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Slow-Cooker Barbacoa

Macheesmo Recipe by
(9 reviews)
Slow-Cooker Barbacoa
  • Prep Time 30 min
  • Total Time 7 hr 0 min
  • Servings 20
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Slow-Cooker Barbacoa

Shredded beef cooked in a slow cooker. So easy for a recipe that is so good.


pounds chuck roast, cut into large cubes
tablespoons olive oil
tablespoon kosher salt
chipotle peppers, minced
tablespoon adobo sauce (from chipotles)
cloves garlic
cup apple cider vinegar
limes juice only
tablespoon cumin seeds
tablespoon oregano
teaspoon cinnamon
bay leaves
tablespoons Muir Glen™ organic tomato paste
cups beef broth
pinch salt and pepper


corn tortillas
White onion, diced and rinsed


  • 1 Cut chuck roast into a few large pieces. I cut mine into six even chunks.
  • 2 Season roast pieces well with kosher salt. In a large skillet, add olive oil and heat over high heat. Once hot, add roast pieces and brown well on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  • 3 When done, remove roast pieces and add them to your crock pot. Add 1 cup of beef broth to the pan and scrape up any stuck bits. Add that to your slow cooker.
  • 4 Mince chipotle peppers and garlic and add to slow cooker along with other ingredients. Stir to combine flavors.
  • 5 Cover and cook on high for 2 hours and then switch to low for another 3-4 hours. Alternatively, you can cook it on low for 8 hours or longer.
  • 6 After cooking, remove beef pieces from slow cooker and let cool for a few minutes, then shred with two forks.
  • 7 Remove bay leaves from cooking liquid and pour into a blender. Blend until smooth.
  • 8 Add shredded beef back to slow cooker along with just enough liquid to keep the meat moist. About two cups should do the trick.
  • 9 For the taco toppings, after dicing your onion, rinse it under some cold water and it will wash off some of the strong onion flavor.
  • 10 Serve beef on corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, salsa and lime.
See Step By Step

Step By Step  

Slow Cooker Barbacoa

As prepared by Macheesmo,

It’s almost not fair, how easy this dish is to make!

Based on how delicious it is, one might think that it has a million different ingredients and tons of steps.

But basically you just throw everything in your slow cooker, come back in eight hours, and chow down on some of the best tacos you’ve ever had.

What’s not to love about slow cooker barbacoa?!

You could use almost any cut of beef to make these, but I think chuck roast makes the most sense. It pretty economical and shreds really nicely, which is important.

So just pick up a 3-4 pound roast and cube the roast into some large pieces.

Chuck roast cubed

Before we toss everything into the crock pot, I like to brown my roast really well so the meat develops lots of flavor.

To do this, season all the roast pieces with salt and then heat your oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add your roast pieces and cook them until they are well-browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. If you have a small pan, you might have to do this in batches.

Beef browned

Take your browned roast pieces out of the skillet and add them to your slow cooker.

The pan that you browned the beef in will have tons of stuff stuck on it. That’s all flavor! Add a cup of beef broth (or water) to the pan and return it to the heat. Use a heavy spoon to scrape up all the stuck bits and then add that liquid to your crock pot.

Deglaze pan

Besides the beef and broth, you want to get some good flavors in the crock pot liquid so the beef soaks up lots of flavor as it cooks.

These are the ingredients I went with.

Simmer ingredients

There are a few that may look strange to you (apple cider vinegar and cinnamon), but trust me. As they cook they help break down the meat and make it really tender and flavorful.

To give some heat to the liquid, chop up a few chipotle peppers and add them to the mix. Cut the stems off the peppers, but no need to cut the seeds out. You can just chop everything and toss it in.

Chipotle chopped

Once you have everything in your crock pot, stir it all together and you’re ready to go. You could easily prepare this in the morning to have dinner ready when you got home that night!

Crock pot ready

You can either cook this on low heat for 8-10 hours or start it out on high for two hours and then finish it on low for 4 more hours.

When the beef is done cooking, pull it out of the crock pot, let it cool briefly, and then use a few forks to shred it up!

Shredding beef

Meanwhile, pour all the cooking liquid out of the crock pot and put it in a blender. Be careful when blending hot liquid. If you have your blender too full it will splatter hot liquid all over the place so I recommend letting the liquid cool before blending it.

Blend it up and you’ll have an instant sauce for the meat!

Sauce blended

Add the meat back into the crock pot and pour in just enough sauce to keep the meat moist. About two cups should do the trick.

Serve the barbacoa on corn tortillas with diced onions, salsa, cilantro, and lime juice.

Tip: For the diced onions, rinse them with cold water after you dice them. It will mellow out their intense onion flavor a bit and you’ll be left with a perfect taco topping.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Taco from above

These are some seriously delicious tacos.

If you make them, feel free to tell your friends that you worked all day cooking them. Your secret is safe with me!

Nick thought this made his house smell better than forest fires. Be sure to check out his blog, Macheesmo, his book, Cornerstone Cooking, and check out his Tablespoon profile.

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