So when I planned on making these slow-cooked beef barbacoa tacos I thought I had a Slow Cooker hiding in my kitchen cabinet (thank you oddly shaped cabinets that are way too deep to organize!), turns out it was actually a Rice Cooker! Guess when I found out?! After I’d already seasoned the stew meat to be cooked, so I quickly decided to use the same ingredients but in a pot on the stove. While a Slow-Cooker is much easier so that you can leave everything to the side, using your stove is a super easy fix!
This slow-cooked beef barbacoa meat is extremely flavor-packed! One of the best parts is that stew meat is usually a lot cheaper in grocery stores, making this meal even better for large groups or even meal-prepping. While I used this barbacoa meat for tacos, you can easily use it in enchiladas or a DIY burrito bowl; I heat up the leftovers the next day with some brown rice and peppers for an easy lunch!
Barbacoa is a traditional Mexican preparation of beef, lamb or goat. You can read more about it in this article by Spruce Eats for Mexican Barbacoa: What is it and How is it Made. The TL;DR? It’s delicious meat cooked for a few hours!
Ingredients (for ~10 Slow-Cooked Beef Barbacoa Tacos)
10 Corn Tortillas
1.5 LB Stew Beef (cubed in 1″ pieces)
¾ Cup Red Enchilada Sauce
1.5 Cups Water
¾ Cup Orange Juice (no pulp)
2 TBSP. White Wine Vinegar (you can use lime juice if you prefer)
½ White Onion (diced)
3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 TSP. Garlic Salt
1 TSP. Paprika
1 TSP. Cumin
1 TSP. Chili Powder
1 TSP. Dried Oregano
½ Red Onion Pickled
Instructions for Slow-Cooked Beef Barbacoa
- Pour spice mix onto large cubes of beef and make sure beef is evenly coated. (I actually put the beef cubes into a 9×9 baking dish so that I could have room to mix all together!)
- Heat 3 TBSP. avocado oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sear the beef cubes until all sides are browned. Make sure to sear in groups as to not overcrowd the pot. If you notice the bottom of the pot gets dry, add some more oil. Once all pieces are browned, place beef on a plate or in a bowl to the side.
- In same pot (keep the browned bits), add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes; add oil if the pot is a bit dry. Stir in the minced garlic. Pour in orange juice and scrape the browned bits of the pan while mixing together.
- Add the enchilada sauce, water, and browned beef to the pot. Stir to make sure completely mixed together. Bring heat up to medium-high until liquid is bubbling.
- Place lid on the pot and turn down the heat to a low simmer.
- Simmer for 1.5-2 hours. Stir the liquid and meat around 1-hour into the simmer. I ended up adding ½ Cup extra water at this point. (If using a Slow Cooker, just cook on high for 2-3 hours.)
- After simmering for 1.5-2 hours, your meat should be super tender and the sauce should be thick. Turn off the heat, take two forks and shred the beef chunks. I did it straight in the pot, but you can also remove it and add back the slow-cooked barbacoa beef back to the sauce.
- Turn heat back on to a low simmer, and stir the beef to really soak up the sauce, about 5-15 minutes depending how thick your sauce is.
Instructions for Building Beef Barbacoa Tacos
- Heat corn tortillas over the open flame, about 30-seconds each side. Alternatively, heat up in the oven under the broiler or microwave in a damp paper towel.
- Generously add barbacoa beef to the tortilla.
- Layer pickled red onions, jalapeño, cilantro and avocado slices. You could add whatever you prefer: pico de gallo, guacamole, radishes, etc.
- Squeeze lime on top and enjoy!