Incredibly juicy, tender and exploding in rich, robust chipotle flavors, this melt in your mouth Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa will top your list of all-time favorite Mexican-inspired recipes.
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❤️ Why You’ll Love this Beef Barbacoa Recipe
- Beef slow cooker until tender and juicy
- Bold rich chipotle flavor
- Easy to prep, then set it and forget it
- Serve in tacos, burrito bowl or a salad
Falling apart tender, incredibly juicy and flavorful, this barbacoa recipe is an easy "set and forget" recipe that your friends and family are going to drool over. The unique flavor in the shredded beef comes from the tartness of the apple cider vinegar and the pop of fresh lime juice, which helps cut through the richness of the rich beef.
That combination of flavors, along with the smoky and earthiness of the chipotle peppers and spices, sets it apart from other roast recipes, like this Mississippi Pot Roast, making it the perfect filling for countless Mexican-inspired dishes.
The chipotle peppers that are used in this recipe are packed in adobo sauce that gives the beef a rich robust flavor. I used them in other recipes from Smoky Chipotle Lime Grilled Chicken to Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette and one of my favorites, this Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce.
🛒 What’s in Beef Barbacoa
- Chuck roast
- Beef broth
- Yellow onion
- Chipotle peppers
- Fresh lime juice
- Bay leaves
- Apple cider vinegar
- Olive oil
- Dried oregano
- Ground cumin
- Ground black pepper
- Ground cloves
*Exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below.
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🔪 How to Make Beef Barbacoa in the Slow Cooker
Cut the chuck roast into large chunks, trimming off any excess fat.
Tip: Marbling is really important, so don't be afraid to get a roast with some fat. This will help the beef become more tender and juicy.
Sprinkle with half the salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet to medium, add in the olive oil and chunks of beef.
Tip: If you have the kind of slow cooker insert that can be used on the stove top, then you can do your searing and deglazing in the insert.
Sear all sides, then remove and add the beef to your slow cooker insert.
Tip: If you're short on time, you might be tempted to skip the searing step. I do not recommend this because the amount of flavor that you gain from searing is incredible!
While the beef is searing, add the chipotle peppers, garlic, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, oregano, cumin, remaining salt, pepper and cloves to a mini chopper or food processor and mix until puréed.
Add in the onions and sauté until they are slightly tender.
Pour in the beef broth to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits of flavor.
Tip: Deglazing with the beef broth really helps grab all that wonderful flavor from the seared beef.
Pour the onions and broth over the beef. Add in the bay leaves.
Mix in the chipotle mixture.
Cook on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 8 hours.
Once the beef is tender and falling apart, remove and discard the bay leaves, and shred the beef using 2 forks.
Add the beef back into the sauce and stir so all the beef is well coated.
Tip: I also like to add a squeeze of lime and some fresh chopped cilantro right before serving. This is optional, but highly recommended!
What is in Barbacoa?
Authentic barbacoa originated in Mexico and consist of cooking robustly seasoned meat, usually goat, lamb of beef, in an underground pit using hot rocks. Luckily, with this recipe, the slow cooker does most of the work for you.
What Other Type of Beef Makes Good Barbacoa?
Chuck roast is marbled and renders unbelievably tender shredded beef, but you can also use, beef brisket, beef shoulder and top or bottom roasts.
How Long Does Barbacoa Last in the Fridge?
If you end up with leftovers of your homemade barbacoa, just allow time for the meat to come to room temperature. Then transfer it to an airtight container with all of the juices. Barbacoa will keep fresh for about 4 days.
Can I Freeze Leftovers?
Absolutely! The flavors in Barbacoa get even better once it is frozen. Take leftovers and divide them into portion sizes you'll need and place in a ziplock bag or airtight container and place in the freezer for several months.
Ways to Serve Beef Barbacoa
You can serve it simply as an entree with a Keto side dish, or you can use the beef in other creative ways like these:
- Make low carb barbacoa tacos with these Homemade Keto Tortillas
- Replace the chicken with some of the beef in these Keto Enchiladas.
- Add some to the top of a salad with some of this Chipotle Lime Ranch Dressing.
- Make Mexican Barbacoa Bowls over a Mexican Cauliflower Rice and yummy toppings.
- Pile some on top of Keto nachos using some of these Homemade Tortilla Chips.
Recommended Toppings for Beef Barbacoa
- Diced onion or Quick Pickled Red Onions
- Avocado or Guacamole
- Homemade Rotel Dip (with or without the sausage)
- Salsa or Homemade Pico de Gallo
- Fresh sliced or Pickled Jalapeños
- Pico de Gallo
- Cotija cheese
- Sautéed peppers and onions
What Slow Cooker is Best to Use?
I used the Hamilton Beach 6 Quart Slow Cooker and absolutely love it. It's very lightweight and is programmable. But here's my favorite part... you can use the insert on your stovetop to sear before slow cooking.
So if you have a roast that you want to sear to give it more flavor, you don't have to use another pan! You can also deglaze the pan with your liquids and really make the most of all that flavor. Hands down, my favorite slow cooker ever!
More Keto Slow Cooker Recipes
- Tuscan Chicken
- Chicken Soup
- Turkey Breast with Gravy
- Southern Green Beans
- Mississippi Pot Roast
- BBQ Meatballs
FREE 20 EASY KETO RECIPES EBOOK
Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa
- 3 ½ pound chuck roast
- ½ cup beef broth
- ½ yellow onion, minced
- 3 chipotle peppers, in the can
- 5 cloves garlic
- ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- Cut the chuck roast into large chunks, trimming off any excess fat. Sprinkle with half the salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet to medium, add in the olive oil and chunks of beef. Sear all sides, then remove and add the beef to your slow cooker insert.
- While the beef is searing, add the chipotle peppers, garlic, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, oregano, cumin, remaining salt, pepper and cloves to a mini chopper or food processor and mix until puréed.
- Add in the onions and sauté until they are slightly tender.
- Pour in the beef broth to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits of flavor. Pour the onions and broth over the beef. Add in the bay leaves.
- Mix in the chipotle mixture and cook on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 8 hours.
- If you have the kind of slow cooker insert that can be used on the stove top, then you can do your searing and deglazing in the insert.
- Once the beef is tender and falling apart, remove and discard the bay leaves, and shred the beef using 2 forks. Add the beef back into the sauce and stir so all the beef is well coated.
- I also like to add a squeeze of lime and some fresh chopped cilantro right before serving. This is optional, but highly recommended!
*Nutritional data is provided as a courtesy and is accurate to the best of my knowledge. You can verify it using the nutrition calculator of your choice. All data is based on net carbs, without sugar alcohol: Swerve, Erythritol, Monk Fruit or Allulose.
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Would the time of @5 hours be good for a cast iron Dutch oven at maybe 325°?
Keto Cooking Christian
I do not think it would take 5 hours for a 3.5 lb. roast. I would start checking it after 3.5 hours. It may take longer, but mostly 3-4 hours would be long enough.
Putting this on my menu plan for next week - perfect for a late March dinner while we're still buried under 4 feet of snow!
Keto Cooking Christian
Oh my...living in Florida, I cannot imagine having 4 inches of snow in March. I hope this hearty barbacoa will be a warm and comforting meal for you.