Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef — Learn how to make authentic-tasting barbacoa beef in your Instant Pot or slow cooker!! EASY, tastes BETTER than a restaurant, and is a dinnertime WINNER!!

Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef — Learn how to make authentic-tasting barbacoa beef in your Instant Pot or slow cooker!! EASY, tastes BETTER than a restaurant, and is a dinnertime WINNER!!

What is Barbacoa Beef? 

If you’ve ever wanted to create that falling-apart-tender barbacoa beef that you find in restaurants, this is the recipe for you. Whether you want to make this in your Instant Pot and it will be ready in about 1 hour, or you are using a slow cooker and are going to let it simmer away for hours, either method is easy and works beautifully.

If you’ve never eaten barbacoa before, it’s essentially slow cooked beef that’s been flavored with a mixture of herbs, spices, and chiles. I used a trimmed boneless beef chuck roast in this Instant Pot barbacoa beef recipe. In traditional preparations of barbacoa, multiple different parts of the beef head were used, as well as sheep or goat, but we’re not going down those roads with this recipe.

Slap it in some warmed corn tortillas, top with a squirt of lime juice, cilantro, and red onions, and you have tacos to-die-for.

The whole family is going to love these tacos and you don’t have to dig a hole and let the meat cook for 12 hours, which is traditionally how barbacoa was made. Just use your Instant Pot or slow cooker.

Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef — Learn how to make authentic-tasting barbacoa beef in your Instant Pot or slow cooker!! EASY, tastes BETTER than a restaurant, and is a dinnertime WINNER!!

What’s in Instant Pot Barbacoa? 

To make this beef barbacoa in your Instant Pot or slow cooker, you’ll need: 

  • Beef stock
  • White onion
  • Garlic
  • Canned green chiles
  • Chipotles in adobo sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dried herbs and spices
  • Olive oil
  • Boneless beef chuck

Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef — Learn how to make authentic-tasting barbacoa beef in your Instant Pot or slow cooker!! EASY, tastes BETTER than a restaurant, and is a dinnertime WINNER!!

How to Make Barbacoa Beef

To help create the authentic-tasting sauce that the beef cooks in, first blend together a couple ingredients. Just 13, to be exact. Haha. The key items include onion, garlic, chipotle peppers in adobe, adobo sauce, green chiles, lime juice, cumin, and Mexican oregano. If you can’t find it, regular oregano is okay.

Some recipes use dried chiles, but it’s another step and process to soften them and using canned chipotles in adobo is so easy and delivers plenty of flavor.

Then, keep it simple and buy a beef chuck roast, dice it into chunks, throw it into your Instant Pot or slow cooker and sear it.

If you have a slow cooker with a searing function, use it. But if not, sear the beef on the stovetop and then transfer it back into your slow cooker. The nice thing about an Instant Pot or some multi-function slow cookers is that you can sear (or sauté) in them and avoid the transferring process, but don’t skip the searing step because it adds a ton of flavor.

One the meat is seared, just top with the 13-ingredient sauce, let it cook, shred it, and dig in.

Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef — Learn how to make authentic-tasting barbacoa beef in your Instant Pot or slow cooker!! EASY, tastes BETTER than a restaurant, and is a dinnertime WINNER!!

Tips for Making Instant Pot Barbacoa 

This beef barbacoa is so juicy, tender, and full of flavor. It’s not spicy per se, but rather it’s flavorful. If you want to up the heat level, use more chipotles in adobo and/or more adobo sauce.

You don’t have to stop with just tacos when enjoying this Instant Pot barbacoa. Use the Mexican beef in burritos, quesadillas, on tostados, in salads, or make sandwiches or tortas with it.

Note that barbacoa beef freezes incredibly well. Just be sure to sure freeze it with some of the juices from the meat so it doesn’t dry out. 

Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Learn how to make authentic-tasting barbacoa beef in your Instant Pot or slow cooker!! EASY, tastes BETTER than a restaurant, and is a dinnertime WINNER!!

Yield: 8
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup beef stock, Mexican beer (Sol, Pacifico, Negro Modelo, etc.), or water
  • 1 small/medium white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic
  • one 4-ounce can diced green chiles
  • 4 chipotles in adobo sauce (or reduce/increase to taste based on preferred heat level)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (or reduce/increase to taste based on preferred heat level)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried Mexican oregano (regular oregano may be substituted)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, fat trimmed, and diced into 2-inch chunks
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • corn tortillas, lime juice, cilantro, red onions, avocado, cotija cheese, etc.; for serving

Instructions

    1. To the canister of a high speed blender or food processor, add the first 13 ingredients (through cloves), and process on high speed to combine until smooth; set aside.

    Instant Pot Directions:

    1. Add the oil, beef, and sear on all sides until nicely crusted using the Saute function; flip intermittently; press Cancel to turn off the heat.
    2. Add the 13-ingredient puree to the beef that’s in your Instant Pot, add the bay leaves, stir to combine, close lid securely and set vent to Sealing.
    3. Press Manual, then press Pressure until the light on High Pressure illuminates. Adjust the +/- buttons until time reads 60 minutes and cook.
    4. After 60 minutes, carefully turn the vent to Venting for quick release, wait until all of the steam has released, and the valve has dropped.
    5. Remove the lid, discard bay leaves, shred the meat with 2 forks, and I recommend allowing it to sit in the juices for about 15 minutes before serving so it soaks up even more flavor.

    Slow Cooker Directions:

    1. If using a slow cooker (I recommend a 6-quart size, give or take) and it has a searing function, use it here by adding the oil, beef, and sear on all sides until nicely crusted; flip intermittently. If it does not have a searing function, sear the beef in a large skillet or Dutch and then transfer it back into your slow cooker.
    2. Add the 13-ingredient puree to the beef that’s in your Slow Cooker, add the bay leaves, stir to combine, close lid, and cook for about 4 to 5 hours on High or about 7 to 8 hours on Low.
    3. Remove the lid, discard bay leaves, shred the meat with 2 forks, and I recommend allowing it to sit in the juices for about 15 minutes before serving so it soaks up even more flavor.
    4. Serve on warmed tortillas, or make burritos, quesadillas, tostados, sandwiches, tortas, etc.

Notes

  • Beef will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
  • Recipe adapted from Here and Here.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 542 Total Fat: 34g Saturated Fat: 12g Trans Fat: 2g Unsaturated Fat: 20g Cholesterol: 142mg Sodium: 775mg Carbohydrates: 13g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 3g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 45g

More Easy Mexican Recipes:

ALL OF MY MEXICAN RECIPES! 

Mexican Beef Meatballs with Tomato Avocado Salad — These fast and easy beef meatballs are packed with protein, coated in enchilada sauce, and are loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors! Great for busy weeknight dinners or easy-breezy entertaining!

Mexican Beef Meatballs with Tomato Avocado Salad - These FAST and EASY beef meatballs are packed with protein that can provide strength to fuel the whole family. They’re coated in enchilada sauce and are loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors!! Great for busy weeknight dinners or easy-breezy entertaining!! #BeefItsWhatsForDinner #NicelyDone

Easy 30-Minute Chicken Enchilada Chili – Don’t have all day for chili to simmer? No problem! This easy, hearty, healthier chili full of Mexican-inspired flavors is ready in 30 minutes! Perfect for busy weeknights!

Easy 30-Minute Chicken Enchilada Chili - Don't have all day for chili to simmer? No problem! This EASY, hearty, healthier chili full of Mexican-inspired flavors is ready in 30 minutes! Perfect for busy weeknights!!

One Skillet Beef Taco Pasta – An easy recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes, made in one skillet, and loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors! A family favorite that’s great for busy weeknights!

One Skillet Beef Taco Pasta - An EASY recipe that's ready in 20 minutes, made in ONE skillet, and loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors!! A family favorite that's great for busy weeknights!!

Loaded Beef Taco Salad with Creamy Lime Cilantro Dressing — Loaded with your favorite taco fixings, minus the shells, to keep things healthier without sacrificing any flavor! The dressing is easy, creamy and irresistible!

Loaded Beef Taco Salad with Creamy Lime Cilantro Dressing - Loaded with your favorite taco fixings, minus the shells, to keep things healthier without sacrificing any FLAVOR!! The dressing is easy, creamy and IRRESISTIBLE!!

Easy 30-Minute Southwestern Beef Skillet — Easy, family friendly, ready in 30 minutes, and comfort food at its best! Ground beef, pasta, black beans, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and cheese for a Southwestern flair!

Easy 30-Minute Southwestern Beef Skillet - EASY, family friendly, ready in 30 minutes, and COMFORT FOOD at its best!! Ground beef, PASTA, black beans, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and CHEESE for a Southwestern flair!!

15-Minute Cheesy Chicken Taco Skillet – Craving tacos minus all the empty carbs? This easy taco skillet without tortillas is perfect! Fast, easy, loaded with awesome Mexican-inspired flavors and it’s super cheesy!

15-Minute Cheesy Chicken Taco Skillet - Craving tacos minus all the empty carbs? This EASY taco skillet without tortillas is PERFECT!! Fast, EASY, loaded with awesome Mexican-inspired flavors and it's super CHEESY!!

Carne Asada Tacos – EASY carne asada at home that rivals your favorite restaurant!! Tender juicy beef that’s seasoned to perfection and topped with pico de gallo and salsa make these carne asada tacos INCREDIBLE!!

One-Skillet Tex Mex Beef Mac & Cheese – An EASY recipe that’s made in ONE skillet so you don’t have to cook the pasta separately!! Loaded with ground beef, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and cilantro!

12 comments on “Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef”

  1. I have always wanted to try making barbacoa–thanks for this great recipe! I’ve bought it from the grocery but always figured homemade would be pretty easy (and with less sodium). It’s all about the spices!

  2. Fantastic barbacoa! I loved using my multifunction slow cooker for this–it was easy to sear the beef while I blended up the sauce. I’ll make this again!

    Rating: 5
  3. Looking forward to trying this recipe today. One question, though. Once you sear the meat, do you then cut it into 2 inch cubes as the ingredient list states or do you place the whole seared chuck roast into the instant pot or slow cooker?

  4. Averie – Wow!!!!! This was just ridiculous! Sooooo good! Very impressed with how much flavor and the sauce is amazing. I only used 2 chipotle peppers and removed the seeds – and that was the perfect heat level for us. Just impressed – how easy and how delicious! I will make this a lot!Thank you so much !!!

    Rating: 5
  5. Made this last night. It was unreal! Our dinner guests said it was the best barbacoa they’d ever had.

    Rating: 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.