Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa makes the most amazing and authentic Mexican tacos and they are good for you with just 250 calories per serving.
This Barbacoa Beef is tender, full of spicy and smoky flavor, and makes the very best tacos. It's the perfect dish for an easy taco night at home and the leftovers couldn't be more delicious.
One of my favorite Mexican meals is beef barbacoa. This slow cooked Mexican beef dish made with chipotle chili peppers has just the right blend of flavors so that it warms you up without being too spicy. The beef cooks right in the salsa making this deliciously stewed beef that is tender, full of flavor, and surprisingly easy to make.
My favorite way to eat it is with simple oven baked crispy taco shells. Just warm a corn tortilla in the microwave, spray it with a little bit of cooking spray, and drape over the oven racks creating your own healthy, crispy taco shells. Serve with a little bit of cilantro, onion, and some crumbled queso fresco.
I also always plan on leftovers for this dish since it makes an amazing burrito bowl. The rice soaks up all the delicious flavors in the sauce and then its a quick meal with some canned beans, guacamole, and veggies.
What is barbacoa?
Barbacoa is a traditional Mexican dish that can be made with beef, goat, or lamb. Typically the meat is cooked over an open fire or in a pit for hours until the meat is super tender and flavorful. Normally barbacoa is cooked with chipotle peppers or dried chili peppers.
How to Serve Beef Barbacoa Tacos
- Traditionally barbacoa is served with diced white onions and cilantro since the cooking sauce serves as a salsa on its own.
- Add extra flavor with some crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese.
- Cool down the spice of the sauce with some sliced avocado or homemade guacamole.
- Squeeze some fresh lime juice over the top of your tacos to cut the richness of the dish and add brightness.
- For some extra crunch and spice, add some sliced radishes to your tacos or serve them on the side with lime juice and salt.
- Make some quick pickled red onions by soaking sliced red onions in lime juice for a couple of hours in the fridge.
- For a traditional meal, make some Mexican rice and refried beans.
- Make a Chipotle style burrito bowl with some Cilantro Lime Rice, black or pinto beans, and all your favorite toppings.
Can I make barbacoa in the Instant Pot?
This recipe works very well in the Instant Pot as well. Start by searing the beef in a touch of oil on the Saute method until browned. Add the blended sauce and seal the Instant Pot. Seal the Instant Pot and cook on manual mode for 45 minutes. Let naturally release for at least 10 minutes. Shred the meat using two forks. If you have time, let the meat hang out in the sauce for 10-15 minutes per serving.
Recipe Tips and Pantry Swaps
- This recipe will work with pretty much any cut of beef (beef chuck, stewing beef, roasts) as well as chicken thighs and pork shoulder. Chicken breasts and leaner pork cuts will work as well but only cook for 3-4 hours on low.
- If you don't have chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you could use chipotle chili powder instead. Regular chili powder will also work but it won't have the same smoky flavor and heat as with chipotle peppers.
- If you don't have fresh onions or garlic, you can use dehydrated options or powdered options.
- Swap in beer for the broth to add another layer of flavor. You could also use a can of diced tomatoes.
Storage and Meal Prep
This recipe stores well and actually gets even more delicious after a night in the fridge when all the flavors have time to deepen. Store the meat with the cooking liquid for 3-4 days in the fridge. You can also freeze the cooked meat for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Let defrost overnight in the fridge.
This recipe is also great for meal prep since it can be served in so many different ways. Make tacos, quesadillas, burritos, tostadas, and burrito bowls. You can also turn this into stuffed peppers, enchiladas, and even a spicy pasta sauce.
Looking for more Mexican recipes
- Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken
- Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
- Chicken Tinga
- Slow Cooker Beef Machaca
Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa
- Print Recipe
- Download PDF
* 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.
Get delicious, healthy recipes delivered each week right to your inbox.
Snap a picture and show us what you made on Instagram or Facebook.
Tag us using @SlenderKitchen or #slenderkitchen.