This Mexican style Beef Barbacoa Recipe is the perfect weeknight family dinner recipe. Can be made in a crockpot or instant pot and works well in a variety of dishes.
I seriously cannot get enough Mexican food in my life. This Crockpot Beef Barbacoa recipe hits all the yum notes, so tender and super versatile. This recipe for beef barbacoa can be used in tacos, burritos, nachos or enjoyed on its own. This makes this meat perfect for meal prep lunches because leftovers never get boring!
My family and I are obsessed with this meat for weeknight dinners and as a bonus I can freeze it for future use making future me super happy. I hope you and your family go wild for this delicious crockpot dinner!
- Beef Brisket: I highly recommend using beef brisket for the Mexican Beef Barbacoa recipe because the flavor is wonderful and it cooks wonderfully. If you cannot find beef brisket some other alternatives are a boneless chuck roast or blade roast.
- Herbs and Spices
- Chipotles in Adobo Sauce
- Beef Broth
- Olive Oil
- Lime Juice
- Large Crockpot of Slow cooker: Make sure that your crockpot is at least 6 quarts large. Alternatively, use a 6 quart Instant Pot if going with the pressure cooker method.
- A Sharp Knife and Cutting Board
- Blender or Food Processor
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
How to Make Beef Barbacoa
- Searing the Beef
Begin by slicing the beef brisket into large chunks and season with salt and pepper. Next, heat some olive oil in a large pan and sear all the sides on the beef. Once all the sides are seared add the meat into the slow cooker.
- Making the Sauce
Combine all of the remaining ingredients into a large blender or food processor and mix on low until well blender. Once smooth taste the sauce and adjust to your personal taste. If you like spice try adding a bit of cayenne pepprer or Cholula Hot Sauce in!
- Cooking the Barbacoa
Once your sauce is smooth pour it over the seared beef in the crockpot. Cook on LOW for 8-9 hours or HIGH for 6 hours. Once the meat is extremely tender and falling apart you know it is finished.
- Finishing Touches
Once the meat is cooked shred it and add to your recipe of choice or eat alone with rice and beans. Additionally, you can add more lime juice or fresh cilantro over top to enhance the flavor.
More Mexican Style Recipe
Instant Pot Directions
I love that this beef barbacoa recipe can sit for hours in my slow cooker or come together quickly in my Instant Pot. As an added bonus the beef can be seared and cooked all in the Instant Pot making for less clean up, YAY!
- Make the Sauce
Just like the crockpot method you will need to combine all the sauce ingredients in to food processor or blender and mix until smooth.
- Searing the Beef
Add the beef brisket chunks into your Instant Pot with some oil and use the SAUTE setting to brown the beef on all sides. Depending on how large your pressure cooker is you may need to do this step in batches, no biggie! After the meat is seared hit CANCEL
- Bring Everything Together
Once the meat is seared pour the sauce over the beef and secure the lid and set lid to SEALING. Then set your Instant Pot to cook on MANUAL then hit PRESSURE and adjust time to cook on HIGH PRESSURE for an hour, until the beef is tender. After an hour do a QUICK RELEASE and be careful of the steam. If the meat isn't tender after and hour put the lid back on and pressure cook for 10 more minutes.
- Finishing Touches
Once the beef is tender, shred with a fork and add to all your Mexican favorite like tacos, nachos or burritos.
Store leftover beef in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. When ready to enjoy you can re-warm in the microwave, oven or return in to a slow cooker until warm.
Yes, you can freeze the beef barbacoa for up to 3 months. Once you have cooked the beef, shred it and place in a large freezer bag and store flat. When ready to re-warm the meat let it thaw in the fridge overnight then warm on the stove top, in a crockpot or in the oven until warm.
Alternatively, you can freeze the meat before cooking it making it great for a meal prepped freezer meal. Slice the beef into large chunks (do not sear it) and place in a large freezer bag with the marinade sauce for up to 3 months. When ready to cook the barbacoa let thaw in the fridge then follow the recipe instructions.
Yes, you can make the beef up to 48 hours ahead of time. Skip searing the beef and just slice it into large chunks and place it in a large bowl or storage bag with the sauce. Follow to recipe instructions once you are ready to cook it in the slow cooker. The meat will develop a great flavor when let to marinade in the sauce this way.
Beef barbacoa can be enjoyed on its own, or added to a variety of different recipes. Some great ideas include using the meat to make tacos, inside of a burrito, added to a Mexican salad, over top of nachos or even in lettuce wraps. The possibilities are endless and my family and I never get bored of eating the leftovers. If you are in the market for a side idea, check out my Mexican Corn Salad for the perfect pair for this slow cooker beef barbacoa!
Depending on the dish you utilize the beef in you can add some classic salsa over top, sour cream, queso, lime juice, fresh cilantro, or fresh fruit or veggies. The flavor is versatile and will pair well with all the classic Mexican toppers.
I hope you love this Mexican style barbacoa recipe. If you enjoyed this recipe tell me all about it down below!
Crockpot Mexican Beef Barbacoa Recipe
- 4 lbs Beef Brisket
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 7 oz Can Chipotles in Adobo Sauce
- 1 ½ cups Beef Broth
- 1 tablespoon Minced Garlic
- 2 tablespoon Cumin
- 1 tablespoon Oregano
- ½ tablespoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt Plus more for seasoning beef
- 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper Plus more for seasoning beef
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Cloves
- ¼ cup Lime Juice
- Slice the beef brisket into large chunks and season with salt and pepper. Next, heat the olive oil in a large pan and sear all the sides on the beef. Once all the sides are seared add the meat into the slow cooker.
- Combine all of the remaining ingredients into a large blender or food processor and blend on low until smooth.
- Pour the finished sauce over the seared beef in the crockpot. Cook on LOW for 8-9 hours or HIGH for 6 hours. Once the meat is extremely tender and falling apart you know it is finished.
- Once the meat is cooked shred it and add to your recipe of choice or eat alone with rice and beans. Additionally, you can add more lime juice or fresh cilantro over top to enhance the flavor. Enjoy!