Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe (Copycat) + Video

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Chipotle Barbacoa is the Mexican barbecue of my dreams. Seared beef is slow cooked in a spectacular spicy adobo sauce, creating perfectly moist and tender Mexican shredded beef with an incredible combination of flavors. With this amazing copycat Chipotle barbacoa recipe, it can be a reality for you too!

titled image (and shown): chipotle barbacoa recipe


Chipotle Barbacoa

Over the last few years, I have created make-at-home versions for many of our favorite Chipotle recipes — from meats to sides and toppings.

I especially love to develop homemade versions of their fabulous proteins because they can be used in so many ways!

After so much success with steak, chicken, and pork carnitas, we obviously needed to tackle this Chipotle barbacoa recipe.

chuck roast on a cutting board

What is Barbacoa at Chipotle?

Barbacoa at Chipotle is made from tender and moist seared beef that’s been braised in an incredible blend of adobo, lime, cumin, garlic, and oregano.

This slow-cooked masterpiece can be added to tacos, salads, bowls, and more!

Recipe Video

To see us make copycat Chipotle barbacoa from start to finish, watch the video in this post!

The name barbacoa actually refers to the cooking method and not the cut of meat! It originated in the Caribbean and is also where we get the word “barbecue.”

Burritos loaded with pico de gallo, cilantro lime riceguacamole, and (of course) this shredded beef will be the star of any Mexican dinner party!

searing pieces of chuck roast in skillet

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Beef – The best cut of beef for homemade Chipotle barbacoa is chuck roast. It has enough fat to keep the beef moist during the slow cooking process, and it adds plenty of flavor as well.
  • Kosher Salt – Sea salt is the closest substitute, but do not try to use table salt!
  • Bay Leaves – An essential component of Mexican cooking, these add subtle herbal flavor while also deepening the natural flavor of the meat.
  • Sauce – This spicy, savory, and tangy blend of ingredients thickens as it cooks and coats every piece with barbacoa chipotle deliciousness!
pouring sauce over beef in crockpot

Barbacoa Chipotle Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Rinse the uncooked roast in cold water and pat dry.

This helps keep the meat from steaming and allows it to sear, giving you a fantastic flavor and crisp coating on the outside of the roast.

  • To prepare the sauce without a blender:

With a sharp knife, mince the garlic and chipotle peppers as finely as you can. Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.

  • Sear the meat before placing it in the slow cooker.

As a result, it adds another layer of flavor to Chipotle barbacoa.

While you can skip this step, I highly recommend taking the extra 15 minutes to do it. Trust me — the flavor is worth it!

Cast iron or stainless steel are great alternatives to the Dutch oven.

shredding beef in crockpot with two forks

Chipotle Barbacoa FAQ

What is the difference between Chipotle barbacoa and carnitas?

Barbacoa is typically made with beef, but it’s also sometimes made with goat or lamb. Carnitas is always made with pork.

What is barbacoa at Chipotle good with?

Honestly, everything! Add it to burritos, tacos, nachos, quesadillas, salads, and more. You could even pile it onto buns for sandwiches and sliders.

Basically, any way that you would use carnitas or pulled pork is also a great option for barbacoa chipotle beef.

showing inside of foil wrapped burrito with chipotle barbacoa


With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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filling spilling out of chipotle barbacoa burrito

Other Easy Copycat Recipes

barbacoa burrito wrapped in foil

Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe (Slow Cooker Copycat) + Video

Donna Elick
Chipotle Barbacoa is the Mexican barbecue of my dreams. With this amazing copycat crockpot recipe, it can be a reality for you too!
5 stars from 5 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
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!
titled image (and shown): Chipotle barbacoa recipe

Originally Published January 2021, updated and republished June 2023

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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.

  17. I have been making this recipe for years. It is always a crowd pleaser, whether it’s just the family, or if we’re gathering with friends and family. In fact, people ask with hope in their eyes if I will be making this meal when the families get together! I always have all the ingredients on hand so that I can throw it together. I usually cook it in my instant pot, but I have also cooked it in the crockpot. My favorite part is I can vary how spicy it is by the amount of adobo chili peppers I add to the recipe. And there are always tons of leftovers because I make a large quantity, and this makes people happy for even longer! Recommend!

  18. 5 stars
    This is the best recipe for a Chipotle barbacoa copycat!! It is so spot on!!! I’ve made it multiple times through the years and for family and friends and everyone loves it!!! Thank you for sharing and great job on an awesome recipe!!

    1. Hi Jacquelyn,
      We are so happy you, your family and friends enjoy it so much! It is one of our favorites! Have a great day!
      TSRI Team Member,

  19. 5 stars
    I made this Chipotle Barbacoa recipe from The Slow Roasted Italian, and it was a breeze! The flavors were out of this world!

  20. 5 stars
    I tried Donna’s Chipotle Barbacoa recipe, and it was a breeze to make! I added a bit more garlic for extra flavor, and it turned out fantastic.

  21. 5 stars
    Wow, Donna and Chad really outdid themselves with this recipe. It’s so easy to make, and it tastes just like the restaurant version!

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