Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe (Copycat) w/ Video

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Chipotle barbacoa recipe
is the Mexican barbecue of my dreams. With this amazing copycat crockpot recipe, it can be a reality for you, too!

What is barbacoa in a burrito

Recipes like Chipotle Barbacoa

Seared beef is slow cooked in a spectacular spicy adobo sauce and combination of flavors that create the perfect moist and tender Mexican shredded beef.

Over the last few years I have created make at home versions for many of our favorite Chipotle recipes:

Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice, Roasted-Chile Corn Salsa, Pork Carnitas and Guacamole.

Once again, I began researching and taste testing to develop this copycat recipe.  When the dish was perfect, I hosted an awesome party and invited my friends to partake in a burrito bar starring our Barbacoa Chipotle copycat.

What is Barbacoa?

It’s tender and moist seared beef, braised in an incredible blend of adobo, lime, cumin, garlic and oregano that come together to blow away any barbacoa you have ever tasted.

Burritos loaded with pico de gallo, Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime RiceGuacamole and barbacoa will be the star of any Mexican dinner party.

Helpful tips for making crockpot barbacoa:

  1. Rinse the uncooked roast in cold water and pat dry. This helps keep the meat from steaming and allows it to sear so you get an amazing flavor and crisp coating on the outside of the roast.
  2. To prepare the sauce without a blender, mince the garlic and chipotle peppers.  Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. Do not use non-stick pans for searing. Cast iron or stainless steel are great alternates to the dutch oven.
  4. Sear the meat before placing it in the slow cooker. As a result, it adds another layer of flavor. While you can skip this step, I highly recommend taking the extra 15 minutes to do it. Trust me the flavor is worth it!


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Barbacoa Chipotle in soft flour tortilla

Other Easy Copycat Recipes

barbacoa burrito wrapped in foil

Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe (Copycat) w/ Video

Donna Elick
Seared beef is slow cooked in a spectacular spicy adobo sauce with a combination of flavors that create the perfect moist and tender Mexican shredded beef.
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 6 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 15 mins
Course Main
Cuisine Mexican
Method Food Processor, Stovetop
Servings 12


  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 4 pounds chuck roast, fat trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves


  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 4 chipotle peppers, from a can, packed in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, from the chipotle pepper can
  • 1 cup chicken broth, or 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon chicken base
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice


  • Prepare roast. Make sure all visible fat is trimmed. Rinse the uncooked roast in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. This helps keep the meat from steaming and allows it to sear so you get an amazing flavor and crisp coating on the outside of the roast. Cut into 8 chunks. Sprinkle all sides of cut beef with ½ of the salt (1 teaspoon), reserving the remaining 1 teaspoon. Set aside.
  • In a blender or food processor combine the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth. Set aside. If you do not have a food processor or blender, see cook’s note.
  • Warm a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, until water dripped over top sizzles. Add the oil. Sear all sides of cut beef. Don’t skip this step. We are adding layers of flavor here. Once the roast is nicely seared with a good crust, remove it from the Dutch oven and place it in your slow cooker. Set slow cooker temperature to high. Pour the blended sauce over top. Add bay leaves. Cook for 5-6 hours on high (or 8 hours on low) covered.
  • After about 5 hours (or 7 hours on low) shred beef using 2 forks to pull it apart. Taste, and add additional teaspoon of salt (as needed), stir to completely coat in sauce. Cover and cook for 1 more hour. After this time you can serve and enjoy or turn slow cooker to warm until ready to serve.
  • To create burrito: Layer* pico de gallo, Chipotle’s Copycat Cilantro Lime Rice and Chipotle’s Copycat Barbacoa on a large flour tortilla. Additional toppings of Chipotle’s Copycat Guacamole, sour cream and cheddar cheese are also exceptional. *Click on link for recipes
  • Serve and enjoy!


Donna’s Notes

To prepare the sauce without a blender, mince the garlic and chipotle peppers. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 314cal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 844mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 4mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally Published January 2021

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  1. Is it possible to half this recipe with the same results? Family of two, don't want too many leftovers but am dying to try the recipe! Love Chipotle!

    1. I would think you could freeze half of this. At my house, I have to double it. 2 kids of my own, two extra kids, a husband, and I will have a stray friend or two show up when word gets around I'm making this. 😄

  2. THANKS so much for this recipe!! It was a great one and definitely lived up to its copy cat tastes. WE ate it as a burrito bowl the black beans, lime rice ( mrs Dash fiesta lime seasoning) , avocado, mild fresh salsa with a bag of thawed frozen corn added a squeeze of lime juice and chopped romaine— SUPER delish– my kids rated t an 8.5 out of 10 but said if I had chips with it — 10

    1. I am so happy to hear you all loved it! I love the burritos bowls with pinto beans, I am going to have to try black beans next time I make it and you will be happy to know I have the roasted chili-corn salsa coming up soon. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Any idea on how to make Chipotle's Medium Green Tomatillo Salsa??? That is the only thing I am missing now LOL I am super addicted to Chipotle. I am going to try all of these recipes. My favorite go to is the chicken burrito bowl with black beans and lots of the green salsa.

    1. It is on my list, Lisa! I love it too. Promise it is coming soon. It is a bit of work, but sooo worth it. I am hooked on the barbacoa and the carnitas, but I am going to try the chicken bowl next time now that you mentioned it. Enjoy the recipes and let me know how it goes.

  4. I would love to try this recipe but I do not like very spicy food
    I have just acquired a taste for foods with just a hint of spice.could you tell me what to omit or what ingredients I could use less of to achieve less spice without ruining the overall outcome.

    1. I do not find this to be too spicy. The chipotle peppers and adobo are adding the heat and flavor, so I would cut the chipotle peppers down to 2. That will make this recipe very mild (but will also effect the flavor), so try not to reduce them by too much. Enjoy and let us know how it goes!

  5. I just made this with only 2lbs of meat. It turned out incredible. Tastes better than chipotle. My boyfriend doesn't like spicy food, so I just used 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the can, and left out the chilies completely and it worked great. Just enough spice from the adobo sauce!

  6. Is it okay not to put so much the Chilean I cannot handle too much spice will that changed anything if I cut it from 4 to 2

  7. Made this last night. Really good! Was initially worried about it being too spicy for us but it was perfect! We are so glad to find your site and can't wait to try other recipes!

  8. WHAT a homerun! totally amazing and insanely delicious. followed the recipe to the T and everyone, kids included, devoured it. So easy too. Many thanks for sharing such a sensational dis!

  9. Thank you for posting this! Today I just made Sonoran Style shredded beef. (AZ native, been away and miss it) It was ok and now with finding yours I can just make this one cuz I do love Chipotles Barbaccoa! Recipe is very similar with added lime and more dry spice.. I look forward to it! Thanks!!

  10. I made this today and the flavor is so complex it is unreal. It made the best street-style soft taco I have ever eaten. I followed this recipe exactly and it is amazing, just like Chipotle, but somehow even better. Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe!

  11. I have made this recipe more times than I can count, it is ALWAYS fabulous. Even my kiddos (2, 4 and 6) enjoy it, and my in laws and own parents have frequently requested it for family dinners. I also make the cilantro lime rice, corn salsa, and guac (but I add salsa to mine) and it's seriously the bomb. Please keep making copycat recipes!! Haha 🙂

    1. That is awesome Sarah! Sounds like a party to me. You keep making the recipe and we will keep creating them.

  12. I have made this many times and it's the bomb! What if I used flank steak? Would I have to alter the cooking time in the crock pot?

  13. What brand of bay leaf do you use? Spice islands leaves are californian and say only to use 1/3 a leaf instead of one. Does your recipe us turkish or californian leaves?

  14. I love this. After trying it at chipotle’s i fell in love with it and found the recipe and love it. One copy cat recipe that truly does the original justice. Now I need to make some more. Just two of us so I have enough to freeze for extra meals, but my stash is gone!!!

  15. I have made the copycat Chipotle recipes (all of them) for several months. They are my go to recipes for crowds. Easy do ahead with the Barbacoa (freezes very well) & chicken (haven’t tried freezing it yet). The rice also freezes well to use at a later time. The day before or day of I’ll make the corn salsa, guacamole & pico de Gallo. Everyone loves it and comes back for 2nds! A must have in your recipe box!

  16. Getting ready to make this now and this is not the first time I have seen a beef recipe use chicken broth/seasoning/bullion. Why is chicken vs beef?

    Also, thanks for explaining the process of rinsing and patting dry the meat.

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