This easy recipe for Chipotle Barbacoa is earthy, spicy, and full of authentic flavor. It is so easy to make, simmered to juicy perfection in the slow cooker.
This tender, flavorful barbacoa is packed with spicy, earthy, and bright flavors. It is simmered in the slow cooker to juicy perfection, making a delicious, saucy dish.
It's so easy to make, and even better than your favorite restaurant!
What is Barbacoa?
Barbacoa actually originated in the Caribbean, but I'm sharing the Mexican variation because it's the one that most are familiar with.
Mexican barbacoa is typically made with beef, goat, or lamb, traditionally steam-cooked in a brick oven. This recipe uses beef in a slow cooker to make it more home-kitchen friendly.
Barbacoa is seasoned with chiles and spices and cooked until tender. Then used in favorite dishes such as tacos or burritos.
What cut of meat is best?
Typically, chuck or brisket cuts will work best for barbacoa. These cuts will turn out most tender as the fat and connective tissue melt in the slow cooker for the perfect juicy, tender bite.
Why don't you brown the meat first?
I've tried both browning the meat before putting it in the Crock Pot and skipping it all together, and honestly, I can't tell that much of a difference after slow cooking all day.
Since there's not much taste difference, I'm all for the equally yummy but less work option!
If you'd like to quickly sear the meat before cooking, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a hot skillet and brown on all sides.
Why do you cut the meat first? Do I have to?
I like to cut the roast into smaller pieces so that more surface area of it can cook and soak in the seasoning. That way there is SO MUCH more flavor.
You can put in the whole roast if you're in a hurry, but it will cut the flavor a bit.
How to Serve Chipotle Barbacoa
Serve Barbacoa like you would serve any kind of taco meat! On a tortilla with your favorite toppings! Mine are homemade guacamole (this is my all time favorite guac recipe!), cilantro, and a little queso fresco with a squeeze of lime juice. So good!
You can also serve it in a burrito with some cilantro lime rice (just like Chipotle!), over tortilla chips as nachos, in a burrito bowl, taco salad, enchiladas, or even tamales!
It's great for meal prep because you can put it on or in anything and everything. And you should definitely do that, because it's delicious.
More Chipotle Inspired Recipes You'll Love
- Copycat Chipotle Carnitas - another super easy favorite from Chipotle!
- Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice - bright, zesty, healthy, and perfect for burritos or burrito bowls
- Refried Black Beans - the best refried beans EVER.
- Best Ever Authentic Guacamole - creamy, flavorful, and downright delicious. You'll lick the bowl clean.
- Easy Restaurant Salsa - super easy with just the right amount of heat, just like at your favorite restaurant.
- Easy Skirt Steak Fajitas - a classic Mexican favorite. Make it at home with this easy, delicious recipe.
Chipotle Barbacoa Video
- 3 pounds beef roast trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ cup beef broth
- ½ white onion diced
- 6 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 can green chiles (4 ounces)
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo (2 actual peppers not 2 cans!)
- 4 teaspoons adobo sauce (from the same can)
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- In a food process or blender, add all seasoning ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Place beef in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour seasoning mixture on top. Top with bay leaves.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours, until beef is fall-apart tender.
- Remove beef from juices when done cooking. Shred with 2 forks, then return to juices for serving.
- This recipe is gluten free and dairy free.
- Alternate cooking: 4-6 hours on HIGH.
- Shred meat quickly by placing in a stand mixer on low for about 30 seconds.
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Beth Pierce says
Yum! Looks so scrumptious! i can't to try this.
Oh I am really craving this now. These tacos look epic!
This puts my slow cooker to great use! I love the flavors in this dish! This meat was perfect for my Taco Tuesday Night! So delicious!
Jere Cassidy says
Yeah to not having to brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker. Your recipe sounds amazing with all the spices and long cook time for tender beef.
Lisa | Garlic & Zest says
I just love this simple, flavorful barbacoa recipe. The flavors are spot on and it's perfect tucked in a grilled tortilla or even on a soft kaiser roll!
Can this be done in the instant pot? Please let me know ? Love this recipe
Yes. You could make this just like your average roast. So seal, high pressure, 60 minutes, then vent.
My whole family really loved it! It's great that it is so easy to make!
Pam Greer says
I love how easy this is to make in the slow cooker!! Such amazing flavor!
Move over chipotle. This barbacoa is going to taste waaaay better!
A great recipe and easy to make. The leftovers can be used in so many ways.
We loved the flavor of these delicious tacos! And I loved how easy it was to make! Made it for our Fourth of July celebration and will be making it often in the future! Thanks!
Elbert Jones says
REAL BARBACOA IS MADE WITH A COW'S LIPS;TONGUE, AND CHEEKS.
IF You'VE EVER BOUGHT IT FROM A STREET VENDOR IN MEXICO; THAT'S WHAT THEY SERVE.
Thank you for this info! I knew about lengua, but not the lips and cheeks! Can you slow cook those things like in this recipe?
Elbert Jones says
I WISH PEOPLE WOULD USE THE PROPER MEAT WHEN THEY MAKE BARBACOA. THE NAME TRANSLATES AS " MEAT FROM THE HEAD OF A STEER". SO WHY NOT USE A SLICED SKINNED BEEF TONGUE?
Oooh, I love how easily this barbacoa comes together in the slow cooker. It looks so good with such amazing flavors.
Suja md says
This was a such a delicious and easy recipe! I went perfect with my dinner meal. So good!
oh wow. these Chipotle Barbacoa are soo fork tender and juicy . perfect for taco tuesday
This was so good! Made great leftover burrito bowls!
Finally, someone has Chipotle's Barbacoa recipe! This is definite a yummy looking dish! Thanks for sharing!
Gina Abernathy says
My slow cooker is my friend in the kitchen. "She" works hard all day and has dinner waiting on me in the evenings. This recipe had so much flavor and the family gave it two thumbs up.
This easy to make and delicious chipotle barbacoa will be a huge hit in my house.
Dana Sandonato says
I'm a sucker for smoky chipotle flavors, so these tacos speak to me! The meat is so so tender and juicy. Absolutely delish.