Delicious and Authentic Beef Barbacoa Recipe – Elevate Your Mexican Cuisine at Home

Delicious and Authentic Beef Barbacoa Recipe - Elevate Your Mexican Cuisine at Home

Elevate your taco game with this mouthwatering homemade beef barbacoa that puts fast food versions to shame. Tender, juicy beef slow-cooked in a rich blend of chiles and spices creates an unforgettable flavor explosion.

While many love Chipotle’s beef barbacoa, this homemade version takes it to the next level. We’re not making traditional Mexican barbacoa here, but rather a delicious interpretation perfect for tacos, burritos, and more. The key is building layers of flavor and using techniques that maximize taste and texture.

Crafting the Perfect Chile Blend

The backbone of our barbacoa’s flavor comes from a carefully curated blend of dried chiles. We use a mix of ancho (for rich fruitiness), choricero (for bright freshness), and negro chiles (for earthy depth). Toasting the chiles deepens their flavors before they’re simmered and pureed into a smooth sauce.

Aromatics and Spices

Deeply caramelized onions and garlic form the base of our sauce, adding sweetness and complexity. Toasted cumin, cloves, and dried oregano contribute warmth and depth. Canned chipotles in adobo sauce bring smokiness and heat, while a splash of apple cider vinegar adds tang.

The Secret to Incredible Beef Flavor

Here’s where we diverge from the usual barbacoa method: instead of searing the main cut of beef (chuck roast), we sear ultra-flavorful oxtails. This technique infuses the sauce with rich, beefy flavor while allowing the chuck to stay incredibly tender. A dash of fish sauce adds an extra umami boost without any fishy taste.

Low and Slow Cooking

After combining our flavor-packed sauce with the beef, we let it all simmer low and slow in the oven for about 4 hours. This results in meat so tender it practically melts in your mouth, infused with an incredibly complex, spicy-tangy-rich flavor.

Ultimate Homemade Beef Barbacoa


  • 1 whole dried New Mexico, costeño, or choricero chile, seeds and stem removed (see note)
  • 1 whole chile ancho or pasilla, seeds and stem removed (see note)
  • 1 whole chile negro, seeds and stem removed (see note)
  • 1 quart low sodium store-bought or homemade chicken stock, divided
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
  • 1 pound oxtails
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 chipotle chiles packed in adobo, roughly chopped, with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 whole chuck-eye roast (about 4 pounds), or 4 pounds boneless shortribs
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • Warm corn tortillas, onions, cilantro, salsa, limes, and other condiments for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 275°F (135°C). Toast dried chiles in a dry Dutch oven over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2-5 minutes. Remove chiles to a bowl. Alternatively, microwave chiles in 15-second bursts until pliable. Place in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 cups chicken broth, cover, and microwave until simmering, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the Dutch oven over high heat. Season oxtails with salt and pepper, then brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove oxtails and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Add remaining oil and cook onion and garlic until deeply browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in cumin, cloves, and oregano, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chipotles, vinegar, and remaining broth. Simmer until reduced by half, then transfer to a blender.
  4. Add soaked chiles, their liquid, and fish sauce to the blender. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  5. Place chuck roast in the Dutch oven. Add oxtails, bay leaves, and blended sauce. Bring to a boil, then cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 4 hours, turning beef occasionally, until completely tender.
  6. Remove bay leaves and oxtails. Reduce sauce on the stovetop to about 1 1/2 cups. Shred beef and return to the sauce. Simmer until heated through and adjust seasoning.


If you can’t find the specified chiles, use any combination of mild, fruity chiles like guajillo or Colorado.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Barbacoa can be refrigerated in its liquid for up to 5 days, with flavors improving over time. Reheat gently before serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
739 Calories
47g Fat
17g Carbs
61g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 739
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 47g 61%
Saturated Fat 19g 94%
Cholesterol 200mg 67%
Sodium 812mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 61g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 93mg 7%
Iron 7mg 37%
Potassium 984mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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