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Barbacoa Tacos

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Calling all tacos lovers! This recipe will definitely become one of your favorites and you will understand why Mexican Barbacoa is the best!

Barbacoa Tacos

What is Barbacoa?

Beef barbacoa is a very traditional Mexican meal that almost always makes an appearance at birthdays, baptisms, weddings, sports events, and more. To be honest, it’s pretty easy to come up with a “reason” to make it.

Even though there are many different ways to make barbacoa, my favorite is with tacos. So what makes barbacoa so delicious? It’s simple – the combination of dried chilies and spices, and the tender and juicy texture make it irresistible!

Have you ever asked yourself what those dried chilies that you see at the grocery store are used for? This recipe will give you one answer.

On the internet, you can find tons of different barbacoa recipes, and you will also find that lots of people will complain that it is not the original way that it is supposed to be made. While I do believe that it is fine to make it in different ways, all authentic Mexican barbacoa recipes have to have dried chilies.

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How to Prepare The Dried Chilies For Barbacoa

I know that using these chilies in a recipe may seem intimidating at first. Don’t worry though. After reading this post, you will be an expert at preparing authentic Mexican barbacoa. To soften the dried chilies, first you need to take out the seeds and the stem.

Once removed, add them to a pot or pan with 1 cup of water, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tomato, and 1/4 of a large onion. Then let boil for 5-7 minutes before draining the excess water.

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Next, add the mixture to a blender and add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup of beef stock or water.

Once everything has been blended together, pour the entire mixture through a strainer directly onto the shredded beef (cooked separately – see recipe below) and let it cook for at least two additional hours).

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That wasn’t so hard now was it? Believe me, the sauce makes all the difference between a sub-par barbacoa and a flavor filled Mexican barbacoa. Also, don’t worry – the dried chilies aren’t very spicy at all, so this is not a spicy recipe.

If you like it spicy though, be sure to accompany it with a delicious salsa verde.

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This was definitely one of my husband’s favorite meals when we visited Mexico, and as they say, the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Without a doubt, that was true for us!

Check Out These Other Authentic Mexican Recipes

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4.26 from 77 votes

Barbacoa Tacos


For the Marinade

  • 2 Pounds of Beef I usually use brisket, but it is common to use other meats such as cheekmeat as well
  • Juice from 3 oranges and 2 Limes
  • 1/4 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp of black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of Oregano
  • Dried Thyme
  • 1 Tbsp of Cumin
  • 1/3 Cup of White Vinegar

To Cook the Meat

  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Avocado leaves optional - you can find them in the Hispanic section of your local supermarket
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt Pepper, Cumin, and Oregano to taste
  • 10 Guajillo chiles or California chilies as you will find them in the US.
  • 1/4 Onion
  • 1 Tomato
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar

For the Tacos

  • Tortillas
  • Lime
  • Finely chopped onions
  • Finely chopped cilantro
  • Salsa Verde


  • Combine all of the marinade ingredients and pour over the meat. Put in the refrigerator over night.
  • Place the meat in a slow cooker, and dispose of the marinade.
  • Add juice from 1 orange, mixed with the juice from 1 lime and a small amount of white vinegar. Then add the salt, pepper, cumin and oregano, and finally the bay leaves, the thyme, and the avocado leaves .
  • Cook on the high setting of your slow cooker for 3 hours or until fork tender.
  • Shred the meat, and return to the slow cooker
  • In a small pot, cook the chilies, the tomatoes, the garlic, and the onion in one cup of water (as shown in the post), blend together and pour through a strainer directly onto the shredded beef. It helps to use a wooden spoon to push down on the mixture so that as much liquid as possible comes out of the strainer. You can use some additional water if the mixture is too thick to strain. 
  • Cook on the low setting for 1-2 more hours.
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Recipe Rating

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Monday 9th of May 2022

How many does this recipe serve?

Alejandra Villanueva

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

The tacos were good but were way too soggy after I put the sauce in the crock pot. I would suggest only adding half of the red sauce.

Rachelle Smith

Friday 11th of June 2021

How many people will this serve?

Rene Dobbins

Sunday 6th of June 2021

Do you use Mexican oregano or the other kind of oregano?


Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

How many does this serve?

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