Slow Cooker Foodie

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

The best, classic, easy slow cooker barbacoa beef recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. Tender beef melts in your mouth. Packed with chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.

This is one of the best way to enjoy beef! It is tender, juicy, full of flavor, and done in 5 steps thanks to the crockpot. Use it in tacos, burritos, beef bowls, on sandwiches, or flatbread. The possibilities are endless! This Slow Cooker Mississippi Pot Roast and Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwich are also fantastic meals that you should try out.

Easy Homemade Barbacoa Beef in Black Slow Cooker- Overhead Shot

How To Make Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Recipe From Scratch?

  1. Add ingredients in crockpot– This includes chuck roast, onion, broth, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin powder, chipotle peppers, green chiles.
  2. Cover and cook– Until meat is tender.
  3. Shred beef– With 2 forks.
  4. Enjoy! Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Barbacoa Seasoning/Sauce

Combine the following ingredients in a mixing bowl or directly in the crockpot. The quantities of all of these ingredients can be adjusted to your taste buds.

  • 1-2 Bay leaves
  • Salt, To taste
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Oregano, Dried, Preferably Mexican oregano
  • 1 tbsp Cumin powder
  • 1 cup Beef broth, Low sodium
  • 2 tbsp Lime juice
  • 2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 3 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, Must add 1 tbsp canned adobo sauce too
  • 1 can Green chiles, 4 oz. can

What is Barbacoa? What Type of Meat?

It is traditionally a slow cooked beef cheek and head in a wooden open fire pit in the ground that’s been covered with maguey leaves. It originated in the Caribbean and is often associated now with Mexican cuisine. However, in America, it’s usually just beef (chuck roast) that’s spicy, seasoned, and pulled apart.

Barbacoa vs. Carnitas

Some people confuse the two but there is a major difference. Carnitas are typically the shoulder of pork that’s been seasoned and braised with herbs and spices until tender. Then’t it’s pulled apart and oven-roasted until crisp.

Barbacoa is beef, usually chuck a chuck roast that is seasoned, spiced, and slow cooked to be pulled apart.

The one thing they both have in common is that they are both used as fillings in tacos, tamales, burritos, sandwiches e.t.c.

Mexican Barbacoa Chipotle in Black Crockpot with Tongs

What Sides to Serve with Mexican Barbacoa Meat?

Rice– Serve it with Mexican rice, cilantro lime rice, plain white rice or brown rice. An uncommon choices would be quinoa.

Bread– Like corn tortillas, flour tortillas, hard taco shells. Some unconventional choices can be sandwich bread, hamburger buns, hoagie rolls, pita bread.

Salads- Such as bean salad, corn salad, Mexican corn on the cob,

Beans– Refried beans or black beans are great choices.

Dips– Salsa and guacamole are a favorite choice.

Salad– A simple green salad would go nicely.

Pasta- This is obviously not a classic choice but plain boiled spaghetti is great or egg noodles. For a healthier option, try zoodles (zucchini noodles) or spaghetti squash.

Variations for Barbacoa Chipotle

Add toppings– Sour cream, avocado slices, guacamole, shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeno slices or salsa all make great toppings.

Add veggies– Bell peppers or corn would enhance the flavor profile.

Add fruit– Pineapple or mango balance the spice well.

Make it a bowl– Serve the meat in a bowl with cilantro lime rice, lettuce, salsa, and red onions.

Use leftovers as a topping- On flatbread, salads or nachos.

Use it as a filling– In tacos, burritos, tamales, wraps, sandwiches, enchiladas, and quesadillas.

Garnish options- The best option is cilantro. You can use parsley, if you don’t have cilantro on hand but it’s just not the same.

Tips and Techniques for Crockpot Barbacoa

Can I cook on high heat in crockpot? No. The best “melt in your mouth” texture comes from cooking it “low and slow.” High heat will make it tough and hard to shred.

Don’t discard the broth- Because it’s loaded with flavor and keeps the meat juicy and moist.

Use low sodium broth– Because this prevents the meal from becoming too salty.

Should I brown meat? This is an optional step. Some people believe it adds more flavor but I didn’t notice a difference.

What are chipotle peppers? They are smoked jalapenos in adobo sauce. The peppers are spicy, but the the sauce is not. However, it should not be discarded because it’s loaded with flavor!

Adjust the spice level- By adding more or less chipotle peppers.

Use Mexican oregano- It is slightly different than than the regular oregano we all use.

Easy Barbacoa Meat Piled on Soft Tortilla


Refrigerate– In a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freeze–  When it cools down completely, store it in a sealed container for up to 1 month.

Reheat– From thawed, in the microwave or on the stovetop.

More Slow Cooker Beef Recipes

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
The best, classic, easy slow cooker barbacoa beef recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. Tender beef melts in your mouth. Packed with chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.
Yield: 8 People



  • Add all the ingredients in a crockpot (3 quart or larger).
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. You can cook on high heat for 3-4 hours but the best results come from low and slow cooking.
  • Remove and discard bay leaves. 
  • Shred with 2 forks and toss everything together. 
  • Garnish with finely chopped cilantro. Enjoy!


  • Read all my tips above.
  • Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


Calories: 420kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 44g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 156mg, Sodium: 192mg, Potassium: 795mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 62IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 63mg, Iron: 6mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 420
Author: Abeer Rizvi

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