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Crockpot Barbacoa Beef and Killer Spicy Nachos

Raise your hand if your need for Chipotle falls somewhere below having a roof over your head, but well above having cable. If I have to choose between the ability to watch hours of movies featuring washed up actors and men beating/cheating/leaving their wives (yes, I’m talking about you Lifetime Originals) and eating Chipotle, Chipotle wins. By a landslide.
I’ve loved Chipotle for a long time. In fact, I still credit their pico de gallo with curing me of my hatred for fresh tomatoes (Thanks again, Chipotle!). But I was never very adventurous with my Chipotle orders. I always got the soft tacos. Always the chicken. Always the black beans. Always the mild salsa, sour cream, and cheese. But then one day, at the Mr.’s suggestion, I tried the barbacoa beef. In a bowl. With peppers and onions.

Mind blown. 

The stuff was incredible! Soaked in flavor, tender, spicy, meaty. I don’t think I’ve ordered chicken since. 

The crazy thing is I never even thought about trying to make the stuff at home. It seemed totally out of my league. I was positive it must contain obscure ingredients and require that I buy a specially trained Mexican cow for the beef.
But then I found this unassuming recipe for Crockpot Barbacoa over at the Kitchn.

Believe me, I had my doubts too. I didn’t expect it to be Chipotle good, but I figured it was worth a try anyway.

Wanna know something?

It’s better. Fresher. Juicier. Tender. Even more spicy and flavorful than the original. 

And you know something else?

It’s not hard! You throw a bunch of ingredients into your blender and puree them. Spread it over the bottom of a crockpot. Top with beef. Cover with beef broth, set to low, and walk away. The hardest part is waiting all day to eat it!

This recipe makes a boatload of barbacoa, so it’s perfect for a party. But even if you aren’t expecting an army of people, I’d encourage you to make the whole batch. We froze over half of our recipe and love having it on hand for a quick and stress free weeknight meal. We’ve found it pairs well in all sorts of dishes, not just the usual Tex-Mex fare. We’ve put this stuff in eggs, on grilled cheese, and of course, on these Killer Spicy Nachos. 

Yes, you can have Chipotle at home. And with all the money we’ll be saving not going to Chipotle all the time, maybe we’ll be able to afford cable after all. Lifetime here I come!

Crockpot Barbacoa Beef and Killer Spicy Nachos

Prep Time 15 minsPrep Time
Cook Time 8 minsCook Time
Total Time 23 mins Total Time
Yields 10

**One more note about this recipe. It is quite spicy. Spicier than Chipotle's. So if you're sensitive to spice, you may want to dial back on the chipotle peppers or at least take the seeds out of the peppers. I thought the spiciness was perfect, but I love spicy, so use your judgment and do what's best for your tastes!


    For the Barbacoa

    • 5 canned chipotle peppers plus all the adobo sauce with it
    • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
    • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
    • 1 head garlic, peeled and cloves smashed
    • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • Juice of 4 limes
    • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
    • 5 dry bay leaves
    • 5 to 7 pounds roast beef
    • 4 to 6 cups beef stock

    For the nachos

    • Tortilla chips, enough to cover a medium sized baking pan
    • Shredded monterey jack or pepper jack cheese (the beef is spicy, so if you aren't a huge fan of spice, use monterey jack)
    • Barbacoa
    • Sour Cream
    • Salsa
    • One lime
    • Chopped Cilantro


    1. In a blender or food processor combine chipotle peppers, cilantro, red onion, garlic, cloves, salt, lime juice, and cider vinegar. Pulse until the mixture is thoroughly combined and has formed a thick puree.
    2. Place mixture at the bottom of a large crockpot. Layer roast beef on top (I had two 3 pound roasts, so I just stacked them on top of each other).
    3. Add enough beef stock to fully cover the roasts. Lay dry bay leaves on top.
    4. Cover and cook on High for 6-8 hours. Remove bay leaves. Remove beef to a cutting board and shred. If serving immediately, put shredded beef in a bowl and cover with sauce. Otherwise, return beef to crockpot and keep on warm until ready to serve.
    5. For the nachos:
    6. To make the nachos, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread tortilla chips in an even layer over the pan. Sprinkle liberally with shredded cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
    7. Divide nachos among plates and top with barbacoa, sour cream, and salsa. Squeeze the juice of about ½ a lime over each portion of nachos and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.


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    Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

    { 13 comments… add one }

    Leave a Comment

    • Emily @ She Makes and Bakes June 8, 2012, 9:50 AM

      I don’t eat at Chipotle because they don’t have queso (I have strange requirements), but their pico de gallo is fantastic! This recipe looks incredible. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Jessica@AKitchenAddiction June 8, 2012, 11:22 AM

      Sounds amazing!! Love it and my husband would, too! Going to save this recipe! 🙂

    • Kristin Slocum June 11, 2012, 11:03 AM

      We LOVE Chipotle! Just had the barbacoa last night. 🙂 And Ethan loves it too! He had so much of it when I was preggers with him that it’s kinda in his blood I think! This sounds great – I’m gonna try it!

    • All That I'm Eating October 23, 2012, 8:24 AM

      This looks great. I love chipotle, I don’t use it enough!

    • Heather Sage October 23, 2012, 1:20 PM

      this looks amazing! i love, love, love chipotle’s barbacoa (such a sucker for braised meat) — thanks for sharing the recipe and congrats on top 9!

    • Meghan @ The Tasty Fork October 23, 2012, 1:46 PM

      This looks awesome!! I’m so glad I saw this recipe on Food Buzz Daily. Pinning!!!

    • Anonymous October 23, 2012, 5:27 PM

      the fact that you just assume we know you are talking about “Chipotle” as the restaurant rather than “Chipotle” as smoked Jalepenos is a bit confusing.

    • daphne October 23, 2012, 11:52 PM

      Love the sound of this! so amazing.

    • Kels @ K and K Test Kitchen October 24, 2012, 1:42 PM

      Yum! I had seen the recipe on the Kitchn and wondered how it stacked up to Chipotle’s version. Now I have to try it and definitely put it on top of some nachos too!

    • Hampton Heather October 31, 2012, 10:43 AM

      I made this over the weekend, and it’s absolutely delicious! We love it! For just two of us, we had a lot of beef, so in addition to serving it with nachos, we’ve also eaten it with soft corn tortillas, over rice, and on a pizza. One question I have for you, is how big is your crockpot? Mine is 3.5 quarts, and after I got 6 pounds of meat in, I only had room for barely 1 cup of broth. This did not turn out to be a problem, however, this dish seemed to be exactly as promised. Thanks for sharing this recipe; it’s definitely a keeper.

      • Courtney October 31, 2012, 1:14 PM

        So glad you enjoyed it! It does make A LOT of beef, but we’ve managed to find a way to consume it all one way or another. LOVE the idea of putting it on pizza! Genius! I should also mention this stuff freezes really well. It stays good for months. When you need another round of beef, you just pull it from the freezer and pop it in the fridge to defrost. Good as new! Also, we have a 6 qt. slow cooker so it does pack in a lot of beef. I’m glad yours turned out great despite the smaller size. Thanks for coming back to comment!

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