Chile Lime Beef Barbacoa


With the warm weather finally here I’ve been trying to spend less time indoors and more outdoors. While I love to cook, this weather generally makes me go into kitchen hiatus mode, leaving the fridge close to bare. One way I try to get around this is by cooking a large batch of food to last a few days. For me, this means slow cooking a large hunk of meat in a flavourful sauce  until it’s really tender.

Lately I’ve been working my way through a quarter of a cow. And while I know most of my cuts of beef, most roast cuts faze me to no end. It’s come to a point that I’ll pick a random piece of meat out of the freezer and stare at it. Yes, I just stand there staring at it until I have a faint idea of what I’m going to do with it. Without fail it’s thrown into a pot set on low heat every time.

This recipe for barbacoa was no exception. I threw that roast into a slow cooker, slathered it in sauce real good and forgot about it for six hours.

I want to preface this by saying that this is not real barbacoa by any means. Since I don’t plan on excavating my backyard to make a fire pit anytime soon and don’t have a maguey plant and neither am I using a whole sheep or cattle head (thanks Wikipedia) – I claim only yummy inauthenticity.

Back to barbacoa – not only does this recipe produce a pile of meat, it’s easy to prepare and it’s cheap. While it’s traditionally served with corn tortillas, going with the inauthenticity theme I served it in lettuce leaves with avocado, salsa and pickled onions. But the real beauty of this dish comes out with it’s leftovers; for breakfast it’s mixed with eggs and topped with salsa, for lunch it’s over cauliflower rice with halved cherry tomatoes and avocado or more simply over a bed of salad greens.


Chile Lime Beef Barbacoa
Serves 4-6


  • 3-5 pound beef roast (I used an inside round but I’ve used beef chuck and center-cut with moister results)
  • 2 ancho chiles, destemmed and deseeded
  • 1 guarillo chile, destemmed and deseeded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoons ground cloves
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1-2 cups of chicken/beef stock or water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Serve with: Boston lettuce or other lettuce, avocado, salsa, pickled onions, cilantro


In a medium-sized pan set on medium-high heat fry the chiles and chopped onion in coconut oil for about 5 minutes until onions are slightly softened.


Add the chiles and onion into a blender…


…Along with apple cider, tomato paste, salt, spices, garlic and lime juice.


Blend the ingredients until they form into a paste. You can add some of the stock or water from the ingredients if it needs some help.


Trim the extra fat off the roast and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. I would recommend cutting the roast in half with the grain if you like longer strands of meat.


Place the pieces of meat into the slow cooker and pour the blended sauce overtop. With tongs flip the pieces around to coat it with sauce on all sides.


Add the stock or water and bay leaves.


Cover the slow cooker and set it on low for 6-8 hours. I set it for 6 hours but it can be more depending on the cut of meat.


Six hours later you end up with this:


Transfer the pieces of meat to a serving dish…


…And “pull” or shred the meat with two forks but scraping them in the direction of the grain.


Ladle the sauce from the slow cooker into the meat – just enough so that it is absorbed and not swimming in it. The extra sauce can be frozen into cubes and be used later to spruce up other meals.


Serve scooped into lettuce cups and topped with your favourite taco toppings.


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