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This easy recipe for Mexican Beef Barbacoa is full of authentic flavor and can be easily made in the oven, slow cooker, or an Instant Pot!

Bowl of shredded beef barbacoa

I’ve given this recipe as much authentic flavor as possible to bring you a full flavored Beef Barbacoa that rivals anything you’ll get in a restaurant. Your family will quickly fall in love with this easy recipe. Serve it up on tacos, or as a main dish with sides of rice and beans.

The sauce for this recipe uses dried guajillo and ancho peppers. These peppers are easily found in most supermarkets in the hispanic section. They can be intimidating to work with if you’ve never done it before, but they are actually super easy!

For this recipe, you’ll need to rehydrate your peppers. Simply place them into a bowl or jar and cover them with water. Let them soak for 1 to 4 hours (or overnight) before using in the recipe.

If you need to speed up the process of soaking your peppers, pour boiling water over them and let them sit for at least 30 minutes. The heat will help soften them faster.

Shredded beef barbacoa taco wrapped in a corn tortilla and topped with cilantro

You can make the sauce for this recipe in either a blender or a food processor. Water is needed to thin out the sauce enough to blend smoothly. Start with 1/4 cup of water and add more if you find it necessary to get it to blend (which depends on your blender). PRO TIP: You can use the water you soaked your peppers in for extra flavor.

Barbacoa was originally made using lamb, goat, or the head of a cow (beef cheeks). This same recipe will work with ANY of those items and the meat can easily be switched out without changing cooking times. I’ve used beef chuck roast in the photos and written recipe because it is most readily available to the majority of my audience.

This recipe includes instructions for a traditional braise in the oven, as well as instructions for the slow cooker and the Instant Pot. If you aren’t familiar with the Instant Pot yet, it’s a trendy kitchen gadget that is an electric pressure cooker. It can cook your roast to tender in just over 1 hour. Pretty impressive!

Watch the video below where I show you how to make this recipe in an Instant Pot, including some basic demonstration of how the pressure release valve works which can be helpful for first time Instant Pot users.

Bowl of shredded Mexican Beef Barbacoa
This easy recipe for Mexican Beef Barbacoa is full of authentic flavor and can be easily made in the oven, slow cooker, or Instant Pot!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
  • 1 3 to 5 lb beef chuck roast
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 2 dried guajillo peppers soaked stemmed and seeded
  • 2 dried ancho peppers soaked stemmed and seeded
  • 1 chipotle in adobo
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Place dried peppers into a bowl or jar and fill with water until covered. Soak 1 to 4 hours until softened.
  • Season chuck roast with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast iron pot over high heat. Add in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sear chuck roast on all sides. Once seared, remove pot from heat and set aside.
  • In a blender, add in guajillo peppers, ancho peppers, chipotle, garlic, cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt, oregano, cinnamon, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and water. Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary to thin it out enough to blend.
  • Pour sauce over chuck roast in the pan. Place the lid on and braise in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours, until meat is tender and easily shreds with a fork.
  • Shred and serve. Serving Suggestion: serve on a warmed corn tortilla with some red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno.
SLOW COOKER: Place seasoned chuck roast in a slow cooker. Make sauce according to directions and pour over meat. Cook on high 6 hours, or low 8 to 10 hours.
INSTANT POT: Use the sear setting to sear seasoned roast. Make sauce and pour over meat. Cook on the beef/stew setting for about 70 minutes.


Calories: 639kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 58g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 208mg | Sodium: 676mg | Potassium: 1009mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 80IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 6.5mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Beef Barbacoa
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May 24, 2018 2:56 am

Pretty good recipe! I used Mexican oregano instead of regular oregano – It’s much better. I soaked the peppers in hot water for about 20 minutes. I also added a few slices of onion to the top of the roast before starting the cooking process in my Instant Pot. If you’re using an Instant Pot, I recommend adding liquid to the sauce so it’s not pasty. I used the water I soaked the dried peppers in. I also added a few things to the meat after shredding – Smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, chipotle chili powder, salt, and Mexican… Read more »

Laurie Haan
January 14, 2020 4:53 am

Hi Rachael,
I’d like to make your barbacoa beef recipe. I’m not certain that I can find guajillo peppers. Could you please recommend a substitute?
Love your recipes.

August 27, 2020 5:52 pm
Reply to  Laurie Haan

I’ve found them at Walmart (:

Cathy Taylor
December 10, 2020 6:52 am
Reply to  Laurie Haan

I am in Arizona so it is probably easier. They are dried and in a bag. I haven’t found the Ancho chilis but leaving them out has not hurt the flavor.

Joan J
December 24, 2020 8:01 am

5 stars
Absolutely delicious! We served them on tortillas with fresh diced onion, avocado, and cilantro.

Cathy Taylor
December 10, 2020 6:48 am

5 stars
I do love your recipes and this one is top on my list right now. It is so flavorful and is worth all the time it takes. I make this one almost as much as the 30 Minute Tortilla Soup. Keep posting.

September 14, 2020 2:12 pm

5 stars
First time trying this recipe. It was so easy making the sauce. I didn’t find the Guajillo, so used dried New Mexico’s along with the ancho, and soaked in boiling hot water. Puréed all in the Vitamix and It was really thick so added more of the chili soak water to get it all. Baked in a cast iron pot in the oven, shut off and left it there for a couple more hours. OMG amazing flavor and tender!

Julie Parrish
July 27, 2020 5:27 am

5 stars
This is one of our favorite recipes! I love how easy it is (I make it in the crockpot), and we all love the taste! Thank you!

Joshua Knechtel
February 17, 2020 10:25 am

This is my go-to barbacoa recipe for both tacos and enchiladas. My family all cheer up and start salivating when I said I made barbacoa.

December 8, 2019 7:42 am

5 stars
This is a great recipe! Everyone seems to love it. Thank you!

Cathy Uresti
October 22, 2019 8:27 am

I made this over the weekend. I used beef cheeks instead of the roast. I ended up having to cook for about 6 hours in a 300 degree oven. But can I say, holy smokes!! BEST Barbacoa EVER!!!!! Served with Cilantro, lime wedges, homemade Pico de Gallo, green verde sauce and purple onions. Oh my, thank you thank you thank you! I have been trying to find a GOOD recipe for this for a long time. So worth the time, this will be made many more times, I am sure! I don’t have a picture but next time I make… Read more »

September 18, 2018 11:14 am

Ok, I’m doing this, lol…my question is that I have a small can of chipotles in adobo, do i use the whole can or just one? It’s a 7 oz can

September 3, 2018 7:00 am

5 stars
I loved this recipe. Is there one for Pork Roast, I love the Pork I get at Mexican Restaurants. It is so tender and so flavorful

July 10, 2018 1:12 pm

5 stars
I’m making it again and couldn’t find ancho peppers so I used fresh poblano peppers so far it’s smelling amazing. I’m in love with this recipe

June 22, 2018 2:35 pm

When it says one chipotle in adobo is that one pepper or one can? I imagine its only one pepper as one can seems like it would be like getting a blow torch in your mouth – those things are hot.!


September 17, 2018 8:16 pm
Reply to  Joel

5 stars
It’s only 1 pepper. Sometimes I use 2 to give it a little more kick.

June 11, 2018 4:03 pm

How spicy is this recipe? If it’s quite spicy, what do you recommend cutting out or down on to make it less so?

May 18, 2018 2:50 pm

4 stars
Can I use a prime rib roast for this recipe?

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