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Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe

Chipotle's barbacoa? Yes, please!

Chipotle's barbacoa? Yes, please!

What is beef barbacoa?

Beef barbacoa is a traditional Mexican dish made by slow-cooking beef (usually beef cheek or shoulder) until it is tender and flavorful. At Chipotle, the beef barbacoa is made using responsibly raised, antibiotic-free beef and is considered a premium protein option.

The meat is typically seasoned with chili peppers, cumin, garlic, and other spices, and is served in tacos, burritos, or as a main course with accompaniments like rice, beans, and tortillas.

If you're a big fan of Chipotle's beef barbacoa, you'll love this recipe. It tastes just like the barbacoa at Chipotle and is really easy to prepare. This version contains slightly less fat than the version served up at the restaurant but is definitely just as delicious.

The step-by-step instructions given below have a very short prep time, but the meat does take about six hours to cook (most of the cook time is just low simmering.)

This is a perfect recipe for a slow cooker, which can be started up around noon and will be ready at dinner time. You can use the barbacoa to make your own burritos, tacos, taco salad, or anything else you can dream up.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

6 hours

6 hours 20 min

Serves 10 people 1/2 pound of barbacoa


  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 pounds beef roast
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 bay leaves

Step 1: Cut the beef into smaller portions (four pieces.) In a large Dutch oven, add the vegetable oil and lightly brown each side of the beef portions.

Step 2
: In a blender, add lime juice, chipotle peppers, apple cider vinegar, garlic (I used canned minced garlic), cumin, salt, oregano, black pepper, chicken broth, and ground clove and blend until smooth.

Step 3: Pour blended mixture over the beef portions and add bay leaves.

Step 4: Cover and simmer for 6 hours. Flip the meat every hour in order to cook evenly. The barbacoa is finished when you can easily pull apart the meat. If the meat is too hard to shred, it needs to simmer longer.

Step 5: Using a fork, pull apart the meat into shreds. You should also fish out the three bay leaves. Do not strain (the sauce is just too yummy to discard.) This recipe serves 10 people 1/2 pound of barbacoa each.

Mmm homemade beef barbacoa

Mmm homemade beef barbacoa

Ways to Enjoy Barbacoa

To make Chipotle-style burritos, use large flour tortillas and add rice, beans (or refried beans), barbacoa, salsa (or pico de gallo), cheese, lettuce, sour cream and be sure to load up on the guacamole! Tortilla chips make a great side to a burrito. You can add the beef barbacoa to tacos or even enjoy as a topping for taco salad.

If you're more of a taco person (like me), then go for the smaller tortillas and throw in your favorite toppings. Corn salsa, anyone?

To make a taco salad with the barbacoa, just create an open-faced burrito: toss all your favorite toppings on a pile of tortilla chips and enjoy!

This makes amazing leftovers, so you'll definitely want to save it. Store extra barbacoa in a plastic container and put it in the refrigerator. You can reheat it on the stove or on half-heat in the microwave.