Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos (Chipotle Copycat)


Last night we drove 30 minutes to get to a Chipotle because I wanted to try making barbacoa beef like theirs but I had to remember what theirs actually tasted like first. 30 minutes isn’t much but it’s not really worth the drive for a chain restaurant, it’s a just better option to make it at home instead, right? Plus it’s cheaper and you get to enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos (Chipotle Copycat) | Cooking Classy

I didn’t do a side by side comparison, I forgot to bring some of it home, but this is very close to what I remember eating last night. It may be a little spicier, but maybe I just wasn’t noticing the spice in Chipotle’s beef because I had so much sour cream doused over my taco – one more nice thing about making these tacos at home, you control exactly what goes in them and how much.

These tacos are really easy to make, the slow cooker does most of the work. It does take a little while to get all the beef browned but the browning is worth it. It just brings that deep layer of flavor that you won’t get if you just toss it in the slow cooker and skip that step.


This beef would also be great for burritos or burrito bowls, salads, over nachos, or in quesadillas. If you aren’t a fan of heat, you could replace the chipotle chilies with chili powder and a little bit of vinegar, but your end result will definitely have a different flavor profile, still good, just different.

You can never have too many taco recipes, and this is one you should most definitely add to your list to try and soon!

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos (Chipotle Copycat) | Cooking ClassySlow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos (Chipotle Copycat) | Cooking Classy


Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos (Chipotle Copycat)

Yield: About 10 tacos


  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups beef broth , divided
  • 3 - 4 chipotle chilis in adobo
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp salt , then more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

For serving:

  • Flour or corn tortillas , warmed
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Pico de gallo or diced tomatoes
  • Sliced avocados or guacamole
  • Crema or sour cream


  1. Cut roast into 6 portions while removing any large pieces of fat. Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a skillet. Once hot add 3 pieces of the chuck roast and sear until browned on all sides. Transfer to a slow cooker. Add remaining 1 Tbsp vegetable oil to skillet and repeat process with remaining 3 roast pieces. Nestle beef portions side by side in an even layer in slow cooker.
  2. In a food processor, pulse together chipotle chilies, garlic and 1/4 cup beef broth until well pureed, occasionally stopping and scraping down sides of processor. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together remaining beef broth with chipotle mixture, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cloves. Pour mixture over beef in slow cooker, then nestle bay leaves between beef portions. Cover and cook on low heat 8 - 9 hours (I wouldn't recommend cooking on high, low cooking will achieve more tender results).
  3. Remove beef from slow cooker (leave broth) and shred. Stir lime juice into broth in slow cooker then return beef to slow cooker and cook on low or warm 20 - 30 minutes longer. Strain liquid from beef and serve in tacos with desired toppings.
  4. Recipe source: adapted slightly from

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos (Chipotle Copycat) | Cooking Classy


  • Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet: We are huge fans of Chipotle! I can’t wait to make this barbacoa! My Hubby will love it! April 25, 2015 at 8:45am Reply

  • Cathleen @ A Taste Of Madness: Haha, now I don’t need to travel to one of the two Chipotle’s that Toronto has. This looks so good! April 25, 2015 at 8:17pm Reply

  • Amy @ Eat Pray Workout: YUM! love the look of this!!! April 26, 2015 at 4:54am Reply

  • Lindsay: I love Chipotle-and these look awesome!! Could you substitute round steak? April 26, 2015 at 8:22am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I wouldn’t recommend round steak for this recipe. A chuck roast will be best. I hope you try it and love it! April 26, 2015 at 10:55am Reply

  • Jocelyn: This is absolutely delicious! I made a few adjustments to the spices to suit our preferences, but otherwise I followed your very clear and perfect directions. My daughter asked for the leftovers in her lunch tomorrow, which I take as a ringing endorsement. Thank you! April 26, 2015 at 7:47pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear that Jocelyn! Glad it was enjoyed! April 27, 2015 at 9:55am Reply

  • Shari Kelley: Chipotle’s barbacoa is one of my very favorite things! I am so happy you made a copycat version of this, Jaclyn. Thank you so much. I plan on trying this as soon as possible. April 26, 2015 at 10:52pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I hope you love it Shari :)! April 27, 2015 at 9:47am Reply

      • Shari Kelley: I have made this a couple times now, and our whole family just loves it. The lime really comes through and the smokiness from the chipotle chilis gives it such great flavor and the perfect amount of spice. Thank you so much for the recipe, Jaclyn! August 17, 2016 at 11:29am Reply

        • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this recipe Shari, thanks for another review! August 17, 2016 at 10:52pm Reply

  • Joanna: I’m going to try this one it looks yummy x April 27, 2015 at 4:42am Reply

  • Sandra @ Heavenly Deviled Eggs: I can’t wait to try these! I love Chipotle and certainly don’t have a lack of these restaurants within driving distance, but I would love to make their food at home. The fact that it’s made in a slow cooker is a huge plus. Thanks! May 16, 2015 at 11:41am Reply

  • Sammie: I made this and the cloves were overwhelming .. did not like that at all.. as that is the only thing i could taste.. June 7, 2015 at 10:32pm Reply

  • Sandy: I just made these on Sunday. All I can say is, AMAZING! My husband wasn’t a huge fan of the heat, I’ll have to use less chili’s next time, but this recipe, is PERFECT.
    Thanks! June 17, 2015 at 6:57am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m glad you like the recipe Sandy! Thanks for your review! June 17, 2015 at 10:34pm Reply

  • Reduceri haine: Looks fresh and wonderfully tasty! June 24, 2015 at 6:16am Reply

  • Kathy Barnhart: I made this recipe today. Delicious IF you leave the cloves out. I didn’t think I would like the taste of the cloves and didn’t care for the overwhelming smell of cloves either as this started to cook. I actually took the beef out of the crockpot, rinsed it off, dumped the broth/sauce, remade it without the ground cloves and put it back in the crockpot for the remaining 7 hours. It turned out great and my 7 year old son and my husband and I all loved it! November 14, 2015 at 6:12pm Reply

  • Monique: oh no…just put this in the crockpot now before i saw thecomments about the cloves. Oh well, I’ll check back and let you know if I too did not like the cloves. January 13, 2016 at 9:48am Reply

  • Monique Armann: So I made this tonight for the first time and here is my review. If you love mexican then this is for you. Although it was a little more labor intensive than I like (pureeing chile peppers in adobe sauce/garlic/beef broth is more than i usually do)the recipe called for 3 to 4 chiles but i used 2 and that was more than enough heat for me, if you are a foodie, sometimes its worth the work. Even though some reviews did not like the cloves in the mix, i thought it tasted awesome. I put the meat in Taco salad bowls, layered the bottom with warm black beans,then shredded lettuce, the meat, red onion, chopped tomatoes, monterey/cheddar cheese, avocado, cilantro, and fresh salsa (sour cream is optional which is a must for me)! slice of lime to juice if you want and it was delicious. So much meat was left, I will freeze for another, quick meal in the future. Highly recommend! January 13, 2016 at 10:41pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Glad you liked it! Thanks for your comment Monique! January 15, 2016 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Christie Schultz: AMAZING!! Wouldn’t change a thing, that’s how spot on this recipe is! Even piled leftovers atop nachos and it was awesome! Please keep sharing your great recipes…Yay! June 10, 2016 at 6:17pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it Christie! Thanks for your review! June 11, 2016 at 1:40pm Reply

  • Cheryl Blount: I’m making this for the 2nd time and just wanted to say it’s one of a few pinned recipes that once I tasted it, I couldn’t stop thinking about how great it was. The roast just cooked up perfectly and very spot on. August 9, 2016 at 2:55pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for the great review Cheryl! August 18, 2016 at 3:56pm Reply

  • Linda: Just curious, what do you do with the leftover chipotle peppers you don’t use? Can I freeze them for later use? Seems a waste to throw them away.. September 6, 2016 at 9:13am Reply

    • Mary: I froze mine and seems to work! December 30, 2016 at 6:50am Reply

  • Frida: I didn’t like the taste of cloves at all :(( September 18, 2016 at 3:33pm Reply

  • Tasha: By far my favorite pinterest find!! I have made this a few times and everyone loves it. Thank you for a great recipe! February 2, 2017 at 2:00pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you love them Tasha! February 16, 2017 at 12:42pm Reply

  • Mike: Hello. I am going to make this tomorrow. Can you please tell me how to use the Chiles? They come in a can with sauce. Do you just take three of them out of the can? Do you pour the sauce from the can in with them? Thank you for your reply May 9, 2017 at 5:26pm Reply

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