What Is Barbacoa? An Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe

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Wait until you taste this delicious recipe. This Instant Pot Barbacoa literally melts in your mouth and you're going to be loving every single bite. Not only that but being able to cook this simple beef recipe up in the pressure cooker saves so much time and makes the meat tender and juicy, too.

When the family is craving tacos, burritos, or just a downright fun and delicious meal, this recipe needs to be on your meal planning radar. It's too good to pass up and once you cook it up once, you're going to be doing so over and over again.

beef barbacoa on slate with tortillas

What's the difference between barbacoa and carnitas?

While both are delicious, there is a difference. Barbacoa can be made using a variety of different meats while carnitas is typically only going to be beef or pork.

Why Do You Brown Beef?

Browning the beef is going to lock in a ton of flavor as well as create more texture to your beef. You can skip this part if your beef is frozen. But, otherwise, it is great to do, and I highly recommend taking a few minutes to do so.

The biggest thing with browning the meat is to make sure to deglaze the bottom of the Instant Pot. That means to remove any stuck-on debris so that it doesn't give you a burn notice.

Why is barbacoa so greasy?

This isn't always the case but it might become greasy depending on the type of meat that you're using. As the meat is getting shredded once cooked, any type of fat that is in the meat will start to come out. If there is a lot of fat, the meat will then become greasier than before.

How to Make Instant Pot Barbacoa

Start by adding oil into the Instant Pot. Get it nice and hot to sear your beef.

In a blender, you are going to add the chipotles, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cloves, beef broth, Mexican flavor cube, and lime juice, blend until smooth.

Turn off the saute feature once the beef is seared. Then pour the blender sauce all over the beef roast. Seal the lid and cook for 55 minutes high pressure, with 15 minutes of natural release.

Once done, remove and shred your beef. Then assemble and use as you would like.


What is barbacoa?

It's actually a word that means "barbecue" that references a certain way of cooking the meat. Even though this technically isn't the BBQ that we're used to today, this was a way that the Native Americans used to smoke the meat and eat it.

beef barbacoa on plate

Toppings For Tacos de Barbacoa

Serve with warm tortillas and pile high with all of your favorite toppings.

  • Cilantro
  • Salsa or Pico De Gallo
  • Lime juice
  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Etc

What to Serve With Barbacoa Tacos

Refried beans, green tomato salad, or even Mexican rice makes a delicious side dish to pair next to your tacos.

Have fun and see which ones fit best with what you like to eat.

Variations To Recipe

  • You are more than welcome to cook this in the oven or even a slow cooker if need be. The pressure cooker speeds up this cooking time but can be used in other devices.
  • Ramp up the spice by adding seeded jalapenos into the mixture, hot green chilis, etc.
  • Add in more chili with adobo sauce for added flavor as well. Just know these peppers pack a punch so a little goes a long way.
  • You can shred the meat and place it on a baking sheet. Drizzle with some sauce and then broil in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up some pieces of the meat.

What Is The Best Meat To Use

Beef roasts are a great option to use for this dish. Traditionally you will find the barbacoa meat can be made with lamb or goat as well.

Feel free to reach for what you prefer. Look for nice marbled meat of meat and fat.

Yield: 8 servings

Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa

Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa

Instant Pot beef barbacoa is a tasty Mexican inspired roast beef. Serve with side dishes, avocado, or on tortillas topped with Pico de Gallo and cilantro.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes


    1. Add olive oil to your Instant Pot.
    2. Brown the chuck roast on both sides, in your Instant Pot on saute’.
    3. In a blender add the chipotles, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cloves, beef broth, Mexican flavor cube, and lime juice, blend until smooth.
    4. Cover your beef in the sauce, and add the bay leaves.
    5. Close the lid to the lock position. Turn the vent to ‘sealing, set it to manual setting.
    6. Set the timer for 55 minutes at High Pressure.
    7. When the cooking time is up, natural release for 15 minutes.
    8. Garnish with cilantro.


Beef Barbacoa Variations

  • Use homemade bone broth.
  • Lime juice is equivalent to jui of 2 limes.


  • Can my dog eat Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa? It is not recommended to give this recipe to your dog. Although your dog's diet is based on meat, the spicy and strong ingredients that the recipe contains aren't the best for his organism. Flavors like garlic and onion are highly toxic to the dog's stomach.
  • Can my cat eat Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa? Given that cats are carnivores, this recipe sounds harmless, but it is not. Ingredients like garlic and onion are highly dangerous for your cat. As well as the rest of the spicy ingredients. Therefore, it would be better to avoid sharing this dish with your cat.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 439Total Fat 28gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 2gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 142mgSodium 700mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 43g

Did you make this recipe?

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  • Jessica McCoy

    Jessica McCoy is a seasoned food blogger with 14+ years of experience in the industry. As a self-taught home cook, she enjoys creating and finetuning easy recipes that are fool proof and simple for anyone to make. Her expertise is in all things kitchen: cooking tips, air fryer recipes, Instant Pot and other pressure cooking recipes, and slow cooker recipes. Jessica was the previous owner of AllSheCooks, where she focused on easy every day recipes including budget friendly dinner recipes and desserts.

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