Crock-Pot Barbacoa: A Deeply Satisfying Dish

Crock-Pot Barbacoa: A Deeply Satisfying Dish

It’s good to get lost.

Lost in love.

Lost in play.

Lost in music.

Lost in a moment.

And while I love quick-and-easy dinner ideas, I also love to get lost in the kitchen. On a lazy Saturday afternoon, I like a real recipe. One that has a long list of ingredients and takes hours to cook.  One that, when finished, is delightfully — and deeply — satisfying. Like this recipe for Better-Than-Chipotle Barbacoa.

For a thorough and interesting discussion of the recipe, check out this post by Kenji Lopez-Alt on Serious Eats. I followed the recipe fairly closely, with just a few modifications (mainly: reduced the cumin, cloves and oregano; added brown sugar; used slightly different dried chiles; and didn’t supplement with browned oxtails). I also cooked it in my Crock-Pot instead of the oven. And it was fabulous, y’all. We ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Think you might give it a try? This would be perfect for a fall weekend, together with good friends, cold beer and college football.

Crock-Pot Barbacoa

Serves 8-10

Adapted from this recipe for Better-Than-Chipotle Barbacoa


2 whole dried chile guallijo

1 whole dried chile ancho

1 quart low-sodium chicken stock

3 tablespoons light olive oil

1 4-lb. chuck roast

1 small onion, halved and sliced thin

4 medium cloves garlic, smashed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 chipotle chilis packed in adobo, with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

Kosher salt

2 whole bay leaves


In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the dry chiles, just until darkened and fragrant, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chiles to a sauce pan with 2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until chiles are soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside. (Once the chiles are cool, we’ll clean them, as explained below.)

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until shimmery but not smoking. Add the chuck roast and sear on all sides until brown, about 5 minutes total. Remove roast and place in crock-pot.

Using the same saucepan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions; cook, tossing occasionally, until soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add cumin, cloves and oregano; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chipotle chiles, vinegar, brown sugar, and remaining chicken broth; simmer, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer everything to the bowl of a food processor.

Under running water, remove the stems from and clean the seeds out of the softened chiles. Place cleaned chiles and cooking liquid in the bowl of the food processor with the other ingredients. Add fish sauce and salt. Process until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Taste; add additional salt as needed.

Pour the blended mixture over the roast in the Crock-Pot. Add 2 bay leaves. Cook, covered, over low heat for 6 hours. Set lid ajar and cook for 2 more hours. Remove roast from Crock-Pot and let cool. Shred beef using your fingers or two forks. Return shredded beef to Crock-Pot with sauce and stir until beef is coated in sauce. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm with tortillas and toppings (salsa, guacamole, crumbled queso fresco, and lime wedges).




, , ,

5 Responses to Crock-Pot Barbacoa: A Deeply Satisfying Dish

  1. Cindy Rosen August 26, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    Marie: I made this yesterday for a bunch of friends. Omygosh soooo good! Everyone loved it. I maodified a bit by adding about 1/2 cup tomato purée to the sauce to turn down the heat for the kiddos. And then I set aside a portion of the meat and didn’t return it to the sauce for the kids’ portion. So so yummy! Thanks!

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba August 26, 2013 at 3:58 am #

      Hi Cindy! So thrilled to hear you and your guests enjoyed the barbacoa! And I appreciate the suggestions for modifying for kids. It’s hard enough to get kids to eat, even without the peppers, right?! Just curious: how did you serve it? Tacos? Yum. Thanks so much for the note :)

      • Cindy Rosen August 26, 2013 at 6:12 am #

        Yes, I served it as tacos with corn and flour tortillas (with the garnishes you suggested) with sides of frijoles borrachos and arroz. And Pacifico or sangria for the grownups. ;) There is just a teensy bit of leftover meat for Randy–he was on a trip yesterday so he almost missed out! I was hoping to have more leftovers to have with eggs for breakfast this week but no such luck. Guess I’ll have to make it again. ;)


  1. Delicious Pureed Cauliflower Side Dish | Easy Mexican Recipes | Cocina Marie - August 26, 2013

    […] So the other day I made this Cheesy Puréed Cauliflower to go with our Crock-Pot Barbacoa. […]

  2. Easy Mexican Recipes! | Quick & Easy Recipes | Cocina Marie - May 12, 2016

    […] Crockpot Barbacoa (gluten free) […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: