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Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa | Chipotle Copycat!

This Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa is cooked low and slow all day to get the perfect Mexican flavors and tenderness. It’s rich, spicy and perfect on tacos with cilantro and lime wedges!

My Favorite Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Achieve the ideal Mexican recipe with Beef Barbacoa prepared in the slow cooker. This delectable dish is prepared by slow-cooking the beef to perfection, allowing the flavors to meld and develop. The result is a rich, succulent beef that pairs perfectly with warm tortillas and a squeeze of fresh lime.

And speaking of (flour) tortillas, taco night is kind of a big deal in my house. I love tacos, the hubs loves tacos, and the kids love tacos, too. 🌮 We have our favorite go-to taco recipes, and this Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa is definitely one of them! The meat is spicy and rich, with a burst of brightness from the lime juice and chopped cilantro.

And best of all, it’s made right in your crock pot – so no fuss, and it’s crazy easy. Mom’s happy, dad’s happy, and the kids are happy. What’s better than that?! CHIPOTLE! 😁

What is Barbacoa?

Barbacoa is an authentic Mexican recipe usually made with beef, lamb, or goat. I like to compare beef Barbacoa to a Mexican shredded pot roast. The beef is seasoned with a flavorful blend of spices and seasonings, then simmered over low heat until it becomes tender and easily shredded.

Then, to finish it off, you shred it and add it back to those spicy and rich juices to sop up all the goodness. I love using it for everything from tacos and tamales to enchiladas and quesadillas.

beef in slow cooker with green chilies, onions, and bay leaf

Why Make Barbacoa in the Slow Cooker?

Like any tougher meat, you’ll want to cook this chuck roast low and slow. Cooking a tough meat this way makes it incredibly tender.

The simplest way to cook something “low and slow” is in your slow cooker. Of course, you could do this using a Dutch oven, too, but it’s so easy to pop the ingredients in the slow cooker and walk away rather than having to keep an eye on it.

Not only is using your slow cooker almost completely hands-off, but you can also head outside for a walk or to play with the kids without any worry. When you come back, the aroma will knock your socks off!

Barbacoa Ingredients

beef in slow cooker

How to Make Beef Barbacoa

  1. In the bowl of your slow cooker combine prepped chuck roast, onions, garlic, green chilies, chipotles, ground cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, vinegar, and beef broth; pour the broth mixture over the ingredients in the slow cooker. Add bay leaves.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. Cooked beef should be tender and fall apart easily when shredded with a fork.
    Remove beef from the slow cooker and transfer it to a cutting board.
  4. Using two forks, shred the beef into bite-size pieces. Even better if you have a pair of these shredder claws. It makes the shredding so much easier.
    Transfer shredded beef back into the slow cooker; stir everything together until completely incorporated.
pulled beef barbacoa served in a bowl with lime wedges

Serving Suggestions

My favorite way to serve Beef Barbacoa is in tacos with low-carb flour tortillas. I like to top them with a sweet corn salsa, sliced avocado, and cilantro. You could also top the barbacoa tacos with sliced radishes and fresh parsley. Additionally, beef barbacoa is excellent as the meat in a rice-and-bean-filled burrito or a beef enchilada.

You can also serve it over rice or coconut lime riced cauliflower, quinoa, or mashed sweet potatoes. If you’re in the mood for more Mexican recipes, barbacoa makes an amazing tamale filling! I’ve even used it as an enchilada filling or added it to quesadillas.

Don’t miss the opportunity to have it over a salad with your favorite taco toppings for a filling beef taco salad meal!

barbacoa beef tacos with radishes

Having said all of that, please prepare to savor the authentic taste of Mexico with every bite of this flavorful and tender Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa, a true delight for taco lovers everywhere. ❤️

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

  • If you end up with leftovers of this slow cooker Beef Barbacoa, let it come to room temp and then place it in an airtight container with the juices. Then, you can refrigerate the beef and juices for up to 5 days, or freeze them for 3 months!

More Slow Cooker Beef Recipes


pulled beef barbacoa served in a bowl with lime wedges

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Katerina | Diethood
Every bite of our tender, juicy, slow cooker beef barbacoa is a fiesta of flavors, perfectly complemented by warm tortillas, zesty lime wedges, and your favorite toppings.
5 from 16 votes
Servings : 10
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes


  • 3 to 4 pounds chuck roast, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (4-ounces) green chilies
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ cup beef broth, (try to use low-sodium beef broth whenever possible)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • juices from 2 limes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish


  • In the bowl of your slow cooker combine the chuck roast pieces, onions, garlic, green chilies, chipotles, ground cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the beef broth, vinegar, and lime juice; pour the broth mixture over the ingredients in the slow cooker. Add bay leaves.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours, or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. Cooked beef should be tender and should fall apart easily when shredded with a fork.
  • Remove the beef from the slow cooker and transfer it to a cutting board.
  • Using two forks, or shredder claws, shred the beef into bite-size pieces.
  • Transfer the shredded beef back into the slow cooker; stir everything together until completely incorporated.
  • Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve.


  • We use chuck roast in this recipe because it is a well-marbled, flavorful beef cut suitable for slow cooking.
  • Season generously: Don’t skip on any herbs and spices to infuse the beef with robust flavors.
  • For enhanced flavor and texture, sear the beef in a hot skillet before transferring it to the slow cooker.
  • To keep the beef moist and tender during the slow cooking process, add flavorful liquids. I like lime juice, beef broth, and apple cider vinegar. You can also add orange juice. The liquid will help break down the collagen in the meat, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.
  • When finished with the cooking process, reduce the liquid and use it as a dipping sauce or drizzle it over your tacos. Strain the cooking liquid and transfer it to a saucepan. Simmer the liquid on the stovetop until it reduces and thickens slightly.
  • Use the beef barbacoa to create mouthwatering tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, or enjoy it over rice. 


Calories: 262 kcal | Carbohydrates: 3 g | Protein: 27 g | Fat: 16 g | Saturated Fat: 7 g | Cholesterol: 94 mg | Sodium: 559 mg | Potassium: 514 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 1 g | Vitamin A: 184 IU | Vitamin C: 3 mg | Calcium: 41 mg | Iron: 4 mg | Net Carbs: 2 g

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: barbacoa recipe, beef barbacoa, beef taco meat, beef tacos, mexican food
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68 comments on “Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa | Chipotle Copycat!”

    1. Hi! I suggest cooking it covered on your stovetop over low heat for approximately 2.5 to 3 hours until the meat starts to fall apart. The meat should separate easily with a fork.

  1. It says multiple times pit prepped meat in crockpot but I see no where that it says how to prep the meat.

    1. The recipe card is located toward the bottom, right above the comments section. You can also click on “Jump to Recipe” found at the top of the post, underneath the title.

  2. I just threw this in the crockpot for tacos tonight! Can’t wait to taste all these flavors mixed together

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      You may not have added enough salt. Some people prefer more, some less. I suggest you add some salt, stir it around, taste it, and see if the flavor improves.

  3. Excited to try this tonight! I do not have bay leaves. Suggestions for replacements or is it fine to leave out? Looks delicious, thanks for the recipe!

  4. Hi! I made this recipe last week and it is really good, leftover too!! I am wondering approx how much meat would be in a serving? Thanks!

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Hi! 😊
      A 4-pound chuck roast divided by 10 servings is 6.4 ounces per serving. Add in some of the extras that are in the recipe and you can round it off to maybe 7-ish ounces.

      1. Hi Katrina, would you follow the same cooking time if this is being made for 3 people? Thank you so much!

      1. Going to try this recipe tomorrow. Looks simple and flavorful. Perfect dish to spice up a cold Minnesota winter day. Hoping it turns out as good as you look.LOL!

  5. I didn’t have chipotle peppers, so used jalapeños from a jar and added some adobo seasoning in addition to all other ingredients! Cooking now! Hope it turns out as good as others say it is!!! 😊

  6. AMAZEBALLS!!!! Was so good and as the substitute chef in the kitchen(husband/father), was also super easy to put together. Had guajillo pepper adobo paste so I Sub’d 2tbsp of that instead.
    Served over rice. Absolutely delicious

  7. Avatar photo
    David Csiszer

    is 2 chipotle in adobo sauce counting 2 peppers out of a can or 2 of the 7oz cans it comes in?

    1. Only use 2 Chilis out of the can. Made the mistake of using a can of chilis and it was to spicy to eat.

  8. Made this a few days ago. LOVED IT!!! We have had it several ways. On rice, with veggies (similar to Chipotle’s burrito bowls) , on a salad, in a taco and on chips with a sprinkle of Monterey Jack cheese. And we still had some to freeze for another time! Thanks for this recipe, I’ve already passed it on to a few friends💙

  9. I am mixing all my ingredients to make tomorrow cooking easier. Can I marinate the beef in the mixture?

    1. There’s no claim on this web page that this is an authentic Mexican version of barbacoa. Rather it is a knock off of the recipe used at Chipotle- read the heading at the top of the page. So it’s an Americanized version of the real thing, much like American style Chinese food.

    2. Geez Elbert, take it down a couple notches! Yes, TRADITIONALLY, Barbacoa utilized the offal cuts, but have you seen the prices of tongue, cheeks, brain, etc. lately (that’s if you can even find them in your store anymore)? My daughter-in-law is Mexican and I have many friends who are Mexican also and they ALL make a seasoned meat dish similar to this. They all mainly use boneless chuck or top round for the dish and they ALL call it…..wait for it…..BARBACOA! So, by all means, if it offends your purist sensibilities to use anything else other than the traditional cuts then stick with those. However I, and I dare say many others, are not going to turn down a tasty Barbacoa, regardless of what cuts of meat are used. I will definitely be giving this one a try, it looks delish!

  10. TRUE barbacoa is made from Meat from the head of the cow(Lips;nose, tongue and ears) I grew up in Texas. So I have eaten real Barbacoa. Mexican people were not afraid to eat those caut of mat.were taught to eat all of a steer. Yourrecipe sounds great. But you should make it with the proper cuts of meat.

    1. Avatar photo
      Marcy Szeliga

      A couple of times in the recipe, it says, “place prepped roast in bowl of crockpot.” I don’t see instructions for prepping the meat, other than cutting it into 6-8 chunks. Should I sear it on the stovetop and/or pre-season it? Thanks for the clarification.

      1. Katerina - Diethood
        Katerina Petrovska

        The recipe in its entirety is at the bottom of the post, right above the comments area. All ingredients, directions, nutritional analysis, notes, and so on, are included in the recipe card.
        But, “prepped roast” just refers to the cut up meat. I don’t brown the meat beforehand.

      1. I’m making this tonight. Serving it over Coconut Pineapple Rice. Thanks for the recipe! I was looking for something where I already had all the ingredients on hand.

    1. Wanting to make this but have 1 question regarding the liquid. The 1/2 cup of beef broth is the only liquid added to this? Thank you, looks amazing!!

      1. Katerina - Diethood
        Katerina Petrovska

        The liquids are beef broth, vinegar, and lime juice. The recipe in its entirety is towards the bottom of the post and it includes all ingredients, amounts, directions, nutritional analysis, and so on.

    1. This recipe is wonderful. The meat was tender and so flavorful. I did pickle red onion, sliced very thin, in red wine vinegar and just a bit of sea salt. It was a meld of different flavors and our new taco recipe. I added a cheese shred on top.

  11. My mouth is watering! This meat looks so juicy & flavorful! I need me some tacos with this pork asap!

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