Mexico – Beef Barbacoa

by Alex Johnson


Barbacoa is slow-cooked meat that is seasoned with chilies and Mexican spices and when its done, it is so tender and juicy that it literally falls to pieces when its shredded with a fork but I have a feeling that any of you have had barbacoa at a chipotle resistant and while delicious, at a chipotle restaurant and while deciduous, its not quiet as authentic as a traditional Mexican barbacoa that is usually made from beef cheeks or even lamb or goat depending on the region. I have enjoyed many of those variations on travels through Mexico but today I am going to share an easy slow cooker version that uses beef chuck roast along with all of those delicious Mexican spices and flavors. Its the perfect filling for tacos, burrito bowls, salads and so much more so let me show you how to make it.


It is believed that barbacoa is originated centuries ago in an island country which is Barbados. Its name was created by Portuguese in 16th century. The word barbados is derived from words Los Barbadoes which means bearded. Portuguese people say that name when they first saw bearded trees in various island of Caribbean.

It is also considered that first bearded fig branches were used by West Indies Taino people for cooking. They coated food with spices and different herbs and store it after cooking. These Taino people used to call their cooked food barabicu but by the passage of time it converted to barbecue. Then this barbacoa cooking style was taken to Mexico where it was considered as slow cooked meat in open fire like fig branches. In Mexico, original barbacoa was used with salsas, barbecue sauce. Salsas is a thick creamy sauce specially used for meats. Salsas is made from nuts, sesame seeds, garlic, cumin seeds, chilies, coriander, cloves, cinnamon and some chocolate. Chocolate was considered as a special ingredient for salsas because it adds some sweetness and increases its taste. Salsas was traditionally eaten with fish and turkey.


  1. Lemon juice: don’t use jarred lemon juice
  2. Chipotles in sauce: chipotles adds best smoky flavour
  3. Beef roast: cut this into 4 inch chunks
  4. Garlic and onion: these are aromatics that increases taste
  5. Apple cider: used to increase acidity
  6. Some spices: these spices like cloves, cumin, pepper and salt enhances taste
  7.  Stock of beef: this is necessary to keep meat tender

Which part of beef should we use?

As it comes to choosing which cut of beef to use, lean cut of beef is best for it. It contains higher amount of collagen that turns to gelatin which helps to tender the meat and makes that meat taste like it tastes with fat.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 9 hours

Total time: 9 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 9 servings



  • Beef roast: 4 pounds (4 inch chunks)
  • Garlic cloves: 6 (minced)
  • Apple cider: 2 tablespoons
  • Lemon juice: half cup
  • Onion: 1 (dried)
  • Chipotles in sauce: 4
  • Salt: 2 teaspoons
  • Cumin: 1 tablespoon (ground)
  • Stock of beef: half cup
  • Bay leaves: 4
  • Black pepper: 1 teaspoon
  • Cloves: half teaspoon (ground)


  • Take all the ingredients except bay leaves and all to the slow cooker.
  • Toss and mix all ingredients in a slow cooker using tongs.
  • Now, add bay leaves and cover the slow cooker. Cook it on low heat for 9 hours. You can also cook it on high heat for 5 hours.
  • After cooking, the beef must be tender when it is shredded using a fork. Cook it longer if it doesn’t shred.
  • Take out beef to the cutting board and shred it using forks.
  • Now, place shredded beef again to that cooker and mix it in the juices so that it absorbs it.
  • Serve the delicious barbacoa in a plate with lime.

Nutrition facts

Carbohydrates: 4 grams

Protein: 45 grams

Fat: 30 grams

Cholesterol: 165 mg

Fiber: 2 grams

Vitamin C: 5 mg

Sodium: 900 mg

Sugar: 2 grams

Potassium: 900 grams

Calcium: 70 mg

Calories: 500 Kcal

Methods to serve

  1. You can eat barbacoa with beans and rice.
  2. You can make tacos of barbacoa.
  3. You can make a barbacoa burrito full bowl.
  4. You can also eat barbacoa with salad for lighter meal.

How to sore

  1. You can freeze barbacoa in a freezer container for 2-3 months.
  2. You can store barbacoa in a air tight container in fridge for 3-4 days.
  3. You can microwave it for 2-3 minutes.

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