Slow Cooker Beef Adobado

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This Slow Cooker Beef Adobado made with dried chilies and beef brisket makes the best authentic Mexican shredded beef. Great for tacos, bowls, enchiladas, and more.

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Before we go any further, I have to let you know that this recipe is a bit of a labor of love BUT it is absolutely, 100%, without a doubt worth it. If you have ever had smoky, spicy beef adobado or beef barbacoa, this recipe will help you make it at home and it will taste better than what you have had in restaurants.

We seriously love it and I often make it when we have friends over and it's always a hit. If you want an unexpected, delicious party dish, this would be a perfect choice as well.

Now that I am done gushing about how much I love this recipe, let's talk about what makes it so so good. The secret is in the dried chilies. They add heat, smoke, and a depth of flavor that is almost impossible to achieve with fresh peppers or canned sauces.

The dried chilies are paired with onion, garlic, canned chipotle peppers, and some spices to make a killer sauce. Then cook the brisket in the sauce low and slow for the best-shredded beef dish. Usually, I triple or quadruple the sauce and then freeze it for future meals. That way I don't have to make the sauce every time we are craving Beef Adobado.

Have extra dried chilies? Consider making a batch of this Beef Birria as well.

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What is Beef Adobado?

Adobado (sometimes spelled adovado) is a Mexican sauce typically prepared with slow-cooked beef or pork in a deep red chile sauce. The sauce is made with dried chile peppers, garlic, onions, and spices. Typically a combination of dried chile peppers is used including guajillo peppers, pasilla peppers, and sometimes ancho chile peppers. Many times chipotle peppers packed in adobo are added as well.

The sauce is thick, smoky, and has a medium level of spice. It is also very earthy from the dried chile peppers and the combination of spices used. 

Carne Adobada is often served with rice, beans, and corn tortillas. It can also be used in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or other Mexican dishes. 

How to Make Adobado Sauce

The sauce is where all the flavor comes from in this recipe. Here is how to make a traditional Mexican adobado sauce. 

  1. Toast the dried chilies: Start by removing the stem and seeds from the dried chilies. Then heat a heavy pan, like a cast iron, over medium high heat. Add the chile peppers and toast on both sides until they are fragrant and lightly toasted. 
  2. Soak the chilies: Now it's time to rehydrate the dried chilies. To speed up this process, I like to add the chilies to chicken broth and microwave them. You can also heat the chicken broth on the stove and then add the chilies to the hot broth. Then cover and let the chilies rehydrate and plump up. Do not discard the broth -it soaks up lots of flavor from the chilies.
  3. Cook the aromatics and spices: Cooking the onion, garlic, chipotle peppers, cumin, and oregano creates a deeper flavor in the sauce. This step is important and shouldn't be missed. 
  4. Deglaze the pan: There is so much flavor in the browned bits in the pan. Use vinegar to deglaze the pan so that all that flavor can be added to the sauce.
  5. Blend: Now grab all those tasty ingredients and blend them into a smooth sauce. 
  6. Reduce the sauce: Once the beef has cooked, it's time to reduce the sauce so that it is thick and rich. The easiest way to do this is by removing the sauce and adding it to a saucepan. Then bring it to a simmer and let it reduce for 4-8 minutes until it is thick. 

How to Serve Carne Adobada

There are so many ways to serve this beef. Here are the most popular. 

  • Traditionally if you ordered carne adobada in a restaurant, it would be served with white rice, black or pinto beans, and corn tortillas. There would be plenty of fresh cilantro and some fresh limes. 
  • This shredded beef can also be turned into tacos! No salsa is needed since the red chile sauce serves as the salsa. Just add fresh cilantro and onion. 
  • The adobado sauce and beef can be used to make delicious enchiladas. Fill the tortillas with shredded beef. Then cover the filled tortillas with the adobado sauce and add cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and serve with slices of white onion. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions about making this recipe.

This dish is a Mexican dish and is different than the Filipino dish Adobo. Adobo is a popular pork dish made with vinegar-based sauce made with vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and spices. It is completely unrelated to the Mexican dish.

This recipe works great with pork. Normally adobado is made with pork shoulder or pork butt. It will take between 8-10 hours in the slow cooker. 

The Recipe
Slow cooker beef adobado with shredded beef in a red chile sauce served in a corn tortilla.

Slow Cooker Beef Adobado

COOK TIME: 8 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 8 Hours, 20 Min
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  • 3 lbs. lean beef brisket
  • 1 dried guajillo chili pepper, seeds and stem removed
  • 2 dried ancho chili peppers, seeds and stem removed
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce (GF if needed or coconut aminos)
  • 2 bay leaves

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In a skillet, toast the dried chili peppers over medium high heat until pliable and beginning to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Once toasted, add to a microwave safe container with 2 cups chicken broth. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes until broth is simmering. You can also do this in a pot on the stove top. Let sit while you complete the other steps.


Heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cook for 7-10 minutes until beginning to brown. Add the chipotles, cumin, oregano, and cloves. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the apple cider vinegar and soy sauce. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in remaining chicken broth.


Add this mixture along with the dried chili peppers and broth to a blender. Blend until smooth.


Add the brisket to the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the beef and shred with 2 forks.


Take the sauce from the slow cooker and add it to a sauce pan. Bring it to a boil and let it reduce by half. Add back to shredded beef and serve.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 249
Calories from Fat 85
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 104mg
Sodium 346mg
Total Carbohydrate 9g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 1g
Protein 37g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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