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’ve been making this recipe for a year now and the whole family loves it, even the super picky eaters! I leave out the green chiles but add in half a can of chipotle peppers in adobo. We have even done an entire can which was fine for spice loving partner and myself but the kids thought it was a little too much. Since we like it spicier, I don’t add the shredded beef back into the instant pot. I just leave it in a serving dish and then ladle out lots of the juice from the instant pot and use it like gravy for anyone who wants it with more of a kick. When I think of how much it would cost to buy 5 barbacoa bowls at Chipotle vs buy 2-3 lbs of chuck steak at the market and make some rice and open a bag of shredded cheese, the savings are well worth the small effort to make this delish dish!
My family loves this recipe. We like a little more heat, so I throw a couple of habanero peppers into the blender when making the sauce. I like to serve the barbacoa on small corn tortillas with cilantro-lime rice, some cotija cheese, diced red onion, a sprinkle of cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Perfect salty, savory, spicy, citrusy bite! Thanks for a great, easy recipe.
Love this recipe! I’ve made the crockpot version several times.
When making in the 8 quart instant pot their instructions say the minimum liquid is 2 cups. Is this recipe for a 6 qt. Size? Do you feel like the liquid needs to be increased? I’m sure you instant pot more than me. ?
I have never commented on a recipe before, despite looking up a recipe for just about everything.
That said, we made this tonight and it was one of the tastiest things we have ever eaten!
Seriously, the spice blend was spot-on and easy.
We will use this one again when we have company.
This was so good! Thank you!
Absolutely fantastic, and so easy.
This is the best recipe I’ve found. Super good.
Love love love this recipe! Turns out perfect every time! I substitute with pork as is more cost friendly and do 50 mins. I also use a hand blender on low and shreds the meat no problem! Just be sure to take out the bay leafs before.
Quick question – Can this recipe be done with a frozen roast? How would you adjust for that? I’m so excited to try this!
Meat came out tasting bland and sour no taste
I have made this recipe multiple times! It’s easy and so delicious! I add beer for the liquid. I always use about half a can of chipotle. It sooo tasty! Thank you for sharing this heat recipe!
Decent enough recipe, but there is a lot of bad advice and technique recommended.
Olive oil in an instant pot is a huge mistake.
Using “whatever cut of beef you want” for this recipe would be even worse.
I’m making this for the 7th time today. It’s a great recipe as is. You can always adjust as needed, but it’s really good just as written.
I do agree with others who talk about the spice level, add or minimize the chipotle in adobo sauce. I also like the idea that after you shred, you can use the sauce for more flavor and spice.
This was so quick and easy! I ended up leaving the roast whole and poured the puree over. Then I set the instant pot to pressure cook for 1 hour with a 30 minute release. Came out perfect! So tender and flavorful. The leftovers were even better! Great recipe. Thanks so much!
This recipe is so easy to prepare AND delicious beyond belief!
I was a bit skeptical because it didn’t involve sauteing the onions and garlic (and the spices) plus the usual deglazing the pot step that most recipes call for…however we were not disappointed! Every step was easy and quick which I love since given both me and husband’s schedules we’re often cooking late at night. Thank you for such an easy to create DELISH recipe for barbacoa. We’ll definitely be making this again!
We love flavorful food and this recipe is spot on! I cooked this in an 8 qt Instant Pot, so I used 1 1/4 cup of beef broth and with the lime juice added, there was enough liquid to cook the meat perfectly. This recipe is so much better than the recipe that I have used in the past! I served this with cilantro lime rice, pinto beans, chipotle mayo cole slaw, red onions and tortillas. Good thing we didn’t have company because my teen boys and husband finished off all the meat! I will cook this again next weekend for guests, using a larger chuck roast. There was plenty of gravy leftover. Bravo!
I’ve made this now a handful of times without any modifications and it’s delicious each time. It’s so tasty I love it.
By far my FAVORITE taco recipe. I have used this with pork, beef and chicken and the meat is tender, flavorful, and delicious! It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure (kids and adult alike!). Thanks for sharing!