This savory Slow Cooker Beef Machaca is perfect if you’re looking for a satisfying Mexican dinner option that’s a little out of the ordinary. Plus, it stores really well, so it’s perfect for meal prep! Whether you like your beef spicy, mild, or hot, this is the recipe for you.
Savory Beef Machaca in the Crockpot!
Beef machaca is a traditional Mexican dish chock-full of amazing flavors and spices. The tender beef is shredded and can then be served in all kinds of ways: with rice, with eggs, in tacos, you name it! Machaca is often found in authentic Mexican restaurants, but lucky for all of us, it’s also possible to make a tasty homemade version that you can season and change to your heart’s content.
To get the most succulent beef possible, this recipe is made in your crockpot! This also makes it really, really easy. Win-win! 🏆
While I use beef for this recipe, you could also use pork, or even chicken, if you really want to. You can also adjust the spices, seasonings, and other ingredients to suit your family’s dietary needs, so feel free to play around with it! Even if it’s not totally authentic, it will still be a hearty, flavorful main course.
What’s the Difference Between Machaca and Shredded Beef?
Traditionally, machaca was a form of dried, spiced beef that would stay good for a long time, unrefrigerated – making it perfect for taking on journeys or out on a hard day’s work. It could be simmered and rehydrated as needed.
These days, the drying and rehydrating steps aren’t as necessary, so machaca is much more similar to shredded beef, but it still has that characteristic spice and seasoning blend that gives it an extra-special flavor.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
First off, what will you need for this awesome beef machaca? Well, here’s the list! Be careful, it may cause excessive drooling! 🤤
- Beef: Chuck roast is my favorite. It has that classic beef taste, and it’s very forgiving. Unlike leaner cuts, chuck roast usually turns out very tender and moist, even if you go over the cooking time somewhat. Other great cuts include rump roast, brisket, and skirt.
- Spices: My personal blend of spices for machaca includes chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper.
- Salt and Pepper
- Oil: A little bit of olive oil for sauteing is just right. No olive oil? No problem! You can also use vegetable oil, avocado oil, etc.
- Bell Pepper: Dice up a bell pepper. Any color is fine.
- Chipotle and Adobo: You’ll need a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – some of the peppers will go into the dish, plus some of the adobo sauce from the can. If you don’t like spicy food, skip this.
- Onion: I like to use yellow onions, but any kind of onion will work.
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic is great, or you can substitute a little extra garlic powder.
- Tomatoes: Canned, diced tomatoes with chilies add a nice, spicy touch and plenty of tangy goodness. If you don’t have canned tomatoes with chilies, you can substitute regular canned tomatoes instead.
- Broth: Beef broth is great for slow-cooking this beef dish. Homemade or store-bought is fine. I typically use low-sodium broth.
- Lime: The juice of one lime balances out the flavors in this dish, and adds a touch of tropical flavor as well.
- For Serving: A simple way to serve your machaca is with corn or flour tortillas, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, and sour cream.
How to Make Beef Machaca in the Crockpot
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is a slow cooker recipe. The crockpot does nearly all of the work! You can let this one simmer away all day while you get other things done. Perfection!
- Prepare the Beef. Pat the chuck roast dry with paper towels. If you want, cut it into about 6 chunks; this will make it easier to shred later on.
- Seasoning the Beef. Combine the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper in a small mixing bowl. Then rub the chuck roast all over with the seasoning mix.
- Cook the Beef. Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chuck roast to the pan, and sear on all sides. Place the browned beef into the insert of your slow cooker.
- Add the Other Ingredients, and Slow Cook. Add the diced bell peppers, onions, garlic, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, diced tomatoes with chilies, broth, and lime juice to your slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker with the lid, and cook the beef on low for 6 to 8 hours. The meat should be very tender and falling apart by the end of the cooking time. The goal for perfectly tender beef is an internal temperature of 205˚F to 215˚F. You’ll know it’s ready when the meat falls apart as you pierce it with a fork. If it feels tight, keep cooking it until it’s tender.
- Shred the Beef. Remove the meat from the slow cooker, and place it on a cutting board. Shred it with two forks.
- Blend the Sauce and Return the Beef to the Crockpot. If you want, you can blend the sauce! Using an immersion blender, blend the cooking liquid in the slow cooker until it is smooth and thickened. Place the shredded beef back into the pot, and gently toss it to coat.
- Serve. Taste the machaca for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. Serve with corn or flour tortillas, if desired, and topped with cheese, lettuce, and sour cream.
Helpful Tips and Tricks
Here are a few helpful tips and tricks that can help you to achieve success when you’re making your beef machaca.
- Make It Crispy: If you want the beef to be more dried and crispy, you can spread it out on a sheet pan and broil it for a few minutes. You can also toss it in a hot skillet to dry it out a little and make it crispy.
- Control the Heat: The main spicy elements in this dish are the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, tomatoes with chilies, and cayenne. If you need to dial down the spice, you can definitely use less of the chipotle peppers and sauce, omit the cayenne, and swap the tomatoes with chilies for regular canned tomatoes instead.
- Make-Ahead: You may find that you enjoy machaca even more the next day, after the flavors have had even more time to blend and meld, so feel free to cook this a day in advance. It stores very well!
Tasty Serving Suggestions
Machaca is perfect served simply with tortillas and toppings, as this recipe suggests. It is definitely a versatile dish, though, and is great with all kinds of other side dishes! These are just a few of the options out there:
- Coleslaw: This Classic Southern Coleslaw Recipe is not a Mexican dish, but you can’t beat its cool, creamy tanginess with hot, spicy machaca! Serve it alongside your tacos for a super satisfying side.
- Corn: Corn on the cob, creamed corn, corn kernels… all of them are great, but in this case, I have to vote for Elote! Also known as Mexican street corn, is made with sweet fresh corn, mayo, Cotija cheese, and a sprinkling of tasty seasonings. This recipe is a mouthwatering side dish for any Mexican meal.
- Guacamole: I’m always up for any excuse to serve guacamole – it’s just that good. And this Fresh Mango Guacamole is so bursting with cilantro and fresh mango, it will make your tastebuds rejoice! Serve it with your slow-cooked machaca, and you’ve got the makings of one fine fiesta.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store your beef machaca, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- To reheat your beef machaca, heat it on low heat on the stovetop, or in the microwave, stirring often until heated through.
Can I Freeze Slow Cooker Beef Machaca?
- Yes. To freeze this recipe, just pack the machaca into an airtight container or freezer bag. Be sure to cool it down first.
- Keep it in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Slow Cooker Beef Machaca
- 2.5 to 3 pound chuck roast
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can
- 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with chilies
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 whole lime, juiced
For Serving (optional)
- corn or flour tortillas
- Shredded Mexican Style Blend Cheese
- diced onions
- shredded lettuce
- sour cream
- Pat dry the chuck roast with paper towels. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl combine the chili powder, salt, black pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper.
- Season the chuck roast with the seasoning mix. Set aside.
- Heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat.
- Add the chuck roast to the heated oil and sear on all sides until just browned.
- Transfer browned beef to the insert of your slow cooker.
- To the slow cooker, add the diced bell peppers, onions, garlic, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, can of diced tomatoes with chilies, beef broth, and lime juice.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours, or until meat is very tender and falling apart. The goal for perfectly tender beef is an internal temperature of 205˚F to 215˚F. You’ll know it’s ready when the meat falls apart as you pierce it with a fork.
- Remove meat from the slow cooker and transfer it to a cutting board; shred with forks. Set aside.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the cooking liquid inside the slow cooker until smooth and thickened.
- Toss meat with the cooking liquid.
- Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.
- Serve with corn or flour tortillas, if desired, and topped with cheese, onions, lettuce, and sour cream.
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.