Slow Cooked Barbacoa Beef Tacos

(Last Updated On: February 7, 2019)

Barbacoa is one of our favorite slow-cooked beef recipes – with a Mexican accent! Barbacoa is actually a dish that comes from the Caribbean, where the term “barbecue” originated. Over time the recipe has evolved. In Mexico, where we became acquainted with the dish, barbacoa refers to meat that was originally slow cooked in clay pots buried in the ground and covered with leaves. In this version, chuck beef is slowly simmered in a spicy broth featuring smoky chipotle in adobo sauce and Mexican oregano and cumin. We’ve added 3 smoked jalapenos (chipotles) for those that like it hot (like us!) but feel free to reduce that number if you like your tacos on the milder side. If you can’t find chipotles in adobo sauce, try substituting a 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder, cayenne powder or smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of tomato paste for each chili pepper. This is a great recipe to feed a crowd and is easily adaptable to so many other Mexican dishes. Think taco salad, beef enchiladas, quesadillas, spicy beef scrambled eggs, chili, or even peppers stuffed with barbacoa and rice. Best of all, you can make a big batch and freeze it in small portions to use later.

Note: This stove top version can be also made in a crock pot – just set it on low and cook for 8 – 10 hours.

Slow Cooked Barbacoa Beef Tacos

Slow Cooked Barbacoa Beef Tacos


  • 3 lbs chuck beef
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano, use regualr oregano is unable to the Mexican version
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 beef bouillion cubes
  • 1 handful of cilantro, roughtly chopped
  • 6 palm sized torillas, corn or flour
  • Lime for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Cut the Beef into 4 equal sized chunks
  2. Add the oil to a frying pan over medium heat and sear the meat on all sides until a crust starts to form (about 10 minutes). Add the cinnamon, oregano and cumin and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes.
  3. Cut 2 of the tomatoes and the onion into quarters. Dice one quarter of the onions and the third Roma tomato and reserve as a topping for the tacos.
  4. Add the garlic, quartered onion and tomatoes, 1/2 the cilantro and chilies into a blender with 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth.
  5. Combine the rest of the water with the bouillon cubes. Add the mixture from the blender and the bouillon to the pot.
  6. Raise the temperature to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  7. Cover and cook for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally until the meat is fork tender.
  8. Remove the beef from the crock post and shred with a fork.
  9. Add the beef into the tacos, top with tomatoes, onion and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
  10. (Note: reserve the simmering juice for storing leftovers, or reduce and add as a spicy sauce for the tacos)


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Barbacoa Tacos recipe


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