Amazing Beef Barbacoa Recipe (Slow & Pressure Cooker Option)


Beef barbacoa has skyrocketed in popularity thanks to a popular restaurant chain. I first tried this several years ago at a local restaurant and loved the depth of flavors it had.

How to Make Beef Barbacoa at Home

We just got a Chipotle in our small town. It’s nice to have a decent place to go to eat, but it would cost a small fortune to take all of our kids there. I realized that I could make this easily at home in my new favorite kitchen appliance: The Instant Pot (an electric pressure cooker).

Now, in almost the same amount of time as it would take us to pack up the kids and head to a restaurant, we can have this delicious meal at home any night!

An Important Barbacoa Clarification…

Before I share this recipe, I should clarify that it is a Chipotle copycat recipe and is not an authentic and traditional barbacoa. I once tried traditional Barbacoa in college at an international festival and while it is delicious, it is much different. It is often made in pits or in big batches and is most often made from sheep meat, though goat, beef, or pork can be used.

The original traditional barbacoa I tried was made with the head of a cow. Seeing as I don’t have an entire cow head laying around (and also seeing as how I’m not that brave), I’m sticking to this recipe.

The Best Method for Beef Barbacoa Making

You can cook this recipe in several different ways: a pressure cooker, slow cooker or even stove top. I personally recommend the pressure cooker method both for convenience and flavor. I use an electronic pressure cooker called an Instant Pot (this one) and it has quite literally changed my life (or at least my cooking).

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, feel free to use a slow cooker, just adapt the cooking time to 8-10 hours on low. Follow all other instructions as written.

The stove top method requires more babysitting but also works and provides great flavor. Simmer on medium/low for 4-5 hours on the stove until fork tender.

Beef Barbacoa: The Recipe…

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4 from 6 votes

Instant Pot Chipotle Barbacoa Beef (Slow Cooker Option)

A copycat Chipotle barbacoa beef recipe that you can make in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Great easy meal for large groups or to have leftovers for another meal.
Course Main
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 people
Calories 472kcal
Author Katie Wells



  • Trim the fat from the beef and cut it into 2-inch chunks.
  • Sprinkle the beef with onion and garlic powder, ground cloves, cumin, adobo seasoning, salt, and chili powder and pat onto each side to coat.
  • Place in the pressure cooker or slow cooker.
  • In a blender, blend the cilantro, chilies and adobo sauce, apple cider vinegar, fish sauce, and broth until smooth.
  • Pour over the meat in the pressure cooker/slow cooker.
  • For pressure cooker: Cook at high pressure for 25 minutes and let pressure release naturally.
  • For slow cooker: Turn on low and cook for 8-10 hours.
  • Remove meat from pressure/slow cooker and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with lime juice and zest over it.
  • Optional step: Place under broiler for 4-5 minutes until crispy on the ends.
  • Ladle 1 cup of the liquid over the mixture for more intense flavor. I recommend saving the extra liquid for a soup or chili base.
  • Serve with fresh or pickled onions, cilantro, and other toppings as desired.


If you can't find chilis in adobo in your area, you can make your own from dried chipotle peppers (or other peppers of choice) or even fresh peppers. Simmer 2 ounces of dried peppers in broth until they are completely softened and then puree to create the same flavors.
There seems to be a lot of variation among chilis in adobo and some are much more spicy than others. I've made this recipe for my family with 4 cans and served it to company that way, but others find that even one can is too hot. If you aren't a fan of spicy foods and it is your first time making it, start with a few individual chilis from the can and see how hot the finished product is before adding more in the future. 


Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 169mg | Sodium: 1074mg | Potassium: 889mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 19.3% | Vitamin C: 4.5% | Calcium: 6% | Iron: 35.8%

Like this recipe? Check out my new cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

If you want a delicious topping for your beef barbacoa, I recommend these pickled red onions, the additional flavor enhancer is amazing!

Ever tried Barbacoa? Will you make your own?

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