This Chipotle Barbacoa Beef is bursting with flavor. Seared beef cooks in a rich and smoky braising mixture until melt in your mouth fork tender. This Barbacoa Beef is always a crowd pleaser!
It’s no secret, everyone loves Chipotle Barbacoa. My oldest son loves it so much we found ourselves at the popular restaurant twice a week. He is a teenager and can eat like 4 grown men, so after a quick look at my monthly “eating out” budget, I realized I should figure out how to cook barbacoa beef at home.
That task was actually not hard; Chipotle restaurant is very transparent when it comes to their list of ingredients; not to mention you can find many copycat recipes online. After some testing and tweaking, we can now enjoy this slow cooked, rich, tender, full-flavored traditional Mexican shredded beef dish at home.
What is Barbacoa?
- Barbacoa is a form of cooking meat that originated in the Caribbean. This is where the term barbecue comes from. However, this barbacoa beef has very little to do with the traditional method of cooking meats or whole sheep in an open fire or in a hole dug in the ground. This barbacoa is beef cooked low and slow (braised meat) in a flavorful braising liquid. The flavors of the barbacoa meat are complex, smoky, rich and explode with flavor.
How To Make Beef Barbacoa
- Making the braising liquid is very easy. Cumin, oregano, cloves, garlic, chipotle chiles (I use canned chipotles in adobo sauce), fresh lime juice and apple cider vinegar get processed in a small food processor or blender. I usually remove the seeds from the chipotle peppers because I find that it takes away the harshness (super heat) of the chiles. However, if you like very spicy food you can omit this step.
- For this barbacoa recipe I use beef chuck roast that I cut into big chunks. Then, I sear the meat until golden brown. Don’t skip this step! The extra minutes spent on browning the meat will add depths of flavor impossible to achieve any other way. Browning/searing the meat creates a Maillard reaction that adds extra flavor to the dish.
- After browning the beef, add the braising liquid, broth and bay leaves and cook on the stove top or in the slow cooker.
We serve this chipotle barbacoa with cilantro rice and beans in a bowl or burrito style. We also love to make barbacoa tacos with corn tortillas and salads.
- Check out these recipes
Chile Colorado Beef Stew
Beer Braised Brisket with Vegetables
Slow Cooker Carnitas
Slow Cooker Mojo Pork
Beef Stew in Red Wine
- This barbacoa recipe is the perfect make ahead dish to feed a crowd! The flavors seem to improve with time, making this dish perfect for entertaining.
- I use a Dutch oven to cook the beef. There is one for every budget. Check both here and here and since I am a sucker for Dutch ovens, here’s a third option.
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Chipotle Barbacoa Beef (Mexican Shredded Beef)
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce plus 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 - 5 lbs chuck roast
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 3-4 bay leaves
To Make the Braising Liquid
- To a small food processor or blender, add the vinegar, lime juice, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt and cloves. Puree on high speed until smooth.
- Trim the extra fat from the meat and cut it into big chunks. Season the meat lightly with salt and pepper.
- In a large heavy bottom pot or a Dutch oven over medium high heat, heat up the oil. Add the meat in batches and sear until golden brown.
- Return all the meat to the pot and add the spicy braising mix over it. Add the broth and the bay leaves. Mix well to combine. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 1/4 hours or until the meat flakes easily; giving it a stir every 30 minutes during the cooking process.
- Turn off the heat and shred the meat with a couple of forks (it should be tender enough to flake easily).
- Before serving, let the shredded meat simmer over low heat for about 15 extra minutes.
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