Tacos de Barbacoa


Little tastes better than a slow-roasted barbacoa recipe. While it's delicious as an entree itself, we prefer tucking the beef barbacoa meat into tacos.

Tacos de Barbacoa
Photo: Blaine Moats
Prep Time:
30 mins
Stand Time:
1 hrs
Grill Time:
7 hrs
Total Time:
8 hrs 30 mins


  • 4 - 6 mesquite wood chunks

  • 2 tablespoon cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

  • 2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 4 pound boneless beef chuck roast

  • Banana leaves*

  • ¼ cup beef broth or water

  • 24 6-7 inch corn tortillas, warmed

  • Shredded romaine lettuce, chopped tomatoes, avocado slices, shredded radish, sliced green onions, salsa, crumbled queso fresco, lime wedges, and/or snipped fresh cilantro


  1. At least 1 hour before smoking, soak wood chunks in enough water to cover. Drain before using.

  2. In a small bowl stir together vinegar, garlic, oregano, chili powder, salt, cracked black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves to make a paste. Spoon spice paste onto all sides of the roast; rub in with your fingers. Wrap roast in banana leaves; tie with 100%-cotton kitchen string to secure.

  3. In a smoker arrange preheated coals, drained wood chunks, and water pan according to the manufacturer's directions. Pour water into pan. Place roast on the grill rack over water pan. Cover; smoke for 4 hours. Add additional coals and water as needed to maintain temperature and moisture. After 4 hours, remove roast from smoker. Place roast in the center of an 18-inch square of heavy foil. Drizzle the beef broth over roast. Bring up two opposite edges of the foil; seal with a double fold. Fold the remaining ends to completely enclose roast, leaving space for steam to build. Return the roast to the smoker and smoke for an additional 3 hours or until the internal temperature registers 190°F to 200°F on an instant-read thermometer.

  4. Remove roast from smoker. Let stand for 15 minutes. Unwrap; using two forks, pull meat apart into shreds. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve with tortillas and desired toppings.

*Test Kitchen Tip:

Look for fresh or frozen banana leaves at Mexican or Asian specialty markets.

Slow-Cooker Method:

Prepare roast as directed in Step 2, except do not wrap in banana leaves. Place meat in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add the broth. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or until meat is tender. Continue as directed in Step 4.

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