Tacos de Barbacoa might sound like one of the more intimidating taco recipes out there, but rest assured — this version is extremely easy to make. Your slow cooker does all the work for you and the end results are beefy perfection.
Picture this: Juicy, and flavor-drenched, shredded beef on a warm corn tortilla, topped with chopped onion and cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime. If that doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will.
The whole shebang takes only about 10 minutes to prep and thanks to a killer combo of spices this thing is bursting with bright and bold flavors. Perfect for tacos, burritos, or burrito bowls!
You’ll also love our Mexican Shredded Beef and Shredded Beef Tacos!
WHAT CUT OF BEEF IS USED FOR BARBACOA?
The cut of beef most often used to make traditional Barbacoa is chuck roast. Chuck roast comes from the shoulder of a cow, which, as you can imagine, is an area that undergoes a lot of movement.
Because of all this action, chuck roast isn’t considered a tender cut of beef. However, when you slow cook it, it becomes incredibly tender. And, when I say slow cook it, I mean like 8-10 hours on the low setting.
Sure, you technically can cook a chuck roast on the high heat setting in your crockpot, and it will most definitely cook through in about 5 hours, but it won’t be nearly as good as it could be.
Moral of the story: plan ahead. You’ll need to cook that chuck roast low and slow for the best possible Barbacoa Tacos.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR BARBACOA TACOS
Tacos de Barbacoa begins with major aromatics — chopped onion, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Then, it’s on to the beef!
As mentioned above, you will need a chuck roast for your Barbacoa. But, not just any chuck roast — a heavily seasoned one.
For your Barbacoa seasoning you will need:
- Chipotles in adobo
- Mexican oregano
- Salt and pepper
In addition to chipotles in adobo and dry seasoning, you will also need fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro.
These two ingredients are meant to add vibrance and liven up an otherwise entirely savory dish. Therefore, they go in at the end to retain their brightness.
Last, but not least, if you want to serve your Barbacoa in taco form, you will also need corn tortillas.
And, if you’d like to garnish them in the most traditional way possible, you’ll need some onion, cilantro, and lime on reserve. But, we’ll get a bit more in-depth on that below!
ABOUT CHIPOTLE PEPPERS
Chipotle peppers from chipotles in adobo are incredibly flavorful and will do amazing things to your Barbacoa tacos. So, no skimping out on this ingredient!
Here’s why: Adobo sauce is a smoky, tangy sauce made of vinegar, tomatoes, garlic, and lots of different seasonings. Chipotle peppers are dried and smoked jalapeños.
When you buy a can of chipotles in adobo, you’re really getting a double whammy of flavor.
On one hand, you have this crazy delicious, souped-up, smoky jalapeño, and on the other, you’re getting tons of flavor from the adobo sauce as well. Bring the two together, and you’ve got a killer ingredient that will take your barbacoa to the next level!
HOW TO MAKE BARBACOA
Add chopped onion, garlic, and bay leaves to the slow cooker and set it aside. Next, you’ll make the rub for your chuck roast.
Combine chopped chipotle peppers, kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, cumin, and oregano to make the rub in a small bowl, and use a fork to mix up the spices until they look like a paste.
Rub the paste all over your chuck roast, getting it into every nook and cranny. Then, transfer the chuck roast to your slow cooker and wash up! Make sure you get all of that spice off of your fingers and hands and take care not to touch your eyes.
Cover the crockpot and cook for 8 to 10 hours on the low setting. Once the beef is cooked through and can easily be pulled with a fork, remove it from the slow cooker and place it on a large work surface.
Use two forks to pull the beef into big shreds. Then, return the shredded beef to the crockpot, add in the juice of two limes plus fresh chopped cilantro, and stir!
HOW TO SERVE TACOS DE BARBACOA
There’s certainly more than one way to serve Tacos de Barbacoa. However, if you want to serve them up in the most traditional form all you need is corn tortillas, chopped white onion, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges on the side.
If you’d like to spruce up your tacos a bit more, feel free to add any of the following toppings: Cotija or Queso Fresco, Pico de Gallo, Tomatillo Salsa, Salsa Rojo, diced avocado, and/or sliced radishes.
6 MORE MEATY MEXICAN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
Tacos de Barbacoa is full-flavored and crazy easy! The beef is tender and juicy and the spices and lime juice add the perfect punch.
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle peppers (from chipotles in adobo sauce)
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 2 pound chuck roast
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 12 warmed corn tortillas
- Chopped white onion
- Chopped cilantro
- Lime wedges for squeezing
Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaves to the slow cooker and set aside.
In a small bowl, use a fork to mix chopped chipotle peppers, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and oregano until paste-like. Rub the mixture all over your chuck roast and transfer to the slow cooker. Wash your hands well, and do not touch your eyes.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Once the beef is fork-tender, remove it from the slow cooker, place it on a large work surface, and use two forks to shred it.
Discard the bay leaves and return the shredded beef back to the slow cooker, along with the lime juice and chopped cilantro, and stir.
Add 1/3 cup of the shredded beef to a warm corn tortilla and garnish with diced white onion and cilantro to serve. Squeeze a lime wedge over the filling, and enjoy!