Our Instant Pot Barbacoa Tacos are the jam! For one, they’re so easy to make and for two, your Instant Pot practically does most of the work. And once you taste the intense classic barbacoa flavor, you will be hooked. Ready? Set! Let’s do this!
Instant Pot Barbacoa Tacos
I first learned about Barbacoa at Chipotle Mexican Grill. And after my first taste, I was hooked, and I instantly want more! Barbacoa originated in Mexico and is traditionally made with beef, goat, or lamb; some recipes call for one, two, or all three of these meats. For my Barbacoa recipe, I am using only beef. But, I am pretty sure I am going to make barbacoa using lamb pretty soon. Maybe I’ll try goat too! So, if you’re a fan of this intensely flavored meat, then chances are you will love this recipe. If you make it once, I am pretty sure you are going to be making it again, and you’ll soon discover Taco Tuesdays will never be the same.
One of the things I enjoy about tacos is just how versatile they are, and no matter whether you decide to go meatless or not, they’re still going to delicious. Because at the end of the day, tacos are all three things: tortillas, a protein, and the toppings.
Barbacoa also is perfect for:
Soups like Birria and Pozole
Burritos Wraps & Burrito Bowls
And like most tacos, the intensity of the heat can vary. For this Barbacoa taco recipe, I used both serrano and jalapeño peppers, and if you require more heat, either pan-fry the peppers in a skillet or lay them across a charcoal grill. I also added ripe avocado and thin slices of lime. A few dashes of my favorite hot sauce wasn’t a bad thing either.
To accomplish the classic Barbacoa flavor, you’ll need to add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, but if heat isn’t your jam, replace the chipotle peppers with Mexican chili powder. Smoked paprika also works well at keeping the heat at bay.
Here’s your Instant Pot Barbacoa Tacos shopping list:
Get a Roast. Just about any roast will do, the leaner, the better. But if you do pick up a roast with a lot of fat, trim away as much fat as possible, and you’re good to go. I used an Angus Sirolon Tip Roast, but just about any lean beef roast, like a Chuck roast, will do.
Preferably, use Canola Oil. You will use the oil to brown the meat. If you don’t have canola oil, vegetable oil will work as well. Honestly, any high-smoke oil will do. Corn oil, grapeseed, refined avocado oil, or safflower oil. Theses are all suitable substitutes.
Where’s the broth? Since you are using beef already, the ideal broth for this recipe is Beef Broth, but use whatever you have in your pantry. Chicken or vegetable broth are both suitable substitutes.
Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce. The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce lend lots of intense flavor to this iconic recipe.
Got Garlic? Among the signature flavors of unforgettable Barbacoa is garlic, so make sure it’s in the pot.
Bay leaves, cloves, cumin, and oregano. I am not sure you can call it slow-cooked beef Barbacoa if you don’t have these flavors. All four lend layers of complexity to this classic Mexican dish.
Sea salt and freshly cracked black peppercorns. These two are the foundation of almost any meat recipe. Don’t leave them out.
The acidity of Fresh Lime Juice cuts through the savoriness of Barbacoa and adds brightness. And when it comes to good Mexican food, that’s a good thing.
How to make Barbacoa Tacos in the Instant Pot
- I used 4.8 pounds Angus Sirloin Tip Roast, or chuck roast cut into 6 pieces
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
- 1 1/3 cup beef broth, divided
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/3 teaspoon dried clove
- 4-5 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Trim the fat from the beef roast and cut it into six (6) roughly the same size.
- Using paper towels, pat the meat dry and season with salt and freshly cracked black peppercorns.
- Select the Saute setting on the Instant Pot and remove the lid.
- Add 1 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil into the pot.
- When the oil is hot, brown three pieces of the beef, using a pair of tongs to move the meat around to get an evenly seared pieces of meat
- Remove the pieces evenly browned pieces of meat and place them into a bowl, add the remaining canola oil and brown the remaining pieces.
- Place all of the pieces of beef into the Instant Pot and place the bay leaves between the pieces of meat.
- Add the minced onions to 1 cup of beef and stock and pour over the meat.
- Into a food processor, add the chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, ground cumin, Mexican chili powder, ground cloves, garlic, dried oregano, and 1/3 cup of beef broth. Pulse until the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the mixture over the beef, use the bottom of a tablespoon to ensure the mixture is spread evenly over the meat.
- Place the lid on and lock it into place. Select the Slow Cooking option on the Instant Pot and cook on slow and low for 8-9 hours.
- Vent the Instant Pot and remove the lid, use two forks to shred the meat. Serve immediately.
What kind of meat is used to make Barbacoa?
Traditionally speaking, Barbacoa is made with the head of a cow, usually beef cheek and cow’s tongue, while other Barbacoa recipes call for goat’s meat. However, the American version is made with a beef chuck roast or a similar beef cut.
How is Barbacoa meat cooked?
In Mexico, where the cooking method originated, Barbacoa is prepared in a large cooking pot that is topped with banana leaves and slow-cooked in an underground earthen-pit for several hours. More often than not, the Americanized version of Barbacoa is cooked in an Instant Pot or a Slow Cooker.
Can you freeze Barbacoa meat?
Yes, you can store in the fridge for later up to five days. Or you can freeze in a vacuum-sealed bag up to three months. We use our FoodSaver to store our food in the deep freezer safely.
At its very best, Barbacoa makes for great tacos. The meat is tender, smoky, and savory, with a little bit of heat to keep things interesting.
Now that you got the recipe and you need to do now is grab the ingredients and make your next taco Tuesday your best taco dinner!