Mexican Shredded Beef, also known as Barbacoa, is an authentic Mexican style dish made with chile seasoned beef (lamb or goat are also traditionally used), it is slow cooked until it is fall apart tender. It is actually a pretty easy recipe to make. Most of the work is in the prep, then the oven does the rest of the work.
Ideas for serving up this Barbacoa are endless…it is great in tortillas for amazing barbacoa tacos, pile in on a salad, or it would be great in nachos, a rice bowl, a burrito or enchilada! You could even make a Mexican pizza or sliders!
Barbacoa is the Spanish word for “barbecue”. However, here is the United States, we associate this word with Mexican Shredded Beef, made more widely popular by the restaurant Chipotle.
The pronunciation for barbacoa is baar-bah-kow-uh.
To make Mexican Shredded Beef here are the ingredients you need to grab:
- vegetable oil
- 3lb. beef chuck roast
- kosher salt and black pepper
- large onion
- bay leaves
- ground cumin
- dried oregano
- smoked paprika
- onion powder
- canned chipotle in adobo sauce (you will only use 3 of the peppers in the can… not the whole can)
- 2 limes
- white vinegar
- beef broth
For serving you will want to grab some tortillas for tacos or burritos, or some rice for a rice bowl. And all your favorite toppings.
Beef Chuck Roast
When you are selecting a chuck roast try to pick one that is well marbled with fat, and not too many large chunks of fat around the edges. A “choice” graded chuck roast is perfect for this barbacoa recipe.
How to Make Shredded Mexican Beef
There are just a couple steps to make this recipe and the oven does the rest!
- Preheat the oven to 325.
- Cut the beef in 2-3 inch chunks, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown all the chunks in the vegetable oil.
- Make the chile paste in a blender or food processor bu mixing the garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, onion powder, chipotles in adobo, lime juice, and vinegar. (if you need to add some of the beef broth for it to process smooth that is totally fine!)
- Coat the browned beef cubes in the chile paste.
- Add the onions, bay leaves and beef broth to the oven safe braising pot.
- Cook, covered, for 2 ½ hours. (your pot will look crazy when it comes out of the oven… don’t worry it comes clean!)
- Shred the beef and serve! (Optional you can add the shredded beef back to the pot and stir it into the onions and sauce. If you do this make sure to remove the 2 bay leaves.)
Here are a few topping ideas for your Mexican Shredded Beef, however you choose to eat it:
- pico de gallo or salsa
- queso fresco
- cajun aioli
- sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- white onions
- sliced radishes
The spicy ingredient in this recipe are the chipotle peppers in adobo. I definitely would not call this barbacoa “spicy”, so using 3 peppers is great to just add flavor. If you like more spice than definitely add 5 chipotle peppers.
To really take it to the next level add some cayenne pepper to the chile paste!
Barbacoa is just like pulled pork in that it freezes really well!!! Which for all of you busy people out there means EASY MEAL PREP!! Simply make the barbacoa completely and then freeze it on a baking sheet. Once it is frozen divide it out into freezer safe baggies in serving portions. It will keep in the freezer for 3 months.
Reheat the frozen barbacoa on the stove top or in the microwave. Can also be thawed in the fridge overnight.
Make It A Meal
If you are making tacos, burritos, or enchiladas with your Barbacoa then you can make it a meal by adding some restaurant style salsa, 15 minute refried beans, and Mexican Rice. don’t forget to add a tequila cocktail… I like this pomegranate margarita, tequila soda, or tequila mule!
More Mexican Dinner Recipes
If you love Mexican for dinner then here are some recipes for you to try next…
Mexican Shredded Beef Recipe
Mexican Shredded Beef – Barbacoa
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 lb chuck roast (approx size) cut into 2-3 inch chunks
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce **see notes
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice 2 limes
- 2 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 large onion sliced into ¼ inch slices
- 2 bay leaves
- 14.5 oz can beef broth
- Preheat the oven to 325°.
- In a large oven safe pot (with a lid), like a dutch oven, over medium heat on the stove top heat the vegetable oil. While that heats cut your beef into 2-3 inch chunks. Pat them dry with paper towels and season with the salt and pepper.Working in batches, brown all the beef pieces in the oil (on two sides each).Add all the beef back to the pot and remove from the heat.
- In a blender or food processor add the garlic cloves, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, onion powder, chipotles in adobo, lime juice, and vinegar. Process until it is a smooth paste.Note: if you need to add a little of the beef broth so it will process smooth, go ahead and do that!
- Pour the chile mixture over the beef and coat it on all sides.
- Nestle the cut onions and bay leaves around the beef. Pour the beef broth around the beef, careful not to pour it over the beef, removing the chile paste.
- Pop the lid on the pot and place in the oven, cook for 2 ½ hours.
- Remove the meat to a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet. Shred and chop the beef into bite sized pieces/shreds.
- Optional – add the beef back to the broth and onions in the pot (remove the bay leaves and discard). Or you can strain some of the onions out and add to the beef.
- Serve the warm shredded beef on tacos, in burritos or enchiladas, topped on a salad or rice bowl, or spread on nachos. The possibilities are endless.
If nutrition facts are provided they are calculated as an estimate to the best of our knowledge.