Barbacoa Beef Recipe for Crockpot or Pressure Cooker

Paleo spirit barbacoa on platterAs a displaced Texan living in the Northeast I am always on the lookout for great barbecue, Tex-Mex and Mexican food. I love where I live but there is a definite dearth of these types of restaurants – at least not with the quality I expect. Okay, I admit it, I am a food snob when it comes to barbecue and Tex-Mex.

Even though it is considered fast food, I have grown to love the Chipotle restaurant chain. It fills a definite void. Chipotle’s Barbacoa is one of my favorites. As the name suggests it is beef barbecue with a spicy, Mexican flavor. The recipe that I use is an amalgamation of ones I have found across the internet purporting to be the REAL Chipotle Barbacoa recipe. I am not so much interested in replicating that recipe exactly as I am in making something that is Paleo-friendly and delicious.

Most recently I made this Barbacoa Beef recipe with the 12 pound beef tri tip I bought at Costco. See previous post.
Paleo beef

Even though the beef was almost certainly conventionally produced, it was very lean. And at $2.59/lb it was fairly inexpensive. The downside was the size. It was SO enormous there was no way it would fit into my crockpot or pressure cooker. Doubling the recipe and dividing the beef in two – one for the crockpot and the other for the pressure cooker was my solution.Paleo spirit beef from Costco cut up

Ultimately the meat was cut into a total of 8 large pieces so that it could more easily be seared and fit into the crockpot and pressure cooker. The following recipe is for 6 pounds of meat given that not everyone has a huge 12 pounder on their hands! The instructions are given for both methods depending on your preference.


6 lb. beef roast (cut into 4 or more large pieces, fat trimmed)
3 tablespoons oil (ideally coconut, ghee, lard, tallow)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (approximately 6 peppers)
8 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Celtic sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups chicken or beef stock
5 bay leaves
2 juniper berries (optional)


In a large pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat and sear each side of the meat until browned – about 2-3 minutes on each side. Place the meat in either a crockpot or pressure cooker.Paleo spirit barbacoa beef in crockpot
Combine vinegar, lime juice, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt and cloves.Paleo spirit chipotle barbacoa ingredients
Process ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Paleo spirit barbacoa sauce
Pour the blended sauce over the meat and add in the stock, bay leaves and juniper berries.Paleo spirit barbacoa sauce on beef in crockpot

Crockpot method

Cover and simmer for 6 or more hours on low heat until very tender.Paleo spirit barbacoa pulled beef in crockpot

Pressure cooker method

Cover with pressure cooker lid and heat on medium-high heat bringing to pressure according to the manufacturer’s directions. Cook at medium heat, without losing pressure, on highest pressure setting for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool until pressure is released, about 15 minutes.

Additional instructions for both methods

Pour off liquid into wide bottomed pan and simmer on high heat until reduced by half.Paleo spirit barbacoa sauce
Pull beef apart with two forks. Pour reduced sauce onto beef.

We ate from the batch cooked in the pressure cooker that same night (it only took about an hour) and had leftovers for several lunches and dinners – including Barbacoa Beef Salad (photo below). The batch that was cooked in the crockpot was divided into smaller containers and frozen for future use. This is a great way to easily produce a lot of tasty food in one shot and at a reasonable price, eat 100% Paleo and get your Chipotle Barbacoa fix at the same time.


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31 thoughts on “Barbacoa Beef Recipe for Crockpot or Pressure Cooker

  1. Pingback: Paleo at Costco | Paleo Spirit

  2. Just found your blog! It’s beautiful. You have some really great posts and recipes, and I just wanted to invite you to share some (or all!) of your recipes on Chowstalker. They would be a lovely addition. And of course, they would all link back to your blog, giving more people the opportunity to read your other posts as well.

  3. Pingback: Barbacoa meat | Allcoasthost

  4. Pingback: Paleo Diet: Pressure Cookers for Beginners » Paleo Diet News

  5. Pingback: Paleo at Penzey's

  6. Thanks to Google, I just found your blog! It is so beautiful… I came for the barbacoa and stayed for all the other delightful readings. I made this recipe yesterday and the hubby and I LOVED it. So much so, that I made a short blog post with links back to your recipe. This is too good to not be shared. So glad I found you – I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. You have officially been “bookmarked”!

    • Well, thank you Dania! What a nice comment. I’m so glad you liked the barbacoa. That’s one of our favorites too. I look forward to checking out your website. Thanks for the compliments and the link.

  7. Hi! I’ve just found your website. My family is on day 4 of Paleo, and I;m exploring some fun recipes. Like you, I’m obsessed with the Barbacoa meat at Chipotle, so this is a great find! I’m wondering if this freezes well? I can’t see that we would eat so much of the same flavor all week… Have you tried freezing it?

  8. So I did this recipe yesterday using a slow cooker and I got to say, it is truly awesome! keep the good work and thanks.

  9. I tried this recipe, as specified, and thought it was WAAAAAY too vinegar-y, and didn’t really taste like Chipotle’s barbacoa at all. Poop. :(

    I do appreciate the very thorough instructions, however, and will check out more of your posts. Thank you.

  10. I made this recipe today. Tastes amazing but the beef was a bit tough. I used the amounts specified but I’d guess that my crockpot was too large since I couldn’t cover the beef fully with liquid. Would using more chicken broth and reducing a lot more solve this issue? I had to cut the beef up instead of shredding with a fork!


  11. I tried this recipe today. In lieu of apple cider vinegar, I went ahead and substituted it with Chinese cooking wine. Instead of 6 lb roast, I did a 5 pounder. I used a Fagor pressure cooker and reduced the broth to a molasses like thickness. This was an extremely impressive dish. The tastes along with genuine corn tortillas, Goya yellow instant rice as well as sour cream and a home made pico de gallo. It was a hit with everyone in the house. The beef is so intense and smoky in taste that just a little goes a long, long way. A sure home run. Viva México!

  12. It’s in the crock pot now but if it tastes half as good as the sauce and how it smells this is going to be a regular at our house. Now to figure out the carnitas! Thank you!

  13. Excited to try this recipe! Question: do you put the sauce on after the meat cooks? Or during cooking the meat? I’m going to try this tomorrow in the slow cooker. Thanks for your blog. Its great! Blessings, sami

    • Hi Sami,
      You sear the meat first. Then you add the meat AND the sauce to the crockpot and cook for several hours. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. I hope you enjoy it!

  14. I have made this recipe quite a few times and love it!!! So much better than Chipotle. I bought a pressure cooker just for this and love the results and share it with all my friends! :)

  15. Second time I’ve done this now and it’s absolutely delicious. It’s cooking in the slow cooker now and smells fantastic. A winner with all the family. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from New Zealand. Dan.

  16. Hi from Turkey,

    I liked presentation and pictures of your page. Pictures helped me to understand sizes better. I just came with a pressure cooker & meat bought from market. I can not wait tomorrow to try your receipe. Thank you for your blog.

  17. I have made this several times in the crockpot and today in the pressure cooker. Can I just say YUM? My family has walked in the house one by one and all have commented on the great smell. Can’t wait for dinner!

  18. I had Chipotle for lunch yesterday and decided, hey, why not make barbacoa myself at home? I’m 100% paleo (just finished a 4th cycle of Whole30) so did a quick Google search and am very happy that I came across this recipe — it is DELICIOUS! I didn’t have cloves but I used All Spice as a substitute. This recipe is arguably better than Chipotle. I luckily don’t get sick of eating the same things for multiple meals and days. Pumped to eat it all through the week. Thanks again :)

    • Stephanie,
      I have been so busy lately that I have been eating at Chipotle a ton! I am really glad you like this recipe. And I am the same way about eating the same foods over and over again. I do tend to freeze half of this recipe and save it for a bit later if I think we won’t eat all of it in a reasonable amount of time. I appreciate you took the time to give the feedback! Thanks, Lea

  19. I tried this Southern Barbecue restaurant when I lived in NYC and I was wondering what the fuss was all about, I hear Texans and Southerners rave about their barbecue and after eating there I can tell you I understand.

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