Beef Barbacoa without a pit

Beef Barbacoa without a pit

Work with me here - if you’ve been to Mexico and eaten traditional barbacoa then move along - this is not that. If you read the ingredients and work backward to a proposed name you might come up with Latin pot roast. Naming and history challenges notwithstanding if you invest the very small time requirement to get this in the oven (or slow cooker) you will be rewarded with a house filled with glorious scents throughout the day and piles of succulent beef, rich in flavor and smokiness.

Traditional barbacoa is pit cooked protein (lamb, goat, pork or beef - including the head), spiced and smoked in a pit.

Beef barbacoa - ready to eat

I am committed to exploring the pit cooked version and as soon as my lovely wife gets over the mess I created in rebuilding the pizza oven I will enlist the support of my children to commence on the building of a pit. Well either a pit or a stand for my as yet unpurchased vertical spits (Perfect father’s day gift BTW)

Beef Barbacoa - before shredding

You can adapt the below to the slow cooker.  I have not done so as the crock pot disappeared in a cleaning related accident.  Sauté the onion/garlic mixture in a stovetop pan and then continue with step 4 below

You can squeeze a splash of lime over each serving - the fresh pop of acid makes the dish burst with flavor.


  • 1 can chipotle in adobo sauce (chopped - use 4-5 peppers or the whole can)
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tbs cumin
  • 2 tbs dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 med onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 chuck roast (~ 4lbs)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 limes, juiced (at serving time)


  1. preheat oven to 250
  2. in a large dutch oven sauté onion until softened
  3. add garlic, chipotles and spices, stir until blended
  4. add vinegar
  5. add beef and bay leaves and cover
  6. remand to oven for 5-6 hours
  7. beef should be shreddable with a fork, no knives
  8. remove beef to cutting board
  9. discard bayleaves
  10. remove broth to bowl in freezer to help separate the fat. If you let it sit in the freezer while shredding it should help
  11. beef should be shredded - two forks work well
  12. remove larger chunks of fat and any sinew
  13. return broth to dutch oven
  14. return beef to dutch oven and broth
  15. serve over rice with a healthy dollop of guac/salsa

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