Tonight’s dinner just got a whole lot tastier with the addition of this juicy, tender barbacoa beef.
Even though there were a lot more options in my hometown to choose from, as the child of a single mom, our meals were mostly cooked at home. In terms of meal options, my mom relied on the old standbys that she grew up with.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining in any way. I loved the rich and hearty meals she would make, especially when she occasionally tried her hand at some Asian dishes.
I didn’t truly come to know what the heck barbacoa was until I went off to college. That’s when Chipotle became a staple in my life.
I happened to go to college just a handful of blocks away from the original Chipotle location in Denver. That was where the trouble all started.
Once I got hooked on Chipotle, I really fell in love. I ate it every day throughout my freshman year, I kid you not. It is still my comfort food to this day, and that’s primarily because of their barbacoa.
The first time I tried it was when I sampled a bite from a friend’s taco salad bowl. She insisted that it was the meat I needed to choose, but I was so used to their flavorful chicken that I was skeptical about trying something new.
When I put that flavorful forkful in my mouth, I knew I would never went back to that chicken burrito again.
Holy WOW was that beef melt-in-your-mouth amazing. It was juicy and packed with a ton of flavor, and tender to boot.
Ever since, it’s been one of my favorite ways to devour meat, especially when I make it at home.
You’d be surprised just how easy barbacoa beef is to prepare in your own kitchen. All you need is a slow cooker and a free morning or afternoon to let the goodness simmer together. And for all you Instant Pot lovers out there, scroll ahead to the bottom of the Cooking By the Numbers section below for cooking instructions using this fab appliance.
That’s why this is the ideal recipe to pull together on a Monday night. Since we are currently a family of two in my household, I make this recipe and serve it at the beginning of the work week in tacos, burritos, rice bowls, salads, quesadillas, and so much more.
Then, I have leftover meat to chow down on for the next day or two for lunch. I will even mix it into leftovers from different recipes, like soup or macaroni and cheese.
The fact that this beef is so incredibly versatile is why it is always a home run when you make it. And it’s a great budget meal too, since you can use whatever cut you find on sale from your local butcher. Try using short ribs next, another great and succulent option for slow cooking.
You can use this recipe in so many different ways, and it will rock your world every single time.
All you have to do is let the meat season and simmer all day long. You come home, shred it up, and just like that you have a beef entree that will be the star of your dinner table.
Essentially, it’s the recipe that keeps on giving, no matter how many people you are serving it to.Print
The best slow cooker barbacoa is a dish that does so much more than simply sitting on a plate. It’s versatile, flavorful, and oh-so-tender.
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 –2 1/2 lbs tri-tip, London broil, or sirloin beef
- 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
- In a small bowl, stir together cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Rub the beef with the seasoning mixture.
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat it with the oil. Once oil is hot, sear the meat on all sides. This should take approximately 1 minute per side.
- Place the beef in the slow cooker. Pour the diced tomatoes over the top.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Shred the meat into pieces and stir to combine with the juices in the slow cooker before serving.
- Serve in flour or corn tortillas with your favorite toppings.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 6 hours
- Category: Beef
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Keywords: Tex-Mex beef, slow cooker barbacoa, Instant Pot
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Mince Garlic and Measure Ingredients
Peel and mince two cloves of garlic.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Make Spice Rub
Add the ground cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and minced garlic to a small bowl.
Stir to combine.
Rub the beef all over with the seasoning mix.
Always looking for fun and exciting ways to season your beef? Try our coffee-rubbed roast for a recipe with flavorful earthy depth!
Step 3 – Sear
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Once it’s hot, sear the meat on all sides. Searing will take about 1 minute per side.
Remove from heat.
If your slow cooker has a sear setting, you can do it right in there and save yourself from having to do a few extra dishes!
Step 4 – Cook and Serve
Place the meat in the slow cooker. Pour the diced tomatoes on top.
Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours.
When the meat is fully cooked and tender, transfer it to a cutting board and shred it with two forks.
If you like, you can also do this right in the slow cooker insert, just careful not to scratch it if it is covered with a nonstick coating.
Stir to combine the beef with the juices and tomatoes before serving.
Serve in corn or flour tortillas with your choice of toppings.
To Prepare in an Instant Pot
If you want to use your Instant Pot to make this recipe, set to Saute with the oil in the insert for Step 3. Sear the prepared meat on all sides.
Pour the diced tomatoes on top and seal. Cook on Manual pressure set to High for 75 minutes.
Shred the meat with two forks right in the Instant Pot, then stir to combine.
A Variety of Methods to Cook a Versatile Meal
This simple protein entree is super succulent, and big on flavor. Not only can you choose your favorite way to serve it and then to enjoy the leftovers in the following days, you can also take your pick of cooking options to find the best method that works for you.
If you don’t have the time to let the beef sit in the slow cooker all day, that’s no problem if you have a pressure cooker.
It doesn’t take much time to quick cook the meat, and I can promise you that it comes out just as juicy and tender.
Need more slow cooker meals to make for dinner? Here are some of our favorites:
- Pot Roast
- 4-Ingredient Barbecue Cola Chicken
- Buffalo Chicken Tacos
- Philly Cheesesteaks
- Tex-Mex Chicken
How will you serve up this barbacoa beef? Tell us in the comments below. And make sure you come back to rate the recipe to let other readers know how much you loved it!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 6, 2013. Last updated: March 7, 2021 at 13:12 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.