Barbacoa Tacos

Barbacoa tacos on homemade corn tortillas with cilantro, onion, and salsa verde

If you know me, you’ll know that I am a HUGE fan of tacos. I love all of the different kinds. When birria tacos took over the internet a year or two ago, I though those were the best tacos I’ve ever had. Fast forward to now and there is a new taco king in my books: barbacoa tacos! These extremely tasty tacos are somewhat similar to birria, but even easier to make. When I first made them, I instantly fell in love with them – and I’m excited to share this recipe with you.

What type of meat to use?

Barbacoa tacos are best with meat that is going to be braised and cooked over a long period of time. Some great cuts to use for this include:

  • Beef cheeks
  • Brisket
  • Chuck roast (my personal favorite for this recipe)
  • Oxtail
  • Short ribs

While there are many options of meat to use to for this recipe, I prefer to use chuck roast. When prepared correctly, chuck roast becomes super tender (shred apart) and has great flavor. I highly recommend it.

Prepare to be braised.

Our chuck roast needs to be braised in order shred apart for our tacos. The first thing that we’ll want to do is cut the roast into a bunch of 3 inch (or so) chunks. Then, season them generously with our Open Fire BPS Rub. Alternatively, you could just use salt.

Chuck roast cut into 3 inch pieces browning in a Dutch oven
Chuck roast browning in a Dutch oven

Once seasoned, brown them for 2-3 minutes per side in a Dutch oven or similar oven safe pot. Make sure to work in batches and not to overcrowd the meat. Set any browned meat aside while the rest is browning.

Browned chuck roast set aside waiting to be braised
Your meat should like something like this after browning

Give the meat some flavor.

Once all of the meat is finished browning, remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add all of the meat back to it. Add the following ingredients:

  • Bay leaves
  • Beef broth
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Guajillo chiles

Once all of the ingredients are added to the Dutch oven, bring it to a boil, cover, and put in an oven at 300ºF. Now, we need to be patient. This will need to cook for about five hours. Once done, the previously tough chuck roast will easily shred apart with a fork.

All of the barbacoa ingredients together in a Dutch oven, ready to be braised
All of the barbacoa ingredients (minus beef broth) are ready to go in a Dutch oven

Braise then shred.

While the meat is braising, there isn’t a whole lot to do (I told you this recipe is easier than birria tacos). You could flip the meat at the halfway point, but you don’t need to. If you’re making homemade tortillas, now would be a good time to follow our Corn Tortillas recipe as they are perfect for barbacoa tacos. Once the five hours of braising are up, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the meat so that it can cool a bit. Once cool enough to touch, shred all of the meat and taste it. Add more salt if necessary. And make sure to save the braising liquid! It’s delicious when poured over the tacos.

Shredded chuck roast which now makes for perfect tacos
Chuck roast that’s been completely shredded. Perfect for tacos!

Make your tacos and enjoy!

Once the meat is shredded, that’s pretty all there is to it. Serve with whatever taco toppings you prefer. I like to use the following:

  • Onion
  • Cilantro
  • Limes
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa

You could go simple and just use onion, cilantro, and limes (basic but big flavor) or get a little more involved and make guacamole and salsa. Both styles are so good. As mentioned before, do not forget to pour some of the braising liquid over your tacos. It significantly increases the flavor. Give this recipe a shot. It’s great for a family meal or even for a bigger group due to the fact that you can cook a lot of meat in a Dutch oven. Whomever you make it for, I know they’ll be impressed. These tacos are on repeat in my household and I have a feeling they will be in yours as well.

Barbacoa tacos on homemade corn tortillas with cilantro, onion, and salsa verde

Barbacoa Tacos

If you've never had barbacoa tacos before, then you need to give this recipe a shot! Chuck roast is slowly braised in beef broth with guajillo chiles, garlic, and spices to give the meat some serious flavor. The extremely tender meat is then shredded to give you the perfect filling for your tortillas. Whether you're serving this for your family or a larger group, this dish is sure to impress your guests to the point that they'll be begging you to make it for their next Cinco de Mayo fiesta!
Servings 5 people


  • 3-4 lbs Chuck roast cut into 3 inch pieces
  • Open Fire BPS Rub to taste; alternatively salt can be used
  • Beef tallow or oil for searing
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 4 cups Beef broth
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 10 Garlic cloves smashed
  • 4 Guajillo chiles


  • Cut the chuck roast into 3 inch sized pieces. Season all sides of each piece generously with Open Fire BPS rub. Alternatively, you can season with salt.
  • In a large Dutch oven or similar oven safe pot, add a little bit of beef tallow or oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat for 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside once browned and repeat with remaining pieces.
  • Light the oven to 300ºF.
  • Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Add the browned meat, bay leaves, beef broth, cinnamon stick, cumin, garlic cloves, and guajillo chiles to the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, cover, and put into the oven.
  • Allow to cook for 5 hours in the oven. Flip the meat at the halfway point.
  • When the 5 hours are up, remove the Dutch oven from the oven. Remove the meat from the Dutch oven and allow to cool. Shred the meat once it is cool enough to handle. Add salt if necessary.
  • Serve the shredded barbacoa meat in a taco. Use whatever taco toppings you like. My recommendations include onion, cilantro, and limes or guacamole and salsa. Enjoy!
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