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 | 39 comments

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheri May 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

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 May 11, 2013 at 11:13 pm

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


Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch May 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Mmm. This looks delicious!!! Love that it’s cooked in the slow cooker too!!!
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Judit + Corina @WineDineDaily May 13, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Love this versatile recipe…. and looks delicious :)


Shaina May 13, 2013 at 2:58 pm

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…
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Angie May 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Yum, yum, yum. Wish I had this for dinner tonight!
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Aggie May 13, 2013 at 5:35 pm

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!
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Paula - bell'alimento May 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I am on a taco tear so bring it on!
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Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen May 13, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Slow cooker tacos are the best!
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Prescilla May 14, 2013 at 11:02 pm

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 May 14, 2013 at 11:12 pm

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


JennyD September 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm

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


Jenn August 29, 2014 at 4:04 am

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


Nicolette May 15, 2013 at 1:11 am

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 May 15, 2013 at 9:21 am

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 May 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Sounds perfectly delicious! We just bought a quarter of beef and will have plenty of roasts…this is gonna be some of them! :)
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Lauren @ Rustic Honey May 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

YUM! I will have to try these! We always have taco night on Mondays. This will be perfect! Thanks!
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CJ Huang May 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm

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


Kat May 25, 2013 at 10:39 pm

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 May 30, 2013 at 5:38 pm

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 June 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm

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 July 4, 2013 at 9:02 am

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 July 4, 2013 at 1:03 am

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 July 4, 2013 at 9:00 am

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 September 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm

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 September 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm

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 September 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm

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


Andrea September 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm

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 September 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm

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 September 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm

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 September 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm

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 October 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm

How many people does the recipe feed?


Tara October 21, 2013 at 10:07 am

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


Katy October 21, 2013 at 4:33 pm

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 October 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

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 October 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm

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


Tara October 21, 2013 at 10:06 pm

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


Larry September 4, 2014 at 11:38 am

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


Tara September 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm

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.


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