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Barbacoa de Res, or Beef Barbacoa, is a Mexican food favorite usually made on holidays and special occasions.
The meat is cooked for hours in a savory, red chile sauce. It’s out of this world delicious!
Like most Mexican moms, my mom in an incredible cook.
She works magic in the kitchen even though I have never seen her use a wand.
I can’t tell you which of allllll her dishes is my favorite. I love her Sopa de Conchas and her Red Pork Tamales.
However, among my friends and family, she is known for her Barbacoa de Res.
Once she walked into a party with a big pot of barbacoa, and people literally started cheering. I can’t make this stuff up!
It took some persuading, but she finally agreed to share and video record how she makes this amazing dish.
My friends, you’re in for a real treat from an authentic Mexican abuela!
How to Make Barbacoa de Res
Barbacoa de Res (or Beef Barbacoa) starts with a large beef chuck roast.
Add salt and ground cumin on one side and set aside.
Add a thin layer of oil to the bottom of the large stockpot. About ¼ cup oil. Place the seasoned side down into the pot.
It’ a lot of cumin, I know. It gives a lot of flavor.
Cumin is a must, my mom says.
Don’t be afraid to add all the cumin the recipe calls for cuz it’s not “”cumin” to get ya. 🙂
This recipe for Barbacoa de Res is not hard at all and extremely deep in flavors.
I know. I know. Some of you will be tempted to skip the searing step. Please don’t skip this step!
When you season the meat and sear it, it will lock in the flavor. You want all the yumminess you can get!!
Add more salt and more ground cumin to the unseasoned top.
Carefully flip the meat to sear both sides.
Color means flavor in the cooking world.
Unless it is black, and that means burned… And no one wants that!
If your meat burns, you will need to start from scratch. Be sure to wash the pot very carefully.
The burned smell lingers for days.
What Types of Meat are Ideal for Stewing
Bone-in short rib
Bottom Sirloin Flap
Barbacoa is traditionally made with chuck. You can also use flap and brisket.
However, you can make it using the other cuts of meats, but then it would not really be Barbacoa de Res.
Toast the chiles and garlic for the sauce. You don’t want this to burn.
Guajillo Chiles are basically dried mirasol chiles.
Turn frequently with a pair of tongs.
How to Store Dried Chiles:
Dried chiles are prone to insects especially if they are not stored probably.
If you find yourself with extra guajillo chiles after you make this Barbacoa de Res recipe, this is what you do..
Store them in an airtight container in your cupboard.
However, the freezer is the best! Yes, you read that right.
My mom was totally shocked when I told her, but it works great!
They will store for up to a year in the freezer.
I recommend using them within 3-6 months, or you’ll be sacrificing taste.
Add the chiles and garlic to a blender along with the vinegar and salt. Blend until smooth.
Some people will strain the sauce for a finer texture.
This is totally up to you.
My mom says that straining is good, but not a requirement to make the sauce.
I’m totally ok with my “no strain, no gain method.” 🙂
Making the Barbacoa Sauce Ahead of Time:
I am all about making cooking simple.
My recommendation is to make the sauce a day or two days ahead of time.
Especially if you’re throwing a party and feeding your guests Barbacoa de Res, it just makes life a lot easier.
The sauce will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Or, you can freeze the sauce and it will last up to 6 months.
To freeze the sauce, place in a freezer plastic bag. Try to remove as much air as possible.
Thaw completely the day of use.
What’s the Difference between Birria de Res and Barbacoa de Res
They are virtually the same thing with one big difference. They even have the same toppings.
Birria de Res is more of a stew and served in a bowl.
Barbacoa de Res is drier. Served on a plate next to frijoles de la olla and few dozen tortillas.
You will sometimes see barbacoa served as tacos.
After the meat has been cooking for 1 hour, add the chile sauce and bay leaves.
Let simmer for an additional 1 hour.
Up to now, this Barbacoa de Res recipe has been made on the stove. You can also make it in other ways.
How to Make Slow Cooker Barbacoa de Res:
You can’t skip the searing. It’s essential for developing and holding in flavors.
Place the meat in the crockpot. Pour sauce on top.
Set on low for 6 hours, or high for 4 hours.
How to Make Instant Pot Barbacoa de Res:
Press the Saute button. Add oil.
Season, then sear the meat on both sides. Add the sauce.
Press the Pressure Cook button. Set timer for 45 minutes. Full natural release. Enjoy.
Serve with raw onions, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, avocado slices, and extra sauce.
For sides, you can serve the Barbacoa de Res with Mexican rice and refried beans. Those are always good choices.
For a healthier side, you can serve Ensalada de Nopalitos or even just a simple green salad.
The smell is amazing, and the taste is unreal. Don’t forget the tortillas to make tacos.
Hope you enjoy!
Watch Maggie and Her Mom Make
Barbacoa de Res
Barbacoa de Res
- ¼ cup oil
- 3-4 lbs chuck roast beef
- 4 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 cups water - divided
- 6 dried guajillo chiles
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 cup vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- Cilantro chopped (optional)
- Raw onions optional
- Lime optional
- In a large stock pot, heat the oil.
- Add salt and 2 tablespoons of ground cumin to one side of the beef.
- Place the beef in the stock pot with the seasoned side down.
- While the bottom is browning, add salt and 2 tablespoons ground cumin to the unseasoned top of the beef.
- Once the beef is brown on the bottom, turn the beef and brown the top.
- (Roughly 4-5 minutes on each side).
- Brown the sides as best you can.
- Add 1 cup of water to the pot.
- Turn the flame to low.
- Cover and cook for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, toast the dried guajillo chile and garlic. About 2 minutes.
- Turn often, or they will burn.
- Add the guajillo, garlic, ½ water, 1 cup vinegar, and salt to a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Add the guajillo sauce and bay leaves to the pot.
- Add ½ cup of water to the blender.
- Cover with the lid and gently shake to get the last of the sauce.
- Add the blender remains to the pot.
- With a cooking spoon, coat the meat with the sauce.
- Cover and cook for 1 more hour.
- Top with raw onions and cilantro.
- Serve with tortillas and lime.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
Mexican Beef Recipes
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Yum!! This is a fantastic recipe.
Thank you! 🙂
So delicious and tender! The dried chiles really amp up the flavor.
Delicious and tender is 100% correct!
This Barbacoa de Res made me so hungry! The flavor and the ingredients are absolutely perfect.
Hope you make this Barbacoa de Res recipe. So yummy and delicious!
The best barbacoa recipe! My entire family loved it.
Great to hear that your family enjoyed the barbacoa recipe! Made my day 🙂
This is really amazing! My family loved it.
Thank you! Glad to hear that your family loved it.
This looks delicious. I never tried barbacoa but now I definitely will. What an interesting dish. Thanks for this lovely recipe!
Glad you found the recipe interesting! Barbacoa is sooo tasty, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Kids just adored this in their tacos.
That’s great! Loved hearing that your kids loved it.
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
Made this last night for the family! Family practically licked the pot clean!
Lol. Your family sounds like mine. So glad they enjoyed it!
I’m making this tonight. I reduced the vinegar to 1/4 cup. The first time I made it, it was too much vinegar and my family couldn’t eat. Overall great recipe.
Adjust this recipe as you see fit. This is my mom’s recipe, but I won’t tell her. 😉 lol.