This Barbacoa Beef recipe makes tender and juicy shredded barbacoa in only 90 minutes in the pressure cooker! It’s perfect for using in Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos, gorditas, and sopes, or served with a side of rice and beans.
This recipe is sponsored by the Oklahoma Beef Council. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Barbacoa is the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth Mexican beef dish. It typically takes hours to make, but thanks to the pressure cooker, you can make it in only 90 minutes from start to finish!
Beef barbacoa is a great recipe to make ahead of time because as with most braised and slow cooked meats, it tastes even better the next day since all the flavors have an even longer time to meld together!
What is barbacoa?
Barbacoa is a Mexican dish made from succulent braised beef in a flavorful marinade and sauce made from chiles, garlic, onions, and a few unexpected ingredients like cloves.
Traditionally, barbacoa is made from slow cooked beef, goat, or sheep that’s cooked in a pit that’s been dug in the ground. In the United States, barbacoa is typically made from a combination of tougher cuts of beef such as beef tongue, beef cheek meat, and chuck roast.
What cut of meat is best for barbacoa beef?
A beef chuck roast is the preferred cut of meat for barbacoa. It’s widely available in most grocery stores, and it works perfectly in this recipe! Chuck roast has a rich flavor with lots of connective tissue, which makes it perfect for braising, slow cooking, and pressure cooking. When cooked using these methods, the meat becomes fall-apart tender and juicy.
Pressure Cooker barbacoa ingredients
- Beef chuck roast: Make sure to cut the roast into large 3 to 4-inch chunks to help speed up the cooking process.
- Onion and garlic: White or yellow onions work best.
- Beer, broth, or water: A dark lager like a Modelo Negra works great in this recipe, but you can use any kind of lager you like. You can also use beef broth (or chicken or vegetable) or just plain water.
- Apple cider vinegar and lime juice: Add a pop of acidity and brightness to balance out all the rich flavors and spices.
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce: Adds a smoky element as well as some spice. You can use less or more depending on your preferred heat level. This recipe has a medium heat level.
- Spices and seasonings – Chili powder, ancho chili powder, ground cumin, Mexican oregano, ground cloves, and bay leaves. If you don’t have ancho chili powder, you can use more regular chili powder. If you don’t have Mexican oregano, you can use regular oregano.
How to make barbacoa in the Pressure Cooker
- Brown the meat: Cut the chuck roast into large pieces, liberally season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides in the pressure cooker using the saute function. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside.
- Cook the onions and garlic: Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, making sure to loosen all the brown bits on the bottom of the pot when stirring. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, until fragrant.
- Add the ingredients for the sauce: Add beer, broth, or water, as well as apple cider vinegar, fresh lime juice, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, ancho chili powder, regular chili powder, ground cumin, dried Mexican oregano, ground cloves, and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
- Mix it all together: Add the browned chuck roast to the pot and mix it all together with the sauce.
- Pressure cook: Close the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 60 minutes. When the time is up, let the meat sit in the pressure cooker for 10 more minutes before opening the valve to release the remaining pressure.
- Shred and serve: Transfer the meat to a plate, shred with a fork, then add the meat back into all the juices to soak it all in. Serve.
How to serve barbacoa beef
Barbacoa is extremely versatile and can be eaten in many different ways. Here are some of my favorite ways to serve it:
- Burritos and burrito bowls
The possibilities are truly endless. This barbacoa recipe is one I truly never get tired of because I can incorporate the meat into so many different meals. Think of it as a recipe that keeps on giving.
Storing, reheating, and Freezing
To store, transfer the meat and enough liquid to cover at least half of the meat (or more) to an airtight container and refrigerate for about 1 week.
To reheat, pour the meat and the congealed liquid (which has all the good flavor!) in a pot and heat over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until fully heated through. You could also heat it on high in a microwave-safe container for 5-10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
To freeze, transfer the meat and all the liquid to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
More Pressure Cooker recipes
- 3-4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast
- kosher salt, enough to generously coat meat
- coarsely ground black pepper, enough to generously coat meat
- 2 ½ tablespoons oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup beer, broth, or water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 lime, juiced
- 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder* (or regular chili powder)
- 1 tablespoon regular chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican oregano preferred)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- for serving: chopped cilantro, diced onions, warm tortillas, and lime wedges
- Cut the beef chuck roast into large 4-inch chunks, removing any large pieces of fat. Generously season all sides of the meat with salt and black pepper.
- Press the saute button on the pressure cooker. When hot, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and 3 or 4 pieces of meat. Brown the meat on all sides, flipping every 60 seconds. When browned, transfer to a plate and set aside. Continue working in batches until all the meat is browned.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, making sure to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the beer (or broth or water), apple cider vinegar, lime juice, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, ancho chili powder, chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, ground cloves, and bay leaves. Stir together to combine.
- Add in the seared meat and toss with the liquid to combine.
- Close the lid of the pressure cooker and move the valve to the sealing position. Press the Manual or Pressure Cook button to high pressure, then adjust the +/- buttons until the time reads 60 minutes.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure carefully moving the venting position.
- Remove the lid and shred the meat by pulling it apart with two fork. Taste and season with more salt as needed.
- Serve barbacoa in warm corn tortillas with chopped onions, cilantro and lime juice, or on the side with rice and beans.
- Beer, broth, or water: A dark lager like a Modelo Negra works great in this recipe, but you can use any kind of lager you like. You can also use beef, chicken, or vegetable broth, or even plain water.
- Ancho chili powder: If you don’t have ancho chili powder, you can use regular chili powder instead.
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