Beef Barbacoa Recipe (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot)

This Beef Barbacoa Recipe, made in either the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot, is so flavorful and versatile. This barbacoa meat is perfect for tacos, meal prep bowls, served with rice or cauliflower rice.

Barbacoa meat on a taco with toppingsBeef Barbacoa Recipe

My go-to dinner when I’m serving a crowd is almost always tacos. And this Beef Barbacoa recipe is easiest way to get delicious, hearty, taco meat on the table. It’s easy to throw together, affordable, and everybody loves it. You can make it in either the slow cooker or Instant Pot. This barbacao meat also works great for meal prep for a variety of meals. Serve over a bed of lettuce for a taco salad, or over rice with some veggies for a taco bowl.

Braised beef barbacoa recipeHow to Make Instant Pot Barbacoa:

  1. In a small bowl whisk together the spices and then rub them all over beef.
  2. Sear the meat on all sides.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients to make the sauce and cook on high pressure for 50 minutes with a natural release.
  4. Once done, shred with two forks and serve as desired.

How to Make Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa:

  1. Pre-heat broiler.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the spices and then rub them all over beef.
  3. Sear the meat on all sides under the broiler.
  4. Meanwhile, add diced tomato, chiles, onion, garlic, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper to a large slow cooker. Add in the seared beef and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Once done, shred and use as desired.

How to Make Barbacoa Meat on the Stove Top or Oven:

Don’t have an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker? You can still make this barbacao recipe, using the same idea of cooking this low and slow. On the stove top, use a dutch oven and follow the same directions to sear the meat on all sides. Then, add all your ingredients, cover and cook on low on the stove until the meat is tender and falling apart, about 3-4 hours.

For the oven, sear the meat in a dutch oven. Once you’ve added all the ingredients, place in a preheated 300ºF for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling apart.

shredded beef barbacoa meat with a fork

What Kind of Meat is Barbacoa?

This recipe calls for buying beef to make the barbacoa meat. You want to use a piece of beef that has a nice amount of fat marbling and that can withstand a long cook time in the slow cooker and pressure cooker. For this this recipe use:

  • Chuck roast
  • Beef shoulder
  • Brisket

Barbacoa Taco Toppings:

  • Tortillas (not a topping, but a must!)
  • Shredded Cheddar
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Sliced Pickled Jalapeños
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Chopped Scallions
  • Avocado Slices
  • Fresh Lime Wedges
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Hot Sauce

Sides to Serve with Barbacoa Meat:

barbaca meat on a taco

If you like this beef barbacoa recipe, try these other recipes: 

Barbacoa Recipe

Prep Time 00:20 Cook Time 07:00 Total Time 07:20 Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Directions

To Make in the Slow Cooker:

  1. Pre-heat broiler on high and place beef on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together paprika, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin, black pepper and cayenne. Rub all over beef. Broil beef on high for 4 minutes on each side.
  3. Meanwhile, add diced tomato, chiles, onion, garlic, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper to a large slow cooker. Once beef is done in the oven, carefully place it into the slow-cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  4. Once done, shred and use as desired.

To Cook in an Instant Pot:

  1. In a small bowl whisk together paprika, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin, black pepper and cayenne. Rub all over beef.
  2. Heat oil in the Instant Pot with the saute function. Once hot, sear meat for 2 minutes on each side.
  3. Shut off saute function. Add diced tomatoes, chiles, onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Place on the lid and set the value to sealing. Cook on high pressure for 50 minutes with a natural release.
  4. Once done, shred with two forks and serve as desired.

Recipe Notes

  1. This recipe was originally published in 2015. It was republished with new photos in 2019.
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