Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe (Copycat)

This tastes JUST like the real Chipotle Barbacoa recipe! You’ll have 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 pounds of beef. Make some now, freeze half for later!

I have received more emails requesting this Chipotle Copycat Barbacoa recipe than anything else, ever. I’m delighted and relieved to finally deliver!

If you love my Chipotle Chicken recipe, you’ll love this one, too. The marinade is almost exactly the same, actually, with just a few minor differences.

And just like that recipe, you make a giant batch of marinade (enough for 10 pounds of beef!). Because if you’re going to go through the work of making the marinade, you might as well have something to show for it.

This tastes JUST like the real Chipotle Barbacoa recipe! You'll have 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 pounds of beef. Make some now, freeze half for later!

And just like with the Chipotle Chicken recipe, there are several options to get from Point A to Point B on the Barbacoa front.

Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe Options

Marinade Options

  1. Dried ancho chiles and Quick-soak method
  2. Dried ancho chiles and Overnight-soak method
  3. Buy Ancho Chile powder
  4. Make your own Ancho Chile powder

Cooking options

  1. Slow Cooker
  2. Braise in oven
  3. Simmer on stove

Recipe Yield

This Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe will yield about 2 cups of marinade. 1 cup of marinade will flavor 5 pounds of beef, so you’ll be able to make 10 pounds of Beef Barbacoa when all is said and done.

But, you don’t have to make it all this second. If you’re not feeding a crowd, freeze half the marinade for later.

This tastes JUST like the real Chipotle Barbacoa recipe! You'll have 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 pounds of beef. Make some now, freeze half for later!

Marinade Method #1: Soak Dried Ancho Chiles

If you have the time, you can Slow-Soak the ancho chiles. It takes at least 12 hours, and the chiles need to be submerged in water, but it’s easy. Later, or the next day, open the chiles up (I recommend wearing gloves), take out the stems, and rinse out the seeds. (For lovers of hot, spicy food, add the seeds to your marinade).

Thanks to a reader of myChipotle Chicken post, there is an alternative: The Quick-Soaking method. You can save yourself 12 hours of soaking time by toasting the dried chiles in a skillet and then microwaving them in water. I never grow tired of this idea!

Marinade Method #2: Use Ancho Chile Powder.

In lieu of soaking dried chiles fast or slow, just substitute ancho chile powder. Making your own is easy if you have the chiles (2 ounces dried chiles yields 1/4 cup ancho chile powder) or you just buy ancho chile powder online. You’ll need to add a little more water to your marinade to get to 2 cups (I explain this in the recipe notes).

A square photo of Homemade Ancho Chile Powder in a small clear jar. There is a dried ancho chile in the background slightly out of focus. The jar's white lid is to the right of the jar.

No matter which method you pick, cook it low and slow until the beef falls apart and the fat melts away. You’ll barely even need to shred it!

Build a bowl, pack it in tacos, or eat it straight out of the pot with a fork. With smokey spices and tons of flavor, this is one Barbacoa recipe you won’t want to miss!

This tastes JUST like the real Chipotle Barbacoa recipe! You'll have 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 pounds of beef. Make some now, freeze half for later!

Save this Chipotle Barbacoa Beef to your “Main Dishes” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

This tastes JUST like the real Chipotle Barbacoa recipe! You'll have 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 pounds of beef. Make some now, freeze half for later!
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Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe (Copycat)

This tastes JUST like the real Chipotle Barbacoa recipe! You'll have 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 pounds of beef. Make some now, freeze half for later!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 20 servings
Calories 258 kcal

Ingredients

For the marinade:

  • 1 (2 ounce) package dried ancho chiles quick-soaked or using the overnight method (see notes)
  • 1 (7 ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 red onion coarsely chopped (see notes)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano see notes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or rice bran oil

For the beef:

  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) boneless beef chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or rice bran oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

For the marinade:

  1. Split open each softened ancho chile and rinse the inside to remove the stem and all seeds (wearing gloves is recommended). Place in the bowl of a food processor or blender.

  2. Strain adobo sauce into a small bowl, pressing down on the peppers to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have at least ¼ cup). For an especially spicy dish, add chipotle pepper seeds to taste. Add strained liquid to the food processor. Discard chipotle peppers or reserve for another use.

  3. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, cloves, 2 tablespoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper to the food processor. Pulse several times until a coarse paste develops.

  4. With the motor running, pour ¼ cup oil through the feeding tube and continue to process until smooth. You should have two cups of marinade. Reserve one cup for immediate use and freeze the remaining for future use.

To make the beef in a slow cooker:

  1. Browning the beef before transferring it to a slow cooker is optional but recommended. To do so, sprinkle the beef liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides.

  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large skillet until shimmering. Add beef and cook until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the beef and continue cooking until the other side is brown, about 10 minutes total.

  3. Transfer to a slow cooker and top with 1 cup marinade. Add water and bay leaves and cover. Cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours, or low for 8 to 10 hours. The meat should fall apart easily.

  4. Remove both bay leaves. Shred beef with two forks. Taste for seasonings, add more salt and pepper until it tastes just right, and serve.

To braise the beef in the oven:

  1. Preheat oven to 300ºF. Sprinkle the beef liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides.

  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or stock pot until shimmering. Add beef and cook until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the beef and continue cooking until the other side is brown, about 10 minutes total.

  3. Top with 1 cup marinade. Add water and bay leaves and cover. Transfer to oven and bake for 3 1/2 hours, turning beef every 30 minutes.

  4. Remove both bay leaves. Shred beef with two forks. Taste for seasonings, add more salt and pepper until it tastes just right, and serve.

To simmer the beef on the stove:

  1. Sprinkle the beef liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides.

  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or stock pot until shimmering. Add beef and cook until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the beef and continue cooking until the other side is brown, about 10 minutes total.

  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Top with 1 cup marinade. Add water and bay leaves and cover. Cover and simmer for 3 1/2 hours, turning beef every 30 minutes.

  4. Remove both bay leaves. Shred beef with two forks. Taste for seasonings, add more salt and pepper until it tastes just right, and serve.

To make ahead and reheat:

  1. Cover and refrigerate the shredded beef overnight. Reheat in a slow cooker on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or in a pot on the stove for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. 

To freeze and reheat:

  1. Cover and freeze the shredded beef up to one month in advance. Reheat in a slow cooker on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours. Or, reheat in a pot (covered) on the stove over medium-heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Recipe Notes

  1. ¼ cup Ancho Chili Pepper powder may be substituted for the dried Ancho chiles. Skip step 1 and add the powder with the other spices in Step 3. After processing the marinade in a food processor, pour into a measuring cup. Add water to reach a total of 2 cups of marinade.
  2. Slow-Soaking method for ancho chiles: Place in a bowl and add enough water to cover completely. Top with a small plate or bowl to weigh down the chiles so they are completely submerged. Soak at least 12 hours or overnight. Drain well.
  3. Quick-Soaking method for ancho chiles: Remove stems and seeds from dried chiles (wearing gloves is recommended). In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the chiles until fragrant but not smoking, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and add 4 cups (1 quart) water and 2 Tablespoons adobo sauce. Microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add peppers to the food processor, using the reserved cooking liquid to rinse as much adobo as possible from the canned chipotle peppers in Step 2.
  4. Chipotle does not use red onion in their marinade, but it tastes better with it included. Personally, I'd rather give you the best recipe vs. a less awesome recipe simply for the sake of being a purist. Feel free to leave the red onion out if you want to, and just add a little more water or oil to have 2 cups of marinade.
  5. Use regular (sometimes called Italian) oregano. Mexican oregano is completely different and tastes like marjoram.


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This tastes JUST like the real Chipotle Barbacoa recipe! You'll have 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 pounds of beef. Make some now, freeze half for later!

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