Slow-Cooker Barbacoa

Total Time

Prep: 45 min. Cook: 7 hours


8 servings

Updated: Sep. 26, 2023
My husband adores this slow-cooker barbacoa simmered in lime juice, chipotle and cumin. He would eat it one a week if I would make it that often! We have it over rice with cilantro and a spritz of lime. —Aundrea McCormick, Denver, Colorado


  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 to 4 pounds)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • RICE:
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups uncooked jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Optional: sliced radishes, fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges


  1. Place the first 9 ingredients in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Add broth; pulse to combine.
  2. Place roast and bay leaves in a 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker; pour sauce over top. Cook, covered, on low until meat is tender, 7-9 hours.
  3. Prepare rice about 30 minutes before serving. In a large saucepan, combine water, rice, butter and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat; gently stir in cilantro and lime juice.
  4. Remove roast from slow cooker; cool slightly. Discard bay leaves and skim fat from cooking juices. Shred beef with 2 forks; return to slow cooker. Serve with rice and, if desired, radishes, cilantro and limes.
Slow-Cooker Barbacoa Tips

What does barbacoa mean?

Barbacoa is the Spanish word for "barbecue" and is traditionally prepared using beef, goat or lamb. It was originally a Mexican cooking style of slow-roasting meat seasoned with garlic, spices and chipotle peppers over an open fire. It has since evolved to be cooked in a pit covered with leaves.

What does barbacoa taste like?

Barbacoa is tender and juicy and has a good kick of spice. Ours uses chipotle peppers, while other recipes use various combinations of peppers, spices and other ingredients like garlic, oregano and lime juice.

What kind of meat is barbacoa?

Barbacoa is typically made with beef in the U.S., but lamb and goat are also commonly used in Mexico.

How do you serve slow-cooker barbacoa?

Our recipe serves barbacoa over rice, but you can use it in tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, or even as an add-on to nachos or a salad. We recommend serving the meat with toppings such as lime wedges, cilantro, guacamole or pico de gallo.

How do you store slow-cooker barbacoa?

This slow-cooker barbacoa recipe keeps well in the refrigerator. Cool the meat and cooking juices, and then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. If you still have leftovers, place cooled meat and cooking juices in freezer containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Alicia Rooker, RDN, Taste of Home Senior Recipe Editor/Tester, and Maggie Knoebel, Taste of Home Associate Recipe Editor/Tester

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup beef mixture with 2/3 cup cooked rice: 513 calories, 21g fat (9g saturated fat), 122mg cholesterol, 882mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 37g protein.