Shredded Beef Tacos

Rachael Ray is always talking about her “Make Your Own Takeout” dishes… Well, this is another “Make Your Own Chipotle” dish. I rarely order Chinese or get takeout… I do, however, enjoy eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill.

You may remember my last attempt at “Make Your Own Chipotle” – my fajita burritos.  This time, I am taking a stab at the barbacoa – spicy, shredded beef that just melts in your mouth.  I’ve been contemplating it for a while, and the other day it hit me. I can make spicy shredded beef in my slow cooker!  I’m not sure what took me so long.

In the end, these tacos ended up being even easier than getting in the car and driving to Chipotle for dinner! I seared the beef quickly in the morning and then let it simmer in my slow cooker all day long, soaking up all of the flavor from my chipotle pan sauce!  If you think you don’t have time to make the pan sauce, think again.  It only takes a few minutes AND it scrubs the pan for you.  It’s amazing what a little bit of stock in a hot pan will do.  I’d rather make a sauce than scrub out my pans any day!

If you’re a Chipotle fan like I am (or if you just like tacos), you have to give this recipe a try.  My husband has been raving about it ever since we had it for dinner.  And, you can’t beat the smell of the spicy beef simmering away in the slow cooker!  Perhaps I should pitch that one to Yankee Candle.  Shredded beef taco candles anyone? Ok, maybe not.

Shredded Beef Tacos

  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef (boneless chuck roast)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Flour tortillas
  • Favorite taco toppings – lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, lime, cilantro, etc.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, combine the chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Rub the spice mix into the beef, covering each side evenly. Once the oil is hot (it will shimmer a bit in the skillet), place the beef in the skillet and sear on each side. (Check out my step-by-step directions for searing beef over at In Jennie’s Kitchen!)

Remove the beef from the skillet and place in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Leave the pan on the heat, and deglaze the pan with the beef stock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the tomato paste and minced chipotle and whisk into the pan sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the diced onion and minced garlic on top of the seared beef in the slow cooker.  Pour the pan sauce down over the onions, garlic, and beef.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours .

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred with two forks (if necessary – mine was so tender it just fell apart when I took it out of the slow cooker).  Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the slow cooker, and mix into the shredded beef.

Serve the beef in the flour tortillas, topped with your favorite taco toppings.  I like to top mine with fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

54 Responses to Shredded Beef Tacos

  1. Awesome tacos. I love Chipotle. If I had one next door to me, i’d eat there everyday. lol. But since I can’t drive out to the location, I’ll just have to try this homemade version soon.

  2. I saw the smoked paprika in there and I knew I’d be hooked.
    I have to admit, I’m not usually a big fan of meat made in a crockpot — but that beef really does look fantastic. I’m thinking this recipe is worth a go!

  3. Shredded beef taco candles…HEE! (I’d probably actually buy one, sad but true)

    Great slow cooker recipe. I’m definitely going to try this!

  4. My husband is going to LOVE you!! We are Chipotle addicts. I always order a chicken fajita burrito bowl (with the chicken on the side so that I can pick out the white meat only.. I have issues), but he loves the barbacoa beef. Mmmm!! Before I make it, I need some new pans! Can you recommend your favorite/’the best’ pans/pots for frequent cooking? The set that we purchased when we originally got married six years ago is TOAST!

    • Kim –

      I hope you enjoy the recipe. My hubby and I are huge Chipotle fans, as well… and we both *loved* this recipe! Be sure to check out my cilantro lime rice recipe, too!

      As for pots and pans, I am a big fan of All Clad. I got a cheaper set of pots/pans for a wedding gift, and similar to yours, I had destroyed them in just a few years. So, I took the plunge and purchased a set of All Clad stainless pots and pans. Any pan with a nonstick finish will eventually wear out… but stainless pots and pans will pretty much last forever and are worth the investment (in my opinion). They do take some getting used to if you have used nonstick, though. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, I’d recommend getting a good large saute and fry pan and skipping the stock pots, etc. Now’s a good time to start looking for them, too – they will be on sale for the holidays!

      The All Clad pans are tri-ply with an aluminum core (or you can get a copper core for some more $$) so they spread the heat evenly throughout the bottom and sides of the pan without any hot spots. They are perfect for searing meat (which is hard to do with a nonstick pan).

      I could go on and on about pans… You’d think they pay me or give me free pans (I wish!!). If you have any other questions or would like more info, please shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help in any way I can!

  5. Awesome!!!! Can you deliver one….or two….or ten to me:) I’m such a fan of my slow cooker. I’m totally going to give this a try. BTW I think your Yankee Candle pitch is genius. I once saw a root beer float candle, gross! I would rather smell beef over that:)

  6. This sounds AMAZING. I’ve been wanting to make some slow cooker BBQ, but I’m over that now. I need this! Immediately!

    And I would absolutely buy the spicy shredded beef candle!

  7. I absolutely love chipotle!! Great re-creation! I can just imagine how tender this was after slow-cooking all day and the flavors – yum!

  8. When you wrote “make your own chipotle”, I thought you were going to provide a recipe for chipotle sauce or how to use chipotle peppers. But you mean “how to make “‘Chipotle’-style” burritos”! haha

    I, too, like Chipotle’s burritos from time to time, and I almost always order the barbacoa tacos or burritos. Thanks for posting this!

  9. ok,i made this over nite,shredded it and let it sit in the sauce so we could have it for lunch. omg this is amazing. my husband loves chipotle and he said he would have this over chipotle. so everyone try this recipe u will love it. i not a roast beef person ( i refuse to eat roast beef) and even i loved it.

  10. I just made this for my wife and myself. We are HUGE Chipotle fans. While we both agreed that it doesn’t really taste like Chipotle’s barbacoa meat, it was still VERY good. Thanks for the great recipe!

  11. Thanks for this great recipe. I made this meat for tacos for our Christmas celebration and everyone loved it! I had some left over (I made 5 roasts, LOL) so the next day, I made tamales with the meat–they turned out delish!

  12. Could you make this with dried chipotle instead of the chipotle in adobo sauce? If yes, how much do you think I should use? I want to try to make it this weekend, but I’m hoping to not have to buy any more ingredients :)

  13. This is awesome!!! My daughter made it for her sons birthday party and it was truly a hit. Everyone raved about it being the most awesome shredded beef tacos that they had ever tasted. Melt in your mouth awesome!!! Thanks for sharing it.

  14. Why in the world would you use flour tortillas for this recipe? Corn is soooo much better.


  15. This beef was a big hit at my party. I had it cooking early in the morning for the evening party and it came out perfect. Everyone asked for the recipe and I have sent them all links to your site! The chipotle in adobo sauce gives it an amazing flavor.

  16. Yummy!! I have been trying and trying to find a good shredded beef taco recipe and after failing with bland meat,molten hot meat & tasteless meat,I come across this gem of a recipe! My husband went back for thirds!:) Thank-you so much!!!

  17. I tried out this recipe in Nov. 2009 and it’s become a favorite of everyone. I’ve made it for a birthday party, large family gatherings, and our own dinner and every time there are no left overs. Everyone loves it and so do I, it is super easy to prepare and easy on the pocket book. Great work creating it, I just wish I had the ability to be that creative :)

  18. […] It’s still early in the season right now, but we’ve already had a lot of beautiful baby lettuce and some greenhouse tomatoes.  While my husband is content to eat salad three times a day for a week, I am not. So, I decided to use some lettuce and tomatoes on pizza.  Of course, lettuce and tomatoes do not make a great pizza topping (not in my opinion, at least).  But, when I think lettuce and tomatoes, I think taco toppings. And, when I think tacos, there’s nothing better than shredded beef. […]

  19. These tacos were great! The meat was so tender it fell apart right in the slow cooker – no need to shred. My boyfriend loved it. I would probably use more seasoning next time, and maybe add a packet of taco/fajita seasoning – but we like it spicy. We made soft tacos the first time, and then with leftovers, made mexican pizzas. Shredded white cheddar and black bean corn salsa went great with this dish. Thanks for the great recipe! (PS – I used a $3 sale pot roast for this – how cheap!)

  20. I think the idea of candles that are food related are great, and I have thought that for years.

    How about, curry candles, taco candles, even chicken soup? I mean it.

    Great recipe by the way, I will be making in my dutch oven as soon as the weather cools off some.


  21. I have been making this recipe for the past year – sooooo good! I am constantly asked for the recipe. I haven’t been to Chipotle since! I do 4 of the chilis because we like it spicy. Thank you so much for posting!

  22. Made this recipe for my daughters pool party, replaced the tomato paste with a can of fire roasted tomatoes, was sooooo delish served on tortillas with all the trimmings…..

  23. I really love this recipe. The first time I made it I followed the recipe. The second time I added more garlic, onion powder and seasoning salt, it was soooooooo good. Thank you for sharing!

  24. Tacos are my favorite food in all the world, and I love Chipotle restaurant so am very excited to try this recipe. I have been on a hunt this whole last year to find a recipe that resembles the restaurant tacos that I can order here in Arizona. I found one that I like, but would like to try this one as well. Thank you for posting it!

    I was on the spot to cook a meat taco filling for a TexMex party. I also don’t have a slow cooker. I had never made anything like this before. After careful research I picked this recipe and I already can’t wait to make it again. So easy and came out fabulous (I got rave reviews and others have asked me to send them this link). Thank you!


    I added heaping 1/2 tsp of salt to the rub. And added another 1/4 – 1/2 tsp to the pot while I let the meat sit and cool down a bit.

    I also don’t have a slow cooker (gasp!). But I do have a dutch oven (Le Creuset) and my oven has a “slow cook” (options for LO and HI) setting (I imagine that this the same thing as putting a regular oven on a low setting, like 200/250-degrees).

    I cooked mine on the HI setting (because I was tight on time) and it cooked in about 5 hours. Came out perfect!

  26. This looks like a wonderful recipe but I don’t have a slow cooker and am not planning on investing in one. Is there a way to make is other than with a slow cooker? Thank you so much!

    • Hi, Carol – Yes, you can get the same effect in your oven. Simply sear the meat in a dutch oven or skillet. Then, cover and bake at a low temperature (300-325F should work). I would imagine that it could bake for about 2 hours or so. Since I haven’t made it myself this way, I can’t say exactly how long it will take. You want the meat to fall apart. Hope that helps!

  27. I made this and cooked the onions and garlic after the sauce because I didn’t see where the onions went in to saute. Was that right?