Let the slow cooker do most of the work for this easy and super delicious shredded beef barbacoa! The smoky tender flavorful beef is great for tacos, salads, burritos, nachos and more!
Tender, shredded beef with a hint of smoky spice and rich in flavor.
Perfect for stuffing in taco or burrito or lettuce wrap.
Or for eating on a salad or with rice and beans.
Or for broiling with some cheese on nachos.
It’s smoky tender beefy goodness…
…and it ticks the boxes for paleo, low-carb, and gluten-free!
Easy As 1-2-3
For making this beef barbacoa, the cut of beef is easy. Use simple affordable cuts like beef chuck roast, sirloin roast…any cut that is good for stews is suitable. Cut the beef into chunks about the size of a lemon, which will allow the beef to cook a little quicker and it will allow the seasonings to coat more of the meat.
Speaking of seasonings, let’s get to the FLAVOR! All you need is garlic, onions, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, cumin, thyme, oregano, sea salt, and black pepper. Those all get mixed together and slathered all over the meat chunks.
The final ingredient is beef broth, which gives a a flavorful bath for the beef to stew in and it will be the “sauce” that coats the shredded beef when it’s all done.
Cooking It Low and Slow
All of it goes in the slow cooker, lid on, turn to Low and let cook for about 10 hours (or about 6 hours on High). I have let this cook overnight on Low and it works out perfectly.
If you are using a leaner cut of beef, like sirloin, it needs that extra time to really become fork tender pullable. The long cooking time also allows the flavors to really come out and soak into the meat.
Basically, there is no negative to letting it cook longer.
Then it’s time to remove the beef room from the slow cooker and shred or pull the beef, which I find easiest with two forks.
After I’ve removed all the meat, I pour all the liquid from the slow cooker into a pot and heat it on the stove for 10-15 minutes to reduce it to a slightly thicker sauce. Then I mix it back in with the shredded beef and all that smoky saucy goodness coats all the meat!
You can skip this step, and if you do, just mix the meat back into the liquid in the slow cooker. It will still coat the beef, but it will just be a bit thinner. All good!
I had never even heard of beef barbacoa until I saw it as a meat option on Chipotle Mexican Grill’s menu. I had no clue what it was and when I saw it, I just thought, okay….so it’s pulled beef. I had no idea that it’s not JUST pulled beef…it’s mighty tasty pulled beef!
And when I tried making beef barbacoa at home, it was an instant hit with the family. My boys liked it because it was a bit leaner than pulled pork, and we all liked it because the flavor and texture were just so good! I’ve served it with rice and beans, on a salad, in a soft tortilla, and on nachos.
The beef barbacoa makes a great substitute for the pork in my Carnitas Fiesta Bowls and it’s a perfect savory topping to a salad! It also freezes well, so you can have portions ready to go for any weeknight meal!
If you ever needed a reason to dust off the slow cooker, this is it! Put it to work and whip up a batch of this beef barbacoa today!
Smoky Chipotle Beef Barbacoa
- Cut beef roast into chunks.
- Mix together minced garlic, diced onions, chipotle peppers, and spices.
- Coat roast chunks with chipotle pepper mixture and place in slow cooker.
- Add beef broth.
- Cover and cook for 10 hours on Low, or 6 hours on High, until meat is easily shreddable; longer is better.
- Remove beef and shred using two forks.
- If desired, pour liquid from slow cooker into a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until slightly thickened and reduced. Mix in with shredded beef.
- You can marinate the beef in the spice mixture before cooking, if desired, but it's not necessary.
- I often cook the beef on low overnight and it works perfectly!
- You can adjust the amount of cumin and chipotle peppers depending on how spicy you like the beef.
- It reezes really well! Freeze in meal portions in ziploc bags and reheat by heating in a pot or pan on the stovetop.
- Perfect served on a salad, in soft or hard tacos, in lettuce wraps, with rice and beans, on nachos, etc.