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Crockpot Chipotle Barbacoa (Mexican Shredded Beef) Tacos

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Easy crockpot chipotle barbacoa, or shredded beef tacos, are slow cooked with Mexican spices until tender & juicy, then topped with caramelized pineapple.

A round white plate with 3 corn tortillas that are filled with shredded beef, pineapple, pickled red onion and fresh cilantro. There's some fresh chopped cilantro on the plate and a wedge of lime. A small bowl of caramelized pineapples and another small bowl of pink pickled red onions are in the background.

Taco Tuesday just got better with easy crockpot barbacoa.  

Is it even really possible to make taco Tuesday better than it already is?? 

Well yeah, especially if you’re looking for something other than ground meat to put in your tacos ;).

Beef chuck roast is coated in a delicious Mexican spiced rub, pan seared, then placed in the crockpot along with onions, garlic, bell peppers, chipotle and beer.  It’s braised until perfectly fall-apart-tender.

What is Barbacoa made out of?

Traditional barbacoa in Mexico is made from goat, beef or sometimes lamb.  The term barbacoa refers to the method of slow cooking the meat, traditionally over an open fire, until tender and shredded.

This easy crockpot version of braised beef tacos is made with a hint of chipotle for a little smoky/spicy kick that’s topped with juicy caramelized pineapples.

a crockpot of Mexican shredded meat that’s juicy and flavorful. There’s peppers and onions and a bay leaf. A bunch of fresh cilantro and lime is next to the crockpot.
a while bowl full of tender shredded crockpot chipotle barbacoa taco meat. It’s got chopped red bell peppers and onions mixed it. It’s slightly browned and very tender.

To make easy crockpot chipotle barbacoa tacos:

  1. Rub your chuck roast with a blend of Mexican seasonings until well coated.  Cut into 3” chunks.
  2. Heat oil over medium high heat and sear the beef until browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Place in the bottom of your crockpot.
  3. Add garlic, chipotle, onions, and bell peppers.  Then add in beer and squeeze of lime juice.
  4. Cook low and slow for 8 hours or until beef is falling apart easily.  Shred with fork and serve on tacos.
3 corn tortillas on a plate filled with crockpot chipotle barbacoa beef and topped with pink pickled red onions, fresh cilantro and caramelized pineapple.

I love topping these tacos with caramelized pineapples because it gives a sweet, juicy flavor that balances well with the chipotle and spices.

To make the caramelized pineapples:

While the meat is cooking, heat butter in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Then add the pineapple pieces, brown sugar and salt.  Cook until slightly browned, about 20 minutes.

The caramelized pineapple can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator.  You can serve them cold, room temperature or slightly warmed in the microwave.

A white bowl of pineapple chunks that have been caramelized with brown sugar until golden.

Other toppings for barbacoa tacos:

  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Easy Pickled red onions (recipe from Girl with the Iron Cast)
  • Sour Cream (or Greek yogurt)
  • Shredded Mexican Cheese

What to serve with shredded beef tacos?

I like using corn tortillas for my shredded beef tacos, however you can use flour tortillas or even the hard corn shells for your tacos. 

Browning the tortillas before using them also enhances their flavor making your tacos even tastier (see recipe notes).

An overhead shot of a plate with 3 barbacoa tacos. They're topped with pickled red onions, pineapple and fresh cilantro. A wedge of lime is served next to the tacos and there are two small bowls, one with pickled red onions and the other with caramelized pineapple pieces. Corn tortillas are stacked in the background and a bunch of fresh cilantro.

Aside from being perfect for your Taco Tuesday night, crockpot barbacoa beef (or even leftover shredded meat) can be used in a variety of dishes:

  • Beef nachos
  • Burrito bowls
  • Quesadillas
  • Enchiladas

For some more delicious Mexican Recipes try:

Mexican cauliflower rice bowls
Mexican chicken foil packets
Cheesy Mexican cauliflower rice casserole

Crockpot Chipotle Barbacoa (Mexican Shredded Beef) Tacos

Easy crockpot chipotle barbacoa, or shredded beef tacos, are slow cooked with Mexican spices until tender & juicy, then topped with caramelized pineapple.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword barbacoa, mexicanbeef, tacos
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 25 minutes
Author Wine a Little Cook A Lot

Ingredients

Crockpot Barbacoa

  • 1.5-2 lbs Beef Chuck Roast
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Coffee
  • 2 tsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion diced
  • 1 Bell Pepper diced
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Chipotle pepper in sauce, finely chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 4 oz. Beer
  • Juice of 1 Lime plus more for serving
  • 10-12 Corn Tortillas
  • Fresh Chopped cilantro for serving
  • Pickled Red Onions optional (see recipe notes)
  • Sour cream for serving (or Greek Yogurt)

Caramelized Pineapple

  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 3 cups of pineapple cut into ½” chunks
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt

Instructions

Crockpot Barbacoa

  • Combine chili powder, coffee grounds, cocoa powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Rub on all sides of the beef using your hands to massage it in.
  • Heat olive oil over medium high heat in large skillet or cast iron pan. Once hot, add the meat and sear on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place in bottom of your slow cooker along with the sliced onions, peppers, bay leaf, chipotle and garlic.
  • Add beer and lime juice giving the mixture a quick stir.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours until meat is easily falling apart. Once done, shred meat using two forks.
  • Serve on corn tortillas with fresh cilantro, lime, pickled red onions (if using), caramelized pineapple and sour cream.

Caramelized Pineapple

  • Heat butter over medium heat in large sauté pan. Add pineapple, brown sugar and pinch of salt.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally until the pineapple starts turning a golden brown color, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

Notes

I like to pan fry my corn tortillas by spraying a nonstick pan with cooking spray and heating over medium-high heat. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until they start to brown.
The corn tortillas tend to be thin, so I like to double up (two per taco) so it doesn’t fall apart!
If you want to use pickled red onions, click here for the recipe. They should be made a day ahead (if using) and will keep in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


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