Barbacoa Tacos

5 from 2 votes

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These barbacoa tacos are loaded with tender, seasoned shredded beef and your favorite toppings for a juicy and delicious weeknight meal! The flavor of the meat is savory and melts in your mouth after slow cooking in the crockpot for hours.

Making barbacoa tacos at home can seem daunting at first, but they are actually so simple and easy to make! Just throw your chuck roast in the crockpot with some spices, broth, tomato sauce, and lime juice and cook it low and slow. By the time dinner comes around, your barbacoa meat will shred beautifully and give your tacos a juicy, savory taste. Stuff the shredded meat into your favorite tortillas and top it with onions, cilantro, and avocado to create a meal that even your pickiest eaters will rave about!

barbacoa tacos on a plate
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Ingredient Notes

  • Chuck Roast—Trim off any excess fat.
  • Beef Broth—To help keep the roast juicy and full of moisture.
  • Tomato Sauce—Adds a great texture and thickness to the shredded beef. 
  • Lime Juice—Bottled or freshly squeezed will both add a tang to the recipe. 
  • Fresh Garlic—Minced.
  • Dried Spices—A simple blend of chili powder, cumin, and onion powder.

How to Pick Out the Best Cut of Beef for Barbacoa Tacos

When choosing your beef for barbacoa tacos, you want to make sure that you choose a cut with a lot of fat marbling. This will ensure that the beef will turn tender and juicy when cooked in the crockpot. If you can’t find chuck roast, pick up some boneless short ribs or beef cheeks instead.

How to Make Barbacoa Tacos

  1. Place the chuck roast into your crockpot, dicing it into small chunks if needed.
  2. Add the beef broth, tomato sauce, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and onion powder and mix well with your hands. 
  3. Cook until the roast is tender and warm throughout. 
  4. Remove the roast and use forks to shred the beef. 
  5. Serve with your favorite taco toppings. Enjoy! 
barbacoa ingredients

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Mexican barbacoa taste like?

Barbacoa meat is very juicy and savory. There are a lot of spices that are mixed with the chuck roast as it cooks, so it is bursting with a good mix of tanginess and a bit of spice. Since the meat is cooked for a long period of time in the crockpot, it is very tender and you can taste a deep, rich flavor throughout. 

What is barbacoa vs birria taco?

Both barbacoa and birria tacos are made with tender, seasoned beef. The main difference is that barbacoa is made by steaming the cut of meat in its own juices or a marinade whereas birria is braised. Both tacos have a similar meaty, savory, and salty flavor.

What cut of meat is barbacoa?

Barbacoa is typically made with beef chuck, which is a tough cut of meat with a lot of fat marbling. In the slow cooking process, the connective tissues break down and become very tender, making the most juicy and delicious tacos! 

barbacoa tacos on a plate

How to Serve Barbacoa Tacos

There are so many great ways to serve barbacoa meat! My family’s favorite is to serve it with homemade tortillas, fresh salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, and top it off with some fresh cilantro! You can also serve this barbacoa as the protein in other main dishes such as nachos, salads, or bowls. No matter how you choose to serve your barbacoa, I recommend keeping the toppings light and simple, as the meat provides a deep flavor and is the star of the show.

How to Store Leftover Barbacoa Beef

If you have leftover barbacoa, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Be sure to add some liquid from the crockpot into the container to help lock in moisture. You can also store the shredded beef in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to serve this flavorful meal again, allow it to thaw in the fridge if frozen, then reheat it in the microwave until warmed through.

barbacoa meat in slow cooker

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • If you prefer your barbacoa on the spicier side, you can substitute the chili powder for cayenne chili powder and add as much as you like!
  • Make sure to keep the crockpot on low to cook the chuck roast. Although it may save time to cook it on high, it will make the beef tough and not as rich in flavor. Keep it as low and slow as possible for the best results!
  • You will know the barbacoa meat is perfectly cooked when it is fork-tender and falls apart easily with a bit of pressure! If it does not fall apart easily, continue to cook the beef and check every 15-20 minutes for doneness. 
barbacoa tacos on a plate

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If you’ve tried this Barbacoa Tacos recipe or any other recipe on Bless This Mess, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some pictures of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories.

barbacoa tacos on a plate
5 from 2 votes

Barbacoa Tacos

Elevate your taco night with our irresistible Barbacoa Tacos Recipe, slow-cooked to perfection in the convenience of your crock pot, delivering melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and authentic flavors that will have everyone coming back for seconds!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 2- 2½ pound chuck roast
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
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  • Set out a crockpot and cut an excess fat off of your chuck roast. Place the roast in the crockpot. Depending on the size of your crock pot, you may need to cut the roast into 2-3 pieces.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and use your hands to toss the ingredients together, ensuring that the beef is covered by the broth.
  • Cook the roast on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours. Ensure the beef has reached an internal temperature of 145°F.
  • Remove the roast from the crockpot and shred the beef using two forks.
  • Serve with your favorite taco toppings and enjoy!


  • We like to serve this barbacoa on homemade tortillas with fresh salsa, sour cream, Colby Jack cheese, and a little bit of fresh cilantro.
  • You can store your leftover barbacoa in the fridge for up to 3 days. When storing your barbacoa, keep it in a rubbermaid container with a little bit of liquid from the crockpot. This will help preserve the flavor of the barbacoa and prevent it from drying out.
  • You can also throw this recipe in the slow cooker for 4-6 hours or until the meat is tender. It works great. 
  • We use bottled lime juice to cut down on the prep time in this recipe, but freshly squeezed lime juice also works great.
  • If you like your barbacoa on the spicier side, you can substitute the chili powder for cayenne chili powder.
  • If you would like, you can freeze this barbacoa once it is shredded. Store it in a freeze-safe bag for up to 3 months. When you are ready to serve it, allow it to thaw in the fridge before reheating it in the microwave.


Serving: 1 of 6 servings, Calories: 644kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 67g, Fat: 40g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 20g, Trans Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 235mg, Sodium: 791mg, Potassium: 1368mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 635IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 87mg, Iron: 8mg
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I hope you’ll make this easy barbacoa taco recipe ASAP and I know it will make it into your dinner rotation because it’s SO good! Enjoy from my kitchen to yours.

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