You’ll love this Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe! Start with an easy marinade, then braise or slow cook the beef until it’s meltingly tender. It tastes even better than the real thing!

A bowl of Chipotle copycat Barbacoa beef with black beans, cilantro-lime rice, and pico de gallo salsa.

Chipotle Barbacoa is excellent, and making the real thing at home couldn’t be easier. The resulting shredded beef is fall-apart tender and just waiting to be stuffed into tacos, burritos, taquitos, quesadillas, and more.

It’s also great with eggs for breakfast! Call me crazy, but you’ll love it too.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Chipotle Barbacoa (Copycat) Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Chipotle Barbacoa.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Adobo sauce: To make your own adobo sauce, whisk together 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or ½ teaspoon EACH smoked paprika and cayenne powder), ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and a pinch EACH of oregano, garlic powder, and salt.
  • Ancho chile powder: You can buy ancho chile powder online or buy dried ancho chiles and grind them to make your own ancho chile powder or soak them and add straight to the marinade (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through these links).
  • Olive oil: Chipotle uses rice bran oil, but olive oil is more widely available (and probably already in your pantry).
  • Oregano: Chipotle uses Mexican oregano, but you can use Italian oregano if that’s all that you have. They have different flavors (Mexican oregano tastes more like marjoram) but both taste great in this recipe.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. To make the marinade, in the bowl of a food processor or blender, add garlic, adobo sauce, ancho chile powder, olive oil, cumin, dried oregano, cloves, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Blend until smooth (add water if needed to fully blend the marinade).
A blender with the marinade inside for Chipotle barbacoa beef.
  1. Sprinkle beef liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over Dutch oven, heat oil 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.
Browning a beef roast to make Chipotle barbacoa beef.
  1. Transfer to a slow cooker and top with marinade, turning to coat. Add water and bay leaves.
Making Chipotle copycat Barbacoa beef in a slow cooker.
  1. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours, until the fat is melted and the meat falls apart easily.
Making Chipotle copycat Barbacoa beef in a slow cooker.
  1. Remove both bay leaves and shred the beef with two forks. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with tortillas, onion, cilantro, and lime wedges.
Chipotle copycat Barbacoa beef in a slow cooker.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 8 generous servings.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: The Barbacoa can be cooled and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Or, make just the marinade ahead and freeze that for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.
  • To substitute dried ancho chiles:
    1. Remove stems and seeds from dried chiles (wearing gloves is recommended).
    2. In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the chiles until fragrant but not smoking, about 5 minutes.
    3. Transfer to a medium bowl and add 4 cups (1 quart) water and 2 Tablespoons adobo sauce. Microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes. Drain well, then add the chiles to the food processor in step 1.
  • To braise the Barbacoa in the oven:
    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 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 marinade. Add water and bay leaves and cover. Transfer to oven and bake for 3 ½ 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 Barbacoa 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 marinade. Add water and bay leaves and cover. Cover and simmer for 3 ½ 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.
Chipotle copycat Barbacoa beef in a slow cooker.

Recipe FAQs

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

Transfer to a bag or glass jar and freeze for future use, or 1-2 tablespoons with ½ cup mayo for a delicious Chipotle Mayonnaise. Or, use in Chipotle Chicken, Chicken Tinga, or Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers.

Chipotle Burrito Bowl

Tonight, stay in and build your own Chipotle Burrito Bowl with the copycat recipes you know and love. Fluffy rice, black beans, tender chicken, sweet corn salsa, tomato salsa, and lots of guacamole. It’s great…

50 minutes
View Recipe

More Chipotle picks

A bowl of Chipotle copycat Barbacoa beef with black beans, cilantro-lime rice, and pico de gallo salsa.

Chipotle Barbacoa (Copycat)

You'll love this Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe! Start with an easy marinade, then slow cook the beef until it's meltingly tender. It tastes even better than the real thing!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 40 mins
Total Time 4 hrs
Servings 8 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 88

Ingredients 

For the marinade:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (see note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder (see note 2)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or rice bran oil (see note 3)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (see note 4)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the beef:

  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) boneless beef chuck roast
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or rice bran oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions 

  • To make the marinade, in the bowl of a food processor or blender, add garlic, adobo sauce, ancho chile powder, olive oil, cumin, dried oregano, cloves, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Blend until smooth (add water if needed to fully blend the marinade).
  • Sprinkle beef liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over Dutch oven, heat oil 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, turning to coat. Add water and bay leaves. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours, until the fat is melted and the meat falls apart easily.
  • Remove both bay leaves and shred the beef with two forks. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with your favorite burrito toppings such as rice, beans, guacamole, and salsa.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Adobo sauce: To make your own adobo sauce, whisk together 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or ½ teaspoon EACH smoked paprika and cayenne powder), ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and a pinch EACH of oregano, garlic powder, and salt.
  2. Ancho chile powder: You can buy ancho chile powder online or buy dried ancho chiles and grind them to make your own ancho chile powder or soak them and add straight to the marinade (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through these links).
  3. Olive oil: Chipotle uses rice bran oil, but olive oil is more widely available (and probably already in your pantry).
  4. Oregano: Chipotle uses Mexican oregano, but you can use Italian oregano if that’s all that you have. They have different flavors (Mexican oregano tastes more like marjoram) but both taste great in this recipe.
  5. Yield: This recipe makes 8 generous servings.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered for up to 4 days.
  7. Freezer: The Barbacoa can be cooled and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Or, make just the marinade ahead and freeze that for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 88kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 810mgPotassium: 77mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 618IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 30mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

  1. 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. 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

    1. 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!