Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe (Copycat)

You'll love this Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe! Braise or slow cook beef until meltingly tender in an easy marinade. It tastes even better than the real thing!

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.

You'll love this Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe! Braise or slow cook beef until meltingly tender in an easy marinade. It tastes even better than the real thing!
Pin Now To Save! PIN IT

Chipotle Barbacoa Marinade

Like Chipotle's Chicken, the Barbacoa derives its flavor from dried ancho chiles and adobo sauce.

To create this smoky flavor, you can:

  1. Buy Ancho Chile powder online (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link)
  2. Make your own Ancho Chile powder
  3. Soak Dried ancho chiles (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link)

Marinade Method 1: Using Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho Chile Pepper powder is available for purchase (see link above), or you may make your own.

1/4 cup of the powder is equivalent to 2 oz. of the peppers (stems and seeds removed, ground up).

Add this fragrant, warm flavor to your spice cabinet in just a few minutes with my recipe for Homemade Ancho Chile Powder. Much cheaper than store-brought!

Marinade Method 2: Soaking Dried Ancho Chiles

  • Slow-Soaking the dried ancho chiles takes at least 12 hours. Once the chiles are soft, I like to open them up, remove the stems, and rinse out the seeds (I recommend using kitchen or latex gloves).  For additional heat, add in seeds from the chipotle peppers.
  • Quick-Soaking shaves 12 hours off this recipe. You toast the dried chiles in a skillet and microwave them in water. It works perfectly!

Chipotle does not use red onion in their marinade, but I like it better with it. You can leave it out if you are a purist.

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender.

A square photo of the dark red Chipotle Chicken marinade in a food processor.

How to Cook Chipotle Barbacoa Beef

You need to cook the beef until all the fat has melted and the beef is so tender, it falls apart easily when you shred it.

Here are your cooking options:

  1. Slow cooker
  2. Stove top
  3. Braised in oven

My preferred method is braising in a Dutch oven, but all the methods accomplish the same thing. Pick your favorite in the recipe below!

You'll love this Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe! Braise or slow cook beef until meltingly tender in an easy marinade. It tastes even better than the real thing!

What is a substitute for adobo sauce?

Whisk together:

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or 1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika and cayenne powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch EACH of oregano, garlic powder, and salt

What can I do with my leftover Chipotle peppers and/or adobo sauce?

Transfer to a bag and freeze for future use, or use in:

You'll love this Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe! Braise or slow cook beef until meltingly tender in an easy marinade. It tastes even better than the real thing!

Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe (Copycat)

You'll love this Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe! Braise or slow cook beef until meltingly tender in an easy marinade. It tastes even better than the real thing!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 653kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the marinade:

  • 1/2 red onion coarsely chopped (see notes)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or rice bran oil (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (see notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the beef:

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

Instructions

For the marinade:

  • To the bowl of a food processor or blender, add red onion, garlic, adobo sauce, ancho chile powder, olive oil, cumin, dried oregano, cloves, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  • Blend until smooth. Pour into a measuring cup and add water to reach 1 cup.

To make the beef in a slow cooker:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Transfer to a slow cooker and top with 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.
  • 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:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the beef liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides.
  • 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.
  • Top with marinade. Add water and bay leaves and cover. Transfer to oven and bake for 3 1/2 hours, turning beef every 30 minutes.
  • 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:

  • Sprinkle the beef liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides.
  • 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.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Top with marinade. Add water and bay leaves and cover. Cover and simmer for 3 1/2 hours, turning beef every 30 minutes.
  • 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:

  • 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:

  • 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.

Video

Notes

To make the marinade with dried ancho chiles (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link):
  1. 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.
  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.
You can use either Italian or Mexican oregano. They have different flavors (Mexican oregano tastes more like marjoram) but both taste great in this recipe. Feel free to use whatever you have.
Adobo sauce: You can get adobo sauce from cans of Chipotle peppers or you can purchase a jar of just adobo paste (La Costeña makes one). Substitute about 3 tablespoons of paste + 1 tablespoon water.
Rice Bran oil: Chipotle uses Rice Bran oil in all of their products. Olive oil is more widely available (probably already in your pantry) and works equally well, especially if it has a neutral taste.

Nutrition

Calories: 653kcal
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This form collects your name, email, and content so that we can keep track of the comments placed on the website. For more info check our privacy policy where you will get more info on where, how and why we store your data.
This form collects your name, email and content so that we can keep track of the comments placed on the website. For more info check our privacy policy where you will get more info on where, how and why we store your data.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Joan

    Made this for the Super Bowl party and it was a huge hit! I made it the day before and it was even better the 2nd day. Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  2. Peyton Adkins

    This is awesome! My family can’t get enough of this…which makes me happy and look like an awesome cook!
    And holy crap is this good!5 stars

  3. Mike

    There isn’t onion in chipotle’s barbacoa… 

    1. meggan

      That is true! I actually wrote about this in the Chipotle Chicken post, how they used to have red onion but don’t anymore, but that I think the marinade tastes better with it. Same is true for the Barbacoa. It comes down to a philosophical question of – do I post the truest copycat recipe, or do I post the thing that tastes the best? So I left in the red onion. But I forgot to explain all of this in the recipe notes and should have. The red onion should be listed as optional but recommended. Sorry for the confusion, thank you Mike!

  4. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

Scroll to top