Slow Cooker Barbacoa Tacos


This barbacoa recipe has quickly become one of our favorites! The first time I made it, I used the recipe straight out of the Fed and Fit cookbook (which is awesome, b.t.dubs). While the recipe was great, I am never one to settle with a recipe straight out of the cookbook. I have to tweak it until I love it!

I have probably tweaked this recipe 5 different times. Photographing it twice for the blog, ultimately deciding that it wasn't right yet.  This last time, my husband basically told me to stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 dollars. It was perfect!

Honestly, the difference in all the recipes in pretty minimal, in terms of the ratio of spices. The big difference in the last recipe that I used 100% Savory Spice Shop spices*. About 75% of my spice cabinet is already filled with Savory Spices, but earlier that day I picked up a few more and used them to round out the spice blend for this recipe. 


And boy is this spice blend packed with a ton of flavor: chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, Mexican oregano, and cloves to be exact.

It just makes such a difference when you use fresh, good quality spices, like the ones at Savory Spice. I wanted to pick uSp a new jar of chili powder to replace my bulk sized jar that was probably two year old.  (Come on, what kind of food blogger am I using such poor quality spices? It's embarrassing, really.) And now only do they have just dozens of different types of chilies, they have three different varieties of plain ol' chili powder! I didn't realize there could be more than one. 

We picked up the medium just to be on the safe side. 


So to get this bad boy cooking, start by covering the beef very generously in that delicious spice blend so that there is barely any meat showing through. If you have the time, I recommend letting it sit for a bit so the meat has a chance to absorb all those flavors. But if you are running short on time, you can immediately sear the beef on all sides so that they get a nice crust. 


Then just transfer them over to your slow cooker and add in a couple cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, apple cider vinegar, and stock and let your slow cooker go to work.

Just before you are ready to serve this, maybe 30 minutes before, squeeze over the juice of a lime, then shred it up into pieces.


All that's left is to plate it up in some tortillas and top it with your favorite taco toppings! I love to top my barbacoa with a bit of queso fresco or cotija cheese. Maybe a little onion and cilantro. My husband likes to sneak on some jalapeno. But truly, this barbacoa is good all on it's own. Be prepared to eat the left overs straight out of the slow cooker. 


The best part (maybe?) is that this recipe can easily be made into a Paleo meal by serving it in lettuce wraps! The first two times I made this recipe, that's exactly what I did. It's fantastic!

*Full disclosure, my local Savory Spice shop did provide some of the spices used in the recipe. But to be fair, I already had (and purchased) 4 of the 6 spices used in the recipe. I highly recommend using good quality and fresh spices in all your recipes, which is why I love Savory Spice. Not to mention they are right up the road and have hundreds of different spices, so I have no excuse but to stop in and pick up a new spice to play with in the kitchen!


Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time: 8 hours    Total Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 8-10 tacos


  • 2 lbs chuck roast
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup stock (chicken or beef)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime


  • 8 tortillas
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • queso fresco
  • cilantro
  • salsa


  1. Cut the chuck roast into 4-6 pieces, trimming fat if necessary.

  2. In a small bowl, mix together all of the spices. Rub generously on all pieces of the chuck roast. If time allows, let the roast sit for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Place a pan over high heat and drizzle oil over the surface. Once the oil starts to glisten, place all pieces of the roast in the pan, searing on all sides for about 2-3 minutes, or until a dark crust forms.
  4. Immediately transfer the pieces of roast to the stoneware of a slow cooker. Add the garlic and bay leaf, then pour in the vinegar and stock.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours. About 30 minutes before serving, pour/squeeze the lime juice over the beef, then take two forks to shred into pieces.
  6. OPTIONAL: Transfer shredded beef to a pan over medium high heat along with a ladle full of the cooking liquid. Cook until liquid has completely evaporated; about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Use tongs to fill the tortillas with the shredded beef. Top with onion, cheese, cilantro, and any other toppings of choice.


Serve in lettuce leaves and skip the cheese for a Paleo-friendly meal!