Barbacoa Tacos


The origins of Barbacoa

Even though people usually think Barbacoa is native to Mexico, this dish actually originated from the West Indies (the area that encompasses several countries in the Caribbean and the North Atlantic Ocean) and was the dish of its indigenous peoples. It was made popular by the Spanish conquistadors during the 15th century. The word barbacoa was used to name a cooking device similar to a modern-day grill.

In this recipe, we will be using beef, although you can use lamb or pork as well.

What really adds character to this dish is the combination of herbs and spices used to make the Barbacoa sauce: cumin, garlic, oregano, and coriander. The unique flavor of chili peppers in Adobo sauce packs a punch, just don’t overdo it. A little goes a long way with this one. Enjoy your cooking time!


  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 4 hours
  • Total: 4 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients for Barbacoa sauce:

  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 or 2 canned Chili Peppers in Adobo Sauce (Canned) – depending on how spicy you like to eat your food, add half a pepper for a mild flavor, 1 pepper for fuller flavor, and 2 peppers if you like to make things really hot. If you didn’t use all of the chilis, you can simply just freeze them and save them for next time.
  • 4 Teaspoons Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 4 Teaspoons Cumin
  • 2 Teaspoons Coriander
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Lime Juice
  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Onion Powder

Other ingredients:

  • 4 lbs of Chuck Roast
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Cup Diced Onion
  • 1 Cup Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
  • Grated cheese
  • Tortillas

How to make Barbacoa Sauce:

This step is a no-brainer: just mix all of the ingredients for Barbacoa Sauce (apple cider vinegar, chili peppers in Adobo sauce, garlic cloves, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, lime juice, garlic, and onion powder) and transfer them to a blender. You got your sauce.

How to prepare your Chuck Roast:

  1. Melt and heat your butter in a dutch oven pot on medium heat.
  2. When the pot is warm and the butter starts to foam, add 1 cup diced onion. Sautée until the onion becomes brown.
  3. Add your Chuck Roast. Make sure heat is distributed evenly and the meat is browned on all sides.
  4. Add Barbacoa Sauce to the beef. Pour it over so that it covers the entire Chuck Roast.
  5. Add chicken broth and bay leaves (for more flavor). Continue cooking on low heat for 4 to 5 hours. Stir occasionally. The long cooking time allows all different flavors to come out and mix together, and the meat to become tender.
  6. If you notice the sauce is too watery, reduce it until it thickens (cook on low heat without the lid covering the pot. This allows the excess water to evaporate). Separate the beef with a fork so it can cook even better and soak up the Barbacoa Sauce.
  7. Serve on tortillas. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer and enjoy a homecooked meal throughout the week.

Recipe submitted by Gale Suda.


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