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.
Thanks for the recipe!! My husband and I love it! We use 3-4 chipotle peppers for more spice and thicken up the sauce on sauté mode. Also, I like to shred the beef and put it under the broiler to crisp it up. Definitely delicious!
Have made this twice and LOVE it! Once I used the meat for enchiladas and once for tacos. A hit in my home. Thanks so much!
Call me loco, but I put the whole can of chipotles in. I also used venison. It’s officially Taco Day in the USA, I’ve opted in!!
I like how some people have taken this a step further and made carnitas with the result.
Ali, I love your adventurousness with the spices. Usually I have to double what recipes call for (unless I’m using Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz’s book, ‘the complete book of Mexican cooking’…a paperback!), but this time I respected the suggestion… except for the adobo peppers! Thanks for sharing your work.
I tried this recipe with venison also – came out sooooo good!!!
My husband and son said these were the best tacos they’ve ever had! My hubby is a taco fanatic, so that’s a huge compliment! The meat was incredibly tender, juicy and flavorful! It tasted even better the next day when we had them as leftovers. The meat had had time to soak up the flavors- so delicious!
I used beef broth instead of beer or water and I used four adobe chilis because we love spicy, but I’ll use 6 next time because it still wasn’t spicy enough.
I highly recommend topping the finished tacos off with lettuce, cabbage or spinach, cilantro, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado and a squeeze of lime. It was perfection!
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe!
Fantastic! My family loves this, very little left when dinner is over, if there is, it doesn’t last long
My husband and I devoured this in a burrito bowl! Easy and clean ingredients- can’t wait to make this again. Thank you!
Very good flavor and very easy and forgiving if you edit or sub spices/ingredients. Seared the whole pot roast on the stove first, then cut and trimmed, deglazed, etc. Cooked for 45 mins and 10 min rest in pot. After shredding and pouring juice over the meat, there was about a cup of that flavorful broth left, so I put it back in the pot with a cup of rice and 1/2 can of black beans. ??????
This is my go to for any time I have company and its always a hit! Super easy to make ahead, the house always smells FANTASTIC from it, and has SO MUCH FLAVOR. I honestly have never used either of the peppers because I have little ones who aren’t a fan of spice and it still is incredibly delicious without! Thank you so much for making me look like a good cook ?
Wow was this DELICIOUS! The flavor combination was great. We put it over rice with pinto beans, cilantro, salsa, lime crema, lettuce shreds and a little Monterey Jack cheese. YUM! Thanks for an awesome recipe. It’s a keeper:)
This is my go-to barbacoa recipe. Thanks so much for sharing! It’s delish.
We love this recipe! Definitely a family favorite. Quick question…while we also love your instant pot carnitas recipe, I don’t often have the fresh orange juice. Would it work to use this recipe with the pork? Thanks!
If I double this recipe, do I need to increase the cooking time?
Boo got a burn notice on the ip so I did a quick release and tossed it in the crock pot. Thankfully I am cooking tomorrows dinner tonight. Smells wonderful. My husband woke up and yelled downstairs. ..”what are you cooking it smells great!” Looking forward to dinner already.
Would it still work if I do not cut into 2 in chunks first and just put in whole roast?
I would like to know this also
I don’t know how to rate this properly since it was literally my first go using the Instantpot. I didn’t scale properly since I only had a 1.5lb piece of meat and kept it in for the full 60. It sort of shredded but cooked through almost roast like in the middle. The chilli peppers in Adobo sauce I have is also really packed with sodium so it’s hard to use the right amount without cutting it with tomato paste. Hope I can get some guidance ?
I made this and it was SOOO GOOD! You have to try. Better than restaurants!! I added a splash of three crabs fish sauce for extra umami flavor (it may sound gross but trust me in this one, doesn’t make it fishy at all).
After it was done cooking, I strained the leftover sauce/juices into a bowl and used it to dip my tacos in. Oh my god. So delicious.
My daughter isnt big on red meat and she devours them every time I make them for taco night and my husband thinks this is the best instant pot meal I make!
This turned out great! Wonderful flavor, made it in my ninja foodi. One hour with 2 lbs of meat. I added a large orange quartered. Finished it under the broiler, fantastic!
We did this in our pressure cooker and it turned out amazing. We had to make some adjustments because we’re limiting our grocery store visits and we didn’t have all the ingredients. We did not have the canned chipotle peppers, which I know hurt the flavor. We also didn’t have the green chilies. What we did was put in a can of Rotel Tomatoes instead. The only other change was that we let the pressure come down on its own vs. flipping the valve open, this was mostly due to timing on our end. I have to say, we’ll be making this one again! Even the 4 year old was devouring it! Thanks for this recipe!
Delicious! Adding to our Taco Tuesday rotation! Yum!
Son and husband loved this! We used a jalapeno instead of canned chile peppers because I forgot to buy any. Served on tortillas with caramelized onions, diced red onion, and cilantro. Thank you!
My favorite part is that it doesn’t have cilantro! Hallelujah!
So good! I reduced the remaining liquid into a sauce for my burrito bowls
Absolutely delicious!! Used a whole can of chipotles and it was a beautiful inferno ?
i swear this is one of THE BEST recipes i have ever tried! the meat is absolutely amazing and came out perfectly. i topped these tacos with pickled onions, avocado lime crema and cotija cheese…incredible! an awesome dinner and pretty hands off for a weeknight meal. thank you for this!
Talk about a recipe that my whole family enjoys! Great flavor and terrific instructions! Thanks!
Two chipotles was too hot for me. Is the sauce they come in as spicy as the peppers? I love the flavor. It was delicious. Just a bit too spicy. I was wondering if I could go with 1 pepper and some of the sauce the peppers come in.
I made this yesterday in the crock pot. My house smelled delicious all day. The cloves really added a nice hint of flavor without being overpowering. It had the right amount of spice!
Wow this was delicious and so easy! I left out the chipotles since my husband struggles with spicy food but it still turned out great. We put it in taco shells with lime cilantro rice, sour cream, lettuce, guacamole, and feta cheese. It was restaurant quality!
This is a staple in my house after a couple of cooks. I use beef ribs and it is delicious!
I’ve made this dish anytime a beef roast is on sale. It’s so good! The beef comes out so tender and flavorful after pressure cooking. I serve my barbacoa on corn tortillas with some cilantro and onions.
I made this tonight and roughly shredded the meat to use in burrito bowls. Delicious!!! This recipe will definitely be my go-to for all south of the border dishes requiring beef shreds or chunks.
I have never commented on a recipe before! This was delicious!!! I followed the recipe, except used broth instead of beer or water. We loved it! I served it on tortillas with homemade corn salsa on top. It was really yummy. Meat was super juicy, tender and flavorful. We’ve never had barbacoa beef before, so nothing to compare it too, but we’ll definitely be having it again!
Insanely good! My 11 year old hates literally everything that isn’t chicken and loves this! It’s perfection!
Would this still work in the crockpot? Figured i could set it in the morning and go for 8-9 hours on low.
Love this! I’ve also made it with stew meat – which makes for much shorter cooking time.
Thank you for this recipe!! It was so delicious and so easy. We used 4 peppers and were really happy with the flavor. Likely due to the kind of salt I was using I would cut down by half a tsp.
I had doubled the recipe and ended up with a lot of extra liquid (I know you don’t usually double liquid in IP recipes, but I didn’t want to risk the meat not being seasoned enough if I cut out things.) That being said, do we think I could freeze half of the liquid and use it to cook another single batch of meat in the future?
I’ve made your slow-cooker version numerous times always with rave reviews and I am looking forward to trying this recipe for my instant pot as well. I’m just curious, what other cuts of meat have you used to make this? I have a tri-tip in the freezer and am contemplating using it. What do you think, yes or no? Thanks for sharing your recipes, you’ve helped keep my family well fed!
Thanks for sharing!!!! Love this recipe! The only thing I did different was, after the meat was shredded, I put it into a hot skillet and seared the barbacoa. This adds a little char and texture. My family loved this recipe. I will definite make it again.
so flavorful! I used the leftover beef for your beef enchilada recipe the next day- amazing!
I’m new the Instant Pot and found this recipe… and I’m so glad I did! This was so good that my boyfriend invited his best friend and his father over to try it and it was gone in minutes! I did use a whole can of chipotles because we love spice!
This was delicious! We made a Mexican coleslaw and a roasted jalapeño chimichurri sauce to go on top of the tacos, and it was the perfect pairing
I cut the recepie in half as I didn’t have as much meat. Used Pot Roast as I could not find chuck roast and took off as much fat as possible.
This was amazing! Very smoky flavour and fell right apart. I also made instant pot refried beans and created a tostada instead of a taco.
Thank you so much for this recipe! I will be making this all the time!
Hi! Did you cook it for the entire 1 hour? Or just 30 minutes?
MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!!
Tip? I double the sauce and save a cup of the salsa and dip chips in it! BEST SALSA EVER!
Then I use the rest on 4-5 lbs of meat, you’ll want leftovers!!
Hello, I couldn’t find adobo sauce. Is it possible to substitute with red enchilada sauce? And how much?
Do you cut the roast into 2 inch pieces before searing it? Ingredients says 2 inch pieces but the directions kind of make it sound that it’s just one big roast. Thanks!
I absolutely love your recipes! Birria will be my next adventure. Thanks for all you do!
I have come back to this one again and again, it’s my go-to for taking a meal to a family with a new baby, etc. Makes enough to feed my family and theirs, and easy to send all the ingredients for burrito bowls. This recipe is definitely a fav!
Excellent! I love how you have suggestions for leftovers- haha! I made this for my husband and a friend- both are Mexican and were NO leftovers. Followed the recipe exactly- so good! Our house smelled incredible.