Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

barbacoa beef

A while back I was in Chipotle (don’t even get me started on how much I LOVE that place) and I found myself looking at something on the menu I didn’t recognize…barbacoa. My first thought was that it was fish. But I wanted to find out, so I asked the guy making my salad – and he told me it was beef! I tried it then and there and fell in love. And I also decided I needed to learn to make it myself.

Usually, we do ground turkey tacos in my house, but I decided to switch it up and make tacos with barbacoa beef filling. I knew I needed to figure out how to make it in the slow cooker, because it seemed to be a dish that naturally works in the crock pot.

Not only did it work, it was fabulous. Honestly, this may become our go to taco filling! The spice is perfect. If you’re a little shy of spice, maybe cut down on the amount of chipotles in adobo sauce you use. If you don’t want to waste the rest of the can, simply empty it out into a zip top freezer bag and toss it into the freezer for the next time you want to make this recipe. Which will probably be very soon. No joke.

Serve the barbacoa beef wrapped in corn or flour tortillas, in a green salad with mango salsa and chopped avocado or even over brown rice.



Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Serving Size: 1/12 of mixture


3 pounds lean beef roast, such as eye of round or top round
2 whole onions
3 Tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves minced garlic
1 Tablespoon cumin
1-½ Tablespoon oregano
1 can small can of chipotle in adobo sauce
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons vinegar - white, red wine or rice wine all work
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Step by Step

  1. Place your cut of beef into your slow cooker.
  2. Throw everything else into a blender and whizz into a paste.
  3. Pour the contents of the blender over the beef.
  4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 6 hours.
  5. Remove the beef from the slow cooker and using two forks, shred it up.
  6. Add the shredded beef back into the slow cooker and cook for another 20 or so minutes on warm.
  7. Serve wrapped in tortillas, in a green salad or over brown rice.


WW PP 6; Calories 248; Total Fat 9.3g; Saturated Fat 2.4g; Trans Fat 0.0g; Cholesterol 96mg; Sodium 231mg; Total Carbohydrates 2.4g; Dietary Fiber 0.8g; Sugars 0.9g; Protein 36.6g

Modified from Tasty Kitchen.

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  • Flood Family

    Looks great but just wondering how spicy it is? On a scale of 1-10? I want to make it but have a child who does not care for too spicy and a whole can of chipotle in adobo is a lot. I guess I don’t want to do too much experimenting with that much meat. Love the blog! Thanks for expanding our tastes with your great recipes!

    • Christy_TheSistherhood

      I meant for my comment above to be in reply to you!

    • Heather

      Hi! This is Heather :) I would definitely cut down if you’ve got littles that are spice sensitive. Start out with 1/2 a can. That should be tolerable…you’ll still get the flavor without the heat!

  • Christy_TheSistherhood

    This is Heather’s recipe, but I would guess is you did 1/2 a can, it would be more than tolerable for your little one! She suggests putting the other 1/2 in a ziplock and freezing for later use! ENJOY!

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  • John

    When you take out the meat to shred it, I think it’s a better idea to not put it back in the pot. The meat gets way too soggy and becomes impossible to put inside the tortilla without having it rip. I learned the hard way.

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  • EliteSounds DjJoe Lopez

    I love how all of u all think that Barbacoa is made from beef roast……

    • Heather

      I suppose it is not barbacoa in the traditional sense – just an interpretation. But I don’ t have cow’s heads readily available :)

      • EliteSounds DjJoe Lopez

        You could use cheek meat instead of the whole head and actually in Texas Barbacoa is just cheek meat and Cabeza is the whole head there’s actually a difference

        • Heather

          That’s something I’d definitely try! Thanks for the tip!

          • Cody

            If u don’t use cheek meet or the whole head. You are not eating Barbacoa. Sorry…huge difference

    • Dadth

      I tried Chipotles, it tastes very good, but that’s not barbacoa.

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  • Scott Leonards

    I am guessing this was intended to be a low sodium recipe. Not saying it was bad but to me the lack of saltiness created a strange flavor. It was spicy but the lack of salt made it a very strange bland spicy…To me it could of used some more salt.

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