A Chipotle copycat, this Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa is cooked slowly in a Crock Pot to a tender state creating the perfect shredded beef for your tacos or burrito bowls.
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If you love shredded beef tacos or shredded beef burritos, you will absolutely love my recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa. Tender flavorful meat is the result of this slow cooked beef recipe. We've done tacos, we've done burrito bowls, we've even done nachos. Each time, though, I find myself picking at the meat solo because I love its taste alone.
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Beef Barbacoa Recipe
My recipe for beef barbacoa in the crock pot is super easy to prepare with very few ingredients. Here is what you need to make the best and easiest slow cooked beef barbacoa:
- Chuck roast: True Mexican barbacoa is typically made with sheep, goat or beef. I always go the beef route using a chuck roast because it shreds beautifully.
- Onion: Peel it and chop it.
- Spices: We're flavoring this with simple but flavorful spices like garlic, cloves, cumin, oregano, bay leaves and salt/pepper.
- Lime: Use the lime juice AND the zest. If you don't have a zester, get yourself one. Cheap and very useful.
- Apple cider vinegar: This is the ingredient that magically enhances flavor and makes everything taste better.
What readers are saying about this slow cooker beef barbacoa recipe:
This recipe is fantastic! I made it again last night and I felt like I was eating at a restaurant–at my own table! -- Lise
My all time favorite ! -- Sue
Marvelous recipe! I wasn’t sure about the cloves, but it totally worked. My husband loved it last night, and he just texted to tell me how good it was for lunch today! -- Julie
We love Chipotle. Unfortunately, the closest one to us is a few hours away. We had locations nearby during our six years in Chicago and the two years we spent in Southern California -- we took it for granted. Now that we have none, I have to make my own at home. This Chipotle barbacoa recipe is one of our favorite Mexican meals, along with this Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice recipe.
Chipotle holds a special place in my heart because Ben introduced it to me for the first time in Baltimore before we were even dating. I should've known at that moment he had great taste! 😉
How to Make Beef Barbacoa
- Place onions in bottom of slow cooker bowl.
- Combine spices to make a rub.
- Rub mixture over the meat and place on top of onions.
- Pour in lime juice and apple cider vinegar.
- Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 4 to 6 hours.
- Remove meat and shred with two forks.
Scroll to end of post for full recipe instructions.
How to serve Beef Barbacoa
We like to use this barbacoa recipe for burrito bowls, shredded beef tacos, quesadillas, taco salads, you name it! It makes one of the easiest dinners for guests because you can set the meat out on a plate then have all the fixins around it so everyone can create their own taco, bowl, or salad.
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Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa
- 1 large onion , peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves , pressed
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 pounds chuck roast
- ½ cup beef broth
- 1 lime , zest and juice
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- Place the chopped onions on the bottom of a slow cooker bowl. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ground cloves, cumin, oregano, lime zest, salt and pepper. Rub the spice mixture over the surface of the meat. Place the meat on top of the onions in the slow cooker (make sure to dump in all of the spice mixture that may have fallen off the meat).
- Pour the broth, lime juice and apple cider vinegar into the slow cooker bowl. Add the bay leaves. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. When done, transfer the meat to a large platter and shred, discarding fatty pieces. Discard the bay leaves. Spoon some of the juices from the slow cooker over the meat if desired. Serve warm in taco, burrito bowls, nachos, or any Mexican dishes.
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This recipe was originally published July 30, 2015 and updated on March 11, 2020.