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Slow Cooked Beef Barbacoa Tacos

Posted by Michelle Zippelli  February 28, 2012 10:18 AM

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How many times have you been to Chipotle, saw their spread of burrito fillings and thought to yourself "man, homemade barbacoa would be so much better than this stuff," then ordered barbacoa anyway? It happens to me all the time, so I finally decided to make my own version of barbacoa--Mexican barbeque beef.

I'm sure there are countless ways to prepare it, depending on the region of Mexico and the availability of a slow cooker. I melded a few recipes together and used some stuff I had on hand. After slow cooking the beef for 10 hours, I served it taco-style in a warm tortilla with some pico de gallo, cheese, chopped cilantro and sour cream. I used simple garnishes so the chipotle and chili powder flavors could really shine through in the beef. Traditionally beef barbacoa is made with the entire cow's head, but for cooking-at-home purposes I used chuck. This is a perfect party recipe because it's easy to make, fairly inexpensive, yields more beef than you can probably handle and everyone loves it.


Slow Cooked Beef Barbacoa Tacos


For the beef-

  • 3 lbs boneless beef chuck
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small can chipotle peppers with adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 quart chicken stock, use half to start and add more as needed
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar

    For the tacos-

  • small corn tortillas
  • salsa or pico de gallo
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • chopped cilantro



    1 - Combine all beef ingredients in a slow cooker, adjusting the spicy items to taste. I like to use the whole can of chipotle peppers, but wouldn't recommend it if you're not into spicy foods.
    2 - Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hours. I cooked mine for 10 but it was definitely ready to go around 8. The longer the better!
    3 - Check on it every few hours. If the beef needs more liquid, add the remaining chicken stock to moisten.
    4 - After 8 hours, season to taste with salt, pepper and cider vinegar (if you're into that sort of thing).
    5 - When the beef is ready to go, assemble the tacos -- warm the tortillas by wrapping them in a paper towel and throwing them in the microwave for a few seconds (or grill them if you want to get really fancy) then add the beef, salsa, cilantro, sour cream and of course, cheese.


  • This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
    The author is solely responsible for the content.

    About the authors

    Michelle Zippelli is a Boston based hedonist who is committed to finding the best food that Boston has to offer. She has lived in Boston for 6 years and works in online marketing. Michelle loves meatballs, live music, exotic cheeses, Mexican food, spur of the moment dance parties, and all things pickled.
    Jacki Morisi is a self-proclaimed bon vivant extraordinaire. A Boston native whose waking hours are exclusively focused on travel, music, food, and fare ... emphasis on food and fare. She's a firm believer that just because you're living on a young professional's budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste, and carries this mantra into each and every dining endeavor.
    Contact us:
    Jacki and Michelle also co-write the Boston-based food blog
    Email Jacki and Michelle:
    Follow Jacki on Twitter @jacki_mo and Michelle @Meeshz
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