This recipe for Barbacoa Shredded Beef was born one evening when dinner wasn’t planned, I had some beef thawed in the fridge, and I wanted to get dinner done fast. I don’t use my Instant Pot a ton, but it is great for a few things – making super tender shredded meat in record time is one of those things. My Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef is spicy, deeply savory, and perfect for piling onto toasted tortillas or rice and beans. If you’re a fan of Chipotle’s barbacoa beef, save yourself a trip and make this (it’s better!).
So what is Barbacoa?
According to my research, Barbacoa (barbecue) is a form of cooking meat that originated in the Caribbean. In contemporary Mexico, it generally refers to meats that are slow-cooked over an open fire or, more traditionally, in a hole dug in the ground covered with agave leaves, although the interpretation is loose, and in the present day (and in some cases) may refer to meat steamed until tender. This meat is known for its high fat content and strong flavor, often accompanied with onions and cilantro. (credit: Wikipedia)
As much as I would love to dig a hole in the ground and cook my meats in agave leaves, that’s just not happening. Maybe one day. Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef is a way to achieve tenderness and incredible flavor in a fraction of the time. And yes, you can use your slow cooker or oven to make this. I’ll leave instructions below.
What you’ll need for Barbacoa Shredded Beef:
- 3 pounds of beef – I’ve used flank steak, skirt steak, and chuck roast for this.
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- chipotle peppers in adobo, or chipotle chile powder
- cumin – dried, ground
- coriander – dried, ground
- oregano – dried
- ground cloves
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- lime juice
- beer (or broth/water)
Can I make Barbacoa Beef in my Slow Cooker?
Yes, you sure can. In order to make this in your slow cooker, simply follow the instructions and instead of cooking on high pressure in your IP, cook on high for 6-8 hours in your slow cooker. If you want to reduce the sauce, you will need to transfer it to a sauce pan and reduce on the stove top.
How to serve Barbacoa Beef
As pictured here, our favorite way to enjoy this beef is piled onto toasted corn tortillas with our favorite taco toppings:
- queso fresco
- sour cream or mexican crema
- pickled red onions
- lime wedges
- avocado or guacamole
Or, one of my other favorite ways to enjoy this is on top of rice with some creamy pinto beans and all the toppings mentioned above. It would make a great salad as well. Oh, and it would be amazing as a filling for my Beef Enchiladas!
I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. If you do, it would mean so much if you’d leave a comment and a recipe rating! Come hang out with me on Instagram @cookonawhim, too. It’s always a fun time! xo – AnitaPrint
My Barbacoa Shredded Beef is spicy, deeply savory, and perfect for piling on tortillas or rice. Easily made in the Instant Pot, Slow cooker, or in the oven!
- 3 pounds of beef, trimmed and cubed in about 3–4 inch cubes*
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2–3 chipotle peppers in adobo, or 1–2 tablespoons chipotle chile powder*
- 1 teaspoon dried, ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried, ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (just a pinch!)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
- 1 cup beer (or simply use water or broth if you want to skip the alcohol)
Instant Pot instructions:
- Place all ingredients in your instant pot and give a really good stir.
- Place lid on instant pot and set the vent to “sealing.” Press “manual” and set timer for 60 minutes.
- After 60 minutes, manually (and carefully!) release pressure according to your pressure cooker’s instructions.
- Remove lid as soon as you are able and set Instant pot to sauté mode.
- Allow sauce to bubble and reduce, stirring occasionally and breaking up and shredding the meat as you stir, until it is nice and thick and glossy. It will coat the meat. Serve and enjoy!
- Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Place lid on slow cooker and cook on high for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender and easily shredded.
- If you’d like to thicken the sauce, strain sauce from slow cooker into a saucepan and allow to reduce on stove top over medium high heat until thick and glossy. Add back to the meat, shred, serve, and enjoy!
- Place all ingredients in a dutch oven or large baking dish. Cover with lid or tightly with aluminum foil.
- Place in a 350 oven for 3-4 hours or until beef is very tender and easily shredded.
- Carefully place pot on stove top and allow sauce to reduce over medium high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat as you stir, until the sauce is thick, glossy and coats the meat. Serve and enjoy!
That’s it! Serve with all of your favorite taco toppings or in big bowls with rice.
I’ve used flank steak, skirt steak, and chuck roast for this; they are all really good! Any good stewing meat or even brisket would work nicely here.
feel free to dial the spice up or down. Chipotle peppers can have quite a kick, but I love their spicy, smoky flavor. If you really dislike spice, add a couple teaspoons of smoked paprika to get the smoky flavor without the spice.
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