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Best Mexican Barbacoa Tacos

Juicy, tender and easy Mexican Barbacoa tacos are made using a humble hunk of chuck roast, slow cooked with Mexican herbs and spices, lime juice and onion; resulting in a tangy, tender, loaded-with-flavor beef, the perfect complement for these healthy, delicious Barbacoa Street Tacos.

You don’t need much with these easy and filling street tacos, but if you’d like this Cilantro Lime Rice or Mexican Rice is a great compliment, wash it all down with an easy margarita!

During a particularly crazy week, I needed a good go-to, recipe for a few dinners this week and this one definitely rose to the occasion. A super easy weeknight might meal.

Not only were these easy, didn’t heat up my kitchen (95º yesterday-ugh!) but the beef was so very tender and packed with marvelous, savory Mexican flavors and spices.

Close up of street tacos on ceramic plate with lime and cilantro.

What Does Barbacoa Mean?

Mexican barbacoa is perhaps the most well-known, and its most popular manifestation is that which is used in the central states of the country.

A brick-lined oven, usually about 60 centimeters (23 inches) in diameter and about a meter (3 feet) deep, is dug into the earth. Wood is placed at the bottom and burned until the whole oven is red hot.” (Source)

Can I make Barbacoa Beef in the Oven?

I would treat oven baked Barbacoa beef just like I would a pot roast, following all of the instructions and place in a dutch oven at 275 degrees and cook for 3 hours (for a smaller roast) and 4-6 hours for a larger roast.

If necessary, check the liquid levels about hour 4 or 6 if cooking longer adding a cup or so of additional broth.

Paired with this amazingly simple, bright, fresh, and creamy Avocado Lime Dressing it’s a filling, yet light lunch or dinner! Even picky eaters will love this!

White scalloped bowl with avocado lime dressing in it, with spoon and limes sliced behind.

Start your Barbacoa beef about 5 hours before you want to eat, though it will be fine if you need it to go longer.

How to Make Mexican Barbacoa

  1. In a large pan or pot*, pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil or your favorite oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot.

SLOW COOKER | If you have a slow cooker that can go from cooker to stove, you can do this step in your pan; which is what I did, I love my All-Clad Slow Cooker!

chuck roast ready for freezer.

I buy my chuck roast in bulk, wrap what I don’t need in plastic wrap, place in a freezer ziplock, squeezing out any extra air and be sure to mark it so you don’t end up with a mystery meat.

I’ve also started writing what I could make with whatever I’m freezing, kind of takes some of the guesswork out of a frozen piece of meat!

  1. Sear the chuck roast (or some people call them chuck steaks) on each side until crisp brown, sprinkling with a little kosher salt. It helps to pat it dry before placing in the hot oil.

Why Doesn’t My Meat Sear or Brown?

If your meat doesn’t brown, it means one of two things, or possibly both.

  1. Searing requires HIGH HEAT, your pan should be “screaming hot” (over medium high heat) we are not cooking the meat, but just browning the outside, sealing in the juices and creating flavor!
  2. Or perhaps you took your meat out of the package and it was dripping in bloody juices (sorry, gross I know). I suggest to always rinse your meats and pat them dry with a towel, this allows the meat to sear and not the juices to just steam the meat, this is what makes it look like a blaze brown, vs. crispy crusted sear!
Hunk of browned chuck roast |
  1. While your Mexican Barbacoa meat is searing, in a small mixing bowl, place the following ingredients; beef broth, apple cider vinegar, tomato sauce, lime juice, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and sea salt and pepper. Stir or whisk until combined.
Seasonings and broth for Barbacoa meat in mixing bowl |
  1. Once the beef is seared, return to the crock pot (slow-cooker) and then pour the mixture over the roast.
Pouring seasoned broth over chuck roast for barbacoa taco meet |
  1. Chop onion and sprinkle over the top of the chuck roast.
chopped onions over barbacoa beef |
  1. Cover and cook on low for 5-8 hours (I needed to rush mine just a bit, so I cooked on high for the first hour, then returned to low for 3 hours). Resist the urge to check on it as slow cookers do best when you don’t open the lid.

Slice, “pull” or cube the chuck roast into bite size pieces and ta-da, tender, easy Mexican Barbacoa beef waiting for you to serve as desired, but especially as tacos barbacoa.

Shredding Barbacoa Beef with fork.


At this point the beef may be eaten just like a pot roast, a delicious Mexican pot roast if you will.

Spoon on some of the juices from the crock pot, serve with Cilantro Lime Rice and a crisp salad or….read on and make it into these fresh and amazing street tacos barbacoa

Pinterest image with plate of barbacoa beef street tacos with lime, avocado and cilantro.

How to Grill Corn

  • While my roast was doing it’s thang, I also grilled up a quick ear of corn, totally optional!
  • Shuck your corn and rinse well, pat dry. On a hot grill or griddle pan place your corn on the cob on the griddle and grill all sides until blackened in places and tender.
  • Cool slightly, then cut corn off the cob for serving with the tacos. (Optional)
grilling corn on the cob for barbacoa street tacos |

If making Mexican barbacoa street tacos, assemble your toppings in small bowls, for easy taco making.

I love these small bowls, great for toppings, dips, sauces, salsa’s and more!

Fixin's for Barbacoa Beef Street Tacos, the perfect easy weeknight meal using tender, slow cooked beef and fresh toppings! #thefreshcooky #barbacoabeef #streettacos #mexicanfood #glutenfree #paleo #clean

I provided the option of Mini-Taco (or street taco) sized corn or flour tortillas, found at my local grocery store or you may certainly use regular sized corn tortillas or soft flour if you’d like.


If trying to go grain free all together, pile your taco fixings on a sturdy leaf of Butter or Romaine lettuce. The Mexican barbacoa beef is naturally gluten free.

Mexican barbacoa beef street tacos with limes, avocados, tomatoes and cheese on a platter.

How to Make Avocado Lime Dressing

If making the Avocado Lime Dressing which is delicious on salads as well as street tacos.

Place a peeled, seeded and sliced avocado into a blender* along with juice of 1 lime to start and 1 tablespoon plain yogurt, season with a little salt and pepper to taste.

TFC PROT TIP | *I used my Ninja blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) worked fabulous!

Avocado Lime Dressing in blender on the counter before blending.

HINT | Watch the size of your avocado and limes, you may need to adjust your lime juice up or down depending on the size of the avocado or else it will be really limey — which I like, but others may not.

Blend and add a little lime juice at a time, taste, adding water to thin as needed. Store covered and refrigerated until ready to use.

Avocado lime dressing for Mexican barbacoa beef street tacos.

Street Taco Topping Suggestions

  • Sliced olives
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Feta or Goat cheese, Mexican Shredded or other crumbly Mexican Cheese
  • Mexican Crema or Sour Cream
  • Make Barbacoa Beef Chipotle style and drizzle on this delicious White Queso.
  • Sliced Jalepeños
  • Finely chopped yellow or pickled red onions
  • Shredded Red Cabbage
  • Chopped fresh Cilantro
  • Salsa | Super easy blender salsa and so good!
  • Sliced avocados or make this super easy Guacamole.

A few other simple, fresh recipes to try:

This recipe was moderately adapted from Jar of Lemons.

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Square image of Mexican Barbacoa Beef street tacos on a white platter with avocado, tomato, cheese and lime.
Yield: 12-16 street tacos

Mexican Barbacoa Beef in Crock Pot

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes

Simple and tasty, Mexican Barbacoa Beef. Slow cooked in a savory, spicy (but not hot) sauce, with loads of fresh taco toppings. Make delicious Chipotle style Mexican Barbacoa Street Tacos.



  • 1-1/2 lb Chuck Roast (or steak)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or other high heat oil
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (fresh squeezed, about 2 medium limes)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 12 street corn/flour tortillas or 6 regular sized


  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes, I used grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce or cabbage (or both)
  • 1 avocado, sliced and peeled
  • 1/4 cup Cotija or other Mexican cheese, crumbled
  • 1 ear fresh corn, blistered and blackened on all sides (I used my grill or may use BBQ or just cut fresh off the cob)
  • Lime wedge (optional for garnish)
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional for garnish)


  • 1 large, ripe avocado, peeled and seeded, rough chopped
  • 1-2 limes, juiced (adjust according to taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoons plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


For the Barbacoa Beef

  1. In a large pot (or stovetop safe slow cooker crock) drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons oil. Heat over medium-high heat. Place chuck roast (or steak) carefully in the pot and sear (brown) on all sides, just a few minutes per side. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl; mix together your beef broth, tomato sauce, vinegar, lime juice, spices together. Once your beef is seared on all sides, transfer (if necessary) to the slow cooker or crock pot and pour over your broth mixture. Top the beef with your chopped onion and cover.
  3. Cook on low for 5 hours. See notes for quicker or longer cooking times.


  1. In a blender place your peeled & seeded avocado, lime juice and yogurt. Whir until smooth. If necessary add water until a pourable consistency.
  2. Note: If you use a smaller avocado and larger limes it will be really "limey" which I don't mind, but you may want to taste it after the juice of 1 lime, then add more as desired. Season with a little salt and pepper, to taste. Store in fridge, covered until ready to use.


  1. Prep your toppings in small bowls so each person may assemble their own tacos. Warm tortillas (I just warmed in 200 degree oven wrapped in a clean tea towel for 10 minutes). Remove meat from slow cooker, and using a sharp knife, slice or chop into bite size pieces.
  2. Serve with a wedge of lime and fresh, chopped cilantro along with a drizzle of the Avocado Lime Dressing.


Other topping ideas:

  • Sliced olives
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Feta or Goat cheese, Mexican Shredded or other crumbly Mexican Cheese
  • Mexican Crema or Sour Cream
  • Sliced Jalepeños
  • Finely chopped yellow or red onions
  • Shredded Red Cabbage

TIP | Need to have this recipe ready sooner than 5 hours, for the first hour, cook on HIGH then lower to low for the next 3 hours. Additionally, this may be cooked on low for 6-8 hours.

This recipe was moderately adapted from Jar of Lemons.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 204Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 178mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 15g

The nutritional information is estimated and may not be entirely accurate, at times it pulls information for suggestions and options which may increase calories, etc. Nutritional information will change based on used ingredients, quantities used, etc.

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I enjoy sharing easy recipes that are wholesome and delicious. I am fed by my faith, family, friends & food! Welcome to my kitchen! Read more...

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