May 10

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Barbacoa Recipe

Tacos are one of those great meals that make it easy to please everyone. Just set out an array of fresh produce and cheese for toppings, throw together some kind of protein, and everyone can customize their meal to their heart's content.

While I'm a bit partial to the unexpected flavors of the grilled shrimp tacos with spicy mango slaw that we had last week, my boys have been begging me for something a little more "manly"... aka beefy, like this slow cooker beef barbacoa.

I {big puffy pink heart} love my slow cooker -- it makes cooking a dish like this a total breeze. And to be honest, I actually have multiple slow cookers, my favorite being the basic stainless steel Crock-Pot slow cooker that I picked up at Target on Black Friday several years ago for $5. Best five bucks I ever spent!

McCormick Spices

Anyhow, back to this yummy beef barbacoa recipe... McCormick sent me an array of spices to create my favorite taco recipe, a few of which are pictured above. I had no idea they offered dried jalapeño pepper flakes! I didn't use them in this recipe, but you can bet I'll be trying those out very soon.

Did I mention how easy this is to make? Just toss a chuck roast into the slow cooker with about 3/4 cup of beef stock. The adobo sauce comes together very quickly in a blender and is then poured over the top. Turn the slow cooker on low and forget about it for about 8-10 hours.

Barbacoa Recipe

Well, you can try to forget about it, but the amazing aroma will continue to remind you of it and make your mouth water until it's ready...

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Yield: serves 8

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa Recipe


  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3-4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 3-4 lb. beef chuck roast


  1. Trim any excess fat off the roast and place it in a slow cooker with the beef stock.
  2. In a blender, combine vinegar, onion, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, cloves, allspice and desired number of chilis and puree. Pour the pureed sauce over the meat.
  3. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or high heat for 6 hours. Don't peek while cooking!
  4. Shred the meat in the juices and serve warn.

I don't claim to know what's in the Chipotle barbacoa recipe, but I'd say the flavor of this rivals Chipotle any day! I like to serve it with this Coconut Cilantro Lime Rice and Chi-Chi's Copycat Mexican Sweet Corn Cake.

This post is brought to you by McCormick and The Motherhood. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own -- always have been, always will be!

by Tara | 43 comments

  • Cheri

    This recipe looks quite yummy. Can you clarify the amount of allspice that should be used? It is listed twice for different amounts. Thanks a bunch!

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Thanks for telling me, Cheri! It should be 1 teaspoon, and I updated the recipe.

  • Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch

    Mmm. This looks delicious!!! Love that it's cooked in the slow cooker too!!!

  • Judit + Corina @WineDineDaily

    Love this versatile recipe.... and looks delicious :)

  • Shaina

    We love barbacoa. Too bad I don't have a Crock-Pot. Total slacker that hasn't replaced the one that broke 7 years ago...

  • Angie

    Yum, yum, yum. Wish I had this for dinner tonight!

  • Aggie

    My husband would love this, he usually picks the barbacoa beef at Chipotle for his burritos. Would love to make this for him at home!

    And I love those jalapeno flakes!

  • Paula – bell’alimento

    I am on a taco tear so bring it on!

  • Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen

    Slow cooker tacos are the best!

  • Prescilla

    I would consider this "shredded beef" tacos not barbacoa. Real barbacoa is made from beef tongue or cheek. Sounds ew but that is all you will find in Mexico!

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Yes, you're correct Prescilla -- this would be the Americanized version that's like what is served at Chipotle.

    • JennyD

      Prescilla, does Chipotle serve Barbacoa beef that is beef tongue or cheek? Yeah, I don't think so.

      • Jenn

        Actually, there are places that sell Barbacoa (cheek) in Texas. Taco Cabana is one.

  • Nicolette

    Is the apple cider mentioned in the ingredient list- apple cider (juice) or apple cider vinegar? I love the barbacoa at Chipotle and really want to try your recipe.

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Yikes, I must have been really distracted when typing out the recipe. I'll fix it right now, but it's apple cider vinegar. Enjoy!

  • Kelly @ The Moon and Me

    Sounds perfectly delicious! We just bought a quarter of beef and will have plenty of roasts...this is gonna be some of them! :)

  • Lauren @ Rustic Honey

    YUM! I will have to try these! We always have taco night on Mondays. This will be perfect! Thanks!

  • CJ Huang

    We were just talking about barbacoa tonight and how we wanted some! Yours looks great. :)

  • Kat

    Made this last week and it was great! I didn't have the chilies or the "allspice", But I made do. I used hot sauce and red pepper flakes and blended the onions and other seasonings to poor over the meat. It was awesome! Thanks!

  • Leslie Ramey

    Thanks for sharing this, I can`t wait to make it. With a newborn, I have been looking for new and easy but yummy meals that I can make in the crockpot!! It sounds amazing. I think my husband will love it.

  • Erik

    I am going to try this recipe for the 4th of July, however, I am a little worried about using chuck roast. I never get barbacoa from Chipotle or Qdoba, just because it feels like a bastardization of the barbacoa I grew up with. Asking my grandmother for advice, she explained that the reason is that it isn't barabcoa if you are using chuck roast in place of beef cheeks (literally, the cheek muscles from a cow's head). I have less than a week to track something like that down. Does anyone have a notion that might help?

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      I can't say that I've ever had real barbacoa made from beef cheeks, so I'm not sure how they compare. I would think you could ask the butcher at any supermarket to learn where you could find it though.

  • Sarah

    I made this tonight and honestly I can't believe that after all that time in the slow cooker the meat was DRY! The flavors are good though. It was in the slow cooker for 7-8 hours...any ideas?

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Did you have it set on low, Sarah? I know I tried to rush it once on high, and it turned out very dry because it cooked too quickly.

  • Andrea

    I'd love to try this but can you tell me how to get "chilis in adobo sauce"? Is this a packaged item? If this is something you prepare, can you tell me what to do? Is it fresh chili peppers in a bottled sauce? Thanks so much! Can't wait to try!

    • JennyD

      Andrea I happened upon them yesterday in Albertson's (standard american grocery chain such as Ralphs, Kroger, Von's, Safeway, etc) when shopping for another recipe. They were in a can and if I recall correctly they were *chipotle* chilis in adobo sauce. I found them in the Hispanic aisle where they have salsas. Hope that helps!!

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Yep, JennyD is correct! They do come in a can and are typically found with the Hispanic ingredients and taco kits.

    • Andrea

      YeS! Thank you both! I found them in the hispanic food section! Sold in a can near all of the Goya products. I am making this for dinner this Friday. Can't wait to try it!

      • Tara @ Unsophisticook

        Hope you love it! I actually have it cooking right now, and it smells sooooo good. Can't wait for dinner after soccer practice!

  • JennyD

    Apologies in advance if this is a silly question... the ingredient list calls for "3-4 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce" and the in the directions it says to "Pour the adobo sauce over the meat". Is this the adobo sauce that was in the can of chipotle chilis OR is it the liquid mixture you just blended up in step 2?

    Thanks so much - planning to make this today and enjoy this week :D

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Sorry that was unclear, Jenny! I was referring to the sauce that you just blended up in step 2. I'll update the recipe to avoid any confusion.

  • Alo

    How many people does the recipe feed?

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Alo, this serves 8 people generously, and I'm sure you can stretch it even further.

  • Katy

    Thinking of blending the sauce tonight, refrigerating it, then just assembling it all in the crock tomorrow morning. Is that do-able?
    Really looking forward to this one! Thanks!

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      I haven't tried it, but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. I'd love to hear how it turns out!

  • Lupe

    Hi, quick question regarding the cloves in the recipe - are we talking ground cloves? Thanks!

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Yes, use ground cloves. Thanks for pointing that out, Lupe -- I'll update the recipe to avoid any confusion!

  • Larry

    Sounds good. Can you use a beef brisket instead of a chuck roast?

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      I've not tried it, Larry, but it should work. Just know that because brisket is a leaner cut, it may be a little less flavorful.

  • audrey

    How spicy "hot" is it?

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Audrey, I don't find it to be too hot, but if you're sensitive to spicy foods you can control it by decreasing the chipotle peppers and/or scooping out the seeds before blending. (The seeds are actually the hottest part of a pepper.)

  • Jen

    Hi! Would this work with pork as well?

    • Tara @ Unsophisticook

      Hi, Jen! I actually haven't tried this particular recipe with pork. If you do, I'd suggest using chicken stock rather than beef stock -- but you may want to seek out a carnitas recipe instead.

Previous post:

Next post: