).
So, since I’ve tweaked the recipe a tiny bit for myself these past few years, I thought I’d pop back in with an updated post today for how to make the most flavorful, tender, juicy, irresistible barbacoa beef recipe in the Instant Pot. It’s super simple, and is guaranteed to be a win for Cinco de Mayo, or your next Taco Tuesday celebration, or — you know — any normal day of the week that the Mexi craving hits.
Here’s how to make it!
Barbacoa Beef Ingredients:
To make barbacoa beef, you will need:
A roast: Really, just about any cut of beef here, but the leaner the better in my opinion. (I definitely recommend cutting off any visible large sections of fat.) I usually use a chuck roast.
Chipotles in adobo sauce: These delicious little guys add the classic smoky flavor that I love. Feel free to add in an extra chipotle or two (and/or some of that flavorful sauce) to amp up the flavor a bit.
Diced green chiles: I also love adding in a can of these diced hatch green chiles, which are totally mild, but round out the flavor a bit.
Onion: White, red or yellow…you pick!
Lime juice and apple cider vinegar: To add some brightness and freshness.
Bay leaves, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cloves: Love this combo of spices. If you have access to Mexican oregano, it’s what I prefer to use in this recipe. But traditional (Italian) oregano will also work well.
Beer or beef broth: My original recipe called for beef broth, but similar to my carnitas recipe, I’ve turned to adding beer instead and love the extra flavor it gives. That said, if you prefer not to cook with alcohol, beef broth or water will totally work too.
How To Make Barbacoa Beef In The Instant Pot:
To make this recipe in the Instant Pot, just follow these simple steps:
Make The Sauce: In my slow cooker recipe, I just had you dump all of the ingredients together in the crock pot and call it good…which would also totally work in the Instant Pot. But a few of you weren’t a big fans of the little diced onions and peppers in your barbacoa beef. So instead for this recipe, I have you blend the onions, peppers, spices and more together into a smooth sauce. (You can use a blender or food processor.)
Brown The Beef: Then take a few minutes to sear the beef on each side, using the “Sauté” function of the Instant Pot. This step is optional if you’re short on time, but those delicious browned edges will add even richer flavor to the beef.
Combine Everything: Then combine the beef, sauce, and bay leaves together in the Instant Pot and toss to combine. Cover the pot with the lid.
Pressure Cook: Then set your Instant Pot to cook on manual for about an hour or so, until the beef is ultra-tender and pulls apart easily with a fork. (If it needs more time, pop it back in for another 8 minutes or so.)
Shred The Beef: Then shred, shred, shred. Toss the barbacoa beef with all of those delicious juices again so that they soak up as much of them as possible. And…SERVE!
How To Serve Barbacoa Beef:
Really, the options here are limitless. I love serving barbacoa in:
…and so much more. Also, the leftovers are delicious if you want to add them to a soup (like this one) or a dip. And they freeze beautifully for up to 3 months. (<– Just be sure to freeze them with those delicious juices too.)
All in all, an ultra-flavorful, ultra-simple, ultra-versatile recipe that I find myself coming back to again and again.
Enjoy, everyone! Oh, and also, if you have any recipe requests for Cinco de Mayo this year, holler and I’ll get to work on ’em this month. ♡
This Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef recipe is super-easy to make in the pressure cooker, it’s full of big flavors, and it is perfect for tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas and more! Feel free to add more chipotles in adobo for a smokier flavor.
Combine beer, garlic, chipotles, onion, green chiles, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cloves in a blender or food processor. Purée for 30 seconds, or until completely smooth. Set aside.
Press the “Sauté” setting on the Instant Pot. Add oil. Then once it is heated and shimmering, add the roast and sear — turning every 45-60 seconds or so — until the roast is browned on all sides. Press “Cancel” to turn off the heat.
Add the bay leaves and pureed sauce, and briefly toss everything until the roast is evenly coated in the sauce. Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing”.
Press “Manual”, then press “Pressure” until the light on “High Pressure” lights up, then adjust the +/- buttons until time reads 60 minutes. Cook. Then very carefully, turn the vent to “Venting” for quick release, and wait until all of the steam has released and the valve has dropped.
Remove the lid, and discard the bay leaves.
Using two forks, shred the beef into bite-sized pieces. Give the beef one more good toss in all of those juices so that it can soak them up.
Serve warm, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
* Feel free to use any cut of beef that you prefer here.
**If you would like to make this in the slow cooker, you can slow cook everything for 4-5 hours on high, or 8 hours on low, until the beef is tender and shreds easily with a fork.
I can’t wait to try this! I feel a little overwhelmed by my new Instant Pot, so thanks for the great recipes!
What kind of beer do you like to use with this recipe?
What kind of beer do you recommend using for this recipe and the carnitas recipe? I assume a Mexican beer like Corona or Corona Lite?
Noooo! Use a quality dark beer with a hearty beef meal. A stout would work well.
Modelo es la cerveza!
Ali, this was absolutely delicious! I followed the recipe exactly and made no changes. Another one of your recipes has pleased my family. Thank you for sharing!
We used Modelo beer. Wow! I am so excited about this recipe. Looking forward to eating this for days!!!
Yum! Looks delicious!
I made this recipe last week after work for my family using a 3 pound chuck roast thinking I would have left over since only 3 of us would be eating dinner. Everyone DEVOURED it, and sadly there were no left overs. My dad’s 79th birthday is this weekend and I’m making this recipe for our family dinner to celebrate his birthday!
Perfect! I’ve made your slow cooker barbacoa beef recipe before and it was a hit but having an instant pot version will make it even easier. I’ve pinned and will be adding it to our meal plan for next week.
Hello, made this in our InstaPot. Turned out great ?
Wow, I think this is one of the best meals I’ve ever cooked! Thank you for sharing this incredible recipe.
OMG! We ate them, Spouse with little flour and me with double little corn tortillas. Couldn’t think of anything to add. This is a “Keeper” recipe! Thanks for sharing.
This was delicious! I made it with a coffee stout because that was the kind of beer I had on hand. I was a little worried about the heat level with two chipotle peppers, but it was perfect. Looking forward to eating the leftovers!
This is a wonderful, easy recipe. I was wise enough to freeze portions of the barbacoa (in its sauce) next to some brown rice about a month ago. Today I microwaved my first portion and was BLOWN AWAY by how good it was. I highly recommend doing this if you are lucky enough to have leftovers!
Wow! Made this – The flavor is AMAZING! Wouldn’t change a thing. Only thing I did do was pour leftover sauce from Instant Pot and cooked it down on the stove so it was condensed. Then poured it back over the shredded beef. Sooo good!
Made this for my Bunco group as part of a taco bar, it was a huge hit. Everyone loved it.
Made this for dinner tonight. It was fabulous! Thank you so much. I will definitely be adding this to my list of go to recipes.
Absolutely fabulous. I’m new to Instant Pot and this recipe was easy and loved by everyone. I decided to use a stout to give this a little more richness, highly recommend!
Delicious! I made it as directed, with the exception of
— I used a 2-lb roast, so I had extra juice at the end, which I can use on something else.
— I didn’t purée the ingredients, just diced them all up.
Yum. Thanks for a great recipe!
I made this tonight. Yummy! The only thing I did differently was that I used stew beef instead of cut-up roast. The flavor is delicious. I wanted the juice to cling more to the meat, so I am currently rendering down the juice in the Instant Pot on sauté mode so that I can toss it with the leftovers. Thanks for sharing.
OMG so good!! I got a little brave and put the whole can of chipotle peppers with Adobo sauce in, I like hot,my husband on the other hand could not eat it. I loved it!!! Super easy to make!!
Yum Yum! Followed directions to a T. Is going the the recipe file to make again!!!!
I used a 3 lb brisket and turned out wonderful.
Next time I will follow Karen’s suggestion of a coffee stout. I think it will give it a deeper flavor.
I followed Caryl suggestion to reduce the sauce. I took the meat out and turned the instant pot onto saute and reduced that way.
THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!!
Sooo good! As good or Better than Chipotle. Used sirloin roast. Trimmed and then seared in Instant Pot. Fell apart. I added some garlic salt. Thanks for sharing.
Made this tonight and I’m planning to make it again and again. Great flavors! Served on toasted corn tortillas with avocado, cilantro and lime. Yum!
I’m not typically a fan of meat, but wow!!! This was incredible, I’m not kidding when I say it was one of the best foods I’ve ever had. Everyone who ate it was in agreement, this is an amazing recipe. I’ll definitely be making this one again!!!!
This is the 2nd time to use my Instant Pot! It was so good! I was peer-pressured by my husband to add three peppers and it was a little too spicy for my taste. Leave it like she has it written. It is perfect!
Made this tonight and it was delicious. I used water instead of beer and really wished I had used beer. I used two chipotle peppers, next time I will use 3. The meat was fall apart tender.
This was absolutely delicious. I used a beef brisket since that’s what I had, which was about 3 lb after I trimmed the fat, and the same cooking time (60 mins) was perfect. I omitted the can of green chiles (didn’t have ’em) and went light on the chipotles en adobo so it wouldn’t be noticeably spicy for my kids. I also broiled the beef briefly in its sauce to crisp it up after it was done in the IP. We served it on rice and the sauce was wonderful. My husband all but licked the pot out. This is definitely one we’ll be making again. Thanks!
I made this and it was really tasty and easy, but my roast didn’t cook in an hour. I had to put it back on for 15 more minutes of pressure (still not done), then I cut it into smaller chunks, and put it back in for 10 more minutes. Next time I’d cut the roast into smaller chunks, brown each of them, and then cook it. That’s the same way I do pulled pork and it works perfectly. Also, it gives a chance to cut out big pieces of fat. I really like how everything is blended together for the sauce so there’s less chopping and the flavours are evenly distributed. Will certainly make again!
This is delicious but when I made with grass free range beef it was a little tough. I’m wondering if I should have cooked it longer?
This was my first IP recipe — thanks for the detailed directions! Sooo good. Can’t believe this wasn’t made in a slow cooker! Will make again very soon
I’m new to the instant pot. Made this on a Monday night. It was delicious! Will make again for sure!
Hi! Can’t wait to make this!
I’m an instant pot newbie so I have a stupid question.
I made a beef stew and it called for 30 minutes on high pressure.
I just want to make sure that 60 minutes on high pressure
is the correct cooking time
Thanks so much!
If I double the recipe do I double the time?
Great recipe, was delicious. However, I used the whole roast and it didn’t cook all the way through. The outer meat was juicy, fall-apart tender and delicious. Next time I will cut the meat into 2-inch cubes like I do for my carnitas, should get more browned bits that way as well.
And now I could see that I missed the “cut into 2-inch chunks” part of the recipe ?
Wow! Thank you for sharing this recipe, made this with a 6lb beef brisket so I doubled everything. Put it on top of warm corn tortillas with sour cream, Pico De Gallo, pickled onions and thinly sliced cabbage and was it ever a hit!! Guests were raving about how amazing it was. The meat is so flavorful I’ll definitely be making this again and again.
When you doubled it, did you change the cooking time??
Hands down the best thing ever to come out of my Instant Pot! Delicious flavors—better than the Chipotle version I was trying to copy! Thank you so much for sharing this.
Dude, I made carnitas last night instead in my instant pot. Wife was in the mood for Sunday evening margaritas and street tacos. I literally went to target and bought this beast and threw in a 3lb pork but with all the correct seasonings. 60 min. later- freakin money!! She called the kids at college and raved. I feel like a champ!!
I used 1/2 cup dark Mexican beer and juice from one orange plus whole jalapeño in addition to chipotle and other ingredients in blender. Cut slits in roast and added whole garlic cloves in each slit(6), then seared on all sides in cast iron skillet before putting in instant pot.
I didn’t have any ground cloves so I left it out. Will this affect it much?
Delicious! Followed rhe recipe as written. Used an arm roast that i didnt know what else to do with and a random coffee stout beer that had resided in my fridge for long enough.
I found that 2 chipotle peppers gave this a nice heat level, too hot for my 6yo but the rest loved it.
Definite keeper, thank you!
Solid recipe….making it for the 3rd time today…Cinco de Mayo!
Disappointed. The meat was quite tough, two forks were not up to the task of shredding. I’ve put it back to cook for 20 mins— can’t make it any worse. Flavor was good though.
I made this tonight and followed the recipe to the letter, it was absolutely fantastic! Beef was super tender and flavorful. I was worried it would be spicy but it was not at all, just a nice smoky taste.
Amazing! I forgot to add the water or beer, oops! But it still turned out Amazing! My husband was blown away. Instead of adding whole bay I added crushed bay leaves, i didn’t have green Chiles so I used red bell peppers. Love this recipe! Thanks for sharing!
I made this last night. I substituted the beer for beef broth and added tomato bouillon. It was fantastic! Thank you so much for the recipe. And the cook time was spot on.
I didn’t have ground cloves or green chili’s but I made it anyway. It was still amazing and full of flavor. My husband loved it and we will be making again.
Thanks for another great recipe. I browned the meat on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet. Moved the beef to a slow cooker, deglazed the pan with the “sauce”and pored that into the crock. Cooked on low for 7 hours, removing the lid the last 1/2 hour to reduce the sauce. Amazing!
Beef cheek is the only meat for real barbacua. And big red is the only drink to go with barbacua tacos.
Yes and skirt steak is the ONLY kind of fajita. I’m sure this tastes delicious but let’s not call it barbacoa because it isn’t.
Thank you! Absolutely delicious. This is one of the first recipes I’ve tried in my instant pot. My family and even very picky youngest kid loved every bite of this. I’ve made it a few more times again.
I didn’t use any beer, but I might try it today.
Last night was my first attempt at making arepas, this was the recipe I chose to prepare the filling. I used a grass-fed tri-tip which I cut into 5 smaller pieces and browned in a cast iron skillet before putting it in the IP for 30 minutes with a NPR rather than QR. After breaking the meat up a bit by hand, I grabbed my hand mixer to give it a really fine shredding, added some of the juices and some shredded monterey jack cheese and stuffed the filling into the prepared arepas. They were spectacular! I have not given the recipe a rating because I used a different method of releasing the pressure.
I was hoping this recipe would approximate the barbacoa tacos/tostadas from a favorite Mexican place of ours, namely, Spanglish in Traverse City, Michigan, where we often visit. I was super impressed with the flavors and how easy it was to make; not to mention the whole family loved the tacos (kids 12 to 1 years old). We followed the recipe pretty much exactly, except that I seared a little more than half of the chuck roast pieces in a cast iron skillet, which is larger and gets hotter than the Instant Pot in sauté. Topped with angel hair cabbage, feta (no queso fresco at the supermarket this week), and avocado. 5 stars easily.
The first time I made this, it was by the book and delicious! We like a bit more heat, so I add 5 jalapeno peppers and about 5 chipotle peppers and we absolutely love it! Great for tacos, burritos, enchaladas, taquitos, tostadas, etc.
One note of advice, use beer.