Barbocoa (Shredded Beef in a Smoky Mexican Tomato Sauce)


barbacoa tacos 4 of 4

I’ll be honest. I’ve been lacking some inspiration for creative, new recipes recently. While I’m still cooking for myself (a girl’s gotta eat, right?), I’ve been doing a lot more simple meals and sticking to some basics. With about a month and a half of summer left, I felt the need to start blogging again. Getting inspired with new ideas isn’t always easy though- I’ve been browsing through recipes in magazines and online, but it was just working for me. Ever been in the same boat? I highly recommend going to a farmer’s market or a nice grocery store- you know, one of those where maybe things are a bit too expensive, but just even looking at all the fresh bounty will get things started. I might buy one unusual thing there, but then go somewhere with more reasonable prices, like a Trader Joe’s, to get the rest of my ingredients. This here was inspired by tomatillos I spotted at the farmer’s market. And yes…. they aren’t even in the recipe! (they’ll be in another one soon). However, it got me thinking to Mexican themed food, and well, one thing led to another.

Adapted from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

Two years ago (2016), I did a barbacoa pita sandwich. It was a tasty recipe, but a bit annoying as you had to blend the sauce. Since then, I’ve done a number of barbacoa recipes that were a bit less time/cleaning intensive. Through trial and error, I think I finally found the recipe!

  • 2.5 pounds beef chuck roast

Easy Tip: Make this dry rub 2 or 3x the quantity so you can have this part done and ready for next time. Store in a ziploc bag and label!

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of cayenne (to your liking)


  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jar (12 oz) roasted tomato salsa (I used Trader Joe’s double roasted salsa and recommend it!)
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)

Step 1: Dry Rub + Brown the Meat. Mix together all of the spices (from smoked paprika to cayenne in the first list) in a small bowl. Rub on chuck roast. If using an Instant Pot, brown the meat on saute mode. Otherwise, you can just brown the meat in a separate pan on medium/high heat. Be sure to add a bit of oil to the pan/pot before adding the meat. Sear on each side for about 1-2 minutes, and set aside.

Step 2: Sauce + Cook. Mix remaining ingredients from the onion to the garlic to make the sauce. Do this right in the Instant Pot/Slow Cooker for easy cleaning! Combine thoroughly, and then add the meat back in the pot. If you using an instant pot, pressure cook on high for 50 minutes; if using a slow cooker, cook on low for 8 hours. When done cooking, let the meat cool slightly (I let mine naturally cool for about 2 hours) and then shred. Reserve remaining liquid in a separate cup to add in as you want. I poured about 1/2 cup of the liquid on the barbacoa immediately, and then kept about 2 cups extra separately in a cup just in case the meat dries at all over the week. It’s an easy way to keep it moist and flavorful.

How to make this a full meal?

Check out this post for two easy “taco” friendly sides.


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