Tender, juicy, spicy, shredded slow-cooked beef served on warm, soft tacos with lots of fresh toppings.
This is a fantastic sharing dinner - especially if you're cooking for a crowd.
Plus I've included instructions on cooking it in the oven if you prefer.
I love how juicy and tender the beef in this recipe is. Just a little bit spicy and a little bit tangy too. I can put far too many of these tacos away in one sitting!
Of course this isn't a traditional recipe. Traditional barbacoa - which is believed to have originated in Barbados, but is more commonly known now as Mexican cuisine - uses meat (lamb or goat usually), that is slow roasted for several hours in a pit that is topped with maguey (agave) leaves.
This is a slow-cooker method - very different from pit cooking!
But we're still using those Mexican molé flavours with cumin, coriander, garlic and adobo for a rich and delicious flavour.
It's one of those recipes where you just do a little up front work, then leave it cooking in the slow cooker - filling the house with those rich aromas!
Great for a family feast, or when you have guests - you can serve up the beef in the slow cooker and put all of your toppings out on the table to so everyone can dig in and help themselves.
📋 What do we need?
The full ingredients are in the recipe card below, but I want to mention:
- The beef - I'm going with braising/stewing beef (often known as chuck steak, which comes from the forequarter) as it's an inexpensive cut and needs long, slow cooking to break down and become tender - rather than chewy. That's exactly what we're doing with this recipe, so this cut is perfect. If you like, you can replace with ∫ (cut it into chunks first, so the flavour is evenly distributed).
- Dried oregano - go with Mexican oregano (<--like this one - not an affiliate link), rather than Italian oregano. They have distinctly different flavours - Italian oregano is quite mild with mint undertones from the origanum family.
Mexican oregano is stronger with liquorice-lemon notes - it actually comes from an entirely different plant - in the verbana family.
- Go with soft tacos, rather than larger tortillas. I like Luchito taco wraps (not an affiliate link) - I've seen them in Sainsburys and Ocado. M&S also do their own version, which are pretty good.
Be sure to drizzle over any sauce left in the bottom of the slow cooker for ultra juicy meat 😋
🍲 More recipes in wraps!
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 ½ kg (3 ⅓ pounds) braising beef
- 1 tbsp adobo paste
- 1 tbsp chipotle paste
- 4 cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 480 ml (2 cups) beef stock
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 4 tbsp fresh lime juice - (Juice of 2 limes)
- 12 soft tacos - warmed
- 1 red onion - peeled and sliced
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- 2 jalapenos - sliced
- 10 cherry (grape) tomatoes - quartered
- 120 ml (½ cup) soured cream
- 2 limes - sliced into wedges
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the beef and sear on all sides.
- Add the adobo paste, chipotle paste, minced garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano, beef stock, salt, pepper, cloves and lime juice to the pan.
- Stir and bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 6 hours (see tip below for cooking in the oven).
- Once cooked, shred the meat using two forks.
- Divide the meat between warmed tacos and top with red onion, fresh coriander, jalapenos, tomatoes and sour cream.
- Serve with wedges of lime.
Then serve with the warm tacos and toppings. Can I freeze it? Yes, make the barbacoa beef ahead, then cool, cover and freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
Reheat in a large saucepan or frying pan over a medium heat, stirring often, until piping hot throughout.
Then serve with the warm tacos and toppings. How to scale up and scale down this recipe You can halve or double this recipe, sticking to the same recipe quantities. You may need an extra splash of stock if you're halving the recipe (to ensure it doesn't dry out). Nutritional information is approximate per taco including the toppings in the recipe (this recipe makes 12 soft tacos).
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