Instant Pot Barbacoa | Perfect for Tacos!

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!

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!

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!

Image showing the manually setting of the instant pot to cook Instant Pot Barbacoa.


When using my instant pot, I keep these three things in mind:

  1. Pressure setting: Remember to check the temperature setting before starting. This Instant Pot Barbacoa cooks on high.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


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.


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.

Overhead view of an Instant Pot filled with shredded barbacoa beef that will be used to make tacos, top salads, and eaten along with cauliflower rice.


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.


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:

Shredded barbacoa beef that has been cooked until tender in the Instant Pot and is ready to be made into barbacoa tacos., topping for salad, and in sandwiches


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.

Side view of a plate topped with two tacos filled with Instant Pot Barbacoa, and topped with avocado and salsa verde.


  • 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.

Close up of Instant Pot Barbacoa, used as a filling in tacos, and topped with diced avocado, diced red onion, cotija cheese, and salsa verde.


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


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:

4.91 from 21 votes
Instant Pot Barbacoa Tacos Square Recipe Preview Image
Instant Pot Barbacoa
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
55 mins

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!

Categories: Crock Pot, Dinner, Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, Weeknight Dinner
Difficulty: Easy
Keyword: instant pot barbacoa, instant pot taco recipes, instant pot tacos
Servings: 8 tacos
Calories: 333 kcal
Author: Lacey Baier
For The Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef:
  • 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
For the Toppings if Using the Barbacoa in Tacos:
  1. Push the “Sauté “button on the Instant Pot and set to high. Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil and allow to get hot.

  2. Add the beef to the Instant Pot

    and sear the meat on all sides until well-browned, about 3 minutes each side.

  3. 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.
  4. Add the beef broth and stir to combine, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pot.
  5. 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.

  6. Return the meat to the Instant Pot.

  7. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, and seal closed. Push the vent knob to the back.
  8. Cancel the “Sauté” mode and then push the “Manual” button, and set to 50 minutes.
  9. When the timer goes off, quick release the vent or let it come down from pressure naturally.
  10. Shred the beef into bite size pieces.
  11. 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.

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Barbacoa
Amount Per Serving (1 taco)
Calories 333 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Cholesterol 78mg26%
Sodium 404mg17%
Potassium 695mg20%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 23g46%
Vitamin A 337IU7%
Vitamin C 11mg13%
Calcium 43mg4%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend. 

Lacey Baier

Hey there! I’m Lacey Baier and I’d like to welcome you! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, as well as cleanish, my clean-eating supplement brand. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

57 thoughts on “Instant Pot Barbacoa | Perfect for Tacos!

  1. Wow! Sounds soooo good…and almost fun! I’m a 74 year old guy and I’m proof you can teach “old dogs new tricks.” If I had a new Instant Pot, I believe I’d have to “expedite” a pot of good old-fashioned navy beans & ham…augmented with celery, carrots, and other goodies. The Instant Pot would certainly speed up the process of cooking dried beans…no more soaking!

  2. looks like a great recipe! If I wanted to make it conventionally… (don’t have plans to buy an Instant Pot) how would you suggest I cook the meat? I’d love to hear your technique and time to cook 🙂 thanks!

  3. I just found a great for some Pho and that would be the first thing I make in the Instant pot.

  4. 5 stars
    I would love to make short ribs! I just know they would melt in your mouth with this pot!

  5. I’d love to try rice pudding! I also heard you can use instant pots to make vanilla extract which would be awesome

  6. My friends tell me an I P would change my life- maybe I would try something with pork- I like it tender not dry and over cooked- this may be the ticket. But I would definitely make these tacos, I love Mexican food.

  7. My choice would be rice and beans to go with the barbacoa tacos. Seems like rice and beans is a perfect dish to tryout in an Instant Pot – as is the beef part of the tacos. Can’t wait to win! Here’s hoping!

  8. 5 stars
    I’d love to win a Instant Pot and would prepare the Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef Tacos w/ Salsa Verde
    Fingers crossed for the win. Thanks so much and Good Luck everyone.

  9. 5 stars
    Now all I want to eat is Barbacoa so yeahhhh barbacoa sounds delicious and manageable to make

  10. I can’t decide what I’ll try first, but my family loves Mexican food, so I’ll probably go that route.

  11. 5 stars
    I would make macaroni and cheese for the kids, first in the instapot; thanks for the chance to win
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

  12. 5 stars
    This is what i will make first,, sounds good! INSTANT POT BARBACOA TACOS WITH SALSA VERDE

  13. 5 stars
    I bought a ton of chicken breasts on sale so I would look for a recipe that included those. I am thinking something along the lines of fajitas.

  14. I saw a recipe the other day that I really want to try. I believe it was called Umami Instant Pot Pot Roast.

  15. 5 stars
    I would make butter beans and cubed ham mixed with chopped onion, minced garlic, chili powder, diced tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, salt, and chicken broth. The ingredients are from a crock-pot recipe that would deliciously adapt to the Instant Pot and save a lot of time!

  16. 5 stars
    Hmmm… I wouldn’t know what to do first if I had an instant pot!! Maybe something a little out of the ordinary like bread pudding or cinnamon buns. Or a classic like a nice, hearty chili on a cold night. This recipe sounds DELICIOUS, too! As a vegetarian, I might try subbing the meat for jackfruit but marinate it the same way. Thank you for sharing!!! I love all of your recipes 🙂

  17. 5 stars
    Your barbacoa looks amazing! I think my first dish would have to be my pulled pork tacos that I usually make in a slow cooker. Can’t wait to see the results! Fingers-crossed.

  18. Thanks for the helpful step-by-step instructions and photographs. I would definitely try your barbacoa recipe with an Instant Pot.

  19. Homemade style tortillas! Sounds so good!! If I had an Instant Pot I’d make the Barbacoa tacos first. Then an Italian chicken soup from a pressure cooker class I’ve been taking, even though I don’t have a pressure cooker!! : )

  20. Well my fiancé just told me that we’d be making this fish first! It looks delicious!! I’ve heard great things about the instant pots and have been dying to get one!

  21. 4 stars
    I can’t wait to try these beef tacos if I win! they look so good… also really want to try making yogurt

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