Crockpot Shredded Beef Barbecue

Perfect for a summer cookout or potluck, this shredded beef barbecue recipe is made easily in the crockpot! With a quick and easy homemade barbecue sauce that’s sweet and tangy, this beef bbq is truly the best!

Crockpot shredded beef barbecue on bun with coleslaw and potato chips

We FINALLY had a weekend here in Ohio where it was semi-sunny and in the 60’s!  Our “Spring” has been more like an extended winter, so it was amazing to actually have some Spring-like weather.  Aside from just instantly lifting my mood, the warmer weather gave me a craving… for cookout food!

I’ve talked here on the blog before about my serious love of cookout or potluck food.  It’s so amazing to me… like my warm weather comfort food!  From jalapeño popper macaroni salad, broccoli salad, tequila lime coleslaw and fresh strawberry pie… I can never get enough.  Usually we go for a more traditional pulled pork, but an absolute favorite in our family is our shredded beef barbecue!

Barbecue beef in crockpot

This recipe is a mixture of one we got from my Aunt Amy, with some of my own flair, and a great tip from Karly who blogs over at Buns in My Oven.  Want to know what the tip is?  Mustard.  Plain yellow mustard.  The acidity adds amazing flavor and really tenderizes the beef as it cooks in the crockpot.  Even if you’re skeptical… try it once!


Since this recipe cooks allllll day, go for a cut of beef that is marbled with fat and connective tissue, and one that is a bit tough.  The slow cooker method really allows that connective tissue to melt and leaves you with an incredibly tender, melt in your mouth bbq.  Chuck roast is my preferred cut of beef, but brisket is a fabulous alternative.

Some recipes call for shredded beef barbecue to be cooked all together… with both the sauce and the beef in the crockpot.  For me, this can result in a sauce that is a bit OVER caramelized, especially on the sides of the slow cooker.

For my recipe, we cook the chuck roast in the crockpot with the mustard, spice rub, beef broth, liquid smoke and a few pats of butter.  Once it’s super tender, we shred it, drain the juices and return the now-shredded beef to the slow cooker.  Then we make the sauce, add it to the slow cooker and cook it about an hour or so, until it’s all hot and combined.

Beef barbecue on bun with coleslaw and potato chips


Overall it depends on the size of the roast, but for a standard 3-5 lb beef chuck roast, 8-10 hours on LOW is a general rule of thumb.  A lot of people think that if they try to shred the roast and it’s tough, that it’s overcooked.  Actually a tough roast is usually a sign that it needs more cooking time.  Pop the lid back on and cook on LOW another hour or two and I bet it’ll be fall apart tender!


Absolutely!  Since this recipe has a few ways it can be made ahead of time:

  • Make both the beef and barbecue sauce ahead of time and store them separately in the refrigerator.  The day you want to serve it, add both the beef and sauce to the crockpot, stir well, cover and cook on LOW for several hours, until the bbq is hot.
  • Make the beef ahead of time, shred, cool and refrigerate.  The day you want to serve it, set the beef out on the counter for about 30 minutes.  As it’s sitting out, make up the sauce.  Add beef and sauce to the crockpot, cover, and cook on HIGH for about an hour, until hot.

Shredded beef barbecue on bun


I haven’t extensively tested this, so use this as a general guideline.

  • Cut chuck roast into 3-4 pieces.  Rub them with mustard, the homemade seasoning rub, then add them to the instant pot.  Increase the beef broth to about 1 1/2 cups, and add beef broth and liquid smoke (if using), pouring it around the beef chunks.
  • Add lid and lock into place.  Make sure the knob on top is set to the “sealing” position.
  • Set to Pressure Cook/Manual, High Pressure, and use the + or – buttons (or dial in some models) to select 60 minutes.
  • When roast is finished cooking, do a natural pressure release for 10-15 minutes by letting the pressure cooker sit undisturbed.
  • After 10-15 minutes, turn knob to “venting” position and release any remaining pressure.  When the pin drops down, remove lid.
  • Remove beef from instant pot, shred.  Remove juices from instant pot insert, add beef back to insert.
  • Add in cooked bbq sauce and use the “saute” function to cook the beef with the sauce to really marry it together.

Forkful of beef barbecue

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Perfect for a summer cookout or potluck, this shredded beef barbecue recipe is made easily in the crockpot! With a quick and easy homemade barbecue sauce that's sweet and tangy, this beef bbq is truly the best! | #bbq #barbecue #beef #potluck #summer #crockpot #slowcooker

Crockpot Shredded Beef Barbecue

Perfect for a summer cookout or potluck, this shredded beef barbecue recipe is made easily in the crockpot!
4.9 from 19 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 20 mins
Servings 8 servings
Calories 473



  • 2 - 3 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 lb beef chuck roast
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2/3 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke - (optional)
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp unsalted butter - (sliced)


  • 1 large yellow onion, finely minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 20 - 24 oz bottle of ketchup
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce


  • Combine brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Add chuck roast to slow cooker, drizzle with mustard and rub into the meat.
  • Sprinkle with half of the rub. Rub into the meat, flip the roast over and rub the remaining rub into the meat.  Pour in beef broth and liquid smoke (if using), being careful to pour it around the roast, not over it.  You don't want to wash away that rub and mustard!  Top with butter slices.  Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or until roast is fork tender.
  • Remove roast from slow cooker to a large cutting board and shred, discarding large fat pieces.  Drain cooking juices from the slow cooker and return shredded beef to the slow cooker.


  • Add butter and olive oil to a saucepan and heat over MED heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes.  
  • Add ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, molasses and Worcestershire sauce to saucepan and stir until combined.  Pour barbecue sauce into slow cooker with beef and stir well.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes or so, to allow the sauce to really mesh together and slightly caramelize on the beef.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!



  1. Both the barbecue sauce and shredded beef can be made ahead of time and reheated together in the crockpot.  Combine shredded beef and cooked sauce and cook, covered, on LOW until hot.
  2. If you'd prefer, store-bought barbecue sauce can be used.
  3. This beef is incredibly flavorful on it's own, so if you'd prefer a sauce-less shredded beef, this is a great recipe.
  4. Feel free to play around with the amounts of barbecue sauce ingredients, depending on your tastes and the size of the roast you're using.
Tried this recipe?Mention @the_chunky_chef or tag #thechunkychef!

Perfect for a summer cookout or potluck, this shredded beef barbecue recipe is made easily in the crockpot! With a quick and easy homemade barbecue sauce that's sweet and tangy, this beef bbq is truly the best! | #bbq #barbecue #beef #potluck #summer #crockpot #slowcooker

Perfect for a summer cookout or potluck, this shredded beef barbecue recipe is made easily in the crockpot! With a quick and easy homemade barbecue sauce that's sweet and tangy, this beef bbq is truly the best! | #bbq #barbecue #beef #potluck #summer #crockpot #slowcooker

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Recipe Rating

62 comments on “Crockpot Shredded Beef Barbecue”

  1. Does this freeze well once made?  Any special recommendations for thawing/reheating?  Thanks!

    • I’ve never frozen it myself, but it should freeze really well! I’d thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat either on the stovetop or in the slow cooker again with a splash of water.

  2. I was having a gathering of cousins and made this recipe. I used a shoulder roast instead of the chuck roast and let it set Overnight. It was fantastic.  Thank you so much for sharing it.

  3. What if you double the recipe same time in cooker or longer?

  4. Easy prep, good flavor. Too oniony for my taste, though,and a bit too sweet also. I’ll reduce onion to half and cut back on the brown sugar next time.

  5. I made this exactly like the recipe and it was awesome… made it for my boat crew and there wasn’t anything left! Thank you for the it!

  6. What a great recipe! We love your rub & found the shredded beef was simply delicious on it’s own. Since we had our minds set on open-faced BBQ sandwiches, we added your sauce, and WOW! The bowl was empty in no time. Thank you. This recipe is a keeper.

  7. Hey, thank you so much for posting this recipe. I wanted to make the pulled beef into a pulled beef wonton as an appetizer for my guest, would frying it in the wonton wrapper after I take it out of the crock pot make it dry? I never really fry anything so I dont know

    Thank you,

  8. Hi this looks delicious. How many people does this typically feed

  9. Hi Amanda,
    I tried your slow cooker shredded beef recipe today.
    Fantastic! A simple winter meal I could put on and forget (it’s winter here in Australia), and the family smashed it!
    I didn’t use your sauce, but instead thickened the juice in the slow cooker before returning the shredded beef.
    We will be having this meal again I’m sure.
    Thank you for sharing.

  10. Made this tonight and was excellent. My family loved it….classed as a “keeper”.

    My question is, what do I do with the juice the beef was cooked in after it is strained?

    Was it suppose to be mixed it with the BBQ sauce or just thrown out?

    I did not use it, but kept it in the fridge till I talk with you. Thank you.

  11. Made this twice–once as a test and then a second-time to make for a large group for 4th of July. On the first try, I did low and slow in the crockpot with half the amount of meat called for and it did come out deliciously tender. I used smoked paprika instead of liquid smoke and the smokey flavor was there! I Don’t really like a lot of smoke, so for those of you like me, smoked p might be your solution! My second go-around for my large group was two roasts weighing 5.5lbs total. I roasted one in a dutch oven, and the other in the crockpot. The dutch oven beef texture was improved from the first try with the crockpot, but I lost my smokey flavor. My crockpot on high for 4 hours was tough and had to go in the dutch oven to finish for about 2 hours. I don’t recommend high heat/half the time at all! The sauce was good, but I didn’t see much improvement from a good bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s. Color is gorgeous tho. Mince your onion really fine, or you could mince yours on a grater or mincer machine to get more of an onion paste. This helped with a velvety smooth sauce with the onion flavor without the chunks. I did add a couple dashes of ancho chili powder for a little heat. Added a little dimension without much spice.

  12. Is this good with pork loin instead of beef?

  13. Just a question about the shredded beef. Does the roast need to be thawed or not?

  14. I made the recipe exactly as instructed and it was delicious! Made it for my calving men and they loved it too!

  15. Hi! Do you have a recommended substitute for molasses?


  16. Delicious! 
    Made it exactly as written, Liquid smoke is a must. 
    We loved it,
    Question.. Can you tell me if I use a pork tenderloin next time, How long I should cook it for?
    Thank you. 

  17. Is there a way to adjust the ingredients to make this with the BBQ sauce at same time versus the extra step of making BBQ sauce?

  18. Peccato che manchi l’informazione più importante,la temperatura al cuore.

  19. In the crock now. Just added the BBQ sauce (had a bottle on hand I wanted to use – Will make it myself next time). Tasted it w/o the BBQ sauce & the meat was excellent. I did the mustard/rub & then browned the meat 1st (bottom round roast – I’m of the impression that it’s always better to brown meat 1st). About 6 hrs. on low (low on this Crock is hotter than low on my other one). I also cooked the onion & added the garlic with the initial cooking since I wasn’t making my own sauce.

    Will be making again for sure. Thx.

  20. Just tried this tonight for the first time – it was delicious! My son (who never seems to like any BBQ sauce) raved about it; you’re a genius!

  21. January 2020
    Made this in the instant pot, turned out really great!

  22. I need a recipe for pulled beef now

  23. I don’t have a slow cooker, do you have any suggestions on how to make this in an instant pot? Or a Dutch oven in an electric oven? Thank you!

    • I’ve not tested this recipe in an oven, or instant pot, but I can give you my estimation. Instant pots can be finicky with needing the appropriate amount of liquids and whatnot, so I won’t estimate that one without further testing. For the oven, I would bake covered in a dutch oven at 325 F degrees for 2-3 hours.

    • The instant pot has a slow cooker setting

  24. This is amazing without the barbecue sauce!

  25. can I use Pepsi instead of Dr. Pepper?

  26. Delish everything about it!
    Cooked for my family they loved it
    Only ingredient I didn’t use was the liquid smoke.
    I’ll use the mean in the cooker recipe for shredded beef tacos next time since it had so much flavor. 

    • Very good. I used arm roast instead, since that was the cut I had left from our 1/2 cow.  Family loved it.

  27. Ez and delicious must try this one everybody I top mines off with cheese and dill pickles with French fries on the side

  28. I wanted to try this for our branding…. not sure I have enough crock pots to make enough, would a roaster oven work?

  29. oh my goodness I have just made this but with pork and its delicious

  30. How many people would you say this recipe serves? Thanks!

  31. Can you cook on high and if so so how long?

  32. This needs to happen for dinner soon! My Hubby will love it!

  33. I will now be breaking out the slow cooker for this!

  34. This BBQ looks soooooo flavorful! I cant wait to try it in my new crock pot!

  35. Oooh that looks fabulous and so flavor-packed!

  36. This looks so good! We just love barbecue beef sandwiches!

  37. This looks absolutely perfect! One of our family’s favorites!

  38. This looks downright tender and delicious!

  39. What a great way to feed a crowd! So easy in the slow cooker!