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Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa Beef Recipe (Wannabe) Is A WINNER.

Beef for Barbacoa

Since I LOVE Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa Beef so much, I had to make it.  I searched all over the internet for a recipe and discernibly chose to make this recipe, with additional ingredients that were common in other Chipotle Barbacoa Beef recipe wannabes (copycats).

Barbacoa Sauce Combination

I wanted to make my own Barbacoa Beef (partly) to avoid the unwanted fat pieces I’ve encountered in my Chipotle Tacos on more than one occasion.  They make ‘em so fast.  You have to slow them down to truly get what you want, plus a side of Guacamole costs too much.

Searing the Beef   Blended Sauce poured over the Beef.   Shredded Beef

Photos parallel the step-by-step Barbacoa Beef recipe instructions above and below.  Links include recipes for Pico de Gallo and other Chipotle Mexican Grill menu items.  To accompany the Barbacoa Beef I made Refried Beans from dried Pinto Beans.  I cooked, then mashed and fried them with a little Bacon Grease, Lime Juice, Roasted Jalapeno and Salt.  They were good, but not mashed well enough — I learned it takes a fair effort and great masher.

Shredding the Beef after long slow cooking.

Please note that I’m not reporting this is Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa recipe – It’s an excellent variation of a copycat I found.  To me, it pretty much tastes just like it.  While researching this, I stumbled across another Food Blogger being reprimanded by a commenter that… “her recipe wasn’t like Chipotle’s at all.”  I don’t think that should happen here, but you never know.  Can’t win ‘em all.  (03/02/12 Update: We enjoy this recipe often).

Strained Sauce poured over Shredded Beef.   Homemade Pico de Gallo   Preparing to make homemade Refried Beans from Pinto Beans.

For quick reference I’ve post the original recipe, with the changes I made to make this fabulous shredded Barbacoa Beef.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.  Enjoy it – We did.

Barbacoa Beef Recipe (Chipotle Copycat)

•1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

•3 Tbsps. Lime Juice

•4 Chipotle Peppers – Canned in Adobo Sauce

•1/2 Sweet Onion*

•5 Cloves Garlic

•4 Tsps. Cumin

•2 Tsps. Oregano – Dried Mexican variety is best

•1 ½ Tsps. Ground Black Pepper

•1 ½ Tsps. Salt

•1/8 Tsp. Ground Clove

•2 Tbsps. Vegetable or Canola Oil

•4 lb. Beef Roast – Favorite cut (Top Round, Bottom Round, Chuck, etc.)

•1 Cup of Beef or Chicken Broth

•3 Bay Leaves

•1 Juniper Berry*

1.  Combine the Lime Juice, Vinegar, Onions, Chipotle Peppers, Garlic, Cumin, Oregano, Black Pepper, Salt and Clove in a blender and blend until smooth.

2.  Cut Beef into smaller pieces (or not) and remove any excess fat.

3.  In a large Dutch oven, heat Oil and sear Beef on all sides until lightly browned.

4.  Pour the blended Sauce over the Beef and add the Beef or Chicken Broth, Bay Leaves and Juniper Berry.

5.  Cover and simmer for 6+ hours, turning every hour until the Beef can be easily pulled apart.

* I changed a few measurements and added a Juniper Berry and 1/2 of a Sweet Onion, since I repetitively saw both ingredients in other Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa recipes.  Pictured below is the first Taco enjoyed from the batch.  We also made Tostadas, Burritos and Taco Salads.

Chipotle's Barbacoa Ingredients

04/29/13 Update:  Barbacoa ingredients (minus the Beef) are pictured above.

Homeade Barbacoa Beef Taco

  1. Justin
    April 16th, 2014 at 21:06 | #1

    Juicy, tender, and flavorful but HOT!!! I had a bit less than 3 lbs of meat so I scaled it down to 3 chipotle peppers. This was waayyyyyyyyyy too hot, but I fixed it by scooping out nearly all the liquid and replacing it with chicken broth after it had cooked several hours. The resulting product was still a bit hotter than Chipotle’s barbacoa, but tasted great. Will definitely make again as I spend way too much money at Chipotle. Thank you!

  2. Tara
    June 26th, 2013 at 05:31 | #2

    For all of you concerned about leftovers, it is the most economical thing that I make. I find a roast on sale (usually pork) and it makes three incredible dinners in a row. I found pork butts on sale for $1.50 a lb and I bought 5 for about $5 each. This recipe as I stated below makes tacos, burritos, soft tacos, tostadas, nachos and the best enchiladas I’ve ever had (google emerils quick enchilada sauce!)

  3. Tara
    June 26th, 2013 at 05:27 | #3

    I’ve been using your recipe for a month or two now and it is amazing. I do it all day in the crock pot (8 hours minimum.). I have used it with beef and pork butt. I do not seer the meat beforehand (because it is one too many things to do in the morning) and it comes out extremely tender and delicious. I have made tacos, burritos, nachos and enchiladas. With tomatillo salsa (roasted tomatillos, garlic, lime juice and salt) and this recipe with pork, I made the best tacos I have ever had in my life. That reminds me, I forgot to put lime juice in the crock pot!!!

  4. Fred Rickson
    May 3rd, 2013 at 08:50 | #4

    @Craig. You need to read something on braising.

  5. Vicki
    December 8th, 2012 at 21:28 | #5

    Chipotle used to publish their recipes right on their website, u should see if its still there. That’s where I learned how to make their cilantro lime rice.

  6. December 7th, 2012 at 14:53 | #6

    Sure, you can freeze the leftovers! I hope it all turns out well for you.

  7. John Mcda
    December 7th, 2012 at 13:05 | #7

    My first attempt is just starting to simmer and it smells good already! Big recipe for one guy, though. Can you freeze the leftovers?

  8. October 8th, 2012 at 18:25 | #8

    You can use less Chipotle to make it less spicy. Maybe use (1) or (2) instead of the (4). Good luck! @LISA TRANA

  9. LISA TRANA
    September 22nd, 2012 at 20:48 | #9

    it sounds like it is very spicy & I don’t want so spicy the kids won’t eat. any recommendations on how much to take out from the spices so not to hot.. i like barbacoa & it’s just right..

  10. August 6th, 2012 at 19:38 | #10

    Cooking it long and slow is best to asure it won’t be tough.

  11. Sarah
    August 5th, 2012 at 17:04 | #11

    Just made mine, great flavor but super tough. I think I seared a bit to long, it was cooked fast. My husband cooking it longer would make it more tough, Im not sure though.

  12. Carrie
    May 29th, 2012 at 13:29 | #12

    Fantastic! Made this for Memorial Day weekend get-together & everyone loved it.

    I didn’t have apple cider vinegar, so used white wine vinegar instead. Was also out of cumin, so put in more garlic & onion. Totally skipped the Juniper berry. Cut the roast into smaller pieces to make it easier to shred & the spices saturate more evenly. Crock pot 3hrs on high, 2 on low – meat flaked apart very easily.

  13. Ellen
    May 20th, 2012 at 16:42 | #13

    This was spot on…just spicier than Chipotle…but awesome nonetheless.

  14. May 5th, 2012 at 12:40 | #14

    Just made this today with about 5lbs grass-fed beef, chuck roast. I thought it would need the 6+ hrs to simmer, but it was done in under 3 hours. Wow is it delicious, but SPICY!!! I can take some heat, so I loved it. My daughter, who is almost 9, ate 3 tacos, but had to put out the flames with 2 popcicles. This is a keeper, but will try it again next time with less chipotle peppers. Also, I had to add 2 cups of beef broth half way through the cooking, just so the meat wouldn’t stick to the pot. I followed the recipe to the letter except I didn’t have juniper berries. I don’t think I missed it though.

  15. Jackie
    May 2nd, 2012 at 14:03 | #15

    I cooked this in the oven. I was worried about it drying out, because it looked like it was drying out, but it WASN’T. It was absolutely delicious. I made the cilantro lime rice and made a huge burrito with black beans just like I’d order if at the store. I’m thinking about making it for Cinco de Mayo this weekend!

  16. April 30th, 2012 at 20:52 | #16

    Sounds great Ashlee! Thanks for your message and I will check out your post! @Ashlee Rencher

  17. April 30th, 2012 at 20:35 | #17

    I left you a comment on your “About” post, but I wanted to make sure that you would see it so I’m commenting here! :) I wanted to post a picture a photo from this recipe onto my website Fiesta Résistance for a Cinco de Mayo post! You will, of course, get 100% of the credit and I’ll link it right back to your post. Thanks so much!
    Ashlee

  18. Deanna
    April 2nd, 2012 at 19:09 | #18

    Made this overnight in the crock pot and it was super tender.
    I just used a 2 1/2 lb pot roast because that was what I had on hand so I probably should have backed off on the chipotle peppers but it was still really good, although a little spicy for one family member……
    It was a little spicy for my son, but my husband and I loved it. I countered the spiciness for the wimpy boy with some yummy guacamole and sour cream.
    Leftovers should make great quesadillas!
    Really good recipe, thanks for sharing! I’ll definitely be adding it to my rotation.

  19. Philip
    April 1st, 2012 at 17:39 | #19

    @Craig
    Try cooking on high.

  20. March 18th, 2012 at 17:19 | #20

    I use Top or Bottom Round or Chuck, whatever looks best at the time. I need to update this post, since it gets so many hits. It is a good recipe and I’ll have to make a few things more clear.

  21. TErry
    March 18th, 2012 at 16:48 | #21

    Can’t wait to make this. Can I ask, what cut of beef did you use?

  22. Almita
    March 10th, 2012 at 15:03 | #22

    It was excellent. Made it today exactly following your recipe. It is indeed very close to the target. Thanks.

  23. February 26th, 2012 at 18:26 | #23

    Excellent — Let us know how it turns out.

  24. Sherie
    February 26th, 2012 at 08:41 | #24

    I am cooking this today. It is in the crockpot. I will let you know tonight how it came out! Sounds great. I love Chipotle.

  25. February 21st, 2012 at 18:21 | #25

    Or even in a crock pot — @FoodBlog

  26. February 21st, 2012 at 18:20 | #26

    I simmered it on the stove, but it can probably be cooked covered in the oven too at a very low temperature – @Sara

  27. Sara
    February 21st, 2012 at 08:24 | #27

    Do you cook it inside the oven or on top of the stove?

  28. January 30th, 2012 at 18:39 | #28

    Juniper Berries are found amongst the spices and if you can’t find them, I don’t think it’s a make it or break it ingredient – @Lisa

  29. January 30th, 2012 at 18:36 | #29

    Hi Lisa. I used Chicken Broth instead of Beef, because it’s what I had on-hand and what I like best. I tend to use it more than Beef and Vegetable Broth and don’t notice a difference when I swap Beef for Chicken in various recipes. I just haven’t found a Beef Broth I love. Chipotle most likely uses Beef, so all might feel better using it instead of Chicken.

  30. January 27th, 2012 at 09:04 | #30

    Looks very good! want to try it soon. Can you tell me why you used chicken broth instead of beef? And where on earth do you buy Juniper berry?

  31. Cassee
    January 23rd, 2012 at 05:13 | #31

    I made this recipe over the weekend and it turned out fantastic! Followed directions as stated, but I did have to let it cook for about 7.5 hours. Great Recipe! Thanks for sharing

  32. November 22nd, 2011 at 18:04 | #32

    Hi Megan. Yes, I took the meat out of the pot and shredded it, then placed it in a dish with a little of the sauce to keep it moist. I didn’t strain the sauce. Good luck to you! @Megan

  33. Megan
    November 5th, 2011 at 09:18 | #33

    Hi there – I see you show a photo of strained sauce poured over the beef, but I don’t see a step for that in the recipe. Should I pull the beef out, shred, then put back in pot with sauce – or does the sauce need to be strained?
    Thank you!

  34. December 7th, 2010 at 12:25 | #34

    Ivan: Thanks for the tip on the Flautas — Sounds like a tasty use of the meat. I’m going to try that next time, as I prefer to bake over fry too.

  35. Ivan
    December 7th, 2010 at 12:20 | #35

    Delicious. Left it in the crock pot all night and it was so soft. I went a step forward and use the beef to make Flautas. Shredder the beef and cut in very small pieces. Heat some oil at low temperature, pass the tortillas for a few seconds and piled them up on a plate. When all tortillas are ready, put the beef on one side of the tortilla then roll it nice and tight, secured whit a tooth pick. Pre-heat the oven at 450 we want to toast the flautas and it should take you less than 8 minutes per side, you can also deep fried them but I preferred not to. When they look toasted, turn around each flauta so both sides get the chance to get nice and brown. Top them off with avocado sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes. Enjoy and thank you for the recipe, this one is a keeper.

  36. November 26th, 2010 at 17:58 | #36

    I’m glad to hear it!!! It might soon be time for me to make it again. Enjoy. :)

  37. Dan
    November 26th, 2010 at 15:58 | #37

    This was fantastic! I did everything as suggested but I mistakenly blended everything together all at once… The broth, (used Rosemary instead of juniper berry) bay leaves, everything. But it didn’t seem to matter. I just dumped the entire batch of well blended ingredients over the browned meat and let it cook in the croc pot on low over night… About 24+ hours… It fell apart and was delicious! My wife and kid loved it. Very close to Chipotle if you ask me, and their barbacoa burrito is what I always get. Thanks a bunch for posting! db. Ps, I did shred all of the meat then poured the sauce/broth over it all and mixed it up… It made it juicier and much spicier! Awesome!

  38. March 2nd, 2010 at 11:13 | #38

    @Craig Yes, as long as you’re cooking it on LOW. If you take the meat out before it’s ready, it will be hard. You will actually know when it’s done, because the meat will start to flake apart. I write 6+ hours, with an emphasis on the plus (+), depending on the size of the roast. I hope it turns out better for you next time. If you have any more questions, please let us know.

  39. Craig
    March 2nd, 2010 at 10:55 | #39

    I felt like it was over cooked because it was very hard. so you think it needs to be in there longer?

  40. February 16th, 2010 at 16:01 | #40

    Hhmmmm. If you cooked it on low and the meat is harder than dog treats, I would suggest that it probably needs to be cooked longer — Perhaps another 2 hours should do the trick.

  41. Craig
    February 16th, 2010 at 15:38 | #41

    I cooked it in a crock pot for 6 hours on low. the meat was harder than my dog’s treats. what do you suggest?

  1. January 25th, 2010 at 23:46 | #1
  2. February 6th, 2010 at 02:53 | #2
  3. February 6th, 2010 at 12:40 | #3
  4. May 22nd, 2011 at 19:20 | #4
  5. July 7th, 2011 at 00:37 | #5
  6. January 9th, 2012 at 09:05 | #6
  7. January 28th, 2012 at 17:57 | #7
  8. April 30th, 2013 at 00:09 | #8
  9. July 3rd, 2013 at 00:53 | #9