I never miss a Taco Tuesday, and barbacoa tacos are one of my favorites! However, brisket or chuck roast needs to be cooked at a low temperature for an extended period of time. The Crock-pot or Instant-Pot is the key to having these amazing tacos ready to eat on a weeknight without slaving over the stove all day. My Slow Cooker Barbacoa recipe is tender shredded beef that is highly seasoned, fork-tender, and perfect in street tacos, burritos, nachos, or taco salads. I even love it for breakfast with eggs, beans, and potatoes.
Traditional Barbacoa (where we get the word barbeque) is a method of slow cooking. Tough cuts of the beef, cheek, or entire cow heads, are cooked in a spicy mixture of lime juice, cumin, garlic, and other seasonings. The term barbacoa and the process were developed in the Caribbean by the Taino Tribe centuries ago. Although, the Mexican Barbacoa is probably the most widely known. Traditionally, the barbacoa was cooked in a pit that was dug into the ground. Meats were wrapped in leaves or stewed in large clay pots were placed on the hot coals and buried until the meat was fork-tender and falling off the bone.
Today, luckily, we now have slow cookers and Instant pots to mimic how the traditional barbacoa was prepared. My Slow Cooker Mexican Barbacoa recipe couldn’t be easier. Throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it do its thing for about 6 hours on high (9 hours on low).
Prepare the Slow Cooker the Night Before!
I love using my Crockpot or Instant pot to make barbacoa tacos. However, trying to put this barbacoa taco recipe together first thing in the morning is a lot to ask. My solution is to assemble all of the taco ingredients in the slow cooker insert the night before and keep them in the refrigerator overnight. The beef marinates all night, and in the morning, all that is needed is to put the insert in the slow cooker and press the start button.
This slow cooker barbacoa recipe is a great reason to have a party!
Where I’m from in Texas, Barbacoa is mostly used in street tacos, served in corn tortillas. These tacos are topped simply with cilantro and onions, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and spicy salsa to finish. I like to use either brisket or chuck roast for my barbacoa. Today I got lucky and found a $50 chuck roast on sale for $12, score! This is a perfect easy recipe for feeding big game-day crowds, I like to have my Tex-Mex Black Beans and rice on the side.
Seriously, I could eat about a dozen of these barbacoa tacos.
- Beef: I use either brisket or chuck roast for my barbacoa taco recipe. Tough cuts of beef that are perfect for slow braising and make that incredible sauce for the tacos.
- Dry Spices: Ground cumin, Mexican oregano, and for a little sweetness, brown sugar or molasses. Brisket tacos especially benefit from a little sweetness, it is barbeque after all. If you don’t have Mexican oregano, regular dry oregano will work fine.
- Spicy, fresh ingredients: Fresh jalapenos, garlic, and chilis in Adobo sauce add a great complex flavor to the sauce and the beef.
- Lime Juice and Vinegar: I use apple cider vinegar and fresh lime juice to add a little acidity and twang to the sauce. The smell of this barbacoa taco recipe will have your mouth watering! It’s pretty fantastic when you come home from work and smell that slow cooker working!
Here is my Slow Cooker Barbacoa recipe:
Slow Cooker Mexican Barbacoa
- Instant Pot
- 5 Pounds Chuck Roast or Brisket 2-inch chunks
- 5-6 Chiles in Adobo
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Crushed and chopped
- 1/4 Cup Lime Juice Fresh
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1 Tablespoon Oregano Preferably Mexican
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt (I use 1 teaspoon per pound of beef)
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Jalapenos Halved
- 1 Tablespoon Molasses or Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Water
- Diced White Onion
- Chopped Cilantro
- Lime Wedges
- Red and Green Salsa
- Warn Corn Tortillas
- Rice and Beans
- Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker, stir to combine
- On high, 6-hours. On low 9-hours
- With 1-hour left to cook, skim excess fat from the surface before you stir. Stir
- At the end of cooking, skim excess fat from the surface
- Use 2-forks to shred the Barbacoa
- Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast corn tortillas on each side for about 10-15 seconds
- Place about ¼ cup of drained Barbacoa on each tortilla
- Top with chopped onions, cilantro, fresh lime wedges, and hot sauce
- Serve plain white rice and my Tex-Mex Black Beans recipe as sides