Instant Pot Barbacoa

Published Date
September 25th 2022
From its inception to publication, this recipe underwent meticulous research, writing, review and testing which was the collective efforts of at least five individuals. This rigorous process spans a minimum of three months. We kindly invite you to share your feedback using the comment form located at the bottom of this page. 😇
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The term Barbacoa refers to a slow cooking style originating in Mexico. The time also can translate to barbeque in the English language. Barbacoa is typically made using tougher cuts of beef, lamb, pork, or goat meat alongside chilies and seasoning, wrapping them in agave leaves and slow roasting them in a fire pit. Different parts of Mexico also use other parts of the animal; some use beef or lamb's head, tongue, and cheeks. The result of cooking is the meat is shredded and added back to the juices it was cooked in and served on corn tortillas with chopped onions and cilantro. In America, you'll mostly find Barbacoa made from beef, still slowly cooked and shredded. In this case, the recipe calls for using the Instant Pot to create a quick and mouthwatering version of this traditional recipe.

To create this Instant Pot Barbacoa recipe, a sauce is made from smokey chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce blended with onions, garlic, lime juice, red wine vinegar, cumin, tinned green chilies, tomato paste, and dried oregano. Beef chuck is seasoned, seared, and cooked for 1 hour in the chipotle mixture and beef stock, resulting in a moist and juicy Barbacoa. Next, it's shredded and added back to the juices it was cooked in. Finally, the Barbacoa is added to warm corn tortillas and topped with chopped onions and cilantro. Barbacoa is even better the next day after the meat sits and marinades overnight. Some other ways to use Barbacoa are adding art to burritos, soup, salads, or even eggs and avocado for breakfast. Make a batch for meal prep during the week, or freeze it for a quick meal on a busy day. 

What cut of meat is barbacoa?

The most commonly found meat for Barbacoa is beef, although lamb, goat, and pork can also be used. 

How is traditional barbacoa cooked?

Traditional Barbacoa meat is wrapped in Agave leaves and slowly cooked over an open fire. 

What sides go with beef barbacoa?

Barbacoa is typically made into tacos but can also be eaten on its own, added to taco or burrito bowls, and found in soups and hearty stews. 

Is barbacoa the same as pulled pork?

Although Barbacoa can be made using pork, pulled pork is cooked using a similar method of simmering the meat for an extended period but is usually cooked in the oven wrapped in foil. 

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Author: Jennifer Dodd
Average: 5 (3 votes)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
75 mins
Total Time
90 mins
6 persons


Instant Pot Barbacoa


Instant Pot Barbacoa
Choose the sauté function on the instant pot adding in the olive oil to heat up for 1 minute. 
Prepare instant pot for sautéing
Season the beef with salt and pepper, and add the meat to the instant pot searing it on each side for 5 minutes to brown it.  
Prepare beef with the seasonings
Add the chipotle peppers, Adobo sauce, onions, garlic, lime juice, red wine vinegar, cumin, tinned green chilies, tomato paste, and dried oregano to a blender pulsing to combine the ingredients. 
Prepare seasonings for blender
Pour the chipotle sauce over the beef along with the beef stock. Attach the lid, setting the instant pot to high pressure for 1 hour. 
Adding the blended sauce to the beef
Once the cooking time is completed, release the pressure and carefully remove the lid. 
Release pressure of the instant pot
Allow the beef to cool for 10 minutes before removing the beef from the instant pot placing it onto a cutting board.  
Cooling down the beef
Shred the beef using 2 large forks, placing the shredded meat back into the pot, mixing the beef with the cooking liquid. 
Shredding the beef
Place a large pan onto medium-high heat on the stovetop and heat for 1 minute. 
Prepare pan for toasting
Toast the corn tortillas in the pan for 30 seconds per side. 
Toast the tortillas
Line the tortillas up on a cutting board or large platter. Add the Barbacoa to each tortilla topping them with chopped onions and cilantro. 
Prepare meat to the tortillas wrapper
Serve warm and enjoy your instant pot Barbacoa! 
Serving the Barbacoa
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