Easy Barbacoa Beef Street Tacos

16 Street Tacos
5 hr 15 min

Juicy, tender and easy Barbacoa Street Tacos are made using a humble hunk of chuck roast, slow cooked with Mexican herbs and spices, lime juice and onion; resulting in a tangy, tender, loaded-with-flavor beef, the perfect complement for these healthy, delicious Barbacoa Street Tacos.

You don’t need much with these easy and filling street tacos, but if you’d like this Cilantro Lime Rice or Mexican Rice is a great compliment, wash it all down with an easy margarita!


The Benefits of a Slow-Cooker / Crockpot During a particularly crazy week, I needed a good go-to, recipe for a few dinners this week and this one definitely rose to the occasion. A super easy weeknight might meal.

Start your Barbacoa beef about 5 hours before you want to eat, though it will be fine if you need it to go longer.

How to Make Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

  1. In a large pan or pot*, pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil or your favorite oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot.

SLOW COOKER | If you have a slow cooker that can go from cooker to stove, you can do this step in your pan; which is what I did.

I buy my chuck roast in bulk, wrap what I don’t need in plastic wrap, place in a freezer ziplock, squeezing out any extra air and be sure to mark it so you don’t end up with a mystery meat.

  1. Sear the chuck roast (or some people call them chuck steaks) on each side until crisp brown, sprinkling with a little kosher salt. It helps to pat it dry before placing in the hot oil.

Why Doesn’t My Meat Sear or Brown?

If your meat doesn’t brown, it means one of two things, or possibly both.

  1. You did not have your heat high enough on the pan, it should be “screaming hot” (over medium high heat) we are not cooking the meat, but just browning the outside, sealing in the juices and creating flavor!
  2. Or perhaps you took your meat out and it was dripping in bloody juices (sorry, gross I know). I suggest to always rinse your meats and pat them dry with a paper towel, this allows the meat to sear and not the juices to just steam the meat, this is what makes it look like a blaze brown, vs. crispy crusted sear!
  1. While your meat is searing, in a small mixing bowl, place the following ingredients; beef broth, apple cider vinegar, tomato sauce, lime juice, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and sea salt and pepper. Stir or whisk until combined.
  1. Once the beef is seared, return to the crock pot ( slow-cooker) and then pour the mixture over the roast.
  1. Chop onion and sprinkle over the top of the chuck roast.
  1. Cover and cook on low for 5-8 hours (I needed to rush mine just a bit, so I cooked on high for the first hour, then returned to low for 3 hours). Resist the urge to check on it as slow cookers do best when you don’t open the lid.

Slice, “pull” or cube the chuck roast into bite size pieces and ta-da, tender, easy Barbacoa Beef S waiting for you to serve as desired.


At this point the beef may be eaten just like a pot roast, a delicious Mexican pot roast if you will. Spoon on some of the juices from the crock pot, serve with Cilantro Lime Rice and a crisp salad or….read on and make it into these fresh and amazing street tacos. 

I provided the option of Mini-Taco (or street taco) sized corn or flour tortillas, found at my local grocery store or you may certainly use regular sized corn tortillas or soft flour if you’d like.


If trying to go grain free all together, try making it into a wrap by piling your taco fixings on a sturdy leaf of Butter or Romaine lettuce.

See the post for how to make the easy Avocado lime dressing, it's so delicious!

Street Taco Topping Suggestions

  • Sliced olives
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Feta or Goat cheese, Mexican Shredded or other crumbly Mexican Cheese
  • Mexican Crema or Sour Cream
  • Sliced Jalepeños
  • Finely chopped yellow or pickled red onions
  • Shredded Red Cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Salsa
  • Sliced avocados

Try these delicious tacos with my Copycat Chipotle Lime Rice, or Spanish Rice!

Easy Barbacoa Beef Street Tacos
Recipe details
  • 16  Street Tacos
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 5 Hours Total time: 5 hr 15 min
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  • 1-1/2 lb Chuck Roast (or steak) 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or other high heat oil 
  • 1 cup beef broth 
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce 
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (fresh squeezed, about 2 medium limes) 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican Oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped fine 
  • 12 mini corn tortillas or 6 regular sized
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes, I used grape tomatoes 
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce or cabbage (or both) 
  • 1 avocado, sliced and peeled 
  • 1/4 cup Cotija or other Mexican cheese, crumbled 
  • 1 ear fresh corn, blistered and blackened on all sides (I used my grill or may use BBQ or just cut fresh off the cob) 
  • Lime wedge (optional for garnish) 
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional for garnish)
  • 1 large, ripe avocado, peeled and seeded, rough chopped 
  • 1-2 limes, juiced (adjust according to taste) 
  • 1-2 tablespoons plain yogurt (regular or Greek) 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Barbacoa Beef
In a large pot (or stovetop safe slow cooker crock) drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons oil. Heat over medium-high heat. Place chuck roast (or steak) carefully in the pot and sear (brown) on all sides, just a few minutes per side. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt.
In a medium mixing bowl; mix together your beef broth, tomato sauce, vinegar, lime juice, spices together. Once your beef is seared on all sides, transfer (if necessary) to the slow cooker or crock pot and pour over your broth mixture. Top the beef with your chopped onion and cover.
Cook on low for 5 hours. See notes for quicker or longer cooking times. 
In a blender place your peeled & seeded avocado, lime juice and yogurt. Whir until smooth. If necessary add water until a pourable consistency.
Note: If you use a smaller avocado and larger limes it will be really "limey" which I don't mind, but you may want to taste it after the juice of 1 lime, then add more as desired. Season with a little salt and pepper, to taste. Store in fridge, covered until ready to use.
Prep your toppings in small bowls so each person may assemble their own tacos. Warm tortillas (I just warmed in 200 degree oven wrapped in a clean tea towel for 10 minutes). Remove meat from slow cooker, and using a sharp knife, slice or chop into bite size pieces.
Serve with a wedge of lime and fresh, chopped cilantro along with a drizzle of the Avocado Lime Dressing.
  • Other topping ideas:
  • Sliced olives
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Feta or Goat cheese, Mexican Shredded or other crumbly Mexican Cheese
  • Mexican Crema or Sour Cream
  • Sliced Jalepeños
  • Finely chopped yellow or red onions
  • Shredded Red Cabbage
  • TIP | Need to have this recipe ready sooner than 5 hours, for the first hour, cook on HIGH then lower to low for the next 3 hours. Additionally, this may be cooked on low for 6-8 hours.
Kathleen | The Fresh Cooky
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