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: 

4.7 rating
7 reviews

Barbacoa Recipe

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


Yield 4-6
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 20 minutes
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine Gluten-free, Paleo
Difficulty: Easy
Author: Lexi
Scale This Recipe

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.

Nutrition

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35 comments
October 23, 2019

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Join The Discussion

35 responses to “Beef Barbacoa Recipe (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot)”

  1. I NEED that breakfast bowl in my life… sooooooo much yum in one place!

  2. I love barbacoa! So much flavor in every bite! Love the idea of this as a breakfast bowl with that egg on top!

  3. These look delicious! I can’t wait to try them out!

  4. Love barbacoa!!! I have some cooking right now for dinner actually 🙂 Love that you put it into breakfast bowls!

  5. Ashley says:

    Hi Lexi!
    Would this be good over rice?

  6. Lexi, these look even more beautiful than Instagram (and on instagram I was salivating!) Pinned!

  7. Sarah says:

    Looks delicious! Do you have to broil it first? Or could you just put it right in the slow cooker?

  8. Caroline says:

    What do you do with everything left in the crockpot ?? Can it still be eaten!?

  9. This looks delicious – so many textures and flavors! Pinned immediately.

  10. Sarah says:

    Looks amazing. Are those bananas or plantains? …. or am I completely off?

  11. Anna says:

    I bought the ingredients to try this as it look amazing 🙂 I’m in Ireland tho you mention to broil on high, then refer to once it’s done in the oven. So broil means ‘grill’ here, so that’s fine but should the oven be on aswell / instead? Thanks!

  12. Nikki says:

    Hi there just wondering if I shred the roast after and keep it in the juices or drain the juices and shred? Thanks

  13. Jennifer says:

    Is it really 14 oz of green chiles? Only sell in 4 oz containers.

  14. Cha says:

    Hi! This look awesome! I plan doing it for tomorrow dinner! Would fresh jalapenos replace canned green chiles?

  15. Annee says:

    Sooo good! Thanks!

  16. Lolo says:

    Dohi! Do I put the meat over the ingrédients sauce?
    Thx

  17. J. Briggs says:

    Would this recipe work a 3 quart Instant Pot? Or, should I cut it in half? Thanks!

    • Kelli Avila says:

      I think it should work in a 3 quart because there isn’t a ton of liquid in here! However, we tested this in a 6 quart so we can’t say for sure. Just double check the liquid isn’t over the line.

  18. My friends and I just started with our paleo diet last week so I was pleasantly surprised when I found this recipe not only is it scrumptious it is extremely healthy. Thank you for sharing!

    5.0 rating

  19. Bonnie Praymayer says:

    I wasn’t able to figure out from the recipe if I’m to cut the roast up but it seems the picture says I should. Maybe this could be updated.

    5.0 rating

  20. Sarah Mehalic says:

    This was fantastic! We like heat so I did swap canned diced jalapeño for the green chilies. For those that have trouble digesting onions, I threw one into my instant pot peeled but whole and removed it before shredding. Personal preference only, I also choose to use an immersion blender on the remaining sauce after removing the meat temporarily to shred. I’ll be making this at least once a month if not more! Best part is I felt great after eating it!

    5.0 rating

  21. Ashleigh says:

    Made this in the slow cooker tonight with the easy taco slaw and my husband and I loved it. For meat we used a chuck roast from butcher box.

    5.0 rating

  22. Tara says:

    No water added for instant pot?

  23. Ann says:

    Any replacement for the tomatoes? I’m supposed to aboidthem

    • Lexi's Clean Kitchen says:

      Hi Ann. You can leave them out and replace it with half the amount of beef stock, though it does change the recipe a bit in terms of flavor. -Kelli

  24. Emily says:

    The flavoring was fantastic so would definitely make this again. BUT, beware – we had a beautiful 2.5lb chuck roast, followed the instant pot directions to a T, and it came out WAY OVERCOOKED to the point that it was too tough to shred more than 1/3 and had to cut the rest.

    3.0 rating

  25. Rose says:

    I feed a handful of hungry farmers almost daily during the spring – fall. I came across this recipe and it was absolutely DELICIOUS. I used a 3.5 pound chuck roast, same spice measurements and sautéed it in the Instant Pot. I also used a can of Fire Roasted diced tomatoes instead of just diced tomatoes. I cooked it for 80 minutes in the Instant Pot and it was so fork tender and it smelled amazing. I played Barbacoa tacos for the guys and they ate it all up! The sauce though, it was a showstopper. I ended up taking leftover Barbacoa this morning, Crisping it up in the oven, making Huevos Rancheros and using an immersion blender, blended the left over sauce out and drizzled over it. This recipe will be on heavy repeat in our house!

    5.0 rating

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