Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe (Slow Cooker 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!


Shredded meat is one of those great recipes that you can enjoy in all your favorite ways. Once you make this Chipotle copycat recipe, you’ll be making it all the time!

This is one of my favorite things to cook when I’m craving the real deal, and there are so many different ways to make it taste unique. 

You can enjoy it in corn tortillas and pile high your favorite toppings.

I’ve added chopped romaine lettuce, serrano pepper, green chiles, chili powder, chipotle sauce, black beans, diced red onion, sour cream, fresh cilantro, and lime juice, and I created the best burrito bowls. 

The next time that you want to create a dish that the entire family will love, whip up this copycat Chipotle barbacoa beef.

The tender beef is a real crowd pleaser, and it can be used to create tacos, a rice bowl, or piled high on tortilla chips. Enjoy the complex flavors of this beef barbacoa recipe! 

chuck roast on a cutting board

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 steakchicken, and pork carnitas, we obviously needed to tackle this Chipotle barbacoa recipe.

searing pieces of chuck roast in skillet

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 gallocilantro lime riceguacamole, and (of course) this shredded beef will be the star of any Mexican dinner party!

pouring sauce over beef in crockpot

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!
shredding beef in crockpot with two forks

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. 

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

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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 6 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 2024

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  1. For the folks using the leftover juice and/or substituting chicken, Chipotle uses thighs, not breasts. Marinated in adobo and then grilled.

  2. Thanks for sharing the recipe! Tried all the side dishes too. All tasted awesome! My 11 yr old son gave it a thumbs up and said it was better than the Chipotle version. Sharing the recipe w/my family and friends.

  3. I am going to try this with a Venison roast, I do not usually buy beef if I can help it. Should be delicious.

  4. Way too spicy to the point all of us found it inedible!!! Tastes NOTHING like chipotles barbacoa!!! Complete waste of time!

    1. I agree… I used 4 peppers and 1tlb spoon of the sauce from the can… yikes! My mouth is on FIRE! I will try just 2 peppers next time…. my lips are burning I am in pain…. also i have copy cat this recipe from other sites before too…so not my first time

    2. Same here, made it tonight, followed the recipe exactly (4 peppers plus 1 T of sauce) and it was too spicy, I actually have burns on my lips from eating a small nibble of it (taste testing before putting it on the dinner table). Smells great though, just incredibly spicy. If you like things extra spicy/hot, you'd probably like it. Next time I'd only do 1 pepper and half the sauce maybe??

    3. Followed the recipe and I loved it. Too spicy for another person in the household. Next time will use 1 pepper and 1 tsp of the adobe sauce.

  5. We used a pressure cooker to cut down the time after we brown the meat we added the rest of the ingredient's for an 1 hr and 30 min….it turned out great thanks for the recipe!!

  6. Thank you for this recipe a total addictive hit in my family,it's expensive sometimes to go out and get Chipotle with a single income families of 6,this is so wonderful, and the great things you can do with the leftovers ,burritos, tostadas with beans and the meat topped with lettuce,or sopes… versatile.

  7. This is a really good copycat. So good that I finished more than half of my first burrito before realizing I forgot the cheese. 🙂 Thanks!

  8. Tastes good with 1stp ofsalt but I am glad Ionly added 2 chipotle peppers and not 4. Might be too spicy for my small men (they'll get extra sour creme) but it is good for the adults. Thank you for sharing.

  9. I loved this! I put it over a pork butt (had to get it used up) and it was so good! My linebacker boyfriend even loved it! I ate mine as a lettuce wrap with some cilantro, lime, and a little extra salsa!

    This is a new staple in our household!

  10. OK, just thought I would add some facts. First off barbacoa is sheep, or mutton, cooked in a hole in the ground and has nothing like chipotle or the other ingredients. It is very tender mutton served for tacos, burritos or however you want to eat it. It's served with a consume made from the juices of the meat. It has nothing to do with beef or chipotle. It's also not mexican barbecue, it has nothing to do with barbecue. Common misconception of those in the us. What chipotles is calling barbacoa is not, it's shredded beef seasoned in chipotle sauce. We have shredded beef in chipotle sauce at home here in mexico, but it's totally different. Barbacoa you serve it's just meat, you make taco's, etc, add chopped onion, cilantro, salsa, etc. and eat with the consume. Nothing to do with barbecue. Just setting the record straight, there's a lot of mexican food in the us that is not really mexican food or misnamed as is this.

    1. Bud, Relax. It's a burrito place. No one is claiming it's the epitome of authentic Mexican cuisine.

      And you're wrong, Barbacoa most certainly can be beef. Beef tongue and cheek Barbacoa is a staple in most Sunday breakfast for Mexican households at either side of the Texas boarder. YOU'RE region might do it different, but that's how cuisine works. Which is why in US America we also have a name for barbecue (derives from Barbacoa), and practically each region does it WAY different too.

      Its origins are from the METHOD, yes, but cultural influences change as well, so you have that too.

      Don't be a sour puss.

      (Am Mexican without a complex)

  11. I never, ever comment on anything. Ever. But, this recipe needs to be praised. We've moved away from our beloved Chipotle and miss the barbacoa. I tried a few other copy cat recipes I found online and it just wasn't right. This recipe, however, nailed it. It tasted exactly like Chipotle (and I was lazy and didn't brown the meat). While this technically isn't barbacoa in the truest sense, it is in the Chipotle sense. If you're looking for an authentic "barbacoa" this isn't it. If you're looking for a Chipotle barbacoa, then this is the ONLY recipe to use. Thank you!

  12. Just wanted to say thank you again for a great meal. We follow the recipe to the letter and it comes out perfect every time. Thank you so much!

  13. Made this tonight with the rice. Family loved it. Rave reviews from all my guys. I've never eaten at a Chipotle before so I can't compare but we loved it. I just need to learn to not put so much in each burrito. 🙂

  14. As a broke college student with none of the ingredients needed for this in my pantry, it was quite the investment ($50) but so worth it! I made the cilantro-lime rice too and made tacos, can't wait to use the leftovers tomorrow (and the rest of the week) for burrito bowls! And can't wait till next time when it's not so expensive to make because i'll already have the basic ingredients! Thanks!

  15. Made this last night. Came out great..however, one thing that occurred to me was how much flavor was left behind in the fond in the pan used to sear the meat. Next time I might try using a dutch oven rather than a slow cooker so I can cook in the same pot that the meat was browned in. Either that or pour the chicken stock into the pan after browning the meat to deglaze it and use this to make the sauce.

    1. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth before adding it to the slow cooker. Gets all of those nice brown bits!

  16. ^^^ I am doing exactly this; I seared the meat (60 oz chuck roast with 10 oz fat removed!) in a Dutch oven, used the stock to deglaze it, add the sauce and mixed well, added the meat and the juices from standing, and tucked in the bay leaves. I'm going to cook it (covered) in the oven for 3.5-4 hours at 275. I'm sure it will come out great–smells delicious already.

    I don't know if I just got a super-fatty chuck roast, but are there any other cuts of meat that will work well for this recipe?

  17. Made this last week with pork and was great!! I used the whole can (small) of chipotles and Adobe as I didn't have a use for the rest of the can and didn't want to waste it. Was probably 6-7 peppers and it came out perfect! I didn't have clove so ommited that as well. Plan to make it again!

  18. Well, I've never eaten at Chipotle's, although there is one about 10 miles away. But I made this yesterday and WOW! Now my mouth is watering just thinking about it and I'll be fixing up the (very few) leftovers in just a minute. I made the whole deal. Once again, Donna, I'm grateful to you down to my socks!

    1. Anna, you totally made my day. This is one of my favorite dishes and I am so happy you loved it! Thank you so much for your comment.

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