Barbacoa Tacos


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Barbacoa tacos are one delicious way to enjoy your next taco night! They’re juicy, ultra flavorful, and made easy right in the slow cooker. Just add the barbacoa to a plate and serve it up family style with a spread of your favorite taco toppings.

Barbacoa tacos on a plate with cilantro and lime wedges.

If you’ve just made a batch of my barbacoa and you’re wondering what to make with leftovers… you know I’m gonna say barbacoa tacos! If you thought my birria or carnitas recipe was amazing (which then turned into birria tacos or carnitas tacos), just wait until you try this barbacoa. It’s incredibly flavorful and becomes fall-apart tender, all thanks to the slow cooker. Just season up the beef with those delicious Mexican spices, and cook it low and slow.

By dinner time, the barbacoa will shred so beautifully and have your house smelling like your neighborhood taqueria. And while I normally keep my tacos simple with diced onions, cilantro, and fresh squeezed lime, I’ll show you how to make your taco night extra fancy with the ultimate Mexican spread.

Ingredients for beef barbacoa tacos on a table.

Ingredients For The Best Barbacoa Tacos

I mentioned in my barbacoa recipe that tough, lean cuts of beef are best for slow cooking. So once you hit the market, look for a 4 pound beef chuck roast. Other than, the rest comes easy!

  • Barbacoa: Juicy, savory, shredded barbacoa – the perfect taco addition!
  • Avocado: You can slice them or dice into cubes.
  • Onion: Diced yellow, white, or red onions will work.
  • Lime: A squeeze of fresh lime juice is a must!
  • Cilantro: A sprinkle of chopped cilantro adds a fresh touch.
  • Tortillas: I love to use my cassava flour tortillas, but any will do!

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Preparing barbacoa tacos in the slow cooker.

How To Make Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

  • Add everything into the slow cooker (minus the bay leaves). Give it a toss with tongs, then add the bay leaves and cover with the lid.
  • Cook low and slow. Ideally, you want to cook it for 8-9 hours. But you can also cook on high for 4-5 hours if you’re on a time crunch. By the end, your barbacoa should be ultra tender and easily fall apart!
  • Shred it up and make it extra juicy. Move the beef onto a cutting board and shred it with a fork. Then transfer it back into the slow cooker to let it absorb all the delicious juices.
Assembling beef barbacoa tacos with tortillas.

Let’s Assemble Barbacoa Tacos!

Add the shredded barbacoa to a large serving plate and make it the centerpiece for taco night! Surround the barbacoa with a warm batch of tortillas, and a few other Mexican staples. You can even recreate your favorite Chipotle barbacoa tacos at home!

  • Dips and Sauces: You can’t go wrong with the classic guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream combo. But if you want to amp it up, drizzle homemade lime crema or chipotle sauce for a little heat!
  • Cheeses: I love to use cotija cheese for tacos, but queso fresco or any Mexican blend will work.
  • Fresh Herbs & Veggies: Add refreshing flavors and crunch with chopped cilantro, radishes, fresh onions, or pickled red onions!

Meal Prep Ahead Of Time

To make dinner a breeze, prep everything ahead of time. First, get the barbacoa cooking early in the morning. Then, whip up the rest of the toppings and store in separate containers in the fridge. The only dip I would recommend doing later is the guacamole as this will oxidize and brown quickly. When you’re ready to eat, all you have to do is assemble!

A plate of barbacoa beef tacos.

More Tasty Ideas For Taco Night

You know I love a good taco (or two or three), so have fun on your next Taco Tuesday will all these variations. And if you’re hosting a Cinco De Mayo party, here’s a full list of Cinco De Mayo recipes to get you ready.

Barbacoa Tacos Recipe Video

Want to see how I make these tacos from start to finish? Watch the video below!

If you make these barbacoa tacos or my barbacoa burrito bowl, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Barbacoa tacos on a plate with cilantro and lime wedges.

Barbacoa Tacos

5 from 15 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Total: 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 tacos
Author: Lisa Bryan


Barbacoa tacos are juicy, flavorful, and made easy with a slow cooker! Serve it up family style with toppings for the ultimate taco night.




Taco Ingredients

  • tortillas
  • diced onion
  • avocado slices
  • chopped cilantro
  • sour cream or cheese, optional


  • Add all of the ingredients, except the bay leaves, to the bowl of a slow cooker.
  • Use tongs to gently toss and mix it all together. Then add the bay leaves, and cover. Cook on low for 8-9 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours. The beef should be tender and fall apart easily when shredded with a fork. If it doesn't shred easily, cook it a bit longer.
    Cooking beef barbacoa in a slow cooker.
  • Remove the beef to a cutting board and use two forks to shred it.
    Shredding beef barbacoa on a cutting board.
  • Place the shredded beef back in the slow cooker, give it a stir, and let it absorb the juices.
    Mixing beef barbacoa in a slow cooker.
  • Use tongs to remove a serving of barbacoa from the slow cooker, top it on a tortilla, and garnish with diced onion, avocado, cilantro, and other toppings.


Calories: 543kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 1075mg | Potassium: 923mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 354IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 6mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Barbacoa Recipe, Barbacoa Tacos, Beef Barbacoa Tacos, Shredded Beef
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Absolutely phenomenal recipe! The beef had such amazing flavor. We made street tacos with the beef & I swear it was better than any restaurant. Thank you for this recipe, will definitely put this in our dinner rotation5 stars

    1. I have used brisket in this recipe and it’s definitely an elevation above the already amazing recipe. Go for it!5 stars

  2. Hello! This sounds great! Do you happen to know how I could adjust the cook time to prepare the meat in an instant pot?

    1. Hi Gena – I’m not sure as I haven’t tested this in an instant pot. I would research some other instant pot recipes for timing and temperature (but use my ingredients).

  3. Crazy how good this was. My favorite thing I’ve made for family dinner ever. So simple and delicious that I had to leave a comment to encourage others to make this 5 stars

  4. Loved it!   Love your videos.   I needed someone to organize me and the recipes are delicious.   5 stars

  5. Pretty sure this is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth! Seriously. I was in taco heaven while consuming and couldn’t wait for the next day to have them for lunch!  Only problem, is setting myself a limit of TWO! 🙃 Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe with us!5 stars

    1. I plan on serving your recipe this sunday, it looks great. Do you think making the sauce one day ahead and marinating the beef in the sauce overnight (in the fridge of course) before putting it in the slowcooker on sunday morning would be okay?

  6. What a great party recipe idea it is! I made these tacos for our family lunch today, tested, and was amazed! I will be waiting for summer to make them outside. :)5 stars