Save time on weeknight dinners with this delicious Slow Cooker Smoky Beef Barbacoa. It’s gluten free and you can serve it over rice or make tacos!
Creative weeknight dinners are always tough for me to make short notice. If I don’t meal plan ahead, I end up making the same boring meals over and over again.
Not to mention being stressed out when dinner time comes and I hadn’t planned out a menu ahead of time! I’ve discovered that meal planning 2 weeks at a time takes reduces my stress a ton, especially during those nights that I’m training clients.
Since I do personal training in the evening a couple times a week, I like to plan out either super easy meals those nights or slow cooker meals. So I’m always on the lookout for really delicious and simple slow cooker recipes.
When I was menu planning recently, I found a recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa from The Recipe Critic. It was delicious, but I wanted to add a few more flavor dimensions to the recipe, specifically more smokiness and a little bit of sweet to balance the flavors.
We changed this recipe a bit by using coconut aminos for some sweetness, smoked salt, and smoked paprika for added smokiness. It was amazing!! We invested in a bit of beef brisket for this recipe, and I’m glad we did. The first time I made this with chuck roast it was good, but beef brisket is much more tender and flavorful.
Barbacoa originated in Mexico where they would slow cook beef in it’s own juices in a pit covered with leaves. But since most of us don’t have the time or experience to cook beef in a pit oven, a slow cooker will work just as well 😉
I bet this would taste amazing popped into a smoker for a little bit after being shredded to add some more smoke flavor – yum! We had a smoker for a while, but it bit the dust and we miss it.
To make this recipe a little bit leaner, we bought trimmed brisket and then removed a bit more fat by hand before cooking it.
If you have soy allergies like we do, make sure to check the label on your canned chipotle chiles. Many canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce have soybean oil in them. We used the Herdez canned chipotle chiles since they don’t use soybean oil (they use corn oil).
We used 3 chipotle chiles in this recipe and the spiciness was perfect for us and the kids, but if you want it mild, use 2 chipotles. If you want it spicier, use 4-5 chiles. A small can of chipotle chiles has about 9 to 10 chiles in it.
Check out my other slow cooker recipes for busy weeknights!
Slow Cooker Smoky Beef Barbacoa (Gluten Free)
- 3 pounds trimmed beef brisket*
- Spray olive oil
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/2 cup coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (juice of about 1 to 1-1/2 limes)
- 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce** (or more/less depending on how spicy you want it)
- 3-4 Tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (or 1 Tablespoon dried)
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, pressed/minced
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt (I used Maldon smoked flake salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray the bottom of the pan with a generous amount of olive oil spray.
- Trim excess fat off the brisket (optional, skip if you want more fat with your brisket).
- Cut the brisket into large pieces (about 5-6) and brown the pieces on all sides in the heated skillet.
- While the beef is browning, prepare your sauce: combine all the rest of the ingredients (the beef broth through the ground cloves) in a small blender and process until smooth.
- Once the beef brisket is browned on all sides, transfer to the slow cooker and cover with the sauce.
- Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low.
- Shred beef with 2 forks and serve over rice or on tortillas. Enjoy!
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist