This Instant Pot Barbacoa is bursting with flavor and so versatile that it will soon be one of your top ways to cook beef, especially for tacos. It’s juicy, tender, and perfectly seasoned!
GUYS! If you don’t already have an Instant Pot (this is the one I have), let me show you a fabulous recipe that might just set you over the edge to get one for yourself.
Instant Pots make things soooo much faster than a slow cooker or cooking in the oven, yet makes the same tender meat…all in less than half the time! So awesome!
I am super amped on all the possibilities – you can even make yogurt!
You can imagine – because I have this blog, my mind is always busy. And I mean, really busy thinking about my next best recipe. Now that I have this useful (and fun to use) instant pot, a whole new bunch of possibilities has opened up.
It’s not like I have a shortage of recipe ideas EVER or anything, but it’s really cool to be able to introduce the instant pot to all of you with this easy beef barbacoa.
Let’s do this!
HOW TO USE AN INSTANT POT
When using my instant pot, I keep these three things in mind:
- Pressure setting: Remember to check the temperature setting before starting. This Instant Pot Barbacoa cooks on high.
- Cook time: The cook time will be stated in the recipe, and will vary depending on whether you are cooking beef, chicken, or veggies, for example. This recipe takes 50 minutes.
- Release time: You are either looking at quick release (for delicate meat cuts and veggies) or natural release (starchy veggies and tougher meat). This barbacoa will be done with a natural release.
This info and more is described in my post Beginner’s Guide to Instant Pot if you need more help.
WHAT IS BARBACOA?
For a little history on barbacoa, it’s actually a way to cook meat (usually a cow or sheep head) that originated in the Caribbean and actually happens to be where the term “barbecue” comes from. In many areas, barbacoa actually refers to the meat being slow-cooked over an open fire, or more traditionally, in a hole dug in the ground covered with leaves. Barbacoa meat is known for its strong flavor, including chipotle, cumin, oregano, cloves, and lime, and is usually served with onions and cilantro.
No, I didn’t go dig a hole in my backyard. I used my Instant Pot.
And it was glorious.
WHAT KIND OF MEAT IS BEST FOR INSTANT POT BARBACOA?
Traditionally, lamb or goat were used as the meat source for barbacoa. Beef is a favorite, too, and that is what I always use. You can use brisket, and also (my favorite) chuck roast. If you are just learning how to use an instant pot, this is an excellent recipe to start with.
HOW LONG DO YOU COOK INSTANT POT BARBACOA?
I coat the beef with spices, olive oil, lemon juice, and more (you’ll see in the yummy barbacoa recipe). Then, I sear it right in the instant pot. I cook it on the manual setting for 50 minutes and let the pot release naturally. Then, the beef is super tender and totally shreddable!
- Natural pressure release: Allow for a natural pressure release, which means that you leave the pot sealed and let the pot cool on its own and open the lid when the float valve drops.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO SERVE INSTANT POT BARBACOA?
I love my barbacoa wrapped in a homemade corn tortilla. Some of the toppings we use at home are yummy and oh-so-healthy avocado, fresh cilantro, and of course, my 10-Minute Salsa Verde. But, you can eat this flavorful beef any number of ways:
- Serve it in burritos or enchiladas
- Cover nachos with the beef and top with veggies and cheese
- Serve over Cauliflower Rice
- Add it to a crunchy fresh salad
- Serve alongside Baked Pita Chips
- Put it between Sweet Potato Buns ← yum!
INGREDIENTS FOR INSTANT POT BARBACOA
I love, love the spiciness of Barbacoa beef. These ingredients are what make up the mouthwatering flavor:
- Beef: Chuck roast or brisket are my choices
- Chipotles: In adobo sauce, of course, for a hint Mexican flavor
- Chiles: Green chiles are just the thing for extra heat
- Yellow onions: When cooked, they add a little sweetness
- Spices: Cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, minced garlic and cloves combine wonderfully
- Savory liquids: Olive oil, beef broth, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar give that added punch
Instead of using cheek or whole head, I used chuck roast and it was perfect. The higher fat content of the chuck roast worked perfectly and the meat was tender and very flavorful. In the Instant Pot, all you have to do is sear the season the meat on Saute mode, sear it, add some onion and garlic, and seal it close. The entire process takes less than an hour and you wind up with tender, flavorful Instant Pot barbacoa meat. I shredded the barbacoa beef and added it to tacos. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds.
HOW TO STORE INSTANT POT BARBACOA
- In the fridge: Use an airtight container to store any leftover barbacoa beef. Use it in a variety of ways up to 5 days.
- In the freezer: If you’ve made extras that you can’t use right away, put them in an airtight container and store for 3 months maximum. Then, take it out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge to be used in whatever way you want.
HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT BARBACOA
No need to dig a hole in the back yard to get tender, fall-apart beef. Use your instant pot instead! This Instant Pot Barbacoa is super easy to make and takes just a few steps. In other words, follow the steps below for blissful barbacoa dinner happiness:
- Prep the beef: I sear the beef on all sides, about 3 minutes each side
- Prep the sauce ingredients: I combine the ingredients for the Barbacoa in the instant pot (this includes the spicy chiles and chipotles)
- Combine and cook: I add the seared beef back into the instant pot and cook on manual for 50 minutes, making sure to program a natural release
- Enjoy: Shred the beef with a fork and then serve this savory beef in many ways, from tacos to salads
MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES
Now that you have an instant pot, like me, you will want to use it often. You can’t beat easy, quick, and delicious – all in one pot! Read my Beginner’s Guide to Instant Pot and try one of these recipes:
- Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Butternut Squash Instant Pot Chili
- Instant Pot Black Beans
- Instant Pot Quinoa Chicken Bowl
This Instant Pot Barbacoa is bursting with flavor and so versatile that it will soon be one of your top ways to cook beef. It’s juicy, tender, and perfectly seasoned!
- 2 tbsp. olive oil divided
- 2 lbs. chuck roast
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 chipotles in adobo sauce or more, to taste
- 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 cup low sodium beef broth
Push the “Sauté “button on the Instant Pot and set to high. Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil and allow to get hot.
Add the beef to the Instant Pot
and sear the meat on all sides until well-browned, about 3 minutes each side.
Take out the meat out of the Instant Pot, and add the onions and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are beginning to sweat.
Add the beef broth and stir to combine, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pot.
Combine the chipotles, green chiles, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cumin, oregano, sea salt, black pepper, cloves, and remaining olive oil. Add to the Instant Pot.
Return the meat to the Instant Pot.
Place the lid on the Instant Pot, and seal closed. Push the vent knob to the back.
Cancel the “Sauté” mode and then push the “Manual” button, and set to 50 minutes.
When the timer goes off, quick release the vent or let it come down from pressure naturally.
Shred the beef into bite size pieces.
Use the barbacoa beef in tacos, topping with avocado, red onion, cottage cheese (AKA queso fresco), fresh cilantro and the salsa verde. Alternatively, enjoy with cauliflower rice, as a topping on a crunchy salad, or as an accompaniment to baked pita chips, and more.
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