If you’ve ever ordered a burrito from a Mexican restaurant, including fast food chains like Chipotle, you likely have heard about barbacoa. The beef is one of the most popular meat fillings at these establishments and for good reason: it’s usually flavorful, especially when compared to chicken, and perfect for piling on along with your favorite toppings.
But there’s no reason you can’t make barbacoa right at home. This slow cooker barbacoa recipe is your ticket to amazing Mexican right at home. It’s incredibly easy — as in, dump all the ingredients into the slow cooker and you’re done, easy. It’s delicious in homemade tacos or burritos or with a side of cauliflower rice with cilantro and lime. It also goes really nicely with fried plantains.
One batch feeds a crowd, so you can serve this at a big dinner or prep over the weekend to have meals for the week. Basically, you can’t miss with this beef barbacoa recipe.
What Is Barbacoa?
Barbacoa is not actually a type of meat. Instead, it refers to the method of cooking the beef. Traditionally, in the Caribbean where it originated and later in Mexico, barbocoa meat is slow cooked in an open-fire pit. These days, because fire pits aren’t a common kitchen accessory, barbacoa usually means that the beef has been cooked slowly in a seasoned broth and then shredded.
While we’ll use beef here, lamb is another meat that’s commonly cooked in a barbacoa style.
Beef barbacoa meat is quite healthy, as it’s just beef and seasonings. If you can afford it, I’d recommend choosing grass-fed chuck roast, as grass-fed beef has more health benefits than your standard ones.
To ensure that the beef doesn’t dry out while it’s cooking for hours, we’ll use a cup of beef bone broth. Bone broth is one of my top foods to heal leaky gut and help the body heal from the inside out. If you pre-plan, you can easily make your own beef bone broth to use in this recipe or others, or just purchase it.
We’ll also use apple cider vinegar, one of the most useful pantry staples. This liquid helps to lower cholesterol and increase your metabolism. The acids in the vinegar also support digestive functions, thanks to the enzymes and probiotics.
Plus, the barbacoa will have tons of flavor thanks to the other ingredients we’ll be adding, like ancho chili powder, fresh lime juice and paprika. No one can accuse this barbacoa recipe of being bland!
How to Make This Barbacoa Recipe
This recipe is great to put together in the morning so dinner’s waiting by the end of day. In your large crockpot, simply add in all of the ingredients.
Cook the beef barbacoa on low for 8 hours.
When the beef is done, use a fork to gently shred the meat. You should now have a bowl that’s ready to be added to your favorite recipes.
No matter how you choose to enjoy them, I recommend pairing this beef barbacoa with avocado slices, fresh cilantro and your favorite salsa.
Prep: 10 minutes; Total: 8 hours 10 minutes
- 5 pounds chuck roast, fat trimmed and cut into two-inch chunks
- 1 cup beef bone broth
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- ¼-⅓ cup fresh lime juice
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves, optional*
- In a large crockpot, add all of the ingredients.
- Cook on low for 8 hours.
- Use a fork to shred the beef.