Crock Pot Shredded Beef (Barbacoa)


I bought a slow cooker! And I’m in love. The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what a slow cooker was when I was growing up. My mom never used it because whenever she cooked falling-of-the-bone tender meat, it was in a pressure cooker. But I gotta tell ya, pressure cookers scare me! I’m not sure I understand all the science behind those things. So instead, I bought a slow cooker. Ceramic pot. Electric plug-in. Simple.

The first thing I wanted to do was turn a big chunk of meat all tender and juicy, like I’ve heard all about from my Minnesotan friends who have owned crock pots since they were like, 5. But first, here’s a little story: I made a roast in the oven before and it was sort of a huge kitchen failure. The meat was dry and rubbery and the flavors didn’t penetrate the whole roast. Has anyone ever been there? You stand in front of the oven taking in the delicious smells of what has been sitting in there for hours, while you prepare all the side dishes, only to find that the nucleus of the meal sucks. Bleh.Barbacoa

So naturally, I wanted to redeem myself from that hard-to-chew meal. But as I was researching recipes, I got hungry and I started craving mexican food. I remembered this amazing spicy and tangy barbacoa meat I had at one of my friend’s New Years Eve party. The barbacoa coupled with warm, soft corn tortillas and fresh pico de gallo was starting to make my mouth water big time. And, I found out that the whole thing starts with a big ol’ chunk of meat. Yay, I found my mission!

This is the moment I fell in love with my crock pot. The meat pulled apart effortlessly and it was so so juicy. The flavors were so well incorporated considering it was only a 3 step process:

  1. Add all ingredients except the meat + broth to a blender. Blend.
  2. Place meat+broth in crockpot and pour blended ingredients over it.
  3. Turn the crock pot on and watch the magic happen before your eyes. (Or, don’t watch it. Go shopping, get your nails done, watch a movie, whatever. Dinner is making itself!)

PS. I ate this for 5 days straight in different variations. Tacos, Burrito bowls, you name it!

Crock Pot Shredded Beef (Barbacoa)
Serves 8
Write a review
Total Time
6 hr 30 min
Total Time
6 hr 30 min
357 calories
3 g
179 g
12 g
57 g
4 g
255 g
592 g
1 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 357
Calories from Fat 106
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 4g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 179mg
Sodium 592mg
Total Carbohydrates 3g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 1g
Protein 57g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  2. 1/2 yellow onion
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  4. 5 garlic cloves
  5. 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  6. 2 teaspoons oregano
  7. 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon pepper
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  11. 3-4 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (I used ¾ of a small can)
  12. 3/4 cup beef stock
  13. 3.5 lbs. beef chuck roast
  1. In a blender, combine vinegar, onion, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, cloves, allspice and chilis with adobo sauce and blend until smooth.
  2. Trim any excess fat off the roast and place it in a slow cooker.
  3. Pour the broth over the meat, then pour the pureed sauce.
  4. Cook on high heat for 6 hours. If you want to cook it longer, do it on low for 8 hours.
  5. Shred the meat in the juices and serve hot.
  1. If freezing leftovers, make sure you retain all the juices. I put my leftovers in large gallon ziploc bags.
Spicy Spoonful


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  1. Emily Eddy says:

    These look soooo good! I can’t wait to try them 🙂

  2. Tricia says:

    How spicy is the barbacoa? I am thinking of making this for a family gathering with adults and young children? Would it still have good flavor without the adobo sauce chilis?

    • Nadia says:

      The spice level all depends on your family’s tolerance to spicy foods. I wouldn’t get rid of the chilies in adobo sauce entirely, because that adobo sauce is what gives it really good flavor. Instead, try this: use all of the sauce in the entire can but don’t add any of the whole chilis. The sauce is more tangy than spicy – it’s the seeds inside the actual chilis that have the hotness. And of course, it’s perfectly fine to taste your blend before you pour it over! Taste it, if it’s too bland, blend one chili at a time until it’s just the way you like it. Hope that helps 🙂

  3. Delia says:

    I can’t wait to try this tonight , are the cloves ground or whole ?

  4. Phoebe says:

    Made this barbacoa recipe a few weeks ago (actually for Super Bowl), and meant to leave a comment. My brother-in-law is a Mexican food aficionado and LOVED this, as did everyone else. I used whole cloves when I made it and used lemon juice instead, and it came out FANTASTIC. I’ve been craving it ever since last time so I’m making it again this weekend. Can’t wait! BTW, this tasted a lot like Chipotle’s barbacoa but just a tad better. And we also used the leftover meat for nachos, in a salad (angel hair cabbage, carrots, tomatoes with salsa dressing and cheese), and as soup (added beef broth, potatoes and garbanzo beans with a lime squeeze).

  5. Kate says:

    Anything with chillies in adobo is a must try for me. I love the sound of many of the recipes on your site! Can’t wait to try some this weekend. So glad I found you!!

  6. Lorena says:

    I’m back to report that I tried this recipe. My husband licked the plate…the ennnnntiiiiire plate. gross I know. but it meant that he really really liked the dish, he had it for lunch the next day and begged to have it for dinner.
    For a small family I took 1/2 the cooked batch and froze it, it froze and reheated very well. no joke this is a family favorite now.
    My only little changes to this were:
    I used red onion instead of yellow
    I threw in 2 Bay Leaves into the slow cooker
    I seared my meat
    I’m not sure how much a difference those steps take but that was just how it happened.
    Thank you Nadia for sharing this recipe!! I am so happy with it. I have now shared it and your blog to 2 of my BFF’s!!
    This dish is twice as tastier the second day than the fist!!!!
    When you shred the meat (shred it while it is in juice don’t let it get dry) it will soak up those amazing juices for juicy tender meat.

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