This Easy Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe is hearty and rich, smoky and saucy, and all kinds of delicious!! It takes a fraction of the time to cook in the Instant Pot and shreds effortlessly.
It’s perfect for tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, enchiladas, tostadas or straight up with a fork!
Several years ago I created a Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa recipe. That was before I embraced the Instant Pot trend. It was so tender, juicy, a little spicy and super flavorful!
Recently I had one reader write a review and tell me her mom has been enjoying it for a while now, and it’s her go-to recipe! Gotta love that!
The only downside to the dish was that it took several hours to slow cook in the crockpot. But not anymore…
I give you Easy Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa!
It’s the same tender meat with the most delicious smoky flavor from the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, garlic, and cumin. But it’s pot-to-table in 2 hours. And most of that time is hands-off cooking.
And this is why we lovingly refer to the Instant Pot as the “Miracle Pot” in our house.
What is Beef Barbacoa?
“Barbacoa” is often said to be the grandfather of modern day BBQ. It was originally made with beef tongue and beef cheek meat, or even whole sheep.
Believed to have originated in Barbados, it was a method of slow-cooking marinated hunks of meat (wrapped in fire-resistant fig branches) over an open fire, or cooked in a hole dug in the ground.
But not today!
We’re all modern and fancy and using a beef roast and our Instant Pot. What can I say? Times change – and I’m totally ok with that! (I’m sure the original beef barbacoa was delicious, but I’ll pass on the beef tongue.)
So you may be wondering… what cut of meat to use for this barbacoa recipe?
I’m so glad you asked!
What type of beef do you use in barbacoa?
There are several cuts of beef that would work for this recipe. When I make it in the slow cooker, my go-to cut is chuck roast. It’s a more fatty cut than others and does well with a long slow cook time. But I usually end up trimming a decent amount of the fat off the roast before cooking. And sometimes I still end up separating some of the fat from the sauce when it’s finished cooking as well.
I’ve also used a top round roast, and bottom round roast in the slow cooker as well. I’ve never used brisket but I know many people like that cut.
For our Instant Pot barbacoa today I’m suggesting the bottom or top round roast. Here’s why: there is very little fat marbled throughout the meat and the fat that is on the outside edge is really easy to trim off. Which saves a good amount of time on prepping the roast.
And I really like the texture of the meat a bit better after it’s shredded. It keeps its shape nicely and doesn’t just become one big ball of shredded meat yarn.
Plus, since these cuts are leaner they are healthier as well. #nailedit
How about we take a few minutes and talk about how to cook barbacoa beef?
How to make barbacoa beef
First, I add all the ingredients for the sauce together and use my immersion blender to puree it until it’s really smooth.
Next, I trim the visible fat off the roast and cut it into 4-inch x 4-inch pieces of meat. I season the meat with salt and pepper and drizzle on a little olive oil to coat.
Then I turn my Instant Pot to saute mode (hot) and allow it to heat up.
I add olive oil to the inner pot and start browning the meat in two batches for 1-2 minutes a side.
I remove the meat and pour the sauce into the inner pot, then work the brown bits off the bottom completely. (This will ensure you don’t get the burn notice.)
Finally I add the meat back in and pressure cook on high pressure for 60 minutes. I allow it to release pressure naturally for 25 minutes. Then finish with a quick release, remove the lid and turn the pot off.
Next, I remove the meat and shred it.
At this point you can drizzle the sauce over your meat and toss it together.
Or, if you like a thicker sauce then turn the IP to saute mode and make a slurry of water and corn starch in a small bowl. Then whisk it into the sauce until it thickens – about 3 minutes. Next, pour as much as you’d like over the meat, gently toss and devour!
This barbacoa is really something special my friend… hearty, rich and smoky with a little kick.
It’s so delicious to serve it as tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, enchiladas, tostadas… or straight up with a fork like my carnivorous husband!
Easy Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa
This Easy Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa is hearty and rich, smoky and saucy, and all kinds of delicious!! It takes a fraction of the time to cook in the Instant Pot and shreds effortlessly.
For The Beef:
- 3.5 pound boneless beef roast (bottom round is my preferred cut for this recipe but other options are top round, or chuck roast trimmed of fat)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
For the Barbacoa Sauce:
- 6 large cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons cumin
- 3 chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce chopped finely (5 peppers if you like it spicy.)
- 2 tablespoons Adobo Sauce
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 8 ounces beef stock
For the Sauce Thickener (optional):
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 tablespoons room temp water
For the Barbacoa Sauce:
- Mix the sauce ingredients together in an immersion blender, blender or food processor until very smooth.
For The Beef:
- Trim and discard excess fat from the meat. This will ensure that you're not left with oily, greasy cooking liquid. Cut meat into 4x4 inch hunks.
- Coat the meat with salt, pepper and 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Turn the Instant Pot to the saute mode. When it is hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of the inner pot. Saute the meat in 2 batches (add more olive oil if needed between batches), turning and browning 1-2 minutes per side. Turn the IP off.
- Remove all the meat and add the sauce to the inner pot. Stir and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pot (this will prevent the burn notice).
- Add the meat back to the IP and submerge it in the sauce. Seal the IP lid and pressure cook for 60 minutes on high. Depending on the exact size of your roast and your IP, it will take about 9-12 minutes to come to pressure.
- After the 60 minute cook period, allow the pot to naturally release for 25 minutes then do a quick release to completely depressurize. Turn the IP off and remove the lid.
- At this point, the meat should be tender and pull apart easily. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a cutting board, then pull the roast with two forks.
- Skim any fat off the cooking liquid. Then place the pulled meat in a serving dish and ladle the desired amount of sauce over it.
- Or if you prefer a thicker sauce: After you remove the meat from the Instant Pot, set the IP to saute mode. Make a slurry of water and corn starch in a small bowl, then whisk it into the sauce and cook until it the sauce has thickened – about 3 minutes.
- Serve warm with your favorite toppings on corn or flour tortillas, corn tostadas, corn taco shells, or by itself with some rice and beans.
Serving Size5.5 ounces
Amount Per Serving Calories 353Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 9gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 110mgSodium 750mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 32g
Be sure to check out these other great instant pot recipes!
Shredded Mexican Chicken (Instant Pot)
Instant Pot Parmesan Garlic Wings
Instant Pot Mexican Quinoa and Chicken
Instant Pot Chicken Broccoli and Quinoa
Made this in December and it was a HIT! Requested again for the group this weekend.
Question: Has anyone left it for 4-5 hours before shredding (keep warm off/pressure releasing naturally)? I will be away from the house the day of cooking and trying to decide to make the night before or if I can fix in the morning, leave and finish when I get back.
Hi Kacie, I don't think leaving it in the IP for 4-5 hours would work very well. I think the texture of the meat would get strange. If it were me I would make it the day before.
Looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it! Does this recipe freeze well for reheating later?
Thank you Kimberly! Yes you can portion it into the freezer bag size that works for you, and it will keep up to 8 weeks in the freezer. To thaw either put in the fridge for a day, or thaw the freezer bag in a bowl of warm water for about 20 minutes then transfer to a saute pan and slowly bring up the temperature. Enjoy! 🙂 - H&B
I made this for the first time last night! It was a hit in my household, so much that they asked me to make it again tonight because there was no left overs. I have to to say thank you for such a flavorful recipe. It was amazing.
Thank you so much for taking time to share that Audrey!!! We LOVE hearing comments like this from our readers. We are so glad you liked this recipe... and yes it disappears pretty fast at our house too! Thanks again! 🙂 - H&B
Probably the best meal I have made in the Instant Pot. Super tender, so flavorful and so simple!
Thank you Rich, what a nice comment! I agree that the IP is perfect for this... and would eat Beef Barbacoa literally daily if allowed! 🙂 Thanks for your comment... H&B
Hi! I’m trying the recipe for the first time. My only question is do I cook at high pressure or low? I am assuming high but thought I should ask in case you want to amend your recipe. Thank you!
This recipe looks delicious and has gotten great comments. I can’t wait to try! Do you think I could substitute the beef roast for a moose roast?
Hey Danny, I don't cook a a lot of moose but I can't see why it wouldn't work. If you try it please come back and let all of us know how it turns out!
Wanted to leave a comment to rave about this recipe! Hands down one of my faves.
I’ve since gone back and had the barbacoa at chipotle... this is INFINITELY better. So much more flavour and texture. I bought cheap outside round roasts and let me tell you, fantastic!
Funny story, I lost the original recipe and couldn’t find my printed copy. Stumbled across what i thought was this one and made it. WHAT A MISTAKE! It was gross, I ended up having to toss the remainder because it just couldn’t stand up to this!
The only issues, that really weren’t when I just went for it, was the size of the chunks. Are you sure you cut them into 4x4? Even when I had big roasts, the ended up being 4” long, but I had to chop them into 2” wide or the chunks would have been massive in the IP.
Also, being low fodmap I used hing powder to replace the onion and garlic infused olive oil instead of cloves. I haven’t tried it with those things for obvious reasons, but you can for sure make those substations and create something delicious!
It was so much better after thickening the sauce, too! Although I do suggest using cold rather than lukewarm water for the corn starch, I’ve always gotten better results that way.
Another trick I use to keep it low carb is to heat it up and pop it on top of my salad. Doesn’t matter what kind of salad, it’s delicious right on top of lettuce. Of course I add feta and either shredded Monterey Jack or your standard bagged shredded Mexican style cheeses.
It’s barely past breakfast and I’m making myself hungry for this! So good. Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Nick, Thanks so much for your kind words, encouragement and the 5 star rating!🙌 I have to agree with you - I like this recipe better than Chipotle as well!😁 My chunks were pretty big so I had to brown them in batches. If you made smaller cuts of meat you could probably reduce the cook time but honestly if it turned out amazing - why mess with a good thing. And serving it over a salad is such a great low carb option! I just ate lunch and now I'm hungry and craving this too!! Thanks again and take care!
I cooked this recipe. It was easy and delicious thanks
Thanks Ceci, glad you liked it!