Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Hi mom, welcome to Cooktophia. Now we will make Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe. When a recipe is fast, flavorful, and versatile, I know I’ve got a winner on my hands. This Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa is all that and more. Like my Shredded Mexican Beef, it can be used to make a wide variety of tasty Mexican favorites. But, this recipe cooks up so quickly that you can make it any night of the week.

I used the list for their Barbacoa as a guide for this recipe and it was a no-brainer to go with the Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe method. There is no better way to quickly cook meat to tender perfection than in a pressure cooker. And, since I had 8 pounds of frozen beef stew meat in my freezer (you heard me right!) I decided to use some for this recipe. I was SO pleased with the result!

Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Why This Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe Works

  • Hands off for 30 minutes which allows you plenty of time to toast tortillas and prepare the toppings for tacos or burritos.
  • Makes use of easy-to-stock ingredients including dried spices and canned peppers.
  • Using pre-cut beef stew meat means that prep time is reduced and it cooks FAST.
  • Versatile to the max! Use this tasty shredded beef in your favorite Mexican-inspired recipes.

Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe Notes

For the Barbacoa Sauce

  • Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – These flavor-packed peppers add that smoky heat that is a necessary component to Barbacoa. The nice thing about making it at home is you get to control the spice level. Add two peppers for a mild result or more for a spicy Barbacoa.
  • Beef broth – I use Better Than Bouillon Reduced Sodium Beef Broth so I can mix up exactly how much broth I need for each recipe. Whatever brand you choose, go with a low sodium broth.
  • Garlic – Fresh or jarred minced garlic.
  • Dried ground cumin – Warm and wonderful in Mexican-inspired recipes.
  • Dried oregano – Dried oregano adds a woody, herby flavor.
  • Kosher salt/freshly ground black pepper – Used in the sauce and when searing the beef.
  • Onion powder – This is the only ingredient that is not included on Chipotle’s ingredient list. It blends perfectly with the other spices to make this flavorful beef.
  • Ground cloves – Dried ground cloves are a pungent, warm spice. A very small amount does something special to the flavor of this dish.

For the Rest

  • Canola or vegetable oil – Both are neutral oils with high smoke points and the best choice for high heat cooking.
  • Beef – Cubed beef that is labeled “beef for stew” or “beef stew meat” is a boneless chuck roast that has been trimmed of fat and cut down into cubes by the butcher. It is a great way to save a ton of time in the kitchen with both prep and cooking time. Cubed beef cooks far faster in your Instant Pot than a whole roast. It will also be more flavorful because more surface area is coated in the Barbacoa sauce as it cooks.
  • Bay leaves – You can use either dried or fresh bay leaves. Fresh is more expensive than dried and will not last as long. A container of dried bay leaves will last for a couple of years in a dry, cool pantry.
  • Tortillas and toppings – Don’t forget to add tortillas and your favorite toppings to your shopping list. You can go street taco style with just cilantro, diced onion, and crumbled cotija cheese or load them up with avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and more!
A bowl of Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa on a cutting board with other ingredients.

What is Barbacoa?

Traditional Mexican Barbacoa can be made from a variety of different meats but it is the method of preparation that makes it unique. It is cooked in a little liquid with a mixture of chiles and spices in a brick-lined oven that is dug into the ground. It cooks, covered, for a very long time until it is super moist and tender. Not an easy method to recreate in our kitchens! The Instant Pot makes it possible to replicate this process and make delicious beef Barbacoa at home.

How to Make Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe

  1. Add all the ingredients for the Barbacoa Sauce to a food processor, pulse until smooth, and set aside.
  2. Pat the cubes of beef with paper towels to dry.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in your Instant Pot on the Sauté setting and brown half of the beef, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a dish repeat with the remaining beef, adding additional oil if needed.
  4. Return all the beef and their juices to the pot.
  5. Pour the Barbacoa Sauce over the beef and stir to coat it well. Add the bay leaves.
  6. Close and lock the lid. Pressure cook on high for 30 minutes. It will take approximately 5 to 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and begin counting down the 30 minutes.
  7. After the cooking time is complete, release the steam completely and open the pot.
  8. Set the Instant Pot on the Sauté setting and use two forks to break the beef into smaller pieces. Continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, to reduce the sauce a bit. You can break the beef down into chunky pieces or just keep shredding as much as desired. Power down the Instant Pot and you are ready to serve!

Serving Suggestions

  • Add this beef Barbacoa to toasted tortillas with your toppings of choice for delicious tacos or burritos.
  • Create copycat Chipotle burrito bowls with my Cilantro Lime Rice and any other toppings you love.
  • Use in your favorite enchilada recipe.
  • Make delicious nachos or quesadillas.

Storage

Refrigerator

Transfer the cooled Barbacoa to an airtight container and promptly refrigerate. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days for the best quality. For longer storage, see freezer instructions below.

Freezer

Transfer the cooled Barbacoa to freezer-safe plastic storage bags or other airtight containers. Label with the date and freeze for up to 3 to 4 months. Defrost safely in the refrigerator overnight before gently reheating in a pot on the stove or in the microwave, adding additional broth, if needed.

Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe Card

Ingredients

For the Barbacoa Sauce

  • 2 to 3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • ¾ cup low sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

For the Rest

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus additional as needed
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves

For Serving

  • tortillas, cheese, diced onion, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, salsa, and/or any other toppings you love!

Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients for the Barbacoa Sauce to a food processor, pulse until smooth, and set aside.
  • Pat the cubes of beef with paper towels to dry. Press the SAUTÉ key on a 6-quart Instant Pot and select the MORE setting. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot and wait for the “HOT” indicator. Add half of the beef and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and a little freshly ground black pepper. Sauté the beef until nicely browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a dish and set it aside. Repeat with the remaining beef, adding additional oil if needed, and an additional ½ teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste. Press CANCEL.
  • Return all the beef and their juices to the pot and pour the Barbacoa Sauce over the top. Stir the mixture until the beef is well coated in sauce. Add the bay leaves. Close and lock the lid. Press the MANUAL or the PRESSURE COOK button, select HIGH, and set the time to 30 minutes (making sure the steam release handle is in the “Sealing” position on older models). It will take approximately 5 to 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and begin counting down the 30 minutes. After the cooking time is complete, push the steam release handle (or button) to the “Venting” position to allow the steam to release completely before you open the pot. Press CANCEL.
  • Press SAUTÉ. Use two forks to break the beef into smaller pieces and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, to reduce the sauce a bit. You can break the beef down into chunky pieces or just keep shredding as much as desired. Press CANCEL and serve.

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