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

BEEF BARBACOA RECIPE

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!

HOW TO MAKE BEEF BARBACOA

  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

IS THIS A CHIPOTLE COPYCAT RECIPE

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

COOKING TIPS FOR SHREDDED MEXICAN BEEF

  • 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

VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE

  • 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

 

TOPPINGS FOR A BEEF BARBACOA TACO

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

MAKING BARBACOA AHEAD OF TIME

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.

FREEZING

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

STORAGE

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

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THIS RECIPE

  • 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

BE SURE TO SCROLL DOWN TO CHECK OUT OTHER READERS’ COMMENTS FOR TIPS AND REVIEWS.

AND DON’T FORGET, IF YOU’VE MADE THIS RECIPE, LEAVE A COMMENT AND PLEASE GIVE IT A STAR RATING LETTING ME KNOW HOW YOU ENJOYED IT!

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 15 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Servings 8 - 10 people
Calories 476

Ingredients
  

CHIPOTLE SAUCE

  • 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)

BARBACOA

  • 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

Instructions
 

MAKE CHIPOTLE SAUCE

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

MAKE BEEF BARBACOA

  • 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.

TO THICKEN SAUCE

  • 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.

TO CRISP THE EDGES

  • 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.

Video

Notes

 

SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

  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.
 

OVEN DIRECTIONS

  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.
 

STOVETOP DIRECTIONS

  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!

 

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




31 comments on “Ultimate Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa”

  1. 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 ?

  2. 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.

  3. 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!❤️

  4. 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 🤤

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

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

  16. 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.

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

  18. The shred on this is incredible!

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

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

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

  22. 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.