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.
Course Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword Barbacoa, Barbacoa Beef, Barbacoa Recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Pressurize + Depressurize Time 35 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 10
Calories 353 kcal
Author Holly Sander


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
  • 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:

  1. Mix the sauce ingredients together in an immersion blender, blender or food processor until very smooth.

For The Beef:

  1. 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.
  2. Coat the meat with salt, pepper and 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. 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.

  4. 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).
  5. Add the meat back to the IP and submerge it in the sauce. Seal the IP lid and pressure cook for 60 minutes. Depending on the exact size of your roast and your IP, it will take about 9-12 minutes to come to pressure.
  6. 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.

  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Serve warm with your favorite toppings on corn or flour tortillas, corn tostadas, corn taco shells, or by itself with some rice and beans.