Easy, Authentic Crock Pot Barbacoa Beef Recipe

This Crock Pot Barbacoa Beef recipe is made in the slow cooker and has an authentic mexican flair! Pair with tortillas and cilantro lime rice for a delicious tex mex meal.

Our slow cooker works overtime every week creating delicious meals. We’re obsessed with this Crockpot Bourbon Chicken recipe! Sweet and spicy, it call also be made as an Instant Pot Recipe!

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef on flour tortilla with cilantro, cheese, and avocado with a side of fresh salsa.

What is Barbacoa?

Have you ever walked into a Mexican restaurant and been so overwhelmed by the choices? Like, literally, there can dozens and dozens of meats and “plates” to choose from.

This is why my family loves Chipotle. It may not be the BEST mexican, but dang if it isn’t simple to place an order.

Want tacos? Done. Want carnitas? Yes! Carne Asada? You got it. Barbacoa? Wait. What? 

In Mexican cooking, Barbacoa refers to shredded beef. Seasoned to perfection, it’s the “pulled pork” of the beef family.

And my recipe makes it so easy for you to make this at home!

How to make Barbacoa

Blender filled with chipotle peppers to make barbacoa sauce.
Crockpot with large cut of chuck steak topped with barbacoa sauce and bay leaves.

Step 1: Add chuck roast to bottom of a slow cooker (crockpot). Set aside.

Step 2: In a food processor (or blender), combine apple cider vinegar, lime juice, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and ground cloves. Process on high until smooth. Spread over chuck roast.

Step 3: Add chicken broth and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Cover and heat for 6-8 hours on low. 

Step 4: Remove beef and shred. Remove bay leaves and return beef to crockpot. Serve on a tortilla with all the fixings.

Shredded Beef Barbocoa in crockpot.

What cut of beef is best

To get the best results, I use chuck roast.

The marbling and fat in the roast renders down to create a fork tender bite of beef. 

What else you’ll need

If you want a quick glance at what’s needed for today’s recipe, look no further. For the printable recipe with measurements, scroll all the way down!


  • Beef Chuck Roast
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Limes
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Ground Cloves
  • Chicken Broth
  • Bay Leaves
  • Toppings- tortilla, lettuce, tomato, salsa, and more!


Barbacoa tacos on flour tortillas with cilantro and red onion.

What to Serve with Barbacoa

One of things that my family loves most about Mexican food and Cinco de Mayo is the ability to customize dinner with all your own toppings. 

So whether you love avocado or onion, you can make it your own.

Here are a few of our favorite serving suggestions:

You can create a “taco” by serving on a warmed flour or corn tortilla. Or turn your barbacoa into a “bowl” with all the toppings on a bed of lettuce.

Cotija cheese, avocado, red onion, and barbacoa beef on a tortilla.

Tips and Tricks

  • When making the chipotle pepper paste, use only the peppers, not the sauce. You can freeze the excess from the can in ice cube trays for future recipes.
  • Want to cut back on the heat? Use just the sauce from the can of adobo peppers and not use the peppers themselves. My family loves a little spice.
  • If cooking a larger roast than 4lbs, cook closer to the 8 hour mark for the most tender results. 
  • Make it a freezer meal. You can combine everything in a ziploc freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight, dump it all the slow cooker and cook as directed.
  • Or, freeze the leftovers for meals later! 
  • Use the leftover Barbacoa meat in tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas! Stir some in homemade mac and cheese for a zing!
  • YES you can make Instant Pot Barbacoa too!!!

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Yield: 10 servings

Crockpot Barbacoa

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 15 minutes

This Barbacoa Beef recipe is made in the slow cooker and has an authentic mexican flair! Pair with tortillas and cilantro lime rice for a delicious tex mex meal.


For the Barbacoa:

  • 4 lb beef chuck roast
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (just the peppers, not the sauce)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 heaping Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 bay leaves


  1. For the barbacoa: In food processor (or blender), combine vinegar, lime juice, chipotle peppers, garlic cloves, cumin, oregano, pepper, salt and ground cloves. Process on high until smooth.
  2. In large crockpot, add roast, pepper puree, bay leaves, and chicken broth. Heat on low 6-8 hours.
  3. Shred beef and place back in juice, remove bay leaves. Serve on a tortilla with cilanto-lime rice, colby cheese, lettuce and guacamole. Enjoy!!!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 444Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 151mgSodium: 590mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 45g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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This Barbacoa Beef recipe is made in the slow cooker and has an authentic mexican flair! Pair with tortillas and cilantro lime rice for a delicious tex mex meal.

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on August 23, 2019

Comments & Reviews

  1. Is there a way to tone down the Spiciness?
    I don’t mind it but for a few in my family, it was a tad to spicy.

  2. It does not have to be made in a hole in the ground with cactus! I don’t know where in the world you got your information but this is completely incorrect and totally false!

    1. As a boy in central Texas, our Mexican neighbors cooked an entire cow head, wrapped in banana leaves, with wet burlap on top (I seem to recall the burlap was moistened with beer) and cooked it on hot coals in a hole in the ground, which was covered with a piece of tin, on top of which they shoveled a layer of dirt to hold the neat in the pit. It was cooked overnight. They told us they were “cooking barbacoa”. They consumed all the meat off the skull.

  3. This is not actually barbacoa. As a Hispanic woman that grew up having barbacoa every Sunday morning of my life, this is quite frankly, laughable. Barbacoa, TRUE barbacoa, is made with beef cheeks. That’s right I said CHEEKS! You are essentially eating the cows face. Which makes sense as to why traditionally, barbacoa is served with lengua, or in English, tongue. Another delicacy. I, personally, don’t eat lengua, and I always ask for all meat when I go to the local “molinos” in my area. A “molino” is a little place that makes the barbacoa and tamales and the masa or dough for tamales. I know how to make both the barbacoa and tamales from scratch in my own kitchen, but I gotta tell you, that is some hard work. At least the tamales are. The barbacoa, is surprisingly easy. I’m sure this recipe is fantastic, but if you want authentic and traditional barbacoa, the cheeks is what you want to be cooking.


  5. Looks good but this is not barbacoa! It just meat…barbacoa has to be made in a hole in the ground with cactus! Cant be made in a kitchen, sorry.

    1. Darn. I have no cactus or holes in ground. I’ll just keep eating this though, cause it’s good 🙂

  6. Wow!! This Crockpot Baracoa and Cilantro-Lime looks so amazing I’m going to make it tmw night for dinner. I come from a Hispanic back round and don’t find many recipes that speak to me like this recipe. Thank you for this idea.

  7. Hi:
    I just found this recipe for crockpot barbacoa and would love to give it to my daughter-in-law since she loves, loves, loves this stuff. Could you please advise how much apple cider vinegar to use as the recipe says ? cup ! Would love to know how much apple cider vinegar to use ! Thank you !

    1. Hi jamie,
      All my new recipes have print options, I’m working on getting these older recipes into the program!!

  8. I was the general manager for Chipotle Mexican Grill and neither one of these recipes are even close!

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  11. I can’t wait to try this recipe! I LOVE Chipotle! I am going to the grocery store now! Thanks for sharing!

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