Slow Cooker Beef Machaca

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Slow Cooker Beef Machaca is a healthy beef dish with bell peppers, tomatoes, and just enough spice that's great for tacos, bowls, and more.


Crockpot Machaca is a traditional Mexican dish full of peppers, tomatoes, and spice that makes a delicious taco or burrito filling. The beef comes out perfectly tender and it has just the right amount of heat. 

Machaca traditionally was a dish made by cowboys and ranchers involving dehydrated beef, fresh or dried chili peppers, and was eaten with whatever was handy. Sometimes it was rolled into flour tortillas, many times it was scrambled up with eggs (Machaca con Huevo), and sometimes it was fried into crispy little taquitos.

This homemade version skips the dehydrated beef since it can be hard to find but uses all the traditional flavors. It can be eaten in so many different ways, so make sure to make extra. You can always freeze it if you don’t finish it. You can even make a version with chicken things, like in this Chicken Machaca recipe.

We also love this authentic Beef Birria if you are looking for a Mexican beef dish with spicy, smoky flavors from dried chile peppers.

Slow Cooker Beef Machaca on a plate with rice.

What is machaca?

Machaca is a traditional Mexican dish that is normally made by covering beef or pork with a blend of spices and dried chiles. Then the beef is pounded thin, dried in the sun, and shredded. It's almost like Mexican beef jerky. It was a way to preserve meat that was used mostly by ranchers and cowboys. They would either take it with them on trips or rehydrate it to cook with at home.

Today with the advent of refrigeration, although some people still preserve and then rehydrate machaca, most machaca recipes are essentially shredded beef recipes using the same spices and chili peppers originally used to preserve machaca. 

How to serve machaca?

There are so many different uses for beef machaca and so many delicious ways to enjoy it. You definitely want to make a double or triple batch, 

  • Machaca and eggs: Saute some onion, tomato, and jalapeno in a skillet. Add the machaca and push everything to the side of the skillet. Add your eggs and scramble. Once they are almost cooked, mix in the machaca and veggies. Serve with corn tortillas. This is seriously so delicious.
  • Machaca tacos: Needless to say, this beef makes some amazing tacos. Warm up some corn tortillas, add the machaca meat, and top with cilantro, diced onion, and avocado.
  • Burritos and burrito bowls: This filling has so much flavor it is a great option to pair with beans, rice, and veggies for burritos or bowls.
  • Quesadillas: This makes a great quesadilla filling, just make sure to drain any extra liquid so that the tortilla doesn't get soggy.
  • Enchiladas: This is the perfect shredded beef filling for enchiladas. I like to make them with red enchilada sauce and melted cheese on top.
  • Baked taquitos: Roll up the beef in some warm corn tortillas. Brush them with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until they are nice and crispy on the outside. 

Tips and Recipe Ideas

Follow these tips and ideas when making this delicious machaca. 

  • Most of the spice in the dish is coming from the serrano peppers. These can be very spicy but tend to mellow out a bit when they are cooked for a long time. If you are worried about the spice, you can use jalapenos or poblano peppers instead. You could also use canned chipotle peppers if you want to add a smoky flavor.
  • Although traditionally made with beef, this recipe is also really delicious with chicken. I prefer using chicken thighs since they stay nice and tender when cooked but chicken breast would also work as well. And although I haven't tried it, I imagine that pork would work really well too.
  • If you can find Maggi sauce, it will give it more of a traditional flavor. Maggi is a seasoning sauce that is used in a lot of Mexican, Latin, and Asian cooking. It's a salty sauce, kind of like soy, but it does contain MSG so depending on your dietary needs you may want to use soy or Worcestershire sauce instead. There are also many versions depending on the country its intended for. I prefer the Mexican Maggi Jugo if you can find it.
  • For a more traditional Machaca, add the shredded and drained beef to a hot skillet with some oil after cooking it.  Cook it until it gets browned and crispy, and even a touch dry, Then blend the cooking sauce in a blender to create a salsa to serve on the side.
  • For a smokier Machaca, you can substitute chipotle peppers in adobo for the serrano peppers or use dried ancho chili peppers.

Slow Cooker Beef Machaca with tomatoes, rice, and cilantro.

Side Dish Ideas

There are so many options for side dishes to serve Machaca. Here are some favorite traditional options and options that think outside the box.

  • Go traditional and serve the machaca with some refried beans and rice. 
  • For a lighter option, consider making a Mexican Street Corn Salad.
  • Although these are traditional served with tortillas, you could use lettuce wraps for something lighter.
  • During cooler months, this is pretty delicious with mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, or polenta. 
The Recipe
Slow cooker beef machaca with rice in a bowl with cilantro on top.

Slow Cooker Beef Machaca

COOK TIME: 8 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 8 Hours, 10 Min
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  • 3 lbs. lean eye of round beef roast
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or Maggi sauce)
  • 4 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1/2 cup nonfat beef broth
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

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Season the beef with salt and pepper and place into the slow cooker.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, beef broth, and Maggi. Stir in the other ingredients and then pour over the beef.


Cook on low in the slow cooker for 8 hours. Then shred the beef using two forks and serve. I usually like to let the shredded beef hang out in all the cooking liquid/sauce for about 30 minutes before serving. Just keep the slow cooker on low.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2/3 cup (268g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 247
Calories from Fat 53
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 102mg
Sodium 204mg
Total Carbohydrate 6g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 3g
Protein 40g

* 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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On Slow Cooker Beef Machaca
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January 24, 2023 - 14:28
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Making this again for probably the 10th time tonight! Such a simple yet flavorful machaca. I love to add these to burrito sized flour tortillas with rice and cheese then roll them up, spray with non stick spray and oven back to make Machaca chimichangas with no frying!

Also great for tacos, omlettes and my other favorite with this - chiliquilas.
Thank you for the great recipe!
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January 25, 2023 - 10:53
I am so happy to hear you are enjoying this recipe! Love the idea of making Machaca chimichangas - yum!! That's one we haven't tried yet.
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November 2, 2022 - 18:56
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I make mine with pork and I just finished a plate of it with eggs scrambled-- so delicous. I add a step to it though. I drain all the juice out and set it aside. Then I shred the meat and place it all on some big cast iron pans --lay it out thin and very well shredded. then i put it in the oven set at 180-200 degrees for three or so hours. Basically drying it out so it is like the dried meat you described. Take it out when it is dry enough and then add the juice back to it. More like the Carne Seca dishes that you can get down on the border. The taste basically explodes in your mouth.
You have a great recipe the way it is though. I have made it that way many a time
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Sam Bloom
June 6, 2022 - 18:20
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Perfect for rolled beef taquitos. Baked! Definitely would make again. Thank you Kristen!
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Renee Hood
June 23, 2018 - 18:33
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Very tender and tasty! Will definitely fix this one again.
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Debbie Hosaflook
May 30, 2017 - 14:49
This recipe sounds amazing and I would love to make it for this weekend. My sister-in-law is coming to visit and she is on Weight Watchers right now. My brother and my husband are meat and potato guys so I know they will love this dish. Could you tell me what else you serve along with it usually to round out the meal? I see rice in the photo but am not sure my SIL would prefer that unless perhaps I made brown rice instead. I would love any suggestions you have for side dishes etc. Thanks so much!!!Debbie
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November 7, 2018 - 09:15
Great question! I actually love to serve this as tacos with rice and beans on the side. Your sister in law could use low carb tortillas. And most beans are zero points, so that would be a good option for her. You could also use cauliflower rice or make a Mexican inspired salad with black beans, corn, tomatoes, and cilantro.
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