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Chipotle Barbacoa

If you love tacos and burritos from Chipotle, you have to try this simple and delicious copycat Chipotle Barbacoa. Made in the slow cooker, this recipe is perfect for tacos, nachos, burritos and so much more.

Overhead view of chipotle barbacoa in a blue and white bowl, toped with red onions, cilantro and lime wedges

INTRO

Close up of chipotle barbacoa tacos in flour tortillas, topped with cheese and sliced avocado, on a wooden board

COPYCAT CHIPOTLE BARBACOA

You guys know that I love a good copycat recipe. 

Whether it’s a homemade version of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana, the Stoli Doli from The Capital Grille, or J. Alexander’s Carrot Cake, I like being able to hack a restaurant recipe to enjoy at home. 

Tongs turning seared beef in a dutch oven to make chipotle barbacoa

Just like my other copycat recipes, this Chipotle Barbacoa recipe does not disappoint. It’s just as good as the original!

Not to mention, you can make 8 servings of this barbacoa for less than it would cost to feed a family of 4 at Chipotle. 

Bowl pouring chipotle sauce over seared beef in a slow cooker

IS CHIPOTLE BARBACOA SPICY?

My brother introduced me to this recipe years ago and it’s been a family favorite since then. I like to keep a can of chipotles in adobo in the pantry just in case a craving strikes!

My side of the family likes heat, and a lot of it. Basically, if there are not little beads of sweat gathering on our faces, it’s just not hot enough.

Fork holding a bite of chipotle barbacoa with a bowl of barbacoa in the background

However, I also have to feed Eric, and he’s definitely not a huge fan of spice, so I love that I can control the level of heat in this recipe by simply adjusting the number of chipotle peppers I include. 

Since the rest of the ingredients add lots of flavor but no heat, adding more (or less) chipotle peppers is an easy way to make this barbacoa mild or spicy. 

And if you’re like me and have a family member who can’t handle the heat like you can, I suggest keeping a bottle of hot sauce nearby to kick things up a notch.

Overhead view of three chipotle barbacoa tacos in flour tortillas lined up on a wooden cutting board

HOW TO MAKE CHIPOTLE BARBACOA

This Chipotle Barbacoa is made in the slow cooker, which takes a lot of effort out of this recipe. It’s made in 3 main steps:

  • Prep and sear the beef
  • Blend the sauce and slow cook  with the beef for 6 hours
  • Shred the barbacoa

I know, I know. Searing the beef means you have to wash an extra pan.

Close up of Chipotle barbacoa in a blue and white bowl topped with lime wedges, red onion and cilantro

But trust me on this – it is worth it. Taking the time to sear the beef adds so much extra flavor to the final barbacoa! 

Blending the sauce might also feel like an unnecessary step, but you really want the sauce to be nice and smooth so you don’t end up with any chunks of chipotle pepper. 

Once the meat is cooked, all you have to do is shred it up and toss it with the sauce before serving! 

Three Chipotle barbacoa tacos on a wooden platter, topped with cheese and sliced avocado

HOW TO SERVE BARBACOA

Whether you’re in the mood for tacos, burritos or a huge plate of nachos to nosh on while you binge Netflix, this incredibly flavorful and smoky beef is a must. 

It’s even great shredded over a pile of boring white rice. Versatility, guys – there’s nothing better than versatility.

So grab some cilantro lime rice, tortillas or tortilla chips and your favorite toppings and dig in! 

Chipotle barbacoa in a blue and white bowl topped with red onions, cilantro and lime wedges
Chipotle barbacoa in a blue and white bowl topped with red onions, cilantro and lime wedges

Chipotle Style Barbacoa

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes

If you love Chipotle’s barbacoa, you have to try this simple and delicious slow cooker recipe. It’s perfect for tacos, nachos, burritos and so much more.

Ingredients

  • 4 pound chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3-4 chipotle chiles in adobo (add more if you want more heat)
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Trim most of the fat from the chuck roast. Cut the roast into 6-8 large pieces, pat dry with paper towels and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add in two tablespoons of vegetable to coat the bottom of the pan. Allow the oil to heat the pan for a few seconds.
  3. Use tongs to gently place the pieces of chuck roast into the skillet leaving a couple of inches between each piece of meat. The meat will sizzle and stick to the bottom of the pan - this is a good thing. Once the meat is seared on the first side, it will release from the pan with ease.
  4. Repeat the process to sear all sides of the meat.
  5. Remove the seared meat from the pan and place into a slow cooker set to high heat.
  6. In a blender, add apple cider vinegar, garlic, cumin, oregano, cloves, black pepper, kosher salt, chicken stock, lime juice and chipotle chiles. Blend the sauce on medium speed until smooth. Pour the sauce over the seared meat and stir to coat. Add in bay leaves and cover.
  7. Cook on high heat for 6 hours (or low for 10).
  8. Shred beef, return the beef to sauce, stir to coat and serve.
Nutrition Information
Yield 8
Amount Per Serving Calories 594Total Fat 39gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 2gUnsaturated Fat 21gCholesterol 189mgSodium 474mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 57g

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on social! I want to see what you made! @jamiemba

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Bill in StL

Thursday 18th of June 2020

This looks like a great recipe Jamie ... definitely going to give it a try.  A couple of questions: 1)  Like Eric, I like some heat but not tons ... so I'm trying to get a feel for how spicy / hot the 3-4 peppers is in the base recipe. 2)  Have you (or heard from anyone else who has) ever made this using a pressure cooker?  Trying to see if doing that to shorten the cook time would work OK.

Jamie

Saturday 27th of June 2020

Hello! I would definitely start with 3 at the most to see how you like it. You could always add more the next time! I have not tried this recipe in the pressure cooker yet, but I think it would work fine. If you happen to try it, I'd love to know how it turned out. Happy baking! Jamie

Tanvel

Saturday 3rd of September 2016

have a killer recipe for a marinated pork shoulder in a special chile sauce. Don't have video so can't show my dish. I like your recipe, but prefer it with pork

Jamie

Sunday 4th of September 2016

It's really delicious with pork too! Thanks so much for stopping by! -Jamie

Michelle

Sunday 6th of March 2016

This is hands down the most amazing shredded meat my family has ever tasted! It is so incredibly delicious, and I will actually go into the refrigerator and pluck some from the container to snack on cold- it is that good. Thank you so much for an amazing recipe! ♥

Jamie

Monday 7th of March 2016

Hi, Michelle! You are welcome! I'm glad your family enjoyed it!

Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures

Monday 27th of April 2015

Delicious! I always order barbacoa tacos at Mexican restaurants and now I can make it at home!

Jamie

Tuesday 28th of April 2015

Laura- I hope you get the chance to try it. Thanks for stopping by.

-Jamie

Liz @ Floating Kitchen

Saturday 25th of April 2015

This look delicious! No spring weather here for me either. It was nice last week and I was so hopefully, but now we are back down in the trenches of cold, rainy and even a few flurries - eeeeekkkk! I need some comfort food real bad!

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