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Barbacoa Beef (Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot)

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If you like cumin and spicy food, then you’ll love Barbacoa Beef. Spicy shredded beef is braised in chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic, and oregano.

If you like cumin and spicy food, then you'll love Barbacoa Beef. Spicy shredded beef braised in a blend of chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano.

Barbacoa Beef

Years ago, readers requested that I create a barbacoa beef recipe inspired by Chipotle’s, which I originally made in my conventional pressure cooker but eventually rewrote for the Instant Pot. In my opinion, mine is even better than Chipotle’s! I serve this burrito-bowl-style over cilantro lime rice and top it with corn salsa – a must! If beef is not your thing, check out this Slow Cooked Sweet Barbacoa Pork, Instant Pot Pork Carnitas, or my other Instant Pot recipes.

If you like cumin and spicy food, then you'll love Barbacoa Beef. Spicy shredded beef braised in a blend of chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano.

What is beef barbacoa?

Authentic beef barbacoa is made from beef, goat, or lamb, braised slowly until tender with chipotles and spices, and shredded for tacos, burritos, and more. You can really use any large, tough cut of meat for barbacoa. I recommend a beef eye of round or bottom round roast, which I cook much faster in the Instant Pot.

What is beef barbacoa made of?

  • Garlic and Onion: You’ll need five cloves of garlic and half an onion for the sauce.
  • Lime: Juice one lime.
  • Chipotles in Adobo Sauce: Two tablespoons of chipotle peppers will be mild, and four tablespoons will be very spicy. Use your judgment depending on how hot you like your food.
  • Spices: Ground cumin, oregano, and cloves and bay leaves
  • Water: Blend one cup of water with the other ingredients to make the sauce.
  • Beef: Trim the fat off three pounds of beef eye of round or bottom round roast.
  • Seasoning: Salt and Pepper

How To Make Barbacoa Beef

  • Sauce: Blend the garlic, onion, lime juice, cumin, oregano, chipotles, cloves, and water until smooth.
  • Meat Prep: Trim the fat off the beef, cut it into three-inch pieces, and season with two teaspoons of salt and black pepper.
  • Brown the meat on all sides in the Instant Pot using the Sauté button.
  • Pressure Cook the Beef: Add the sauce and bay leaves to the pot and cover the Instant Pot. Cook it on high pressure for about one hour (I cooked mine for 65 minutes) and do a natural release. The meat should be tender and easy to shred.
  • Serve: Transfer the meat to a dish and shred it with two forks. Discard the bay leaves, and pour the liquid into another container. Return the shredded beef to the pot, and add a half teaspoon of salt and cumin and one and a half cups of the reserved liquid.
  • Stove: If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can cook the barbacoa on the stove. Simmer it on low for at least four hours, adding more water as needed to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
  • Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa: To make this barbacoa recipe in the crockpot, follow all the directions above, except you will brown the beef in a skillet on the stove. Next, put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for eight hours. Then shred the meat and add the remaining seasoning.

What to Serve with Barbacoa

Here are some ideas for serving barbacoa:

How to Freeze

Barbacoa freezes well. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days or freezer for up to three months. Thaw the meat overnight and reheat it in the microwave.

Variations and Tips

  • Liquid: Swap water for beef broth.
  • Beef: You can also use a chuck roast.
  • Pork: Substitute beef for boneless pork shoulder blade roast or pork loin roast.
  • Hot Peppers: If you don’t have chipotles in adobo, sub them with jalapeñ Keep the seeds and ribs in if you want a spicy dish.
  • Serving a crowd? Double all the ingredients and cook it for the same amount of time.
  • Instant Pot Tip: To avoid getting a burn alert, deglaze the pan with one or two tablespoons of water after browning the meat. Also, after browning, turn off the sauté function while adding the other ingredients to prevent the pot from getting too hot.
  • If you like cumin and spicy food, then you'll love Barbacoa Beef. Spicy shredded beef braised in a blend of chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano. If you like cumin and spicy food, then you'll love Barbacoa Beef. Spicy shredded beef braised in a blend of chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano. If you like cumin and spicy food, then you'll love Barbacoa Beef. Spicy shredded beef braised in a blend of chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano.

More Beef Recipes You’ll Love

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Barbacoa Beef (Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot)

4.85 from 118 votes
4
Cals:153
Protein:24
Carbs:2
Fat:4.5
If you like cumin and spicy food, then you'll love Barbacoa Beef. Spicy shredded beef braised in a blend of chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Barbacoa Beef with corn salsa on a plate.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yield: 9 Servings
Serving Size: 4 oz

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 lime, juice
  • 2-4 tablespoons canned chipotle in adobo sauce, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 pounds beef eye of round or bottom round roast, all fat trimmed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 bay leaves

Instructions

  • Place garlic, onion, lime juice, cumin, oregano, chipotles, cloves and water in a blender and puree until smooth.
  • Trim all the fat off meat, cut into 3-inch pieces. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and black pepper. Heat the pressure cooker on high (use saute button for Instant Pot), when hot add the oil and brown the meat, in batches on all side, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce from the blender and bay leaves, cover and cook on high pressure until the meat is tender and easily shreds with 2 forks, about 1 hour. (in my Instant Pot I cooked it 65 minutes). (If you're making this on the stove, simmer it on low at least 4 hours, adding more water as needed to make sure it doesn't dry out.) Natural release.
  • Once cooked and the meat is tender, remove the meat and place in a dish. Shred with two forks, and reserve the liquid for later (discard the bay leaf). Return the shredded meat to the pot, add 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1 1/2 cups of the reserved liquid.

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Nutrition

Serving: 4 oz, Calories: 153 kcal, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Protein: 24 g, Fat: 4.5 g, Cholesterol: 44 mg, Sodium: 334.5 mg

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