Whenever it’s taco night at our house, it’s a party! These Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos will become your favorite taco recipe. They are so incredibly flavorful, tender, and juicy.
These slow cooker barbacoa beef tacos are cooked in a flavorful marinade that will make your house like heaven! I love serving these on taco tortillas, but you can do anything you want: burritos, rice bowls, quesadillas, and so much more.
The barbacoa beef is slow cooked for hours until perfection. It falls apart and melts in your mouth. Every single bite is so, so good. You will absolutely love it!
These slow cooker barbacoa beef tacos have become a true family favorite! Every time I make these, it’s a party. We go all out and make a variety of fresh taco toppings and tons of delicious Mexican side dishes. It’s seriously a lot of fun!
I love making barbaboa beef in the slow cooker because, with this method, the meat turns out super tender, juicy, and falls apart perfectly. It’s dreamy! Plus, slow cookers make everything so much easier. All you have to do is make the marinade, sear the beef (this adds lots of amazing flavors), and slow cook it for 8 hours until tender and juicy.
Also, the marinade is fabulous! It’s packed with so much flavor from the chipotle peppers in adobo, lime juice, spices, and more…and it couldn’t be any easier to make! All you have to do is combine all the marinade ingredients in the food processor.
Barbacoa beef tacos are always my go-to, but you can also make burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, taquitos, or anything you’d like with the tender meat. It’s really versatile!
Lots of amazing ingredients go into this recipe to make the best slow cooker barbacoa beef tacos!
You know these tacos are going to be amazing when almost every ingredient here is meant to add flavor.
As always, you can find the specific ingredient quantities in the recipe card down below, but here’s a quick summary of what you’ll need:
- Beef chuck roast: To feed 8 people, you’ll need about 3 to 3.5 pounds of beef chuck roast. Tip: to make it easier to sear the meat, I like to cut the beef chuck roast into 3 pieces.
- Kosher salt: I use about 3 teaspoons of Kosher salt to season the beef. It sounds like a lot of salt, but it’s a large piece of meat, and we need to coat all sides for better flavor.
- Ground black pepper: For flavor. If you can, use freshly ground black pepper.
- Oil: For searing the beef. I use olive oil, but vegetable or canola oil are fine too.
- White onion: For flavor.
- Dried oregano: For flavor.
- Bay leaves: For flavor.
- Beef broth: It will help keep the meat moist as it cooks, and add flavor.
- Tortillas: I prefer corn tortillas for this slow cooker barbacoa beef.
- Marinade ingredients (see below, under “The Marinade”)
- For serving: cilantro, onions, radishes, lime wedges
Lots of good stuff going on here!
The marinade for the barbacoa beef tacos is simple and quick to make. Only 5 ingredients go into the marinade, and all you really have to do is combine all these in the food processor. It takes less than 5 minutes.
It’s a combination of chipotle peppers in adobo, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, and cumin. All these ingredients will add lots of flavor to the meat. It’s so good and simple!
- Chipotle peppers in adobo: This comes in small cans, packed with adobo sauce. Adds tons and tons of flavor and color.
- Fresh garlic: You’ll need about 4 cloves of garlic, minced.
- Ground cumin: For flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar: To balance out the flavors, and to help tenderize the meat.
- Fresh lime juice: To balance out the flavors, and to help tenderize the meat.
Pulse everything for a few seconds until you get an evenly combined marinade.
So Easy to Make
There are basically 3 parts of making these delicious slow cooker barbacoa beef tacos: Searing the beef, making the marinade, and slow cooking everything for 8 hours.
- Sear the beef on all sides: I like to cut the big piece of beef chuck roast into 3 smaller pieces (easier to handle). Then, season it with salt and pepper on all sides, and sear it on all sides until golden brown. Browning the meat adds lots of AMAZING flavor, so don’t skip this step!
- Make the marinade: For this, you just need to combine the chipotle peppers (with the adobo sauce), garlic cloves, cumin, lime juice, and vinegar in a food processor. Takes 5 minutes or less!
- Slow cook everything: In a large slow cooker, add the seared beef, beef broth, onions, oregano, bay leaves, and the marinade. Give everything a good stir so it’s combined. Slow cook on LOW for 8 hours, or on HIGH for 4 hours.
The barbacoa beef will come out so tender, juicy, and flavorful. It’s the best thing ever!
Then, all that’s left to do is serve them over corn tortillas with some toppings and DEVOURING them! Each bite will taste like heaven. It is absolutely delicious!
Searing the Meat Adds Tons of Flavor
Since this is a slow cooker recipe, you may be tempted to just throw all the ingredients, including the meat, into the slow cooker and forget about it as it cooks. When I am cooking meat in the slow cooker though, I almost always sear it first. It’s an extra step, but it’s so worth it.
Here’s why: searing adds caramelization and browning, which is scientifically called the Maillard reaction. This develops a golden brown crust that is packed with lots of complex and concentrated flavors, making everything taste absolutely amazing.
Don’t skip this step. It makes a huge difference!
Toppings and Serving
Toppings, toppings, toppings…the best part of eating tacos!
I like to serve these slow cooker barbacoa beef tacos with simple toppings. My favorite are sliced radishes, cilantro, and diced onions.
Here are a few other topping ideas you may like:
- Guacamole or avocado slices
- Avocado crema
- Pico de gallo
- Pickled red onions
- Shredded Mexican blend cheese or queso fresco crumbles
And of course, don’t forget a squeeze of fresh lime juice at the end. It will brighten it up and make everything even more delicious!
Now, onto the side dishes. I mean, side dishes are always a must, especially when it comes to tacos!
I’d recommend serving these barbacoa beef tacos with:
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Chips and Guac
- Slow Cooker Chorizo Queso
- Easy Mexican Rice (recipe coming soon!)
- Mexican Coleslaw (recipe coming soon!)
- Avocado Corn and Black Bean Salsa by Joyous Apron
Whenever there’s tacos, guac, side dishes, and drinks…it’s a party!
These slow cooker barbacoa beef tacos are seriously amazing! The barbacoa beef is packed with so much flavor, and it’s tender and juicy.
This recipe is definitely a favorite at our house. It’s the perfect weekend taco recipe. Serve it with delicious toppings and side dishes, and you’ve got a feast!
The meat will also keep really well in the fridge for up to 3 days, so you can make tacos today and burritos tomorrow! And burrito bowls the following day! I totally did that. It’s the best thing ever.
I hope you like it as much as we do. Happy cooking!
Tips for Success
- Searing the meat prior to cooking will add lots of complex and amazing flavors. Sear the beef until you get a nice golden brown crust. To ensure proper searing, make sure to pat dry the meat thoroughly before seasoning. Also, don’t overcrowd the pan as you sear (overcrowding leads to steaming instead). Finally, let the meat sear undisturbed for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until a nice golden brown crust develops.
- If you don’t have a food processor, you can also make the marinade in a blender.
- I like to warm up the tortillas over open flame, on a gas stove. You can also microwave them – arrange them on a large plate, and place a damp paper towel over them to keep them moist; then microwave for a few seconds.
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos
- Large slow cooker
- Large skillet
- Food processor
- 3.5 pounds beef chuck roast, excess fat trimmed
- 3 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 3 dried bay leaves
- ½ cup beef broth
- 1 medium white onion, sliced
- 5 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
- 5 chipotle peppers in adobo, plus the juices (see note below)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
For serving and toppings
- Corn tortillas
- Chopped cilantro
- Diced onions
- Sliced radishes
- Lime wedges
- Cut the beef chuck roast into 3 chunks. Pat the meat dry with paper towel. Season evenly on all sides with the 3 teaspoons of salt and the 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the beef on all sides, until nicely browned. Transfer the meat to a large slow cooker. Set aside. Tip: Searing the meat develops caramelization and browning, which adds so much flavor. The trick is letting the meat sear undisturbed for about 3-4 minutes per side, so that it can develop that beautiful golden brown crust. Prior to searing, make sure to pat the meat dry. Don't overcrowd the pan.
- Make the marinade: In a food processor, combine the garlic cloves, chipotle peppers in adobo (including the juices), ground cumin, apple cider vinegar, and lime juice. Pulse to combine until you get a smooth and even marinade.
- Pour the marinade over the beef in the slow cooker. To the slow cooker, add the beef broth, dried oregano, sliced onions, and bay leaves. Stir everything so that it’s combined (it doesn’t need to be perfect, just a few stirs to incorporate the ingredients).
- Cover the slow cooker with the lid. Cook on LOW for 8 hours, or on HIGH for 4 hours.
- Once the cooking time is up, shred the beef. If needed, season with more salt and pepper.
- Serve over warm corn tortillas, and top with cilantro, diced onions, radishes…or any toppings you’d like! Serve with a few lime wedges. Enjoy!
- Chipotle peppers in adobo: These usually come in small 7 oz cans, and can be found in the Mexican and Latin good section of most grocery stores.
- Why sear the meat: Searing develops great flavors through caramelization and browning. It will make your barbacoa beef tacos taste amazing! Don’t skip this step. For proper searing, be sure to pat dry the meat throughly and then season it. Also, don’t overcrowd the pan when you sear it, otherwise it will steam instead. Sear the meat undisturbed for about 3-4 minutes per side or until a nice golden brown crust develops.
- Tortillas: I love using corn tortillas for this recipe. Make sure to warm them up before serving. To warm them up, you can microwave them (place a damp paper towel on top to create moisture). You can also warm them up over open flame if you have a gas stove.
- Storing: Refrigerate for up to 3 days in an airtight container.