Beef Barbacoa

Experience the ultimate in easy and flavorful cooking with our Beef Barbacoa. Just season, braise, simmer, and let your oven take over to create this mouth-watering dish!

A platter with Beef Barbacoa served with lime wedges.

I’ve always been a sucker for Chipotle’s beef barbacoa, so I finally decided to make a homemade version for dinner. It’s incredibly easy and comes out tender, juicy, and extremely flavorful.

To achieve that perfect consistency, I use my Dutch oven because it’s perfect for braising and oven-roasting meat. However, if you don’t own one, see my Alternate Cooking Methods at the bottom of the recipe for an alternative method. If you love Chipotle, you’ll love this recipe! Pair it with our Cilantro Lime Rice and No Soak Instant Pot Pinto Beans.

Why We Love This Barbacoa

  • The slow cooking process infuses a rich, deep flavor.
  • Slow-braising turns tough cuts into melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.
  • Dutch oven barbacoa is versatile. You can enjoy it in tacos, burritos, tostadas, enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas, salads, or even as a standalone dish.

Recipe Ingredients

Shredded beef on a white plate.
  • Chipotle Chilies + Adobo Sauce: These add a smoky heat and depth.
  • Ground Cumin: Imparts a warm, earthy taste often used in Mexican cuisine.
  • Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies: Provide a mild, fruity heat and slight acidity.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make Beef Barbacoa

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (163 degrees Celsius). Adjust the oven rack to the middle-lower position (so that your pot fits).

Step 2: Cut the beef into about 8 large chunks. You’ll want the beef to remain marbled with fat, but if there are giant spots, it’s okay to remove them.

Step 3: In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the beef and braise. When the meat is crispy and brown, flip and continue to braise the other side (I let mine go for about 4 minutes on each side). Remove and set aside.

Step 4: Add the onion, garlic, and seasonings to the pan. Allow the onions to cook until translucent and the spices to become fragrant. Scrape up any browned bits while whisking in 1 cup of chicken broth, then add in the meat. Pour the remaining chicken broth over the top, along with the minced chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes with green chilies, lime juice, and bay leaves.

Step 5: Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then place the lid on and transfer to the preheated oven. Let the beef cook for 3-4 hours, stirring twice during that time. The meat should fall apart and be extremely tender. Remove from the oven and, if needed, place over medium-high heat to reduce the liquid (I only did this for a few minutes). Remove the meat and place it on a large cutting board. Shred the meat with two forks, then return it to the pot to absorb any leftover juices. Discard the bay leaves and serve warm.

Beef barbacoa in a taco shell garnished with onion and cilantro.

Alternate Cooking Methods

  • Glass Pan: If you don’t own a Dutch oven, simply do everything in a large pot, then transfer to a 9×13 ceramic or glass dish. Cover with foil and bake according to the directions.
  • Slow Cooker: Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours until the meat just falls apart. This method is ideal for tenderizing the beef and infusing flavors over a longer period.
  • Instant Pot: Create your sauce in a different pot, then brown your piece of meat in the Instant Pot using the sear function. Combine the sauce and meat in the Instant Pot and cook on “Manual” for about an hour. It should be able to be easily shredded at this point.

FAQs

What is Mexican barbacoa typically made from?

Mexican barbacoa is traditionally made from beef cheeks, but it can also be made from various cuts of beef, lamb, or goat.

Can I use a skillet instead of a Dutch oven for making my Barbacoa Beef recipe?

Yes, you can use a large skillet for searing the beef and cooking aromatics. For the braising process, transfer to an oven-safe dish and cover with foil if your skillet isn’t oven-proof.

What toppings should I use for my barbacoa?

There are so many toppings to choose from! Some I would recommend would be red onions, avocado, lettuce, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, and cheese.

Storage Info

STORE your Beef Barbacoa in an airtight container in the fridge; it will stay good for up to 4-5 days. To FREEZE, place your leftovers in freezer-safe containers or bags for up to 3 months.

To REHEAT, thaw in the refrigerator if frozen, then warm it on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.

Did you try this recipe? Leave a ⭐️ rating below and share it on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!

Three soft-shell tacos filled with shredded Beef Barbacoa.

Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Experience the ultimate in easy and flavorful cooking with our Beef Barbacoa. Just season, braise, simmer, and let your oven take over to create this mouth-watering dish!
4.77 from 17 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Gluten Free, Dairy Free
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 630kcal
Author: Andrea
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lb beef chuck-eye roast - OR boneless short ribs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion - thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic - smashed
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cup chicken broth
  • 3 chipotle chilies / chipotle peppers - seeded and minced + 1 tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 (10 oz. can) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 limes - juiced
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (163 degrees Celsius). Adjust the oven rack to the middle-lower position (so that your pot fits).
  • Cut the beef into about 8 large chunks. You'll want the beef to remain marbled with fat, but if there are giant spots, it's okay to remove them.
  • In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the beef and braise. When the meat is crispy and brown, flip and continue to braise the other side (I let mine go for about 4 minutes on each side). Remove and set aside.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and seasonings to the pan. Allow the onions to cook until translucent and the spices to become fragrant. Scrape up any browned bits while whisking in 1 cup of chicken broth, then add in the meat. Pour the remaining chicken broth over the top, along with the minced chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes with green chilies, lime juice, and bay leaves.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then place the lid on and transfer to the preheated oven. Let the beef cook for 3-4 hours, stirring twice during that time. The meat should fall apart and be extremely tender. Remove from the oven and, if needed, place over medium-high heat to reduce the liquid (I only did this for a few minutes). Remove the meat and place it on a large cutting board. Shred the meat with two forks, then return it to the pot to absorb any leftover juices. Discard the bay leaves and serve warm.

NOTES

– If you don’t own a Dutch oven, simply do everything in a large pot, then transfer to a 9×13 ceramic or glass dish. Cover with foil and bake according to the directions.
– You can find chipotle chilies in adobo sauce in the Latin aisle of most grocery stores.
STORE your Beef Barbacoa in an airtight container in the fridge; it will stay good for up to 4 days. To FREEZE, place your leftovers in freezer-safe containers or bags for up to 3 months.
To REHEAT, thaw in the refrigerator if frozen, then warm it on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.

Nutrition

Serving: 6serving | Calories: 630kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 60g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 211mg | Sodium: 1306mg | Potassium: 1142mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 8mg

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About the Author

Andrea

Hi I'm Andrea!

Hotelier turned Food Blogger to help make your life simple, one recipe at a time.

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    So good and pretty easy to make. Reminds me of the barbacoa at Chipotle. This one is going in my family cookbook.
    * only thing I changed was that I used a jarred roasted tomato salsa instead of the can of tomatoes. I halved the recipe and would’ve only needed 2.5 oz of that ingredient and didn’t want to open a whole can for that.

  2. Where did you find this recipe? I was born and raised in TEXAS. an Authentic Barbacoa recipe only uses meat cut from a steer’s HEAD. Why didn’t you use a shredded beef tongue?

    1. Hi there, yes, the Mexican versions of Barbacoa use meat from the cow’s head. This is our version and like many other American beef barbacoa recipes, our recipe uses beef chuck-eye roast – OR boneless short ribs. But, feel free to make it your way with shredded beef tongue.