This Barbacoa Tacos recipe first appeared on Savory Experiments where I am a contributor.
Savory, juicy Barbacoa Tacos topped simply with fresh cilantro and crunchy radishes. The beef cooks all day in the slow cooker for the perfect bite!
I order barbacoa tacos every time I go out for Mexican! When I recreated my favorite taco at home, I just knew I had to share it with you.
Barbacoa Taco Recipe
What’s makes a great taco? Depending on who you ask, you will get a variety of answers. However, I think the most important part of tacos is the meat. And more importantly, the flavors of the meat.
This recipe really allows the Barbacoa to shine and be the star of the dish!
Get ready for a crave-worthy dinner because this flavorful meat is perfectly seasoned and cooked low and slow until perfectly tender.
It’s a taco night you won’t want to miss!
Barbacoa Taco Ingredients
Beef: for this recipe, I used chuck roast but if you have trouble finding it, you can use top chuck or chuck shoulder.
Pro tip: don’t forget to trim the fat before cooking and cut into chunks!
Peppers and onions: chipotle peppers in adobo, green chiles, and a white onion.
Substitutions: if you can’t find chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you can simply use a few splashes of tabasco chipotle hot sauce or a combination of chipotle powder and paprika. I would still add a diced chipotle pepper if you can find one!
Spices: you’ll need a small handful of spices from your spice cabinet like cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, ground cloves, bay leaves, and garlic cloves.
*You can find the full list of ingredients and measurements at the bottom of this post*
Barbacoa Taco Topping Ingredients
Fresh cilantro: I love topping my tacos with cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro you can substitute with parsley.
Thinly sliced radishes: the radishes add a great pop of color along with a great fresh crunch to the dish!
Jalapeños: top these tacos off with the perfect kick. If you want to tone down the heat, just remove the seeds.
Lime wedges: Add a splash of zest to your tacos by squeezing some fresh lime on top for this finishing touch.
Of course, you can top your tacos with whatever your heart desires! These are just some ideas.
How to Make Homemade Barbacoa Tacos
1. Prep the beef. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat with a splash of avocado oil and sear the beef for 3-4 minutes on each side.
2. Cook the beef. Place the beef in the slow cooker with the chipotle peppers, diced green chiles, diced onion, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, ground cloves, dried oregano, bone broth, bay leaves, and smashed garlic cloves. Cook on low for 7-8 hours until the beef falls apart.
3. Toast the tortillas. Preheat the broiler and arrange tortillas on a baking sheet. Broil them for 2-3 minutes (keep a close eye on them!) until they begin to toast.
4. Make the tacos! When the beef is ready, transfer it to a serving bowl and shred with two forks. To make the tacos, layer the beef, cilantro, radishes, and jalapeños on each tortilla. Squeeze lime juice over each taco and serve!
What is Barbacoa?
Barbacoa is beef. In northern parts of Mexico it could be made with goat or lamb that is slowly cooked with seasonings and shredded for filling in tacos.
How to Cook Barbacoa?
The key to cooking barbacoa meat is to slow cook it! Season your meat with salt and pepper and brown in a skillet. Once you have browned the meat, transfer the beef to your slow cooker.
Follow the recipe below and you will have the best homemade barbacoa ever!
Questions You May Have
What are the best taco toppings?
The only taco topping you will ever need is: guac…just kidding! I LOVE guacamole, however, there are tons of great taco toppings like:
- Tomatoes or pico di gallo
- Sour cream
Pro tip: Squeeze lime on top for a hint of citrus or add some fresh Mango Salsa to your tacos.
What are barbacoa tacos made of?
Barbacoa, is traditionally made from the meat of a cow’s head because it’s cheap yet rich in flavor. In Mexico you will customarily find it served at weekend breakfasts.
Did you know: the cheek of the cattle is loaded with collagen! The slow-roasting enhances its savory flavor and silky texture.
What is a street taco?
Mexican street tacos are smaller tacos served on corn tortillas. They are small/smaller in size to make it easier for a “street traveler” to grab and go or walk and eat.
Did you know: tacos are served on two corn tortilla’s so they don’t rip or tear and you pile them high with all the good stuff!
What’s the difference between barbacoa and carnitas?
Barbacoa is beef, goat, or lamb. The meat is slow-cooked until tender and shredded.
Carnitas is strictly pork. While it also gets slow-cooked, at the end of the cooking, large chunks of it get browned in a skillet to give it that crispy texture. If you’re looking for a really good carnitas recipe, try these Crispy Crockpot Carnitas!
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Beef Barbacoa Tacos
- Cast iron skillet
- 3-4 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 6-8 chunks & fat trimmed
- 3 chipotle peppers, from a can of chipotle in adobo
- 4 ounces diced green chiles
- 1 large white onion
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 limes, juice
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 cup beef bone broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 garlic cloves, smashed
- avocado oil, for cooking
- fresh cilantro
- thinly sliced radishes
- sliced jalapeños
- lime wedges
- Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat with a splash of avocado oil and sear the beef for 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Place the beef in the slow cooker with the chipotle peppers, diced green chiles, diced onion, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, ground cloves, dried oregano, bone broth, bay leaves, and smashed garlic cloves. Cook on low for 7-8 hours until the beef falls apart.
- Just before the beef is ready, preheat the broiler and arrange tortillas on a baking sheet. Broil them for 2-3 minutes (keep a close eye on them!) until they begin to toast.
- When the beef is ready, transfer it to a serving bowl and shred with two forks. To make the tacos, layer the beef, cilantro, radishes, and jalapeños on each tortilla. Squeeze lime juice over each taco and serve!