Have a craving for Chipotle Barbacoa? Try making this juicy Mexican pulled beef, slow-cooker barbacoa at home today. The beef chuck is cooked slowly in a slow cooker. It's absolutely better than Chipotle's beef barbacoa. It's made of simple ingredients and easy to put together.
This beef barbacoa is delicious, fit for a crowd. The most addictive game-day food recipe to make for your next Super Bowl party.
What is Barbacoa
Barbacoa has origins from the Taino people in the Caribbean, In contemporary Mexico, it broadly means meat such as a whole goat or sheep that is slow-cooked over a fire or more traditional fire in the ground with agave leaves. The meat is most often tender, giving it a juicy flavor that many of us crave.
Having lived in Southern California for the last decade I have fortunately tried it in many different dishes at restaurants, potlucks, and dinners.
This version of Tex-Mex Beef Barbacoa is cooked with chipotle seasoning and a light broth resulting in fall-apart tenderness by using a slow cooker.
The meat is so rich and has a nice smoky, slight tartness, and spicy taste. It's absolutely delicious.
Beef barbacoa is extremely versatile. You can use the meat as a filling for tacos, burrito wrap, burrito bowl, salad, enchiladas, or nachos.
Ingredients for Slow-Cooker Barbacoa
To make this beef barbacoa, you will need beef chuck, onion, garlic, chipotle chili pepper, cloves, bay leaves, cumin, Mexican oregano, beef broth, fresh lime juice, and apple cider vinegar.
Chipotle Peppers: In this recipe, I used 3 medium-sized chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce. The chili gives a nice kick to the dish without adding too much heat. If you are worried about the spice level, feel free to simply use fewer chipotle peppers. Or, to add a smoky kick to the dish you can add some extra sauce.
Mexican oregano: It has lemon, citrus, and earthy flavor. It is much more suited to the flavors of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines. If you can't find it, feel free to use the regular oregano.
The Best Cuts of Beef for Barbacoa
Here are some of the best cuts of beef for barbacoa, yielding meat that's juicy and tender even after long and slow cooking:
- beef chuck. It's a cheap cut with lots of connective tissue and fat that offers great flavor.
- brisket. It's cheaper than beef chuck. Make sure that you choose the fattier brisket.
- beef cheek. It's another affordable cut of beef. It has a dense muscle that becomes very tender after slow and long cooking.
- short rib. It's pricier than beef chuck and brisket. This cut of beef offers consistency in both texture and flavor.
- oxtail. It's more tender than short rib. When cooked, both types of meat offer a deep rich beef flavor.
How to Make Barbacoa in a Slow Cooker.
Step 1. Prepare and Season Meat
- Pat the meat dry with paper towels.
- Trim some but not all of the fat from your beef chuck.
- Cut the beef chuck into 6 portions.
- With your hand at least 12 inches away, lightly sprinkle salt and black pepper on all sides of the meat in a single layer.
Step 2. Brown the Meat
Don't skip the browning process. It's an important step to speed up the cooking time and to give the meat a nice caramelized flavor.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until simmering.
- Cook 3 pieces of beef chuck until well-browned on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Remove the meat from the dutch oven then transfer to a slow cooker.
- Add a tablespoon of oil into the Dutch oven and cook the remaining pieces until well-browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker.
Step 3. Prepare the Sauce
- Add sliced onion and garlic into the pot. Cook and stirring frequently for about 6 minutes over medium heat.
- Add cumin, cloves, oregano, chipotle chilies, and cook stirring constantly for 30 seconds or just until fragrant.
- Add apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and beef broth. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Carefully puree the mixture.
Step 4. Slow Cook the Meat in Sauce
- Pour the sauce mixture over the meat then stir in bay leaves.
- Cover the slow cooker with a lid and cook on low for 8 hours or 3-4 hours on high.
Step 5. Shred the Meat
- Remove the cooked meat from the slow cooker. Shred into thin pieces then put them back into a slow cooker.
- Toss the meat with juices and let it soak for at least 10 minutes on warm before serving.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper if needed.
FAQ and Cooking Tips:
Divide the leftover into small portions then place the leftover in small airtight containers. Properly stored, it can last up to 3 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.
To reheat the leftover barbacoa, simply transfer it to a pot and cook on medium-low heat until the internal temperature reaches 165°F before consuming.
Check Out More Delicious Recipes:
- Pressure Cooker BBQ Beef Ribs
- Beef Enchiladas
- Easy Braised Beef Brisket
- Vietnamese Shaking Beef
- Ground Beef Italian Meatballs
- Instant Pot Boneless Beef Short Ribs
- Instant Pot Pulled Beef Brisket
- Ground Beef Quesadillas
- 3 pounds beef chuck, (pat the beef chuck dry with paper towels. Trim some but not all of the fat)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- salt and black pepper , (to taste)
- 1 small onion, (sliced)
- 6 garlic cloves, (peeled and smashed)
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp Mexican oregano
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 3 pieces of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, (small size)
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup beef broth
- 3 bay leaves
- Cut the meat into 6 portions and season all sides with salt and black pepper.
- In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat until simmering. Cook 3 pieces of beef chuck until well-browned on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker. Repeat process with remaining 3 pieces.
- Add onion and garlic into the pot. Stir frequently for 5-6 minutes over medium heat. Add cumin, cloves, oregano, chipotle peppers, and stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
- Add the remaining ingredients, except bay leaves. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half over medium-high heat. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree it.
- Pour the sauce over the meat then stir in bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or 3-4 hours on high.
- Remove the meat from the slow cooker then shred. Put the shredded meat back into a slow cooker. Toss the meat with juices and let it soak for at least 10 minutes on warm before serving. Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper if needed.