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Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

This slow cooker beef barbacoa is tender, delicious, and full of flavor thanks to a savory spice rub of cumin, oregano, and garlic. Put in tortillas or over rice, and dinner is served!

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa served with green onions.

One of the many things I love about using my slow cooker is that the prep is super fast–I can set it up in the morning, and it does all of the work for me all throughout the day– and cleanup is a breeze!

It also leaves my home smelling absolutely delicious in the process.

If you’ve ever had pork carnitas, this is very similar in that they’re both shredded types of meat, but carnitas is shredded pork, and barbacoa is shredded beef!

Fun fact: carnitas translates to “little meats” in Spanish!

This slow cooker beef barbacoa takes a delicious, savory spice blend of cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, and onion, and slowly braises it all day, leaving your beef fall-apart-tender, moist, and delicious.

Served family style with a variety of toppings, like sour cream, onions, and cilantro, this will be your new favorite way to do taco night!

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa ingredients on a table.
Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa uncooked in a slow cooker.

Ingredients for slow cooker beef barbacoa

  • Chuck roast – This cut of beef is perfect for slow roasting because it will fall apart and become tender and juicy in the process.
  • Spice rub – I’ve used a combination of kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ground cumin, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes, but feel free to use your favorite spice rub blend!
  • Beef stock – Feel free to use homemade, or your favorite store-bought variety.
  • Onion and garlic – Classic additions that will add earthiness to the dish.
  • Bay leaf – A bay leaf will impart a classic sweet, woody, and earthy flavor to the carnitas.
Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa in a tortilla being picked up.

Why use chuck roast?

A chuck roast comes from the shoulder of the cow, and can also be called chuck eye roast, or beef chuck. 

It’s a fattier cut, with lots of connective tissue. 

This cut of meat does best with low and slow cooking, to loosen up the connective tissue and melt away the fat, making the meat fall apart tender and juicy, and delicious.

Serving suggestions

My favorite way to serve up slow cooker beef barbacoa is in a warm flour or corn tortilla, topped with onion and cilantro, but here are some other tasty ways to serve it up:

  • Over white or brown rice
  • On top of fresh greens
  • Over quinoa
Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa on a tray.


The possibilities for toppings are endless for slow cooker beef barbacoa! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Thinly sliced red onions
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Fresh lime wedges
  • Pico de gallo
  • Guacamole

Storage and leftovers

Lastly, any leftover slow cooker beef carnitas can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To reheat, simply place in a microwave-safe dish, covered loosely with a damp paper towel, and heat 2-3 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa served with lime.

More slow cooker meals

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Author: Brandy O’Neill – Nutmeg Nanny
This slow cooker beef barbacoa is tender, delicious, and full of flavor thanks to a savory spice rub of cumin, oregano, and garlic. Put in tortillas or over rice, and dinner is served!
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Servings 4 servings



  • In a small bowl, combine kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
  • Pat the chuck roast cubes dry with a paper towel and season them on all sides with the dry rub, making sure each piece gets coated evenly. 
  • Add the beef to the slow cooker with the beef stock, sliced onion, garlic, and bay leaves. 
  • Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6 hours, or until the beef easily shreds with a fork. 
  • To crisp the beef, drain the beef and remove the garlic and bay leaves and shred the beef.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
  • Once the skillet is hot, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until the beef is browned and crisp in some areas. 
  • Enjoy immediately, with your choice of toppings. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 329kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 837mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g
Course Slow Cooker
Cuisine Tex Mex
Keyword barbacoa in the slow cooker, slow cooker barbacoa, slow cooker beef, slow cooker beef carnitas
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About Brandy!

I am a food lover and recipe developer bringing you delicious recipes that taste great and are easy to make! My food is inspired by travels around the world and my love of flavorful food. A list of things that make me happy: cats, Coke Zero, houseplants, and travel. Read more...

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