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…
Instant Pot Chipotle Barbacoa Beef (Slow Cooker Option)
- 6-7 lbs chuck roast (or any other tough cut like brisket)
- 2 TBSP onion powder
- 1 TBSP garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 2 TBSP cumin
- 1 TBSP adobo seasoning (or make your own)
- 1 TBSP salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 can chilies in adobo
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- ½ cup beef broth
- 2 limes (juice and zest)
- 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 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?
Discussion (14 Comments)
Hey the pressure cooker time is way off, has to pressure cook for a minimum of 55 min on high pressure….
This recipe is perfect! Not too spicy at all. I have your recipe book and have made dozens of your recipes. My parents, guests, husband, and kids all agree that your recipes are the best! This one is definitely top 5 though. Thanks again!
Excellent recipe! It’s a much easier version than others I’ve seen that call for dried chilis, oxtail, etc, but still has wonderful flavor. I used 2 chipotles in adobo and it was spicy enough. Wellness Mama you must have found some really mild ones or else you have some serious heat tolerance. 4 cans wow!
I almost killed my family with only one can of the chipotle. How could anyone eat 4? My goodness did you mean 4 chilis?!
Katie - Wellness Mama
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.
This was delicious! So tender and easy to make. Will definitely be making again. Thanks Katie for another great recipe!
I have wondered this ever since I first read your blog and now since you mentioned taking your kids to Chipotle being expensive, I have to ask…..How on earth do you afford to eat quality, grain free, real food all the time? I have always assumed that your family must have a very accommodating income. We eat quality, real food, all the time, but also with some occasional grains and legumes. My kids seem to eat TONS of food. I know how to shop locally, in season, and in bulk, and I am very good at not letting food go to waste. I garden and put away the vast majority of vegetables that we eat throughout the year, and we buy shares of meat. Still, the amounts of meat and vegetables we go through are huge! For example, 1 roasted chicken is not really enough for dinner for our family of 6, no matter how many vegetables are served and consumed (at the same time taking into account that most free range chickens are not enormous).
Does your family go through huge amounts of food (and do you have some amazing trick to be able to afford this, or it just is what it is?)? I think you must double most of your recipes that you post to be able to fill your kids up (not this one, obviously). Or are my kids just weird and eat a lot?
Thanks for reading!
My kids do eat a ton too. Buying high quality food is a budget priority for us, over many other things, and to some degree, it is what it is. That said, we do eat a lot of the most inexpensive veggies like cabbage and carrots and greens and grow what we can. I also do make rice for the kids pretty often.
I’m always looking for tasty, easy slow cooker recipes; thanks so much!
We can’t have nightshades…as many are finding they are unable to as well… Do you have any ideas of what we can use to replace all of the ingredients?thank you!
Ah, try a different recipe? It’s not possible to create the same thing with entirely different ingredients, but maybe just cook a roast and add ingredients that you can have…
This sounds amazing. One question though, is it flaming hot? 4 cans of chilies in Adobe sounds gnarly.
It’s got enough to give it a good flavor, but it’s really not that spicy…
I just made this for my family this evening and I almost killed them with the heat!! I followed the recipe exactly with no substitutions and used the same brand of chilis in Adobo that you recommended. Huge potential but way too spicy! Is it possible the cans of chilis vary in heat?