These beef barbacoa tacos are tender, juicy and incredibly easy to make! We like to serve our barbacoa in corn tortillas with diced onion and cilantro, but this succulent meat is also great in burritos, quesadillas and rice bowls!
These crowd pleasing Beef Barbacoa Tacos require just a few minutes of hands on prep! This barbacoa recipe is great if you need to serve a large group, but we also like to cook up a batch at the beginning of the week to use for lunches all week long. And it’s not just tacos every day! Of course you can use it in your traditional Mexican fare, but we also like it on sandwiches, stirred into a big pot of mac and cheese or in a barbacoa hash skillet with potatoes and eggs!
We like to keep our barbacoa tacos simple yet flavorful with a host of pantry ingredients and a few flavor powerhouses, namely chipotles in adobo sauce and fresh lime juice!
- Beef chuck roast: Look for a nicely marbled cut of beef chuck for best results. Boneless beef short ribs can also be used as a substitute.
- Vegetable oil: This is used for browning the beef chuck.
- Beef or chicken broth: I tend to prefer chicken broth for its more concentrated flavor, but beef broth works just as well.
- Yellow onion: Diced yellow onion adds a nice depth of flavor to our barbacoa recipe.
- Chipotles in adobo: Brands of chipotles in adobo can vary in spiciness so make sure to adjust to taste.
- Spices: Bay leaves, ground cumin and dried oregano are the only spices you need to get a super flavorful barbacoa!
- Lime juice: Use freshly squeezed lime juice for the best flavor.
- Kosher salt: Make sure to generously salt the beef before searing and season the barbacoa tacos to taste before serving.
Step By Step Instructions
These barbacoa tacos can be made in six easy steps:
Step 1: Working in batches, sear the beef in vegetable oil on all sides.
Step 2: Saute the diced onions until translucent.
Step 3: Add the chopped chipotles in adobo, bay leaves, ground cumin and dried oregano. Cook for several minutes.
Step 4: Pour in the broth and return the beef to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 2-3 hours or until the beef is very tender.
Step 5: Transfer the beef to a cutting board and shred using two forks.
Step 6: Return the shredded beef to the sauce. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until the sauce slightly thickens.
How To Serve Beef Barbacoa
I like to top these beef barbacoa tacos with a squeeze of lime juice, diced white onions and cilantro. But if you’re looking for more recipes to add to Mexican night, I definitely recommend our favorite chunky guacamole and fresh mango pico de gallo!
Not into tacos? This beef barbacoa recipe is also perfect for burritos, quesadilla, enchiladas and rice bowls.
And for side dishes? Mexican rice, refried beans and grilled vegetables are all great options.
Storage And Reheating
Allow the shredded barbacoa beef to cool to room temperature. Then transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To reheat leftover barbacoa tacos, add the barbacoa and sauce to a saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to gently reheat the barbacoa until it’s warmed through. You can also add a splash of water or broth to loosen the sauce and prevent the beef from drying out.
Frequently Asked Questions
In contemporary Mexico, barbacoa refers to meat that is slow roasted in an underground oven heated with firewood, a method that can be traced back to the Maya! Wrapped in agave leaves, this process also steams the meat until it becomes incredibly tender and juicy. To get that nice smokiness in lieu of firewood, I like to use chipotles in adobo when making beef barbacoa at home.
I prefer a well-marbled beef chuck roast for barbacoa, but boneless beef short ribs would work as well!
Yes! Simply sear the beef on the stovetop and then transfer all ingredients to the slow cooker (except the lime juice). Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Shred the beef, add the lime juice and enjoy!
This beef barbacoa isn’t overly spicy. The heat comes from chipotles in adobo sauce, which can vary in spiciness according to brand. For less heat, you can remove the seeds or use less chipotles. And to make it spicier, try adding a pinch of cayenne or a few more chipotles in adobo!
While barbacoa refers to the method of cooking (barbecue), birria refers to meat cooked in a spicy and rich broth (consomé). Birria is generally enjoyed as a stew, although recently birria tacos have gained popularity across the world!
Loving this beef barbacoa tacos recipe? For more slow cooked recipes perfect for sunday dinner, make sure to check out these posts:
- Polish Goulash
- Beef Short Rib Ragu
- Georgian Yakhni – Marigold Braised Beef and Walnut Stew
- Slow Roasted Duck and Potatoes + Braised Red Cabbage
- Easy St. Louis Ribs in Oven
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