Beef/Lamb · Recipes

Slow Cooked Barbacoa Beef

beef, barbacoa, mexican beef, shredded beef

Tasty Meat Warning:  Only make this dish if you enjoy extremely tender, juicy shredded beef.  If you’d rather have dry, tough meat, this recipe is not for you.

I began this delicious journey when Mister chose a DIY Nacho Bar for our big Super Bowl entree.  I found this recipe for barbacoa on Serious Eats and used it as a guide.  Although Serious Eats says to braise the beef for 4 hours at 275, I made my own version of a sauce and braised it in my oven at 250 degrees F for 6 hours instead.  The roast was tough and not at all what I expected it should be.  I plopped the roast and the sauce with some additional water into a crock pot and let it cook slowly for another 4 hours.  The results were unbelievable.  The beef was moist and fell apart to the touch.

Nacho Bar

Now, I’m no food scientist but I don’t think the time my beef braised in the oven vs the time in my crock pot really made a difference overall.  At any rate, my beef was slowly braising for a long period of time no matter its location.  I think the crock pot would have been just fine.

So this is how I made the best barbacoa I have ever eaten in my lifetime.  It’s great for nachos, tacos, burritos or just for eating.  This recipe is a new favorite in our household!

Slow Cooked Barbacoa Beef

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 10 hours, 30 minutes

Yields: Serves 6-10

Slow Cooked Barbacoa Beef


  • 1 quart low sodium chicken stock, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 chipotle chilis packed in adobo, roughly chopped, with 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 3.5-4 pounds beef chuck roast
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 whole bay leaves


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown all sides of the beef for 3-4 minutes on each side (or until color forms). This will add a ton of flavor to your beef. Remove the beef and place it in your crock pot.
  2. In the same pan, reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat along with onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until deep brown in color, about 8 minutes. Add cumin, cloves, and oregano and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chipotle chilis, vinegar, and remaining chicken broth. Scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan then transfer entire contents to the jar of a blender. Add the fish sauce and start blender on low and slowly increase the speed to high. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into the crock pot.
  3. Add the bay leaves and enough water to mostly cover the beef. Set to high heat for 1 hour, then reduce heat to low for 7-9 more hours, or until the beef can be easily pulled apart with a fork. Make sure to add more water if necessary. Remove the beef and shred in a container, add enough juice from the crock pot to cover the beef and serve. This will keep in the fridge for days. You can also freeze individual bags of the beef too for easy meals later on.

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