Ultimate Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa

Incredibly juicy and tender, and absolutely full of bold mouthwatering flavors, this beef barbacoa is the best I’ve ever tasted!  With Instant Pot, slow cooker and oven instructions, you’re bound to find a cooking method that works best for you!

Recipes like my Baked Mexican Rice and Crockpot Taco Soup are great for when you want restaurant quality food, made easily at home. We love hearty Mexican-inspired meals, and this is one of my Mexican recipes you’ll definitely want in your dinner rotation!

Shredded beef barbacoa in taco


I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for a while now, and finally got around to it.

Originally, I made a similar version in my Queso-Smothered Beef Chimichangas, which was a slow cooker recipe.  But I’ve been getting into using my Instant Pot more and more, and wanted to make this version something that could be made in much less time.

After some tinkering around in the kitchen, I came up with this recipe, which is now my FAVORITE type of Mexican beef!

The meat is literally melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the flavor…. oh man the flavor, it’s out of this world.  Rich and savory, with just enough spice to make your mouth wake up and say hello, but not so much that you’re sweating and diving for the nearest glass of water.

Basically, the best taco filling of all time lol.  Beef barbacoa is not just amazing in tacos, but in quesadillas, taco salads, chimichangas/taquitos, or just eaten with a fork!


  1. Puree the chipotle sauce in a food processor.  This is a combination of chipotle peppers, lime juice, spices, beef broth, garlic, etc.
  2. Brown beef on the “saute” mode, then remove to a plate.
  3. Add onion to the pot and saute until soft.  Pour in the beef broth, diced green chiles, tomato paste and bay leaves.
  4. Add browned beef and pureed sauce to the pot.
  5. Pressure cook for 1 hour, then perform a quick pressure release.
  6. Shred beef and toss with some cooking liquid.

Shredded beef barbacoa in bowl


Not technically, but it hits a LOT of the same flavor notes!


  • THE MEAT – this is a prime example of when to use a tougher cut of meat like a chuck roast or shoulder.  No need to buy expensive sirloin tips or anything.
  • BROWNING – adds a ton of flavor, but isn’t absolutely essential.  I love to brown my beef pieces, since I love that extra deep flavor it adds… but I’ve made this several times without taking that extra step, and it still tastes delicious.
  • CHIPOTLES IN ADOBO – the secret to this amazing barbacoa is in the chipotle peppers.  You can find cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the ethnic section of most grocery stores and they are PACKED with flavor.

Truly melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy, this beef barbacoa is loaded with bold flavors and ready for your tacos, burritos, bowls, or nachos!  Directions for pressure cooker, slow cooker, and the oven! #barbacoa #beef #mexican #shreddedbeef #cincodemayo #instantpot #pressurecooker #easyrecipe


  • SPICIER – As written, I would say this recipe is between a medium and a mild heat level.  If you’d like it spicier, use HOT diced green chiles, add more chipotle peppers, and/or add a jalapeno to the chipotle sauce ingredients.
  • MILDER – To make this recipe milder, use less chipotle peppers, omit the adobo sauce, and/or make sure you’re using MILD diced green chiles.
  • BEER – For some extra flavor, in the chipotle sauce, use a bold Mexican beer instead of beef broth.
  • OTHER MEAT – Traditionally, barbacoa is made with beef cheeks, goat or lamb.  You’re more than welcome to swap the chuck roast out for one of those proteins, I just chose the beef because it’s more readily available for the vast majority of my readers.
  • COOKING METHODS – this is made for the Instant Pot, but I’ve detailed how to make this in a slow cooker or in the oven if you’d prefer.  Those instructions will be down in the “recipe notes” section of of the recipe card.

Beef barbacoa in tacos



The sky is the limit when it comes to a great taco, but here are a few of my favorite options.

  • Fresh cilantro
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • Cotija cheese (or shredded Mexican blend cheese)
  • Quick pickled shallots (mix sliced shallots, juice of a lime, pinch of salt and granulated sugar – let sit in a bowl for 20 minutes)
  • Avocado
  • Queso


As with most braised meats, this barbacoa beef tastes even better the next day!  Those flavors sit and meld together.

To store, I find it best to store the beef in one container, with a little bit of the cooking liquid, and the rest of the cooking liquid in another container.

This way, when the fat in the liquid cools, you can easily scrape it off the top.

Reheat with the beef and the liquid together.


Cooked beef barbacoa can be frozen for up to 3 months.


Leftovers should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 5 days.


  • Instant Pot – I recently upgraded to this model and I love it!
  • Slow Cooker – I’ve had this slow cooker for years and it still works perfectly.
  • Dutch Oven – LeCreuset is my favorite brand, but they’re really pricey, so this Lodge version is a great alternative!

Truly melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy, this beef barbacoa is loaded with bold flavors and ready for your tacos, burritos, bowls, or nachos!  Directions for pressure cooker, slow cooker, and the oven! #barbacoa #beef #mexican #shreddedbeef #cincodemayo #instantpot #pressurecooker #easyrecipe



Truly melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy, this beef barbacoa is loaded with bold flavors and ready for your tacos, burritos, bowls, or nachos!  Directions for pressure cooker, slow cooker, and the oven! #barbacoa #beef #mexican #shreddedbeef #cincodemayo #instantpot #pressurecooker #easyrecipe

Ultimate Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa

Tender beef cooked in a spicy chipotle sauce
4.9 from 25 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Servings 8 - 10 people
Calories 476



  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - (individual peppers in the can - NOT the whole can)
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce - (from the can)
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice - (fresh is best)
  • 1 Tbsp better than bouillon beef base - (optional but recommended)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano - (mexican oregano is amazing if you have it)
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup beef broth - (reduced sodium is best)


  • 4 lb. beef chuck roast
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion - diced
  • 4 oz can diced green chiles - drained
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth - (reduced sodium is preferred)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lime - sliced in half



  • Add all chipotle sauce ingredients to a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Set aside.


  • Trim visible large sections of fat from roast, then cut roast into 6-8 large pieces. Season beef with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.
  • Add vegetable oil to Instant Pot and select "Saute". When hot, add beef and cook for a minute or so on each side, until browned. Depending on the size of your beef, you may need to do this in batches.
  • Remove browned beef to a plate and add onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until soft.
  • Add in 1 cup beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to remove any browned bits. Add in tomato paste, green chiles and bay leaves.
  • Press "Cancel - or Keep Warm/Cancel". Return browned beef to the pot and pour pureed chipotle sauce over the top. Top with both halves of the lime.
  • Close lid securely and make sure the valve is set to "sealing". Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" and adjust the +/- button until it reads 60 minutes.
  • When finished cooking, carefully turn the valve to "venting" for a quick pressure release. When the steam has all escaped, and the pin has dropped, remove the lid and discard bay leaves.
  • Remove beef pieces to a large bowl and shred, discarding any purely fat parts.
  • Toss shredded beef with as much of the cooking liquid as you'd like.


  • In a small bowl, stir together 2 Tbsp cornstarch with 3 Tbsp water until smooth. Pour this mixture into the pot with the sauce and select "saute".
  • Cook for several minutes, stirring often, until thickened to your tastes.
  • Toss shredded beef with as much of the thickened sauce as you'd like.


  • Line a baking sheet with foil, and preheat broiler to high, adjusting oven rack to the upper third position.
  • Spread shredded beef into an even layer, then broil several minutes. Stir. Continue broiling and stirring until crisped and charred to your liking.





  1. Process sauce ingredients.
  2. Sear beef in a skillet on the stove.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to slow cooker, top with seared beef, top with chipotle sauce.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, until beef is tender enough to shred easily.


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
  2. Process sauce ingredients.
  3. Sear beef in a large dutch oven on the stove.
  4. Add in onion, tomato paste, green chiles, and bay leaves.
  5. Reduce beef broth to 1/2 cup and pour in chipotle sauce.
  6. Cover and bake for 3 - 3 1/2 hours, until beef is tender enough to shred easily.


  1. Process sauce ingredients.
  2. Sear beef in a large dutch oven on the stove.
  3. Add in onion, tomato paste, green chiles, beef broth, and bay leaves.
  4. Pour in chipotle sauce.
  5. Cover and simmer for 2 - 2 1/2 hours (removing the lid the last 30 minutes of cooking), until beef is tender enough to shred easily.
  6. If desired, remove beef, shred, and continue simmering sauce for 10-15 minutes until thickened.
Author The Chunky Chef
Tried this recipe?Mention @the_chunky_chef or tag #thechunkychef!

If changing the recipe serving quantity, the recipe plugin will change the ingredient values for you, but it does NOT change the written instructions, those are manually added and not subject to a slider/button. You will have to extrapolate that multiplication to any amounts listed in the instructions.

For example: if an ingredient calls for 4 cups, and you doubled the recipe, it will automatically change to 8 cups. In the instructions, if I say “use 4 cups of cheese”, you will have to realize that since you doubled it, you use 8 cups, not 4


Truly melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy, this beef barbacoa is loaded with bold flavors and ready for your tacos, burritos, bowls, or nachos!  Directions for pressure cooker, slow cooker, and the oven! #barbacoa #beef #mexican #shreddedbeef #cincodemayo #instantpot #pressurecooker #easyrecipe

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Recipe Rating

55 comments on “Ultimate Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa”

  1. This was fabulous on my very first try – husband loved it!

  2. I’m just learning how to use an insta pot. How do I double this recipe? Do I double all ingredients and what about time? Do I double cook time? Thanks for your help! 

    • Welcome to the wonderful world of pressure cooking 🙂 Yes, if doubling the recipe, you have to double all the ingredients… however I don’t think double the ingredients would fit in an Instant Pot, as this is fairly full as written. When it comes to pressure cooking, no need to double the cook time, in fact it’ll stay relatively the same, maybe add 5-10 minutes. Again, that’s IF it will all fit, you don’t want to fill the pot past the line inside the pot that says max fill.

  3. Oh my! Is this ever delicious! Made this once before but used a crock pot and only used one pepper because I was afraid it would be too spicy for the grandchildren. This time followed the recipe exactly and used the insta pot. What a difference! The meat was so juicy and tender and honestly I just want to pour the sauce in a glass and drink it with a straw. This is definitely my new go to recipe. Thanks for this recipe!

  4. Really good! Had a lot of cooking liquid after the meat was  removed. Used some on the meat after shredding, cooked a bit too long under the broiler. Sprinkled a little lime juice over the meat also. 

  5. I am making this in a COSORI pressure cooker which is basically the same as an INSTAPOT.  In reading the directions it doesn’t say what button to push to cook.  Just set to manual and time to 60 mins.  It’s cooking but am not sure if the temperature is correct.  There are no lights on the temperature setting.  Will this be ok for the next 60 minutes? 

    • Unfortunately, I only have experience cooking this recipe on an Instant Pot, and don’t know how the controls for your specific pressure cooker. Manual on an Instant Pot is high pressure.

  6. Quartered the recipe so I could use 1# of stew meat then used it for enchiladas. WOW was it amazing!!!  My 7 year old son and 13 year old daughter had 3 servings. This will definitely be made again. So yummy!!!! I’m thinking tacos next time. 

  7. This is a great way to cook a roast! You can play with the seasonings and give it any twist you want but the basics are there in the recipe for cook times and prepping the meat. Thanks for a great turn out!

  8. Delicious! Easy to follow recipe, I used thick cut chuck steak cubes.

  9. OH NO! I accidentally added the whole can of chipotle peppers and all the adobo sauce! Is it even going to be edible? 

  10. Great recipe! I always make a new recipe as written, how can I judge it any other way? The only thing I did that was different was to leave out the whole cut limes. I’ve had the same issue of tasting bitterness when using lemons or limes this way, so did not want to take a chance. When I opened the pot there was hardly any liquid in it, I only made 1/2 recipe maybe that was the issue. I thought I had burned it, but once I added some water to the pot and heated it up it turned into a great sauce without having to thicken it. There was just enough liquid to moisten the meat. I used it for tostadas. it was excellent! I might use what is left on taquitos. Thanks for the wonderful recipe and all the variation that you provided.

  11. Hi, I tried your recipe and it came out great!! I did tweak it with 3 pounds of meat, an extra 1/2 cup of beef broth bc I have an 8 qt instant pot, and a few other things. But this gave me a great foundation and tools to make the barbacoa. Thank you for your tips. Especially the broiling technique after cooking. I am glad I found your site! 🙂

  12. Going to try this next week in either the crock pot or instant pot. Thanks for the tips. This looks amazing!! 🙂 I am new to your site. 

  13. If I wanted to make this in the instant pot the day before serving, could I just do the broiling part the day of serving? I have a roast in the fridge that really needs to be cooked, but want to serve to guests the next day.

  14. GREAT recipe! I made this for taco night.  I also had only a 2lb plus roast and made the sauce per the recipe, but also omitted the lime halves. I always add more garlic. After the beef cooked and was removed, I had a couple of chicken breasts that needed to be cooked… so, I threw them in for 7 minutes on manual and it was very good with that sauce. This way I had chicken and beef tacos. This was the first instant pot recipe where I sautéed the meat in the pot…however, I’m going to stick with browning in my cast iron pan and deglazing the pan and adding the juice to the pot.

  15. Please do not call this dish BARBACOA. REAL barbacoa is made with a cow’s cheeks;tongue and ears. It’s an ORGAN MEAT DISH. Mexican immigrants are not afraid to eat those cuts of beef. They know that eating them saves them MONEY. I grew up in Texas. So I know what real Barbacoa is made from.

    • Apparently you missed the part during the body of the post where I talked about what barbacoa is traditionally made with and why I chose to use the meat I did.

      • People love to “reach”  for attention.

        Nevertheless, this recipe is great & delicious too!!!

        Thank you for sharing!

    • lol, Barbacoa is not from Mexico nor is it traditionally made from cow’s cheek, tongue, and ear. Calm down just because you live in Texas doesnt make you an expert.

  16. Fantastic recipe! Just the right amount of spice for someone who likes a bit of kick, but not a ton. I followed the recipe as stated except 1) I omitted the sliced lime while cooking because of the number of comments about bitterness, and 2) I ran out of lime juice so only added 2 Tablespoons of juice to the barbacoa sauce instead of 3. It came out excellent with no hint of bitterness, not even an aftertaste. For those wondering if cook time should be changed for smaller roast: I used a 2 lb roast instead, but made no changes to the amount of sauce and cooked it for the same amount of time as the recipe states for the larger roast. I did have quite a bit of extra sauce, but having that amount of liquid to bring it up to pressure and keeping it at the same amount of cook time as the larger roast was important. One change I did make is I did a 15 minute natural pressure release instead of the quick release. It was fall apart tender and not dry at all even before the sauce was mixed in. Definitely a keeper!

  17. instead of browning the meat in the instaport I am thinking I want to grill it to get some added char to it. Also thinking if grilling to start adding some sort of dry rub to it. Do you have any suggestions ?

  18. As wonderful as i anticipated. My chuck roast was only 2 1/2 lbs but I made the full recipe. I have such wonderful sauce left, I’m thinking of doing another small roast using the extra sauce. Should be really flavorful.
    Thanks for the great recipe.

  19. This recipe was absolutely delicious!!! I made it for my whole family as our weekly ‘Sunday Dinner’. It was a huge hit. All 14 (adults & children) LOVED IT😋👏🏼👏🏼
    My family asked that I put a star beside this recipe to be sue to make it again. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I omitted the pieces of lime, as some found it added a bitterness. Thank you. A family sharing good food is a great way to begin a happy week!❤️

  20. I made this with a little zest, instead of the whole lime, and also subbed half orange juice instead of all beef stock (but I did also have that better than bouillon stuff on hand and that seems like it was key). This is killer! I can’t wait to try this on nachos 🤤

  21. Hi! Everything is in the instant pot as we speak. For the crisped edge version, would you do that before or after you mix back into the sauce? Thanks! Can’t wait to dig in.

  22. My 5 year old daughter said, “Mom, you HAVE to put this one in your recipe box!”
    The whole family loved it. We raise sheep, so I used a lamb roast. I replaced the tomato paste with a can of crushed tomatoes because that’s what I had, and I skipped the green chilies and bay leaves because I didn’t have any. It still turned out great. We ate it on flour tortillas.
    I didn’t notice the bitterness from the lime other commenters mentioned. Maybe because I threw away the lime before I mixed the sauce back in with the meat?

  23. Would love to try this but I have to closely monitor my fat, carbs and sugars. Do you have the nutritional information ?

    • As I’m not a nutritionist, I don’t provide full nutritional information for my recipes (wouldn’t want to potentially and unknowingly pass along incorrect information). Your best bet would be to copy the ingredients into your favorite online nutritional calculator.

  24. If we’re only using 2 lbs of beef, should we change up the cooking time?

  25. I also experienced the bitterness in this recipe. It seemed like it was just an after-taste at first but it accumulates on the tongue with each bite. This is probably just from pressure cooking and it wouldn’t have happened with a different cooking method.

    All the tastes separate from the bitterness, however, were great. I really love every thing else about this recipe. I can tell it’s worth making again, this time with the juice from a halved lime rather than skin-and-all. I’ll check back when I do make it again, whenever that is.

  26. The only reason I didn’t give this a 5 is that I doctored it a bit, and yes this was my first attempt. I never follow a recipe to the letter. In my case, I added shallots and more garlic cloves to the onions being sauteed, I also added 2/3 of a bottle of Shiner Bock to the sauce, along with about 2 tablespoons of my own handmade chili powder. 4 stars for the initial recipe, 5 stars for the total outcome. Great stuff!

  27. My family and I loved this!!!! I used beef, better than vegetable stock (I didn’t have beef), and beer instead off beef stock. I cooked the meat in an Instant Pot. I broiled the meet after I shredded it.  I did not include the whole lime. Toppings included pickled shallots, radishes, cilantro, cotija, avocado and lime wedges. I will definitely make this again.

  28. This was fantastic! I made 5lbs worth and increased the sauce slightly and the recipe worked great. The flavors are wonderful. I put some on top of chile rellenos and it was amazing, and I still have plenty barbacoa leftover to use other ways. Would definitely make again.

  29. I followed the recipe precisely……..and it had potential to be great if not for the extremely bitter lime flavor that the whole lime sliced in half and put on top imparted in the sauce and meat.
    I sliced it in half as directed and placed it on top. It came out so bitter that we couldn’t even eat it…….I might be inclined to try it again, but I would totally leave out the whole lime……that just made it a huge disappointment in my house.

    • Oh no! I’m so sorry, that definitely would be disappointing! I’m not sure exactly what happened, as that has never happened in all the times I’ve made this. Did you follow everything else in the recipe exactly? Feel free to shoot me an email [email protected] and I’d be happy to try and trouble shoot this with you.

      • I’m going to try it once more Amanda, because it really was tasty minus the bitter taste from the lime. But I’m going to try leaving out the whole lime and just stick with the 3 tbsp of lime juice and see how it comes out. The pith from the lime peel was definitely the culprit…….I’ll let you know how round 2 comes out.

  30. We made this for dinner last night and it was delicious! Made tacos and enchiladas with this because we couldn’t decide. Any suggestions for using the leftover cooking liquid/sauce? It is so flavorful and I am thinking of ways to use it and not throw away – thinking maybe in a soup or over eggs? Thanks for a great recipe!

  31. It takes some time to cook, but my husband loved it. I’ve surprised him today. Thank you, Amanda!

  32. I would greatly appreciate the people who will rate and comment after actually trying and tasting the recipe, instead of rating and going on by the way it looks on pictures on here. One thing is presentation, another thing is actual taste and how well it executed. Thanks in advance

    • Hi Bert, people are free to comment as they wish, just as you are 🙂 Some readers like to let me know they are excited to try it, and will come back after the fact to let me know how they enjoyed it. One of the comments below DID try it.

  33. This will be a sure hit at my house! It looks amazing!

  34. The shred on this is incredible!

  35. Made it in the Instant Pot and it was PERFECT!! Thank you for the recipe!

  36. Wow, such an amazing meal!! My family would love this!! A must make!

  37. Bring on the beef! These look amazing!!!! Looking forward to enjoying these for dinner tomorrow night!!

  38. I must admit that I have never made beef barbacoa! What have I been waiting for? We are huge taco fans, and I know this is going to be a hit.