Chipotle Beef Barbacoa Recipe

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Spicy chipotle peppers are what makes beef barbacoa so unique. This Mexican shredded beef can spice up any dish you love.

»Looking for more great Mexican recipes to try? You might like these Mexican-Style Chicken Flautas, Chicken or Beef Fajitas or Authentic Carnitas.

beef barbacoa

Beef Barbacoa is so tasty and versatile that it can be used in just about any dish you want. We even make Barbacoa Burgers out of it. It’s the perfect addition to tacos, burritos, even nachos. When you see how easy it is to make, you might just add it to your regular dinner rotation.

The best part: the leftovers can be used for days in different dishes, so you won’t have to cook again for a few days, if you don’t want to.

If you love Mexican food, you’ll definitely want to start making beef barbacoa at home. It’s the perfect slow cooker or Instant Pot recipe, because these two methods of cooking allow the sauce to really meld with the meat, and for the meat to break down into melt in your mouth little morsels.

On a side note, if you’re looking for high-quality ground beef and meat, check out Butcher Box. It’s a subscription meat box with 100% grass-fed beef, free-range, organic chicken, heritage breed pork, and wild caught Alaskan salmon. All the meat is humanely raised and never given antibiotics or added hormones ever.  See our full review of the service.

I’m super impressed with the quality of the meat from ButcherBox and won’t go back to purchasing meat at the grocery. Plus, it’s way easier to have it delivered to your door.

butcher box meat
beef barbacoa tacos

Is the Chipotle Too Spicy?

The thing that often stops people from wanting to make barbacoa is the spice factor. Chipotle peppers are spicy and if you add too many it can overpower the beef and be too spicy for most people to enjoy.

Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce is a chili sauce that is made from red jalapeno peppers in a sauce of various spices, vinegar, onion and tomatoes. In a small 7 oz can, there are around nine whole peppers.

The best way to deal with this issue is to cut open the chipotle peppers and remove the seeds. We buy chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in a can. I like the La Costena and La Morena brands.

Just as you wouldn’t probably eat a fresh jalapeno without removing the seeds, I suggest not attempting to do that with these either. If you want to try to make your own chipotle peppers at home, here’s a guide to follow.

beef barbacoa recipe

What is Barbacoa?

Barbacoa is a traditional method of cooking that originated in the Caribbean, but is widely used across Central and South America too, as a way of slow cooking meat with spices. You can use beef, pork, lamb, chicken – whatever kind of meat your want. After cooking, the meat is shredded and used in other dishes.

This is where the term barbecue came from, though today’s barbecue is nothing at all like barbacoa. If you have a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, or even a pot to put on the stove or in the oven, you can make barbacoa. It’s a very easy way to make flavorful shredded meat with very little work.

barbacoa beef recipe

How to Make Chipotle Barbacoa Beef

Start with browning the meat on all sides in a hot pan. This will seal in the juices and create a more flavorful meat. I like to use beef shin for this dish, but you can use just about any stewing meat you want. The bigger the chunks you leave the beef in, the longer your shreds of beef will be in the end.

Once the meat is browned, remove it from the pan. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the dried spices and the crushed garlic and cook for an additional minute. Then add in the beef stock, vinegar, lime juice and sugar.

If you’re cooking your beef on the stove top, just add the beef back to the pot, cover and cook on low for about 4 hours. For a slow cooker, add the beef and the sauce to the cooker and cook on slow for 4-6 hours. When using a pressure cooker, add everything to the pot, bring the pot up to pressure and cook for 35 minutes.

When the beef is done, it will fall apart easily when you shred it with a fork. I suggest removing the meat from the pan to shred, then add in some of the cooking sauce until you’re desired consistency. I don’t like to overwhelm the meat with the sauce, so I put in just enough to saturate the meat without excess liquid.

beef barbacoa burger

What to Make with Barbacoa Beef?

Any Mexican dish goes well with barbacoa. You can make tacos or burritos with it, add it to the top of a plate of nachos, or even make a barbacoa burger with it. Beef bowls are also a great way to enjoy barbecoa.

Just add rice, beans and meat to bowl and top with some sour cream and tomato salsa. Try this probiotic-filled tomato salsa recipe. It’s delicious AND super good for you at the same time.

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Chipotle Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Easy Beef Barbacoa Recipe for tacos, burgers and burritos
3.58 from 14 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Beef
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 338kcal
Author: Laura


  • 3 lb beef chuck roast
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


  • Cut the beef into 3-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all four sides in cooking oil on the stovetop. Remove meat.
  • Add the onions to the pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and oregano. Stir and cook for one minute.
  • Add the chipotle peppers, beef broth, vinegar, lime juice and cilantro. Stir well to combine.
  • Return the meat to the pan. Cover and cook over low heat for 6 hours. Meat is done when it can easily be shredded with a fork. Remove it from the pot and shred it, then combine it with as much of the sauce as you prefer.
  • Serve in tacos, burritos, or any other dish you like.


  • Chuck Roast is the best cut of meat for this dish. The meat needs to have adequate marbling (fat) to create a nice fall-apart texture and flavor.
  • The meat must be cooked low and slow for around 6 hours. Trying to cook it faster on a higher heat doesn’t yield the best results.
  • I haven’t had success with this recipe in the Instant Pot. I would stick to stove top cooking.
  • If you leave the seeds in the peppers, it will be quite hot. Remove all the seeds for no heat.


Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 612mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 446IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 4mg


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beef barbacoa

3 thoughts on “Chipotle Beef Barbacoa Recipe

    • Laura says:

      Hi Lisa. That’s my favorite Yum Yum Sauce. I eat it on almost everything (addicted!) You can find the recipe on our site here:

  1. Mireya says:

    4 stars
    Loved it!
    My only comment is that less than a cup of liquid (1/2 cup of broth + 1/4 cup of lime juice + 2 tbsp ac vinegar) is way too little to cook and simmer. I added enough liquid to cover the meat and that kept it from burning and/or coming out completely dry. Other than that, my family loved it! I will add it to my favourite recipes board! Cooking Mexican food can be overwhelming, but this recipe very practical and easy!Thank you!

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