Mexican Barbacoa Chipotle Recipe

Recreate Chipotle’s tender slow-roasted Barbacoa is easy to make once you know the secret spice combination. You can enjoy flavorful tender beef is perfect for salads, tacos, and so much more. This recipe is keto and low carb friendly. Your entire family is going to love this Chipotle copycat recipe, you are going to love this easy recipe!. You can make an amazing barbacoa recipe that is perfect to feed large crowds!

beef barbacoa, cilantro, salsa, tortillas, and sour cream

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Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants have many great recipes! The franchise’s limited menu of classic Mexican-inspired dishes is all great, but for many guests, no trip to Chipotle is complete without ordering something with barbacoa beef. The Chipotle barbacoa recipe is steam-roasted for a rich, authentic flavor that most other quick-serve restaurants can’t beat. If you want to recreate the taste of Chipotle meats at home, this copycat Chipotle barbacoa recipe is definitely worth the time and effort. It’s so good you are going to make a pot of cilantro lime rice to go with it.

What is Barbacoa Chipotle?

The term ‘barbacoa’ comes from the Arawak-speaking Taino people of the Caribbean region, and it is the origin of the English word ‘barbeque.’ The traditional barbacoa cooking technique began with heavily coating a large piece of meat with herbs and spices before slowly steam-roasting the barbacoa meat in an underground firepit covered with green leaves. This unique cooking method produced meat that was very tender, flavorful, and smoky.

It wasn’t long before the cooking method began to appear in Mexico where the local cooks added their own flavor preferences and introduced the idea of roasting the meat in special clay ovens. Over time, different methods for cooking and serving barbacoa evolved as the recipe spread to other regions across the country.

What Type of Meat is Best For This Beef Barbacoa Recipe?

You might wonder what kind of meat you should choose. When choosing the meat for this recipe, you need to remember that it is going to be in the oven all day long. That means you want to stay away from thinner cuts as well as those that are lean. Ideally, you are looking for a joint of meat from a more exercised part of the animal, yet one with enough fat to enrich the dish’s flavor.

The meat from the shoulder region of the animal is a fantastic choice. Depending on your supermarket, it may be sold as shoulder, clod, or chuck roast. The good news is that although this cut is one of the most inexpensive ones available, the low and slow cooking method makes it incredibly tender. One bite of this meat and you are going to think this is one of your favorite beef recipes that you have tried recently.

How to Serve This Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe

The best part of Chipotle barbacoa meat is its versatility, no matter how you serve it, you are going to have a delicious meal. Sure, you can serve it in a taco or burrito or on top of a salad as they do it at Chipotle Mexican Grill, but you don’t have to limit yourself. Try having beef barbacoa over rice, using it for a Mexican-inspired cheesesteak sandwich, or even on top of a pizza!

Mexican Chipotle Barbacoa Tips

You really can make delicious barbacoa at home. You will want to pick a cut of meat that has some marbling, it should have some lean and some fat to help make it tender and juicy. Long slow cooking will help the meat break down and become very tender. Don’t hold back on the seasonings, these aromatic spices will provide you with ample flavor.

Tips For Cooking, Serving, and Storing Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Barbacoa Meat

  • Don’t cheat yourself. This recipe takes time, but having a bit of patience pays off big in the end on this one. Please don’t rush the marinating or cooking times. You will regret it.
  • Shredding the barbacoa meat. If you can handle the heat, shred the meat when it is still hot. Shredding when it is hot will allow you to get more delicate shreds. Don’t shred more than you will need at one time. Keeping leftovers as a large chunk will prevent the meat from drying out. You are going to find this Mexican shredded beef has so many uses and can make so many dishes.
  • Reheating leftovers. Reheat leftovers covered in a pan along with their juices for 30 minutes in a 300-degree oven. Shred when hot.

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Chipotle Barbacoa Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need to make barbacoa:

  • Guijillo Chilies
  • Cumin seeds
  • Ground cloves
  • Allspice berries
  • Mexican oregano
  • Fresh thyme
  • Garlic cloves
  • Yellow onion
  • Cider vinegar
  • Beef roast or lamb, 6 to 8 pounds
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried avocado leaves – IMPORTANT NOTE: Fresh avocado leaves are toxic and they MUST BE dried to use for cooking.

Chipotle Mexican Grill barbacoa ingredients

How to Make Chipotle Mexican Grill Barbacoa

  1. Toast chilies, cover with boiling water in a deep bowl. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Grind cumin, cloves, allspice, and oregano in a coffee grinder.
  3. Drain soaked chilies and place them in a blender.
  4. Add ground spices, thyme, garlic, onion, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water to the blender and blend until smooth.
    Chipotle Mexican Grill barbacoa marinade in a bowl
  5. Push mixture through a sieve.
  6. Season beef with salt and pepper. Rub the paste all over the meat.
  7. Place coated beef in a deep bowl or pot. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for four hours.
    barbacoa marinade on beef in a pot
  8. In a deep roaster pan, scatter half of the avocado leaves on the bottom, place the meat on top of the avocado leaves, and scatter the remaining leaves over the meat.
  9. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Cook the beef at 325 degrees for 6 to 7 hours until meat is falling off the bone.
  10. Shred beef and serve with warm tortillas and your favorite fillings for burritos and tacos.

a bowl of shredded beef barbacoa, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, and tortillas

What to serve with Chipotle Barbacoa Beef?

Now that you have that barbacoa with lots of smoky flavor, you may want to make your own barbacoa burrito bowl. You could turn this into tacos, nachos, or a taco salad. So let’s talk about favorite toppings, here are a few ideas for you!

  • chopped red onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • a squeeze of lime juice
  • sour cream

Love Mexican Food? Try these recipes

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This recipe originally came from Web Archive of the “News 10” recipe page,  You can enjoy this delicious Barbacoa at home.

beef barbacoa, cilantro, salsa, tortillas, and sour cream

Chipotle Barbacoa

Chipotle's Mexican Grill Barbacoa is hard to beat, you can make it at home. 
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Barbacoa, Chipotle Recipes, Keto, Low Carb
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 20
Calories: 479kcal


  • 4 Guijillo Chilies
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 1/3 cup Mexican oregano
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 8 pounds beef roast or lamb
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds dried avocado leaves MUST BE dried. See the note below.


  • Toast chilies, cover with boiling water in a deep bowl and set aside for 20 minutes. Grind cumin, cloves, allspice, and oregano in a coffee grinder. Drain soaked chilies, puree Chillies in a blender, ground spices, thyme, garlic, onion, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water. 
  • Process mixture until it is smooth. Push mixture through a sieve, and season beef with salt and pepper. Rub paste all over the meat. Arrange in a bowl and allow the meat to marinate for four hours, refrigerated. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a deep roaster pan or Dutch oven, scatter half of the avocado leaves on the bottom, place meat on top of the avocado leaves, and scatter the remaining leaves over the meat. 
  • Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Cook the beef 6 to 7 hours until meat is falling off the bone. If you are using lamb, shoulder, cook for 4 hours.


Important Note: Fresh avocado leaves are toxic – they MUST BE dried to use for cooking.



Calories: 479kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 159mg | Potassium: 903mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 0g | Vitamin A: 2995IU | Vitamin C: 34.9mg | Calcium: 430mg | Iron: 23.9mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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