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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

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 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. This would be dinner heaven for me!

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

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

  11. love this recipe!

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

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

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

  15. The chipotle peppers really make this taste special!

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