Slow Cooker Barbacoa


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Easy Slow Cooker Barbacoa makes taco nights simple and delicious. This Chipotle copycat recipe is great for tacos or a homemade burrito bowl!

This Barbacoa recipe sees tasty, juicy, and tender beef cooked in a flavorful and slightly-spicy cooking sauce. Tastes great with some Easy Pico de Gallo or Guacamole!

Slow Cooked Barbacoa meat on tacos with toppings

Easy Slow Cooker Barbacoa

Chipotle is one of those places I feel like I definitely need to visit more often. The food’s so simple but delicious- their meats, especially, seem to be made just right. Thankfully, I don’t have to leave home to get my Chipotle fix: I have this tasty recipe for Slow Cooker Barbacoa!

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Homemade Beef Barbacoa on flour tortillas

Technically speaking, a proper/authentic pot of Barbacoa would be made from a cow’s head. While I don’t doubt the claims that slow-cooking the cartilage in cow head turns it into delicious shredded beef, I’m just going to use chuck roast. It’s much easier for me to source and I’m certain I’ll get an end-product that’s just as delicious. Feel free to use cow’s head or whatever cuts of beef you want for this recipe: slow-cooking in our acidic sauce will tenderize and flavor it to perfection!

Text on image Slow Cooker Barbacoa

Once you’ve made and enjoyed your Homemade Barbacoa, feel free to store your leftovers in their sauce in the fridge. Whenever you want to reheat, just warm your beef up in those reserved juices on the stovetop, in the microwave, or in the oven. This recipe will yield plenty of Barbacoa- so I’d recommend either halving this recipe or being ready to use all those leftovers. Hope you enjoy it!

Text on image Slow Cooker Barbacoa

Other Mexican Dinner Recipes

  • If you enjoyed our Barbacoa, you’ll want to try our Slow Cooker Carnitas Recipe next! Using the slow cooker again, we make prepping and cooking this large pot of spicy pork a breeze. You’ll love how it tastes and the smell is just mouth-watering!
  • For the folks who love their poultry, you’ll want to whip up some Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas. This recipe is an easy and delicious way to use up some leftover or rotisserie chicken. Tangy, quick to make, and very budget-friendly as well!

Text on image Slow Cooker Barbacoa

What is Barbacoa made of?

  • Beef – No need to use anything pricy here. You’ll usually want to go with a cheaper cut, as the long cook time will soften and tenderize the meat while it cooks. We usually use chuck roasts.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lime Juice
  • Canned Chipotles in Adobo Sauce – We’ll need both the peppers and the sauce.
  • Spices – We just reached for some classic Mexican and Spanish spices: cumin, oregano, some clove, and some salt & pepper.
  • Chicken Broth
  • Bay Leaves

Ingredients to make homemade Barbacoa

How to make Barbacoa

To make your Homemade Barbacoa, all you’ll need to do is…
  1. Trim your beef and blend together with your sauce.
  2. Let your beef cook in the slow cooker with the sauce until done.
  3. Shred your finished Barbacoa before serving.

Trimmed chuck roast on a cutting board

After trimming off any excess fat and silverskin, we always brown our beef in a cast iron pan. Use something like vegetable oil to help with the searing. Trust us: browning your beef is going to add tons of flavor!

Seared chuck roast for barbacoa tacos

To a blender or food processor, you’re going to add all of your sauce ingredients- everything except your beef, broth, and bay leaves. All these acids and spices are going to help our beef tenderize and soften up during it’s long stint in the slow cooker.

Homemade Barbacoa sauce in a food processor

With our beef browned and our sauce blended, we can finally start getting everything into our slow cooker. First, the beef…

Chuck roast added to crockpot for beef barbacoa

Then our sauce…

Barbacoa sauce added to beef

We still need a bit more liquid, so let’s go back to our cast iron pan. To add even more flavor, we’re going to deglaze all those brown bits our beef left behind using some chicken stock. Pour it into the cast iron pan- which will still be hot- and use something like a wooden spatula or some tongs to scrape all that fond up.

Deglazed skillet

Add your stock and a few bay leaves to the slow cooker before closing it up.

Homemade Barbacoa before cooked

You can let your beef cook for either 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low. The choice is yours- you’re still letting it cook for several hours so it’ll get cooked through and tenderize.

Shredded barbacoa beef meat

Once it’s done cooking, remove your bay leaves and use a couple of forks to shred up your barbacoa. You can let it cook on low for another hour before serving and enjoying!

Shredded Beef Barbacoa in a bowl

How to serve your Homemade Barbacoa

  • Make some Barbacoa Tacos! Grab some tortillas- maybe some Homemade Flour Tortillas– and fill them up. You could do several smaller tacos or grab a larger tortilla and make a burrito instead.
  • Fill up a burrito bowl. Skip the tortilla and just fill up a bowl with your beef and any other mix-ins you had in mind. At a bare minimum, I’d add in something like Lime Rice or Easy Spanish Rice.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa with tongs

Topping Ideas

  • Pico de Gallo
  • Guacamole
  • BeansProbably black beans or refried.
  • Onions – Raw, sauteed, caramelized, pickled- the choice is yours!

Beef Barbacoa tacos with toppings

Adapted from Todd Wilbur’s copycat recipe.

5 from 3 votes

Slow Cooker Barbacoa

By: Jen CIncyshopper
Easy Slow Cooker Barbacoa makes taco nights simple and delicious. This Chipotle copycat recipe is great for tacos or a homemade burrito bowl!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12


  • 4 lb Chuck Roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • 4 Chipotle Peppers, from canned Chipotles in Adobo Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Adobo Sauce, from canned Chipotles in Adobo Sauce
  • 4 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 4 tsp Cumin
  • 3 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 3 Bay Leaves


  • Trim excess fat from the chuck roast and cut into pieces to more easily fit.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
  • Sear beef on all sides and transfer to the slow cooker.
  • In a food processor or blender, combine vinegar, lime juice, chipotles, adobo sauce, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, and cloves.
  • Pulse on high speed until smooth.
  • Cover meat with sauce.
  • Use broth to deglaze the skillet and pour into the slow cooker.
  • Add bay leaves.
  • Cover and cook 5 hours on high (or 8 hours on low).
  • Remove the bay leaves.
  • While still in the slow cooker, shred the meat with two forks and turn the heat to low, and allow to cook for 1 more hour.


For best results it's best to sear the beef prior to cooking in the CrockPot.


Calories: 314kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 104mg, Sodium: 649mg, Potassium: 552mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 37IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 46mg, Iron: 4mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

Long pin collage with text Slow Cooker Barbacoa A Chipotle CopyCat

Long pin collage with text Slow Cooker Barbacoa A Chipotle CopyCat

Long pin collage with text Slow Cooker Barbacoa A Chipotle CopyCat

About Jen Cincyshopper

A lover of food and frugal living. A wife to a wonderful hubby, momma to 5 fun kiddos. Welcome to my blog. You will find REAL TASTY RECIPES. Be sure to subscribe to my email list and follow me on social media, to never miss a recipe.

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  1. Barbacoa is not make with anything you made this recipe with.
    This looks more like machacado. Which is just shredded meat.
    Barbacoa is made with cow head or cow cheeks and no spices.

    1. Hi Pearl! You are correct, I mentioned that traditional Barbacoa recipes are made from cow head. This is more like a spin on the dish that you would find at a Chipotle restaurant. We make this Barbacoa version often at my house and everyone loves it. I hope you give it a try. Have a great rest of your day.

  2. 5 stars
    This is perfect. This recipe tasted almost exactly like the barbacoa at Chipotle. It was so juicy, spicy and delicious. I am now preparing to make it for the second time. It also stores well in the fridge, so I was making delicious burritos for myself for a couple of days.

  3. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! Taste just like Chipotle but a bit spicer. Next time I’ll reduce the number of peppers but keep everything else. I used the chicken stock to deglaze the pan before adding it to the crockpot.

  4. This was excellent, and I’m generally not a fan of slow cooker recipes. Spice level was perfect for me but was a little hot for the wife and daughter. ??

  5. Hi there. I came to your site after reading an All You article about Chipotle’s carnitas… I’ve bookmarked a couple of your copycat recipes to try because. like you, my family likes to eat out but I hate the expense! In reading this particular recipe I noticed that the measurement for the Apple Cider Vinegar is a mystery (? cup); can you clarify what the correct amount should be? Thanks so much!

    1. Sorry about that. I forgot to go back and put that in after we made the recipe. I wasn’t sure if 1/4 cup would be enough, but it turned out great.