Slow Cooker Barbacoa Tacos

barbacoa beef tacos

a slow-roasted beef barbacoa that can be served in tacos, in burritos, or on taco salads


  • 3 lbs. of chuck roast – cut into 23 inch wide sections
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin powder
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 7 oz. of chipotle in adobe sauce – *note – this makes these tacos spicy. If you do not like spicy flavors, feel free to omit this ingredient (an alternative spice: consider adding some chili powder for less of a kick)


  • Place the slabs of beef in your slow cooker
  • add liquid and bouillon cubes
  • mix spices in a small bowl and shake over the liquid and beef
  • pour in the lime juice
  • add your bay leaves
  • spoon out the chipotle and adobe sauce
  • close the lid and set on low
  • cook for 7-8 hours (beef should be tender enough to pull apart with a fork)
  • remove bay leaves
  • take out the beef and shred it
  • spoon out some of the juice so you have it to serve with the tacos
  • place shredded beef back into the remaining juices
  • serve over warm tortilla shells with your favorite taco toppings


For a less spicy taco:

  • Do not add the chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
  • An alternative for a little bit of spice, but not so hot – 2-3 Tbsp. of ground chili powder

Can I Make Barbacoa Tacos in Advance?

Yes! This is a great recipe to make in advance because the longer it sits in the juices the more flavor it will take on.

Reheating: Reheat meat in its’ juices in a covered saucepan on the stovetop until heated through

Can I Freeze Barbacoa Meat?

Yes! Once the meat has cooled, place it in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months

Thawing: You can thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, in a slow cooker on low (with the lid on), or in a covered saucepan on low heat until heated through

What Kind of Tortilla Should Barbacoa Tacos be Served on?

I prefer a corn tortilla, but you can also use flour tortillas. It’s really a matter of preference

How do you Shape Corn Tortillas into Taco Shells?

I like to first, preheat the oven to around 350 degrees. Then, I set them across 2 slats of my oven rack so they hang down on either side. I then bake them for about 5 minutes. They are ready when your tongs can lift them up and they still hold their shape.

Another tip: for crunchy corn tacos, spray the tortillas with cooking oil before baking

What Should I Serve with Barbacoa Tacos?

  • black beans
  • pico-de-gallo
  • fresh cilantro
  • sliced radishes
  • sour cream
  • Spanish rice
  • guacamole

Tips and Tricks:

  • use my method above to shape corn tortillas into shaped taco shells
  • cooking this barbacoa low and slow for about 8-9 hours, but you can still speed up the process by turning your slow cooker to high and cooking it for about 4-5 hours
  • you can substitute liquid beef broth for the water and bouillon cubes – you’ll need 2 cups
  • if the chipotle peppers are too spicy, then substitute chili powder for a milder flavor (about 3 Tbsp.)

Nutritional Values are only an estimate