Beef Barbacoa – Mexican Pulled Beef – RecipeTin Eats

Beef cheek barbacoa recipe slow cooker

Video Beef cheek barbacoa recipe slow cooker

Does anyone prefer ultra-juicy Mexican beef mixed in a spiced chipotle sauce? Use this beef barbecue for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, taquitos, the possibilities are endless. This is a slow cooker version and is easy to assemble. Which means… easy. Yes!

Aerial photo of beef barbecue tacos



Hailing from Mexico and the Caribbean, meat barbecue is a meat dish that is traditionally cooked slowly, often in pits, with seasonings or a light broth until very tender. As with many well-known ethnic dishes, barbecue crossed borders into the Western world, where it has become a soft, crumbly meat dish that tastes much bolder.

Made famous by the Tex-Mex Chipotle chain in the United States, the Western style Beef Barbacoa has just a hint of chipotle spiciness, a subtle smoke, a hint of spices (cloves really set it apart from other shredded Mexican meat) and, uniquely, a fair amount of vinegar flavor.

The meat is cooked until it melts tender, then gently separated with forks before mixing with the full-flavored braised liquid.

Moistened and flavored by the sauce, the meat is rich and extremely versatile. Use it to stuff anything from tacos to burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas. I’m a big fan!

<img src="" alt="

Beef Barbecue Stuffed Casserole Ready to Use in Tacos and Burritos

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What’s going on

in Beef Barbacoa

Here’s what you need for Barbecue Sauce:

Ingredients in Beef BBQ
  • Chipotles in marinade – The key flavor here! Chipotles are dried, smoked jalapeno peppers. In canned form, they usually come in a spicy, spicy red sauce called adobo. You get smoky flavor and heat from chipotle along with a good dose of spices, garlic and other aromas from the marinade.

    Sometimes dishes use both adobo sauce and chili. Today we are only using chipotle chili;

  • Ale/dark beer OR meat broth – The original recipe for this beef barbecue from my friend Kevin at Kevin is cooking is made with broth/meat broth. I usually do it the original way, but I gave it a crack with beer and loved the subtle extra layer of flavor it brings to the most important sauce, so I decided to offer it as an alternative.

    For a dish like this, you really can’t go wrong with the type of beer you use. Dark beers are a great match for the color of the sauce and deep flavors that are produced here (I used an Australian brand called White Rabbit, pictured above), but even a lager or other daily beer will work great. A stout like Guinness, which we use to say Beef & Guinness Stew, would make the flavors of the sauce even richer.

    Bonus points if you can get Mexican dark beer like the excellent Negra Modelo. We used to be able to get this at Dan Murphy’s in Australia, but I haven’t seen it for a while;

  • Cider vinegar and lemon juice – Both give this dish the distinctive flavor that makes it Beef Barbacoa rather than just a standard shredded Mexican beef (not like there’s anything generic about any well-made Mexican shredded meat!);

  • Spices and herbs – Cumin, oregano, cloves and bay leaves for our seasonings. Cloves in particular give this dish a unique flavor;

  • Garlic – Because Mexican food loves garlic as much as I do.

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<img src="" alt="Chipotles in adobo sauce

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Chipotles in adobo sauce

Best beef for beef

Barbecue: Beef cheeks

As mentioned above, this beef barbecue is a Tex-Mex version that has a bolder flavor than its traditional counterpart.

In addition to the extra flavor, the other difference is the cut of meat used. The Tex-Mex version tends to use beef cheeks. This cut produces shredded meat that is outrageously tender, but also remains succulent and juicy, thanks to the fine fatty veining and extensive connective tissue that breaks down with slow cooking into a rich jelly that sticks to the lips.

Raw meat cheeks in a bowl

Alternatives: Beef chuck or boneless short rib

While meat cheeks produce the best result for this dish, you’ll find that most recipes call for meat chuck as a more accessible alternative. This cut of meat is not so well marbled, so it is not so juicy. However, the cut is a popular choice for shredded meat dishes, and I use it regularly for things like Italian ragout.

For chuck, look for a piece that is well marbled with fat for the juiciest result.

Short boneless beef rib would be an excellent alternative that is almost as juicy as beef cheeks, as long as you can find the ones that don’t have too thick layers of fat in the meat.

I recommend avoiding slow-cooking lean cuts of beef, such as bolar blade, lean breast. The meat will tend to be quite dry and roped.

How to make Beef Barbecue

Three easy steps:

  1. Brown the meat

  2. ;

  3. Blitz the sauce;

  4. Cook slowly until tender


And yes, I know I’ve shown EIGHT steps below!

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How to make Beef Barbecue

Season and brown the

  1. meat – Sprinkle the meat with a generous amount of salt and pepper (we do not add anything to the sauce), then aggressively brown. I use that word intentionally! The color equals the taste in both the meat and the sauce, so don’t stop here. (Well, don’t burn it, but look for a deep golden crust over each piece!)

    TIP: Do not fill the pan, or the meat will be stewed instead of browned. Work in batches. Meat also cooks faster when it has space;

  2. Sauce – Place all sauce ingredients in a Nutribullet, blender, food processor or other mixing apparatus;

  3. Blitz until smooth – This is fast, maybe 10 seconds high;

  4. Slow cooker

  5. – Pour the sauce over the meat in the slow cooker. Cook slowly for 8 hours over low heat so that the beef “falls apart on touch.” (Alternative cooking methods: slow cooker set high – 6 hours; oven – 3 – 3.5 hours covered, instant cooker / pressure cooker – 1 hour);

  6. Remove beef from sauce;

  7. Crush meat with forks – Tip: Use the back instead of the front of the fork so that the meat doesn’t get stuck at the tips. Yes, ignore the photos, follow the video!;

  8. sauce! Mix the shredded meat together with the slow cooker sauce. How much to use is up to you. I usually spray it with 4 large ladles. Yes, the sauce looks somewhat watery, but it’s meant to be. It has a lot of flavor, so you don’t need much when stuffed into tacos, etc.;

  9. Use it for tacos, stuffed in burritos, taquitos, enchiladas, quesadillas, make burrito bowls! I’ve provided some easy and adaptable recipe links and a little more guidance on this below. 🙂 Click here to go to this section.

Use forks to crush Beef Barbecue

Beef Barbecue cooked slowly until easy to crush.
<img src


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How to serve the


Meat barbecue is a Tex-Mex meat filling that you can use for almost any Mexican dish. Here are some ideas, including links to recipes where you can switch protein with this BBQ.

1. BBQ tacos

in the photo of this post! I have included:

  • Flour tortillas – Given a quick char in a hot, dry skillet

  • ; Mexican red

  • rice

  • ;

  • Pickled red cabbage from this fish taco recipe;

  • Crema de

  • lima – Crema de lima is a slightly acidic and creamy Mexican seasoning. My version of lime cream is made with sour cream, lime zest and juice, a small amount of garlic and a touch of water to lose weight (so it can drizzle, if that’s a word!); and

  • fresh coriander leaves/cilantro – Rarely is a taco made in this house without it!

Close up showing inside of Beef Barbacoa TacosOr

go retro like these old-school minced beef tacos: iceberg lettuce, tomato, sour cream, shredded cheese and CRUJIENTES corn tortillas!

2. Burritos

Change the beef in my Meat Burritos recipe with this Beef BBQ


3. Enchiladas

Add 1 can of

black beans + 1 can of corn (drained) to the meat, plus some extra barbecue sauce. Mix well and use to make meat enchiladas. that is, replace the ground beef filling in that recipe.


. Quesadillas

Use as protein in quesadillas. Follow this recipe here. Mix and match the fillings!

5. Burrito Bowls

Make Burrito Bowls


  • Mexican Red Rice

  • ;

  • Pickled red cabbage from this fish taco recipe or even sliced iceberg lettuce (there’s nothing 80 about that!😂);

  • A great spoonful of fresh Pico de Gallo

  • ;

  • Avocado – diced, sliced or else go all the way and make Guacamole;

  • Lime cream – by #1 (Barbecue Tacos) above, or even just sour cream; and

  • Fresh Coriander Leaves/Coriander That’s

just a few ideas to get you started. For a little more inspiration, check out all my Mexican recipes!

My standard alternative use: Mexican sliders!

Then, of course, there’s the old throwback I always mention: stuffing into warm rolls, melting some cheese on top of it under the grill. They are sliders, Mexican style. VERY WELL! – Nagi x

See how to do it

Life of


OMG Dozer! Whatever you do, DON’T LIFT YOUR HEAD!!!!!! 😱😱😱

Dozer under the champagne fountain

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