Crock Pot Beef Barbacoa

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Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
5 hrs
Total Time
5 hrs 15 mins

Hearty beef brisket is cooked low and slow with spicy chipotle peppers, zesty lime juice, fresh garlic and more – it’s Crock Pot Beef Barbacoa! This classic Mexican-style recipe makes the most mouthwatering shredded meat for your tacos, nachos and enchiladas.

Fall-Apart Tender Chipotle Barbacoa

Sometimes I consider committing to a vegetarian lifestyle, but then I remember this beef barbacoa and realize I wouldn’t last a week. The meat is so unbelievably tender, it nearly melts in your mouth! The juicy, spicy, citrusy, herby goodness will keep you coming back for more until you’re stuffed and satisfied.

Whether you fold your beef into a cheesy quesadilla or serve it over a steaming plate of rice, it’s guaranteed to be a winner! And the preparation is easy as can be. You simply blend up the chipotle sauce, throw it into the Crock Pot with your brisket, let the slow cooker work its miracles, then shred up the saucy beef with a couple of forks.

What is Beef Barbacoa?

Barbacoa is a Mexican dish of steam-cooked meat that’s slowly tenderized and shredded. It typically features either pork, lamb, or in this case, beef. Barbacoa is known to be not only exceptionally tender, but also loaded with flavor from an array of authentic seasonings. This easy chipotle version is no exception!

A fork holding a bite of shredded beef brisket over a plate piled with more shredded beef

The Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you’ll need to make the most drool-worthy beef barbacoa. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card where the amounts are specified.

  • Chipotle Peppers: From a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce.
  • Adobo Sauce: From the chipotle pepper can.
  • Fresh Chopped Cilantro
  • Red Onion: Peeled and cut into large chunks.
  • Head of Garlic: Peeled and cloves smashed.
  • Dry Bay Leaves
  • Ground Cloves
  • Kosher Salt
  • Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed from about 4 limes.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This highly nutritious vinegar adds great flavor to the beef.
  • Beef Brisket
  • Chicken Stock
A bowl full of slow cooker barbacoa beef brisket on top of a wicker placemat

How to Make Crock Pot Beef Barbacoa

Preparing a meal on a busy weeknight is easier than ever thanks to this hearty chipotle barbacoa. Here’s how to make it happen:

  1. Combine Flavorings: Lightly blend together the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, cilantro, red onion, garlic, ground clove, sea salt, lime juice and vinegar.
  2. Add to Crock Pot: Pour the chipotle sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Top with Brisket: Place the brisket on top of the sauce.
  4. Add Chicken Stock & Bay Leaves: Pour in the chicken stock to cover the meat, then place the dry bay leaves on top.
  5. Combine: Use tongs to move the meat around gently to combine everything. Put the lid on the Crock Pot.
  6. Cook & Shred: Cook the brisket on HIGH for 5-5 1/2 hours. Once it’s done cooking, use two forks to shred the beef.
  7. Serve & Enjoy: Place the shredded beef into a large bowl and ladle the cooking liquid overtop a few scoops at a time. You want the meat to hold the liquid but not swim in it.
A plate of slow cooker chipotle barbacoa topped with fresh chopped herbs

Tips for Success

Take advantage of these helpful hints to make this recipe even more of a breeze. Perfect beef barbacoa coming right up!

  • Get the Most Out of Your Limes: Before you squeeze your limes, pop them into the microwave for 20-30 seconds. This will help them release as much juice as possible. If you don’t have a citrus reamer or a juicer, you can twist the prongs of a fork into the open end of each lime half instead.
  • Sensitive to Spiciness? If you prefer your barbacoa on the milder side, feel free to use fewer chipotle peppers. In fact, any of the flavorings can be adjusted to suit your tastes.
  • How Do I Know When My Beef is Done? By the time your brisket is done cooking, it will require very little effort to shred. If you’re having trouble, pop it back into the Crock Pot and cook it for a little longer.

Serving Suggestions

There are endless ways to use your barbacoa. I dare you to look over these ideas without drooling!

A close-up shot of Crock Pot chipotle beef barbacoa in a bowl with a fork in the foreground

Storing and Reheating Extras

If you happen to have leftovers, place the cooled beef barbacoa into an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 5 days. I usually reheat my beef on low in the Crock Pot. You could also warm it up over a stove burner set to medium-low heat.

Is Barbacoa Freezer Friendly?

It is! Place the cooled barbacoa into a heavy-duty storage bag along with the cooking liquid. Squeeze all of the air out of the bag, seal it, then freeze your beef for up to 3 months. Thaw it out in the fridge before you reheat it.

Crock Pot chipotle beef barbacoa inside of a bowl with a stack of tortillas on a plate behind it

Crock Pot Chipotle Beef Barbacoa

  • Author: Krista
  • prep_time Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • cook_time Cook Time: 5 hours
  • total_time Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
  • yield Yield: 5
  • category Category: Dinner
  • method Method: Crock Pot
  • cuisine Cuisine: Mexican


Hearty beef brisket is cooked low and slow with spicy chipotle peppers, zesty lime juice, fresh garlic and more – it’s Crock Pot Beef Barbacoa! This classic Mexican-style recipe makes the most mouthwatering shredded meat for your tacos, nachos and enchiladas.



  • 4 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce)
  • 2 tablespoon of adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and cloves smashed
  • 5 dry bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 5 pounds beef brisket
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock


  1. Lightly blend together chipotle peppers from a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, adobe sauce, cilantro, red onion, garlic, ground clove, sea salt, lime juice, and cider vinegar.
  2. Pour mixture on the bottom of slow cooker. Place the brisket on top of this mixture.
  3. Add stock to cover the meat and place bay leaves on top. Use tongs to move the meat around gently to combine everything. Put the lid on.
  4. Cook on HIGH 5 -5.5 hours. Use two forks to shred.
  5. Place shredded beef in large bowl and ladle cooking liquid over the top a few scoops at a time. You want the meat to hold the liquid but not swim in it.


  • Makes 5 cups of shredded meat.
  • Recipe from The Kitchn.
  • To Store & Reheat: Place cooled beef into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat on low in the Crock Pot or over a stove burner set to medium-low heat.
  • To Freeze: Place cooled barbacoa into a heavy-duty storage bag along with cooking liquid. Squeeze all air out of bag, seal it, then freeze beef for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.

Keywords: crock pot brisket, barbacoa chipotle, beef brisket slow cooker

More Slow Cooker Beef Recipes

Loving this slow-cooked masterpiece? Try these Crock Pot beef recipes next.

Hey There

Hi! I'm the recipe developer and food photographer behind all these easy healthy recipes! I love food, Jesus, morning lattes, and am obsessed with fantasy football!

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46 Responses
  1. Best Paleo Diet

    I was going to say I always make my very similar recipe in the pressure cooker. I was under the impression that pressure cookers can bring out the malliard effect in meas because of the temperature that it reaches. So i’d be curious to try it with the seared ox tail with chuck in the pressure cooker.

    1. Krista

      Very interesting! I know a few of the readers who have tried this in a pressure cooker with much success. Hope your version turns out!

  2. Andi @ The Weary Chef

    I am so sad for you about your migraines! That is so miserable and unfair 🙁 I hope you are feeling completely better now.

    I AM all about the beef, so this looks amazing to me. I’ve been to Chipotle a few times recently and wasn’t sure what the barbacoa was. Now I know, but now I’ll be making it at home instead of getting it there! This made an appearance in my crockpot roundup today, and I’ll be pinning it all over town too 😉

    1. Krista

      Thanks Andi! I am feeling much better, it finally went away. Praise the Lord!

      So glad you liked the recipe girl, and thanks for the feature in your roundup. So honored! Thanks for the social media love too, you basically are a rock star! 🙂

  3. Anetta @ The Wanderlust Kitchen

    Love this! Stopping by from Marvelous Mondays. So happy to have found your blog! Following you on Pinterest 🙂

  4. Diane Balch

    I am so impressed that you were able to pull such a wonderful meal together with your head pounding. Hope you are better soon. Thank you for posting this to foodie friday.

    1. Krista

      oh… thanks Diane! It was tough, but someone has to make the meal or we’d all starve around here, haha. So glad that I just had to throw it in and then the crock pot did the rest of the work. 🙂 Win!

    1. Krista

      haha…. sounds like I’m on a role today girl and your sailor man is going to be one happy camper when he comes back in from the ocean.

  5. Sarah@WholeandHeavenlyOven

    This beef looks so fall-apart tender! I love love slow-cooked beef so this recipe is kind of perfect for me! pinned. 🙂

    1. Krista

      Awesome Sarah, slow cooker beef is one of my favorites too! Love how tender it gets and the flavored juices from all day cooking.

  6. Julie @ This Gal Cooks

    I want to eat all of these and darn, those photos are beautiful! Pinning and sharing this on social media. Hope you have a good weekend, Krista! 🙂

  7. Kelly

    This looks incredible Krista! Love how you made it in a slow cooker – the meat looks so tender and flavorful and the adobe chipotle peppers sound awesome! Hope you feel better soon, migraines are no fun 🙁

  8. Gloria // Simply Gloria

    Krista, I have to say, you photograph meat really well! You make this and all of your other dishes absolutely mouth watering when I’m over here. I love the ingredients you put in this beef… see, making me drool!

  9. Trish - Mom On Timeout

    I’m so sorry you haven’t been feeling well Krista 🙁 I hope you feel better soon! This barbacoa looks ah-mazing! Seriously. AH-MAZING. Can’t wait to give it a try! Pinned!

    1. Krista

      Thanks Trish, the migraine finally went away. Praise the Lord, now just hoping it doesn’t come back. #fingerscrossed.

      Hope you get a chance to try it girl, I know without a doubt you will love it and think its ah-mazing!

  10. Jenn @ Deliciously Sprinkled

    Krista, this looks so delicious! I am adding this to my meal planner for next week, my husband is going to love it too! Thanks for sharing another great recipe, pinned 🙂

    P.S. I hope you feel better soon!

    1. Krista

      Awesome Jenn, so glad to hear it! 🙂 He will totally love it, can’t wait to hear what you think too! Thanks for the pin and well wishes girl. My migraine FINALLY went away.. yeah!!!

  11. Renee@Two in the Kitchen

    Wow! We normally only make meals like this on the weekend because of the time intensity of making the meat so tender. But made in a crockpot?? Now you’re talking! I love how flavorful and tender the meat looks! I would love to come home from work with this in my crockpot knowing that dinner will soon be served!! 🙂

  12. Amy | Club Narwhal

    Krista, this looks out of control good–and it’s made in a crock pot. Win win! I’ve always been nervous to cook with brisket but I bet slow cooking it makes it so, so delicious 🙂

    1. Krista

      I was nervous about brisket too, I’ve heard either hours in the oven or on the grill. Neither of which I have time to hoover over, but throw it in a crock pot and forget about it. That I do have time for. 🙂 Hope you enjoy it girl!

  13. Jelli

    I adore Chipotle and sadly the closest I can get here in Costa Rica is Moe’s and even that’s about 30 minutes away. Sadly, my Crockpot broke last month, or I’d be all over this. It looks so delicious that I’ll probably try it in a pressure cooker.

    1. Krista

      oH… yeah pressure cooker would totally work and break through the toughness of brisket. Major bummer on the slow cooker thing, definitely have to get a new one soon. 🙂

      1. Jelli

        Krista, we made this last night in the pressure cooker and it was delicious. My husband’s not fond of spicy, but even he enjoyed it since I mildly cut down on the chilis. My toddler eats spicier food than he, and she liked it too! Thank you.

        1. Krista

          Awesome!!! How long did you end up cooking it for in the pressure cooker? Sounds like I need to get one!

          Too funny that your toddler likes spicier food than your husband…haha!!! So glad you enjoyed it girl, enjoy the left overs. 🙂 Thats my favorite part!

  14. Erlene

    Yum this looks delicious. Pinned to my crock pot board. I’m the new weekly co-host at Let’s Get Real Blog Hop and would love for you to come and linkup tomorrow at 5PM EST.

  15. Chris @ Shared Appetite

    I totally want to dive head first into that bowl! This NEEDS to happen immediately in our house! Such a great looking recipe Krista! And sorry to hear about the migraines… hope they get better!

    1. Krista

      haha… might be a little messy but the messy things are always way worth it in the end. 🙂 Go getcha those ingredients and have at it, you and your wife will love it!

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