Slow Cooker Barbacoa


I absolutely love Chipotle’s barbacoa, but I always thought it could be better. I’ve made a few copycat barbacoa recipes before, but they were just always off, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The meat may be tender, but the seasonings are way off. So a few weeks ago I went on the hunt for a more traditional Mexican barbacoa recipe that was more full of flavor.

It just took a call to a friend, who called another friend that was able to share this recipe with me. Usually traditional barbacoa is made with goat or lamb, and then cooked in the ground in maguey leaves. However, there’s many interpretations of what traditional barbacoa actually is. But there’s one thing that all barbacoa has in common – it’s incredibly tender, moist and full of flavor.

slow cooker tacos

This recipe is a simple barbacoa that you can make in your slow cooker. It’s packed full of flavor, but not heat. My young son loved this barbacoa and didn’t think it was hot at all. That’s because even though this recipe is made with lots of chili peppers, those chili peppers are pretty mild, and you take out most of the heat by not using the seeds of the peppers.

To start this recipe, you make an adobo, which is a mixture of dried chili peppers, onion, garlic and spices. First you remove the stems and seeds from a few chili peppers, and then boil them until they are softened. Next you take the peppers, some of their liquid and the rest of the ingredients and add them to a blender. Then just strain those ingredients to make the adobo.

Then just add the adobo to the slow cooker with a chuck roast and place a bay leaf on top. That’s it. Then just cook until the beef is fall apart tender. I put in the directions 8 – 10 hours, but for my slow cooker, I always put it on the night before and let it cook on low all the next day, just to make sure it’s extra tender.

barbados grey background

If after you taste the adobo, and it seems to be too hot, just add less of the adobo to the meat. I started out the first time I made this recipe by only adding some of the adobo, but then after I tasted the meat after it had cooked, I realized the beef needed all the sauce.

recipe photo

Yield: Serves 4

Slow Cooker Barbacoa

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For the barbacoa:

  • 6 dried Guajillo chili peppers
  • 3 dried Ancho chili peppers
  • 1 cup, or more of water
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2  medium onion
  • 2 - 3 lb chuck roast
  • 1 bay leaf

To serve

  • corn tortillas
  • diced tomatoes
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • diced onion
  • avocado
  • fresh lime slices
  • mild salsa verde



Remove stems and seeds from dried chili peppers. Place chili peppers in a small saucepan and add water. Add more water to cover if necessary. Bring chili peppers to a boil and simmer until softened, about 10 - 15 minutes.

Add chili peppers, about a 1 cup of their water, cloves, peppercorns, cumin, garlic and onion to blender. Blend on high until well blended. Use a strainer to remove any fibrous pulp or seeds.

Rub adobo all over chuck roast and place in slow cooker. Place bay leaf on top and cover. Set slow cooker to low and cook for 8 - 10 hours, or longer. Meat should be buttery tender and pul easily when cooked though.

To serve, heat corn tortillas in skillet or microwave. Place barbacoa on tortillas topped with diced tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro, diced onion, sliced avocado and mild salsa verde. Serve with fresh lime slices and enjoy!

All text and images © / Eclectic Recipes
*Nutritional Information is not guaranteed for 100% accuracy.

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