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Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa shredded in front of a white tray of toppings

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

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This Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa is an easy Mexican inspired entree, flavored with chiles, garlic, and spices, that will win your family over!

A chuck roast is seared then slow-cooked in a crockpot with a flavorful, homemade adobe sauce. The Beef Barbacoa Recipe creates delectable shredded beef to serve with your favorite taco fixings or in your favorite Tex Mex recipes!

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa shredded in front of a white tray of toppings

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

A couple of my blogger friends have showcased their versions of Beef Barbacoa recently. Their spiced up, slow-cooked beef in the crockpot sounded fabulous. This method for cooking beef was perfect for our dreadfully hot weather, plus a nice change from my simple and frequent summer entree, Soft Shell Beef Tacos.

After only a half-hour in the slow cooker, I knew this dish would be a hit. The aroma in my kitchen was definitely tantalizing. I greeted Bill with, “You’re going to love dinner tonight,” when he arrived home from work. I was overly anxious to dig in after being tempted all day long and so was he.

What is Beef Barbacoa?

Beef Barbacoa originated in the Caribbean, where beef or more commonly, goat, was slow-cooked over an open fire. This is where “barbecue” originated! The Spanish word Barbacoa translates to Barbecue in English.

Since cooking over an open fire is rather impractical for home cooks, using a slow cooker with similar seasonings, including chiles, garlic and spices is much more approachable. This beef barbacoa is the perfect filling for your tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. Or use as a topping for a taco salad instead of ground beef.

Overhead view of Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa in a white bowl with toppings on a white tray.

How Do You Make This Beef Barbacoa Recipe?

I’m a huge fan of chuck roast for slow-cooked stews and this slow cooker Beef Barbacoa. A well-marbled chuck roast provides fabulous flavor and is super tender as it cooks slowly. This is not a cut to grill as it needs time and liquid to break down the fibers and tenderize.

Make sure to have a flavorful liquid along with the chuck roast as the longer slower cooking time allows the seasonings to infuse into the meat.

Chiptole peppers in adobo sauce are a key ingredient. Chipotles are dried, smoked jalapenos, so there will be some heat. Adobo sauce is a slightly sweet, tangy red sauce. PRO-Tip: If you’re worried about this dish being too spicy, use only two peppers instead of 4. Note that the peppers hold more of the heat than the sauce.

Freeze your leftover chipotles to use in future recipes.

Chuck roast has a lot of pockets of fat, which provides wonderful flavor. Cut away larger pieces before putting the chuck into the slow cooker. Also, when you shred the cooked beef, remove any visible fat.

Slow Cooked Chuck Roast

We are definitely a beef-eating family, and it’s at the top of our menu options for birthdays and holidays. The boys are sure to ask for a grilled steak for their birthday; and, more often than not, we have a rib roast for Christmas. But just as popular with my crew are the grilled beef hamburgers we have nearly every weekend of the summer or a marinated flank steak tossed on our Big Green Egg and used for fajitas.

And I’m a huge fan of chuck roast for slow-cooked stews and this slow cooker Beef Barbacoa. The flavor of this cut is marvelous as the bit of extra fat makes it tender and tasty. For stews, a chuck roast is always my top choice.

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa in a white bowl with toppings

More Beef Recipes You’ll Love:

No matter the season, there is a perfect beef recipe to add to your dinner menu. Besides this Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa, here are some other favorites:

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa photo and text collage
Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa shredded in front of a white tray of toppings

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Amazing Mexican inspired barbecue beef in the slow cooker!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes
Yield 8 servings


  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • A pinch ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2-4 chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 4 pound chuck roast
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • Serve with diced tomatoes, grated cheddar, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, bell peppers, tortillas


  1. To make the adobo sauce combine vinegar, lime juice, chipotles, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt and cloves in a blender or processor on high speed until smooth.
  2. Remove any excess fat from the roast and then cut into a few chunks.
  3. Pour oil into a frying pan and sear all sides of roast on medium-high heat until browned.
  4. Place meat into Crockpot and pour adobo sauce over meat.
  5. Pour in the chicken broth and add bay leaves and onions.
  6. Cook on high heat 6 hours or on low all day.
  7. While still in the Crockpot, shred the meat with two forks and turn the heat to warm. Serve with tortillas and a variety of fixings when ready.


Inspired by

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 648Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 193mgSodium: 922mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 59g


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55 comments on “Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa”

  1. This beef looks tender and delicious! We are not big beef lovers, but sometimes we like having a nice beef meal..and this would be perfect 😉

  2. I would love to make a batch of this for dinner one Sunday! No doubt the house smelled great:@)

  3. We definitely don’t eat as much beef as we used to, but when we do we want as much bang for our buck as possible! This recipe hits all the flavour marks and doing it in the slow cooker is bonus all around! I’m putting this recipe on my cottage meal list for sure!

  4. Yum Liz! Your Beef Barbacoa looks amazing!!! My family would go bonkers for it.

  5. Looks so good Liz and I’ve also been intrigued by this dish too. I’m definitely making it soon.

  6. I LOVE Beef Barbacoa! I love how you put out a plate to make your own, that’s genius!

  7. Great reason to break out my crockpot, Liz!

  8. This looks so delicious Liz!! Definitely on my to-make list….to make soon!

  9. I have been looking to use my crock-pot more often. I know which recipe I will be making very soon. Looks fantastic!

  10. Beautiful recipe! That beef looks so flavorful.

  11. Another slow cooker recipe to add to my list! This sounds great!

  12. I woke up this morning to hot, steamy weather thinking “what can I make in the crock today so I can loaf off and stay out of the kitchen” and here this is. Making this tonight Liz. Stay tuned.

  13. Liz, I’ve always wanted to make Beef Barbacoa!!! and now I can. . this looks fabulous . . Bill is one lucky man!!!

  14. I’ve been wanting to try beef barbacoa for a while now–I may just run out to the store this a.m., so we can have it for dinner tonight! I love finding new crock pot recipes, and this one sounds perfect!

  15. My family loves beef to. The beef barbacoa would be a perfect recipe for my family.

  16. This barbacoa looks so moist and juicy. I love that you made this recipe even easier by using the crockpot. Pinned.

  17. I’ve never tried this but have heard of it – guess it is time to add a new Beef Recipe to the football season! Sounds great –

  18. You are so right that you know within an hour whether your slow cooker meal is going to be good! Funny, I never htought of it until I read it here, but you’re right!

  19. I think I have everything on hand except the roast. I’ll be picking one up at the store tomorrow!

  20. I’m so glad you’ve discovered the wonders of barbacoa! It is our go-to dish around here, and the leftovers are great in hash or mac and cheese or on grilled cheese. Seriously amazing!

  21. I’m sure this is one tasty meal! I’ve seen this on a lot of Mexican restaurant menus before, yours looks like the real deal…even better actually! 🙂

  22. This looks like an absolutely amazing dish and I love that it cooks itself. Perfection!!!

  23. This looks incredible and there is so much flavor going on!

  24. Sounds awesome…bet it was worth the wait!

  25. This Beef Barbacoa looks tender and moist. I’m a fan of slow cooked beef. Looks delucious, Liz!

  26. We don’t eat much beef but this is one dish that I would like to make. It looks very delicious. So flavorful.

  27. Yep. I love the flavor of beef too, but buy it less often because it gets expensive. Chuck roast is a cheaper cut and I can just imagine the aromas in the kitchen as it simmered. I’ll have to put it on the ‘To Prepare’ list.

  28. I love this recipe for beef barbacoa! My family slow cooks it in cocacola which I don’t care for. I love your version!

  29. I love this dish!!1 Looks awesome 🙂

  30. This is such a flavorful beef and is delicious in tacos! Your flavorings and spices sound great!

  31. I love those spices, what a perfect Sunday supper meal!

  32. I love the list of spices and I can imagine the aroma in the kitchen must have been amazing while the beef was cooking xx

  33. Crock pot cooking is perfect for this time of year, well really anytime of year, love the fixings.

  34. So tender and succulent! A great weekend dinner.

  35. Yummmm! Beef is a definite favourite over here too! This recipe sounds wonderful Lizzy. The adobo sauce sounds amazing. Chuck roast will be going on my grocery list this week! Thanks for sharing this!

  36. Hey, adobo is Filipino right! Those beef strips looks so tender and tasty!

    Gourmet Getaways

  37. My dad would definitely appreciate this recipe for beef barbacoa 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  38. This goes definitely on our to-do list:) It’s actually very close to our kokkinisto beef we make here, with almost the same ingredients, slowly simmering for a couple of hours (at least) in a pot. We usually serve this wil a lot of tomato sauce and french fries or rice on the side.
    Thank you for another wonderful alternative Liz! Have a beautiful weekend!

  39. I have never had beef barbacoa but now I am very curious to try. Sounds so delicious and a big hit. Slow cooker is great for summer so you can stay away from the heat lol.

  40. I’m definitely of those people that forgets about my slow cooker come summertime, but this recipe would be perfect for a summer party! I mean, who doesn’t love tacos like this?

  41. This ethnic dish is so flavorful and a favorite of ours. I love using my crockpot in the summer…there is no heating up of the kitchen.

  42. This is something I’ve always wanted to make. thanks for the inspiration and the recipe!! It’s going to be a big hit in this house.

  43. My brother has just invested in a crock pot, Liz, so I’m printing off this recipe for him to practice his new-found crock-pot skills. I’ll come back 6 hours later to check he has got it right 🙂 Looks divine!

  44. My meals have been a bit uninspired lately too. I feel like I’m just so busy and want dinner on the table now. This looks fantastic and sounds even better!

  45. Oh yes yes yes! I love using chuck int he slow cooker too. This barbacoa needs to happen at my house ASAP!

  46. I love beef but it doesn’t like me so well these days. We don’t have it often but I would love to sink my teeth into this.

  47. Just got my printer re-loaded with black ink so I could finally print out this recipe. It looks perfect for me because I can make a big batch of this and freeze it in smaller proportions. You can take the Girl out of Iowa but you can’t take “living beef” out of the Girl.

  48. This would be dinner heaven for me!

  49. Perfect slow cooker beef dinner. My boys will be all over this!

  50. Love this! Such an amazing flavor and the leftovers are just as great!

  51. love this recipe!

  52. This turned out so tender and so flavorful! Will be using this recipe over and over!

  53. Had to make this last night…it was fabulous!

  54. I can’t wait to make it again! It was a huge hit!

  55. The chipotle peppers really make this taste special!

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