Slow Cooker Barbacoa

Recipe posted in: Flex Meals & Snacks, Main Courses
Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Welcome to the world of hassle-free gourmet cooking, where your slow cooker unlocks complex flavors with minimal effort. Get ready to prepare a recipe that is not just a meal, but a deep dive into the rich heritage of Mexican cuisine: Slow Cooker Barbacoa. This dish brings the traditional flavors of Mexican barbacoa into your kitchen.

What is Barbacoa?

Barbacoa, originally from Mexico, involves slow-cooking meat with an array of seasonings until it’s so tender it practically melts in your mouth. Our version features beef chuck roast, a cut that beautifully absorbs flavors and becomes incredibly tender as it cooks.

Key Ingredients for Authentic Slow Cooker Barbacoa

Seasoned with a robust blend of spices including cumin, oregano and a hint of ground cloves, the beef is paired with white onions, garlic, and a smoky combination of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and fire-roasted diced green chiles. The addition of low sodium beef broth ensures the meat remains moist and juicy, while a splash of lime juice brings a burst of zesty freshness, creating a perfect balance to the smoky heat.

How to Make Barbacoa in a Slow Cooker

Whether you’re planning a festive gathering or looking to enrich your dinner routine, this Slow Cooker Barbacoa is more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of culture and flavor. Stay with us as we explore each step of this easy and flavorful recipe below, allowing you to bring a piece of Mexican tradition to your table effortlessly.

To start, place all the ingredients into your slow cooker and give them a gentle toss to ensure they are well combined. Secure the lid and set your slow cooker to cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or if you’re short on time, on high for 3 to 4 hours. The key is to cook the beef until it is so tender that it easily falls apart with minimal effort.

Once the beef is tender, take it out of the slow cooker and shred it using two forks. This will allow the meat to fully absorb the flavorful juices. After shredding, return the beef to the slow cooker and toss it again in the juices to ensure it’s well-coated and even more flavorful. Cover the slow cooker and let it cook for an additional 10 minutes to meld the flavors together. This final simmer is crucial for allowing the beef to soak up all the aromatic goodness, ensuring each bite is as delicious as the last.

Each serving of this hearty meal contains 194 calories. If you’re following a Nutrisystem plan, you can count it as two PowerFuels and one Extra.

How to Serve Your Barbacoa

Once you have your slow cooker barbacoa ready, the possibilities for serving it are nearly endless, catering to a variety of tastes and occasions. Here are some delightful ways to enjoy this versatile dish:

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa Burrito BowlBarbacoa Burrito Bowls

Create a deconstructed burrito in a bowl — start with a base of cooked rice or quinoa, then layer on the barbacoa, black beans and fresh vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers and corn. Finish your burrito bowl recipe with slices of avocado, a sprinkle of shredded cheese, and a splash of lime for a wholesome and hearty meal.

Barbacoa Sliders

For a fun and casual meal, pile the shredded barbacoa on small, toasted buns. Add a tangy slaw and a smear of chipotle mayo to complement the smoky flavors of the meat. These sliders are perfect for parties or as a comforting weeknight dinner.

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa TacosTacos: A Classic Choice

For a traditional approach, serve the barbacoa in soft corn tortillas to create healthy tacos. Top with diced onions, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime for a simple yet sublime taco experience. Add a spoonful of salsa verde, avocado or a dash of hot sauce for an extra kick.

Healthy Lettuce Wraps

For a lighter option, use crisp lettuce leaves as the wrap for your barbacoa. Add in slices of avocado, shredded carrot, and a hint of cilantro. This option is refreshingly crunchy and perfect for those seeking a low-carb alternative.

Each of these serving suggestions allows the rich and tender barbacoa to shine, while offering a variety of textures and flavors to suit any palate. Whether you’re feeding a crowd or just spicing up your dinner routine, these ideas are sure to make your slow cooker barbacoa a new favorite.

If you enjoyed this easy meal, be sure to try out our other healthy, high-protein slow cooker recipes!

Servings: 10

Calories per Serving: 194

On Nutrisystem, Count As: 2 PowerFuels and 1 Extra


  • 3 lbs. beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 can fire roasted diced green chiles
  • ½ cup beef broth, low sodium
  • ¼ cup lime juice (~3-4 limes)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and gently toss to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, until beef is tender and falls apart easily.
  3. Shred beef and toss in juices. Return to cook for 10 more minutes.
Click to rate this recipe!
[Total: 5 Average: 2.8]