Ultimate Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa

Incredibly juicy and tender, and full of bold mouthwatering flavors, this beef barbacoa is the best I’ve ever tasted!  With Instant Pot, slow cooker, and oven instructions, you’re bound to find a cooking method that works best for you!

The Instant Pot has become a kitchen staple in recent years, and for good reason. This versatile appliance can be used to cook everything from rice and beans to beef barbacoa. Beef barbacoa is a Mexican dish that traditionally involves slow-cooking beef until it is tender and falling apart. This can be a time-consuming process, but with an Instant Pot, it can be done in a fraction of the time. This recipe for Ultimate Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa is the perfect dish for a weeknight dinner or a weekend gathering. The beef is succulent and packed with flavor, and the dish can be easily customized to your liking. Whether you like it spicy or mild, this recipe is sure to please.

BEEF BARBACOA RECIPE

I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for a while now, and finally got around to it.

Originally, I made a similar version in my Queso-Smothered Beef Chimichangas, which was a slow cooker recipe.  But I’ve been getting into using my Instant Pot more and more and wanted to make this version something that could be made in much less time.

After some tinkering around in the kitchen, I came up with this recipe, which is now my FAVORITE type of Mexican beef!

The meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the flavor… oh the flavor, it’s out of this world.  Rich and savory, with just enough spice to make your mouth wake up and say hello, but not so much that you’re sweating and diving for the nearest glass of water.

The best taco filling of all time, lol.  Beef barbacoa is not just amazing in tacos, but in quesadillas, taco salads, chimichangas/taquitos, or just eaten with a fork!

HOW TO MAKE BEEF BARBACOA

  1. Puree the chipotle sauce in a food processor.  This is a combination of chipotle peppers, lime juice, spices, beef broth, garlic, etc.
  2. Brown beef on the “saute” mode, then remove to a plate.
  3. Add onion to the pot and saute until soft.  Pour in the beef broth, diced green chiles, tomato paste, and bay leaves.
  4. Add browned beef and pureed sauce to the pot.
  5. Pressure cook for 1 hour, then performs a quick pressure release.
  6. Shred beef and toss with some cooking liquid.

IS THIS A CHIPOTLE COPYCAT RECIPE

Not technically, but it hits a LOT of the same flavor notes!

COOKING TIPS FOR SHREDDED MEXICAN BEEF

The Meat: This is a perfect illustration of when a harder piece of meat, such as a chuck roast or shoulder, should be used. Nothing or even costly sirloin tips are required.

Although it greatly enhances flavor, browning is not necessarily necessary.

I adore the additional rich taste that browning my meat gives it. But even without going through that extra process, I’ve prepared this recipe multiple times, and each time it comes out great.

According to Chipotles in Adobo, chipotle peppers are the key to this incredible barbacoa. The ethnic area of most supermarkets carries cans of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, and they are LOADED with flavor.

VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE

  • SPICIER – I would describe the amount of heat in this dish as being between medium and moderate. Use HOT chopped green chiles, add extra chipotle peppers, and/or add a jalapeño to the chipotle sauce components if you want it hotter.
  • MILDER – Use mild chopped green chiles, eliminate the adobo sauce, and/or use fewer chipotle peppers to make this dish milder.
  • Use a strong Mexican beer instead of beef broth in the chipotle sauce to add some more flavor.
  • OTHER MEAT – Beef cheeks, goat, or lamb are typically used to make barbacoa. You are more than free to substitute one of those proteins for the chuck roast; I simply went with beef because it is more widely available to most of my readers.
  • This recipe is designed for the Instant Pot, but I’ve included instructions on how to prepare it in a slow cooker or the oven if you’d prefer. The “recipe notes” portion of the recipe card will provide such instructions.

TOPPINGS FOR A BEEF BARBACOA TACO

The sky is the limit when it comes to a great taco, but here are a few of my favorite options.

  • The possibilities for a fantastic taco are virtually endless, but here are a handful of my personal favorites.
  • uncooked cilantro
  • Juice from a lime squeezed
  • Cheddar Cotija (or shredded Mexican blend cheese)
  • Quickly pickled shallots (combine sliced shallots with lime juice, a teaspoon of salt, and sugar; let sit in a basin for 20 minutes)
  • Avocado
  • Queso

MAKING BARBACOA AHEAD OF TIME

This barbacoa beef tastes even better on the second day, as with most braised meats! These tastes coexist and blend.

In my opinion, the best way to keep beef is to combine it with some of the cooking liquid in one container and the remaining liquid in another.

In this manner, the fat in the liquid may be simply scraped off the surface as it cools.

Reheat the liquid and meat mixture together.

FREEZING

For up to three months, cooked beef barbacoa can be frozen.

STORAGE

Within five days, leftovers should be consumed after being refrigerated in an airtight container.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THIS RECIPE

  • I recently updated to this type of Instant Pot, and I adore it!
  • I’ve had my slow cooker for years, and it still functions well.
  • My favorite brand of Dutch oven is LeCreuset, but they are rather expensive, so this Lodge version is a fantastic substitute!
Ultimate Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa

Ultimate Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa

Incredibly juicy and tender, and absolutely full of bold mouthwatering flavors, this beef barbacoa is the best I’ve ever tasted!  With Instant Pot, slow cooker and oven instructions, you’re bound to find a cooking method that works best for you!
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 8
Calories 476 kcal

Ingredients
  

CHIPOTLE SAUCE

  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce individual peppers in the can – NOT the whole can
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce from the can
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice fresh is best
  • 1 Tbsp better than bouillon beef base optional but recommended
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano mexican oregano is amazing if you have it
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup beef broth reduced sodium is best

BARBACOA

  • 4 lb. beef chuck roast
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 4 oz can diced green chiles drained
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth reduced sodium is preferred
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions
 

MAKE CHIPOTLE SAUCE

  • Add all chipotle sauce ingredients to a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Place aside.

MAKE BEEF BARBACOA

  • After removing any apparent significant portions of fat from the roast, cut it into 6–8 substantial pieces. Use 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper to season the meat.
  • In the Instant Pot, add vegetable oil and choose “Saute”. When heated, add the meat and cook until browned, about a minute per side. It might be necessary to complete this in batches depending on the size of your meat.
  • On a platter, transfer the browned meat and onion. Saute till soft for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • To get rid of any browned parts, add 1 cup of beef broth and scrape the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon. Add bay leaves, green chilies, and tomato paste.
  • To cancel or keep warm, click “Cancel.” Put the browned meat back in the saucepan and cover with the pureed chipotle sauce. Add the lime halves on top.
  • Make sure the valve is set to “sealing” and that the lid is well closed. To set the timer for 60 minutes, choose “Manual” or “Pressure Cook,” then move the +/- button as necessary.
  • Turn the valve carefully to “venting” when cooking is complete for a speedy pressure release. Remove the lid and throw away the bay leaves once all of the steam has been expelled and the pin has fallen.
  • Remove the meat to a large basin and shred it, removing any fat-only bits first.
  • As much of the cooking liquid as you’d want to add to the shredded meat.

TO THICKEN SAUCE

  • Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water in a small dish until dissolved. Select “saute” and add this combination to the sauce-filled saucepan.
  • Cook for a few minutes, stirring often, or until desired consistency is reached.
  • Add as much of the thickened sauce to the shredded meat as you desire.

TO CRISP THE EDGES

  • Place an oven rack in the upper third of the oven, line a baking sheet with foil, and turn the broiler to high.
  • Spread the beef shreds out evenly, then broil for a few minutes. Stir.
  • Once the food has crisped and blackened to your preference, keep broiling and stirring.
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SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

  • Blend the sauce’s components.
  • In a stovetop skillet, sear meat.
  • Then, add the seared steak and chipotle sauce to the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients.
  • For 8 to 10 hours on LOW, with the lid on, simmer the beef until it is readily shreddable.

OVEN DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 325 f.
  • Blend the sauce’s components.
  • On the stove, brown meat in a big dutch oven.
  • Add the bay leaves, tomato paste, onion, and green chilies.
  • Pour in chipotle sauce after reducing beef broth to 1/2 cup.
  • When the meat is ready to shred, bake it covered for 3–3 1/2 hours.

STOVETOP DIRECTIONS

  • Blend the sauce’s components.
  • On the stove, brown meat in a big dutch oven.
  • Add the bay leaves, onion, tomato paste, green chilies, and beef broth.
  • dispense the chipotle sauce.
  • When the beef is ready to shred, simmer it covered for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, removing the lid for the final 30 minutes of simmering.
  • If preferred, remove the steak, shred it, and boil the sauce for an additional 10-15 minutes to thicken.