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.

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

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? You got it. Barbacoa? Wait. What? 

What is Barbacoa?

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

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 used for Barbacoa

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 you’ll need to make Slow Cooker Barbacoa

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!


What to Serve with Barbacoa

One of things that my family loves most about Mexican food is the ability to customize it 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.

Tips for making Crock Pot Barbacoa

  • 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 freeze 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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More Dinner Recipes:

Crock Pot Barbacoa Recipe:

Yield: 10 servings

Crockpot Barbacoa

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
  • 1/4 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: 444 Total Fat: 28g Saturated Fat: 12g Trans Fat: 2g Unsaturated Fat: 15g Cholesterol: 151mg Sodium: 590mg Carbohydrates: 3g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 45g
*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Recipe originally published May 13, 2011. Photos updated August 2019.

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.

**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**

53 comments on “Easy, Authentic Crock Pot Barbacoa Beef Recipe”

  1. Hi there! I just happened upon your blog, and it looks great! I’m now following you, and invite you to check my blog out, as well ~

    I don’t eat fast food either, but I do like Chipotle (though I rarely go there, either). These recipes look great!

  2. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this!! My husband and I love mexican food, especially Chipotle and Qdoba and we’ve been trying to master their rice and could never get it. As I was reading your post I was hoping that you would have a recipe for rice…and you do!! Thanks again!

    P.S. you wouldn’t happen to know of any good corn salsa recipes like they serve at Chipotle?

  3. OMG that looks yummy!! Oh and I will take whatever is in that glass too!! Yum!

  4. haha Liz- just a little Seagram’s wine cooler, or energy drinks as I like to refer to them!!

  5. I love new recipes that give me the opportunity to use my crock pot! 🙂

  6. What an awesome Crock Pot surprise. We would just love this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you next week!

  7. Yummy! i’m going to make this on Sunday! new follower from mangoes and chutney link party.


  8. @ Pretty- I too love using the crockpot. Especially on evenings when life is totally crazy with sports, or I’m busy in the garden!

    @ Miz Helen- I hope you try it, so yummy! And of course I’ll be back next week 🙂

    @ Laura- thanks for following, I love Miranda over at Mangoes and Chutney!

  9. Thanks for the comment love Aimee! This cilantro rice sounds amazing and I am definitely going to work it in my menu the next time I get some cilantro.

    Sorry about the Blogger fiasco, I was a little bent out of shape that day too! Thanks for linking up to Fat Camp Friday this week! See you next Friday!

  10. I love barbacoa! Thanks for the recipe!

  11. oh my I think you are heading right down the path of food my teens love thanks for sharing come see me at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

  12. Cilantro-lime rice sounds delicious! I’m dying to make it now – will definitely try when I get home this week. Especially since barbacoa sounds amazing!

  13. Ugh — so sorry to hear that Blogger lost your recipe and your post, but you still pulled off a winning post and recipe with terrific wit and style!

    This is definitely a must-try recipe for me this summer. I’m woefully short on good crock-pot recipes, and even shorter on time, so I’m really excited to try your barbacoa recipe!

    Thank you so much for coming back to “A Little Birdie Told Me…” Tuesday at Rook No. 17 this week!


  14. Found your blog via Tasty Kitchen. This recipe is fantastic! My Chipotle-loving husband just told me I knocked it out of the park and I’m going back for seconds before it’s all gone. Thank you!

  15. Rebekah- so glad to hear it!!

  16. Just stopping by to say thank you so much for linking up to our Family Favorite Recipe Round-Up today! We’d love to include your recipe (and any other you’d like to share) in an upcoming Gooseberry Patch cookbook. When you have a moment, would you mind stopping by our website and sharing it with us there? Here’s a link: http://bit.ly/GBPsharearecipe Add the code RRU-FF to the Special Code field and we’ll keep an eye out for it. 🙂 If it’s selected for publication, we’ll let you know, and you’ll receive a free copy of the cookbook too! Thanks again for sharing on our blog today…we appreciate it!

  17. I am in love with Chipotle, and I’m definitely going to have to try this one!

  18. Me and My husband are in l o v e with the barbacoa from Chipotle, and my husbands been bugging be for over a year to make it at home. I will def. try this recipe, looks really easy. A lot of other recipes Ive found for this calls for TONS of (weird) ingredients. Thank You!

  19. Jill

    This recipe looks wonderful! I’d love it if you submitted it to us here at Gooseberry Patch for possible inclusion in a new slow cooker cookbook. Just follow the link for simple directions! Thanks!


  20. Donna P

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

  24. Jamie

    I love your blogs and recipes! Just wish you had a print option! 🙁

  25. Jeanne

    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 !

  26. kellie

    Do you think the meat and sauce could be frozen and then cooked in the slow cooker as a freezer meal.

  27. 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.

  28. Ashley

    Do you pour the pepper purée over the meat or just in the bottom of the crock pot?

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  33. Hola

    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.

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  42. Stephanie

    So good! The beef turned out super tender and juicy and my house smelled delicious all day!

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