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Skip the chain restaurants and make your own Barbacoa Beef in the Instant Pot! This delicious spiced Mexican shredded beef involves easy prep, and in less than two hours you’ve got the tastiest filling for tacos, burritos, and salads!
INSTANT POT BARBACOA BEEF RECIPE
I love taco night! We aren’t a family that restricts ourselves to Tuesdays alone – we’re down for a fiesta any night of the week. My husband and I are huge fans of Chipotle Mexican Grill, and we usually find ourselves torn between their carnitas and barbacoa beef on top of our burrito bowls.
Sadly, our closest Chipotle is 25 minutes away and is always super crowded. Luckily, though, our house is well-stocked with cuts of beef, and making our own homemade versions of our favorite items from their menu is as easy as tossing a few ingredients in our Instant Pot!
WHAT IS BARBACOA?
Barbacoa is an authentic Mexican dish typically made with goat, lamb, or beef. It is traditionally cooked in a clay pot underground overnight, seasoned with spices, herbs, and dried chilies.
Of course, there are much quicker and easier ways to get a delicious Barbacoa on the table for your family, like this Instant Pot version! The spicy, juicy beef is a delicious filling for tacos, burritos, salads, and any other tasty Mexican recipes you can think of.
INGREDIENTS FOR BARBACOA BEEF
The stuff that goes into Barbacoa is all simple ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry:
- Beef roast – a well-marbled chuck or shoulder roast is best.
- Beef broth – or chicken broth.
- Chipotle chilis – for that smoky heat; cayenne pepper can be substituted to taste.
- Lime juice – essential in most Mexican cooking.
- Apple cider vinegar – adds a bit more tang to the juicy beef.
- Garlic – fresh or pre-minced.
- Brown Sugar – optional, but balances the spicy heat nicely with a bit of sweetness.
- Spices – Salt, pepper, cumin, cloves, oregano, and bay leaf.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CUT OF BEEF
As with most Instant Pot beef recipes, this Barbacoa needs a tougher cut of beef for maximum tenderness. Look for a shoulder or chuck roast with great marbling, and be sure to trim off any big chunks of excess fat before cooking.
HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT BARBACOA BEEF
- Prep & brown beef. Cut the beef roast into chunks and season them, then sear meat in your Instant Pot in batches. Transfer the meat to a plate to rest.
- Make the barbacoa sauce. Create your Barbacoa sauce by combining garlic, chipotle chilies, beef broth, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cumin, oregano, and cloves in a food processor. You may also add a bit of brown sugar here for a bit of sweetness if you’d like.
- Add ingredients to the Instant Pot. Splash some beef broth into the pot to deglaze it, scraping any browned bits of beef from the bottom because that’s where a ton of flavor is. Return the beef to the pot, pour the sauce over the top, and add a bay leaf or two.
- Cook. Secure and seal the Instant Pot lid and pressure gauge. Press the Manual-High button and cook for an hour, then allow a full natural pressure release which will take about 15 minutes. Remove the lid carefully and remove the bay leaf. Shred the barbacoa beef with two forks while tossing it with the sauce.
Because Barbacoa is intensely flavorful, simple toppings are plenty. Chopped red onion and cilantro tucked into tortillas with the beef are delicious, but you may also consider adding cheese, tomatoes, radishes, or guacamole for even more unique flavors.
Barbacoa can also be stuffed into burritos and quesadillas or served on top of Mexican Rice bowls with your favorite toppings. Make ahead for parties and warm in the oven or slow cooker.
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS
Store leftover barbacoa within 2 hours of cooking. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed container for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 4 months.
More Beef Recipes:
- Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo Mustard Butter
- Carne Asada Street Tacos
- Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- Easy 3-Ingredient Chili Recipe
- 27 Simple Ground Beef Recipes
More Instant Pot Dinners:
Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef
- 2.5-3 pounds beef chuck roast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 4 chipotle chilis in adobo
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ cup beef broth
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar optional
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- Set your Instant Pot to Saute. Drizzle oil inside and heat until displays reads HOT.
- Cut the roast into 3 pieces and season with salt and pepper. Sear the chunks of beef in the Instant Pot on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Press Cancel. Remove beef to a plate and splash some beef broth into the pot and deglaze.
- Add the remaining ingredients (except the bay leaves) to a food processor and blend until mostly smooth.
- Return beef to pot. Pour chipotle sauce over the roast and turn to coat; add bay leaves. Secure lid and pressure valve. Cook on Manual High for 60 minutes, and allow a full natural release.
- Remove and discard bay leaves, then shred beef with two forks, tossing well in the sauce to coat.
- Serve in tacos or nachos, or in burrito bowls.