Instant Pot Barbacoa is a huge time saver, but you don’t lose any of the authentic flavor, which makes it the perfect easy weeknight meal!
Making traditional Barbacoa typically takes hours to develop the authentic flavor it is known for. However by using an Instant Pot, the cook time is drastically reduced. This Instant Pot Barbacoa comes together in only 50 minutes, which compared to the typical 6-8 hours in a slow cooker.
What is Barbacoa?
- Barbacoa is a dish that originated in the Caribbean, and has also become popular in Mexico. Originally traditional barbacoa used whole sheep or cattle heads (like the cheeks) for the meat. Then it was cooked it in a hole that has been dug in the ground, covered it with a special type of leaf and left to cook for hours. Sounds great, right?
- In the United States most people adapt the recipe by using different cuts of beef or pork that you can find in a typical grocery store. I like using a roast when I make it in the Instant Pot.
How to make Barbacoa in the Instant Pot:
- Sear the beef in the instant pot to create a more developed flavor on the meat. This doesn’t take long and will definitely add to the barbacoa.
- Make the sauce in the meantime while your beef is searing. You will need an immersion blender or regular blender to blend the sauce.
- Add the sauce to the beef in the instant pot and cook. You should remember when using the Instant Pot, that the time it takes to cook the recipe (50 mins), is not the total time of the recipe. You need to give the pot some time to ‘come to pressure’ (about 10-15 minutes), then the timer will start to count down.
Can you freeze Instant Pot Barbacoa?
YES! Barbacoa is a great make-ahead meat that will freeze really well.
How to freeze?
- Let the barbacoa cool completely, then freeze in freezer safe bags into your desired portions.
- I like to freeze about 4 cups in each bag, assuming a cup will serve one person.
- Time to eat? Place in the fridge the night before you’d like to serve it, or put your frozen barbacoa (remove from plastic bag) into a slow cooker for 4 hours on low.
How to serve Instant Pot Barbacoa?
- Instant Pot barbacoa beef makes great taco meat! Use hard shells or soft and top with peppers, onions, cilantro, avocado, and a squeeze of lime for a traditional flavor.
- Make white rice (Instant Pot is great for this!) and then serve the barbacoa over the top for a delicious rice bowl.
- Using a taco salad shell/bowl, add lettuce and tomatoes, then top with barbacoa and desired toppings for an easy taco salad.
- Use barbacoa inside quesadillas. Top a flour tortilla with onions, peppers, pepper jack cheese, and barbacoa – top with another tortilla and then cook until crispy and the cheese is melted! YUM!
Is Instant Pot Barbacoa Healthy?
YES, Barbacoa is a great healthy meal. With 36 grams of protein and only 362 calories per serving, barbacoa is a meal that will help you stay on track.
My favorite Instant Pot Recipes:
- Instant Pot Salsa Rice is the perfect meal or side dish to your favorite Mexican inspired dinner! Filled with fresh vegetables and only 4 minutes in the Instant Pot and this rice is ready to eat!
- Instant Pot Corn on the Cob is ready to eat in just minutes and is super flavorful! No need to peel the husk; corn on the cob can be cooked directly in the husk and then removed without a mess!
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps are the perfect healthy chicken recipe! Make the spicy chicken in just minutes, then load up fresh lettuce wraps with your favorite toppings!
- Instant Pot Honey Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Instant Pot Honey Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wraps are a delicious healthy meal that cooks in just 10 minutes! Simple to make, family friendly, and so tasty!
- Instant Pot Hard Boiled Egg Loaf: In five minutes you can have a whole bunch of hardboiled eggs which are perfect for egg salad! No peeling or ice bath for this Instant Pot Hard Boiled Egg Loaf!
- Instant Pot Thai Lettuce Wraps (pork or chicken) can be made with pork or chicken in the instant pot or slow cooker! Juicy pork or chicken covered in an easy Thai peanut sauce makes the perfect healthy easy dinner!
- Instant Pot Roasted Red Pepper Soup: Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons is the perfect comfort food without any guilt! Make it in the Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or on the stove top!
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Instant Pot Barbacoa is a huge time saver, but you don't lose any of the authentic flavor, which makes it the perfect easy weeknight meal!
- 1 TBS coconut or olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3-4 lbs boneless chuck roast cut into 4 equal-ish pieces
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 TBS oregano
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce + 1 TBS adobo sauce from can
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- 12 small Flour tortillas
- 1 red onion sliced thinly
- 1 tomato chopped
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper seeded and sliced thinly
- 1 medium avocado peeled, pit removed, and sliced thinly
Heat instant pot using the saute function. After 2-3 minutes, add coconut/olive oil and allow to heat for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add 4 chunks of beef, cook 6-8 minutes.
While cooking, make sauce: Add apple cider vinegar, oregano, black pepper, lime juice, chili peppers and adobo sauce, and broth. Blend using an immersion blender or regular blender for about 30 seconds, or until the chili peppers are incorporated.
Flip beef to opposite side - cook 5 minutes.
Pour sauce mixture over beef, then slide beef around to help deglaze (get little cooked bits off) the bottom of the pot.
Close instant pot lid. Set pressure release valve to closed. Set on manual for 50 minutes, press start*. When time is up, let the pressure release naturally (so not flip valve) for 10 minutes. Flip the switch and release the rest of the pressure after 10 minutes. Carefully open the lid away from your body.
Remove the beef and shred using 2 forks. Serve how desired (see above 'How to Serve Barbacoa for ideas). You can also add the beef back to the sauce mixture in the pot if you want a saucier dish.
* After you press start the pot will take about 10-15 minutes to start counting down. This means it's building pressure to start cooking. Just be patient with this time.
*Nutritional information does not include serving suggestions or garnishes. Add appropriate nutrition calculations for whatever you add. Nutritional info is for meat only.
*Nutritional info based off 3lbs boneless chuck roast and lower sodium chicken broth
- 8 servings: 362 calories, 12g fat, 2g carbohydrates, 36g protein.