Instant Pot Barbacoa is a delicious shredded beef recipe to use in so many ways! The earthy Mexican seasonings sink into the meat as it pressure cooks for a tender, juicy, flavor-packed beef that’s super easy to make.
Pressure cooking in the Instant Pot speeds up the process and makes soft, supple meat that has more of a texture of well cooked pulled pork.
As delicious as it is when it’s done, the flavor is even better the next day!
What is Barbacoa?
If you were to mention Barbacoa to someone they would think about seasoned shredded beef.
It can be eaten in a variety of ways making it a popular recipe choice.
The true origin is meat from sheep, goat or beef that is slow cooked in underground ovens.
The meat is often cheek or other meat from the head of the animal.
It’s a great way to take an inexpensive piece of meat, cook it slow to end up with something succulent and delicious.
Making it with an Instant Pot
Pressure cooking beef is an easy way to duplicate the result of the traditional method.
We use beef chuck roast that is marbled with veins of fat to keep it moist and add fantastic flavor.
Earthy spices and select vegetables make this recipe a winner every time.
Instead of cooking for hours underground this recipe cooks in less than 60 minutes.
Recipe Ingredients + Notes
Olive Oil – used to sear or brown the chuck roast before pressure cooking.
Chuck Roast – is a less expensive cut of beef that transforms into a juicy, tender shredded beef when cooked well. The Instant Pot is a great way to deliver a fantastic end result more quickly.
Cut off any large pieces of fat but don’t worry about smaller pieces. They will add flavor and can be separated out when shredding the beef after it cooks.
Vegetables – red onion, carrot and garlic combine to give great flavor. They soften when cooked and shred into the meat without being noticed.
Liquids – beef broth (or stock) and lime juice create the cooking liquid. They both develop complexity of flavor.
Spices – cumin, oregano, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are the seasonings. Use Mexican oregano if possible.
The barbacoa is not spicy. You’ll taste just a hint of heat from the adobo sauce and chipotle pepper. Feel free to decrease the amount of add more if you love spicy meat.
Does the Chuck Roast need to be cut into pieces?
I’ve made it both ways. The cooking time is the same for either way.
Searing the roast is easier when it’s in four pieces.
But more importantly I believe it’s more tender if cooked in four pieces rather than one.
It can be cooked either way though.
What size Instant Pot is used for this recipe?
How to Make it – Step-by-Step
STEP 1: Add oil to the Instant Pot and set to SAUTE. When hot add the chuck roast to cook 2 minutes a side or until browned (photos 1-2).
Remove from the Instant Pot, add a little bit of broth and scrape with a spatula to release any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot. Put meat back into the Instant Pot.
STEP 2: Add the carrots, onion, garlic, lime juice, spices and broth (photos 3-5). Stir to combine.
STEP 3: Seal the Instant Pot and cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 45 minutes. Do a QUICK RELEASE (photo 3) and remove the lid.
Remove the chuck roast and shred using two forks. While shredding, set the Instant Pot on SAUTE to reduce the cooking liquids.
STEP 4: Turn the Instant Pot to WARM. Add the shredded barbacoa back into the Instant Pot (photo 7) and stir into the cooking juices to moisten and coat.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat when serving. Drizzle with the cooking juices if desired.
How to Use it
There are so many ways to use this delicious instant pot barbacoa beef!
- Add it to tacos, burritos (or burrito bowl), tostadas, nachos
- Use it in the same way you’d use shredded taco chicken
- On taco salads
- Add it to beef stew or in soup recipes
- Make a bowl!
Line a bowl with chips, add a heaping serving of barbacoa, drizzle on some of the cooking juices and top with grated cheese. The chips soften and it’s delicious!
Like many favorite Mexican food dishes the flavors of barbacoa are complimented by great toppings:
- Shredded cool crisp lettuce
- Chopped tomatoes
- Shredded Cheese (Colby, Monterey Jack, Cojita, Pepper Jack)
- Sour Cream or Mexican Crema
- Pico de Gallo
- Pickled Red Onions
- Pickled Jalapenos
How to Store it
Store in a sealed container with some of the cooking liquids (to keep the meat moist) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to Freeze It
Once the meat is cooled, add some with some of the cooking liquids to a freezer bag or freezer safe container.
Freeze for up to 3 months.
More Instant Pot Recipes You’ll Love!
- Instant Pot Potato Salad
- Instant Pot Hearty Chicken Soup
- Instant Pot Carrots with Mint
- White Chicken Chili
- Southwestern Instant Pot Chili
Instant Pot Barbacoa
- 3 tablespoons Olive oil
- 2 Pounds Chuck Roast large pieces of fat trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
- 1 medium Red onion sliced
- 1 Carrot peeled and sliced
- 2 Garlic cloves diced
- 1 cup Beef broth low sodium
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon ground Cumin
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano regular oregano can be substituted
- 1 tablespoon Adobo sauce from a can of Chipotles en Adobo
- 1 Chipotle Pepper diced (from a can of Chipotles en Adobo)
- Set the Instant Pot on SAUTE and add the oil. Once hot add the chuck roast and cook for 1-2 minutes per side to sear the meat, until all sides are browned. Remove and set aside on a plate.
- DEGLAZE the insert (the step is key to avoid a BURN warning). Keep the Instant Pot on SAUTE and add a small amount of the broth. Scrape until no food bits are sticking to the bottom.
- Add the onion, carrot, garlic, lime juice, rest of the beef broth, cumin, oregano, adobo sauce and chipotle pepper; stir to combine. Add the beef back and turn to coat with the sauce.
- Close the lid and valve and set on HIGH PRESSURE for 45 minutes.
- When cooking completes do a QUICK RELEASE of the pressure. Remove the beef from the Instant Pot and turn the Instant Pot on SAUTE to allow the sauce to reduce while shredding the beef.
- Shred the beef using 2 forks and return to the Instant Pot. Stir to coat the meat and turn the Instant Pot to warm.
● I also love it as a sandwich filling served with lettuce, pepper and creamy avocado.
● I like to make a large batch and freeze half. It lasts great frozen for up to 3 months.