Instant Pot Barbacoa features tender, juicy fall-apart beef in an earthy, spicy barbacoa sauce. This recipe takes a traditional Mexican dish and makes it easier in the pressure cooker.
Instant Pot Barbacoa
This Instant Pot Barbacoa is the perfect filling for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more, featuring tender, juicy bites of shredded beef in an earthy, spicy barbacoa sauce.
This barbacoa is ridiculously easy to make in the Instant Pot, and the pressure cooking helps infuse the beef with maximum flavor in every bite.
What Cut of Meat Should I Use for Instant Pot Barbacoa?
Although traditionally, barbacoa can be made with large cuts or whole animals, in the United States we typically use beef for barbacoa.
For this recipe, a beef chuck roast or brisket will work well. Opt for something fatty that will take a long time to break down during the cooking process. This results in the most juicy, tender barbacoa.
What is Beef Barbacoa Made of?
Other than a beef roast, the remaining ingredients are for the barbacoa sauce.
Barbacoa is actually the Spanish word for barbecue, and it will vary depending on region or country. Our barbacoa experience in Spain was very different from our Mexican experience. Either way, barbacoa is another version of barbecue.
For the Mexican or South American version, it is usually earthy and spicy, featuring chilis and lime, which is a stark contrast to the sweet tomato-based American barbecue.
This Instant Pot barbacoa recipe calls for green chiles, lime juice, adobo sauce (which is a chili-heavy sauce), chipotle peppers, and other spices to create a rich, deep, earthy sauce that the beef is pressure cooked in for maximum flavor.
Why Don't You Sear the Beef First?
I choose not to sear the beef first because the extra work isn't worth the little payoff. Most nights I'm looking for quick and easy, and the flavor difference in searing or not is negligible, in my opinion.
If you would like to sear the meat first, you can do that right in the Instant Pot on the saute setting.
How to Serve Instant Pot Barbacoa
Barbacoa can be served so many ways! Here are some suggestions if you're stuck.
- Main Dish: Barbacoa can just be considered the main event, served alongside, rice, beans, and corn tortillas.
- Tacos: Probably the most obvious way of serving is as tacos on tortillas with toppings such as fresh cilantro, onions, sour cream, or cotija cheese.
- Quesadillas: One of my favorite things to order at a Mexican restaurant is a barbacoa quesadilla. They are so savory and delicious with some pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream on the side.
- Nachos: Top some tortilla chips with barbacoa,cheese, and beans and bake for about 5 to 10 minutes to melt the cheese and warm the chips. Top with your favorite toppings.
- Sandwiches: For a more Americanized dish, you can serve on sandwich bread, buns, or baguette as a bocadillo.
Can I Make it in the Slow Cooker?
Yes! It is super easy to make in the slow cooker, but it obviously requires a longer cook time. Here is my slow cooker barbacoa recipe for the full instructions.
More Mexican Recipes You'll Love
- Instant Pot Carnitas - as authentic as you can get in the instant pot! Seared to crispy perfection, then pressure cooked until tender and juicy, all in the instant pot!
- Esquites - Mexican street corn cups in a zesty dressing with lime, cilantro, and chili seasoning.
- Refried Black Beans - classic refried beans recipe using black beans. They're so much creamier than the canned version.
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup - ridiculously easy to make, and one of our family favorites. My kids love loading theirs up with all of their favorite toppings.
- Skirt Steak Fajitas - fajitas are one of my all time favorite foods, so you know I made sure this at-home version was just right! The trick is in the zesty lime marinade!
Instant Pot Barbacoa Video
Instant Pot Barbacoa
- 3 pounds beef roast trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ cup beef broth
- ½ white onion
- 6 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 can (4 ounces) green chiles
- 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 Mexican oregano (or regular 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 pressure cooker. Pour seasoning mixture on top and briefly toss everything until the roast is evenly coated in the sauce. Top with bay leaves.
- Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing”. Cook on manual high pressure for 60 minutes.
- 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.
- Remove beef from juices when done cooking. Shred with 2 forks, then return to juices for serving.
- Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. Reheat in the microwave, in a skillet, or in the oven on a baking sheet at 400°F for about 15 minutes.
- Freezer Directions: Transfer cooked and cooled pork to a freezer bag or container. Store for up to 3-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Reheat in the microwave, in a skillet, or in the oven on a baking sheet at 400°F for about 15 minutes.
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