Beef Barbacoa Recipe

by Pamela

Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Barbacoa seems to be on everyone’s minds lately…mostly because Chipotle has it on its menu. Tired of standing in that line? Want to be able to make that delicious barbacoa at home? Then this recipe is for you. While I’m not going to claim that this is a Chipotle copycat recipe, I am going to proclaim this barbacoa damn delicious!

I’ve talked about barbacoa on this site before. I kind of have a soft spot for long, slow roasted meats. I like how much flavor you can get out of something that you can set and forget for a few hours, leaving you time to do lots of other things. In the case of this barbacoa, I actually made this up for a party we were throwing at the “new” house. I wanted to make something that was easy for me and that our guests could just serve themselves and eat it however they like.

For the party, I loaded all of the meat into a chafing dish I picked up the day before at an estate sale (SCORE!) and put out a big basket of Hawaiian roles and coleslaw. This let people scoop meat onto buns and eat the coleslaw on the side, pile it all onto a bun or just eat the individual items. My original plan (which also works great) is to put the barbacoa into a slow cooker and keep it on the Low setting, to keep it warm, during the party. The chafing dish just looked so nice…and it was a steal! It even had enough Sterno left in it that I didn’t have to open a new one.

An easy and delicious beef barbacoa

Of course this whole story sounds so nice and lovely, but behind the scenes I had my husband and mother chiming in the entire time I was making the barbacoa. Not telling me how to make it (they know better than to do that…) but telling me I didn’t have enough. Craig had brought home a 20 pound brisket claiming it was the only one they had (no, he didn’t ask anyone if there were any in the back) so I just made it up thinking we’d have some for dinner the night before. Well, I made it, shredded it and was greeted with disapproving scowls from both of them. Neither of them thought I had enough. Forget the fact that I had a veggie platter fit to feed a zoo and a cheese platter that would have the biggest cheese head swooning. Off to the store I went and picked up another 20 pound brisket.

Just call us the barbacoa house! I had so much meat left over, our place looked like a Chipotle. We ate it for a few days and some party stragglers begged to have the barbacoa magically appear for lunch on Monday (it did).

The barbacoa recipe below, includes the recipe for a 20 pound brisket and the needed braising liquid, but I highly recommend making this much of the liquid. Use half of it on the meat and then stir the other half into the cooked/shredded beef if you decide to make a smaller brisket. Sooooooo goooooood!

Beef Barbacoa Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An easy beef barbacoa recipe you can use to stuff your tacos, burritos and mostly your face. This barbacoa is full of great flavors.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Caribbean
Serves: 8-10
  • For the Braising Liquid
  • 5 Dried Guajillo Chiles
  • 1 Large Onion, roughly chopped
  • ¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup Lime Juice
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 2 Teaspoons Allspice Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Cumin
  • ¾ - 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 20 Pound Brisket, with fat cap
  • 4-5 Bay Leaves
  • Dry Mix
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Allspice Powder
  1. Remove stems and seeds from chiles, tear into pieces and drop into a bowl. Cover with 2 cups boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Strain chiles and drop them into blender along with next 10 ingredients. Add ¾ cup of chicken stock and begin to blend. Add remaining stock if liquid is thick. You want this to be the consistency of thick soup.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Drop brisket into baking pan, fat side up. Remove any extra thick areas of fat. You just want a nice layer of fat, not a super thick cap (like you would want if you were going to smoke the brisket).
  5. Pour the braising liquid all over the brisket and rub it onto the sides of the meat. Make sure the meat is well covered.
  6. Add the bay leaves to the top of the meat and pour a bit of water around the base of the meat. This will keep it from burning/sticking to the pan.
  7. Cover with foil and slide it into the oven for 4-5 hours.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle it.
  9. Pull off, and discard, the bay leaves along with any of the extra fat that is still on the meat.
  10. Shred the meat in another container.
  11. Add the dry mix seasonings to the meat and stir to combine them into the shredded meat and serve.
If you use a smaller brisket make up all of the sauce and only use half of the sauce for the cooking. Pour the other half into the meat after you've shredded it.



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John@Kitchen Riffs June 17, 2015 at 10:46 am

I love barbacoa! And you can never have too many leftovers when it comes to this — so many different things you can do with it. Your recipe is great — thanks.

Pamela June 17, 2015 at 11:06 am

Thanks John. Leftovers of this just means no cooking for a few days (always a plus).

Bernadine Butkowski June 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

It was really good, but didn’t look like enough to serve everyone. Maybe they like vegetables too………

Pamela June 17, 2015 at 7:59 am

Mom, that batch served an army. I know it didn’t look like much…but there was a ton in there. We had so much left over I sent some home with you.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef June 16, 2015 at 8:52 am

This looks delicious! I could sink my teeth into that taco right now.

Pamela June 16, 2015 at 9:17 am

Thanks Maureen. This was a HUGE hit at our party and so easy to make.

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