Photo by Mexican Please

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Servings: 8 servings

This stress-free slow cooker beef barbacoa can be used in so many delicious ways:  tacos, burritos, enchiladas.  Don't forget to let it cook in its own juices after shredding it, this can make a huge difference in flavor.


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  1. Trim off any excess bits of fat from the meat and cut into 2-3 inch chunks.
  2. Add the meat to the slow cooker along with: 3 minced chipotles in adobo, 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, 1 chopped onion, 5 minced garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 tablespoon oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, freshly cracked pepper, the juice of 2 limes, and a splash of water.
  3. Give everything a quick stir and cook in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. When the beef pieces are fully cooked inside and fork tender they are done.
  4. Use two forks or a spatula to shred the beef.
  5. Let the shredded beef cook in the juices for an additional 10-15 minutes (this is the most important part!). You can also taste for seasoning at this point. I added another generous pinch of salt to this batch.
  6. Once the beef has stewed in its own juices it is ready to be served. For a simple barbacoa taco, serve the beef in a warm, corn tortilla with pickled onions and freshly chopped cilantro.
  7. Store leftovers in their juices in an airtight container in the fridge.

Chef Notes

I didn't sear the beef pieces before putting them in the slow cooker, but you are welcome to experiment with that.   Here is some good info on searing. Don't forget to taste for seasoning after you shred the beef pieces; a final dash of salt can really enhance the flavors. Here is some more info on working with chipotles in adobo.

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