Mexican cuisine offers a rich tapestry of flavors and textures, with barbacoa tacos standing out as a beloved favorite for many. Traditionally slow-cooked until tender, barbacoa is celebrated for its succulent taste and versatility. Whether you're a seasoned home cook or new to Mexican culinary traditions, this guide will help you create authentic barbacoa tacos that could rival those found in the heart of Mexico.

Barbacoa Tacos

Ingredients You'll Need:

  • 3-4 lbs beef chuck roast (or lamb shoulder if preferred)
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water or beef broth, as needed
  • Corn tortillas, for serving
  • Optional toppings: diced onions, cilantro, lime wedges, and salsa

Cooking Instructions:

Step 1: Prepare the Barbacoa

  1. Marinate the Meat: In a large bowl, combine chipotle peppers, garlic, onion, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cumin, oregano, cloves, and cinnamon. Add the beef, coating it thoroughly with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Slow Cook: Transfer the marinated meat into a slow cooker. Add bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Pour in enough water or beef broth to cover about half of the meat. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the meat is pull-apart tender.
  3. Shred the Meat: Once cooked, remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred it using two forks. Discard the bay leaves. Skim off any excess fat from the juices left in the slow cooker and return the shredded meat to soak up the flavorful juices.

Step 2: Select and Prepare the Tortillas

For an authentic experience, opt for corn tortillas. Heat them on a dry skillet or directly over a gas flame until they’re slightly charred and pliable.

Step 3: Assemble the Tacos

  1. Fill the Tortillas: Spoon a generous amount of the barbacoa onto each tortilla.
  2. Add Toppings: Garnish with diced onions, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. Add salsa to taste.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy

Serve your barbacoa tacos immediately, accompanied by your choice of side dishes such as rice, beans, or a fresh salad.

Serving Suggestions and Side Dishes

Barbacoa tacos are wonderfully versatile and pair well with various sides. Consider serving them with:

  • Mexican rice
  • Refried beans
  • A simple avocado salad


Creating barbacoa tacos from scratch is a rewarding endeavor that brings a taste of Mexico right into your home. Gather your friends and family to share in the joy of homemade Mexican cuisine, and remember, the key to great barbacoa is patience and love. Enjoy the process and the delicious results!

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