5.0 from 8 votes

Beef Barbacoa Recipe

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This Beef Barbacoa Recipe is as tender as fall-of-the-bone meat can be. Traditionally, Barbacoa used various meats, with Pre-Hispanic civilizations utilizing rabbit, turkey, and even iguanas. However, the Spanish introduction of goat and beef helped expand the repertoire, and our recipe showcases the rich flavors and textures of this evolution.

Barbacoa Recipe Textures and Flavors

Imagine tender, juicy beef that simply falls apart, infused with a depth of flavor that can make your taste buds come alive. It is so satisfying to be able to enjoy such a delicacy. And of course, this tender Beef Barbacoa Recipe is perfect for tacos, or as a main course paired with rice and corn tortillas. In fact, it is exactly what we did on this recipe. This is, by far, the complete package if you ask me.

A fall-of-the-bone-tender barbacoa recipe is what meat lovers dream of! It’s food for royalty. Barbacoa is tender, juicy, and delicious. There is so much to enjoy on this recipe.

Fall of the bone tender Beef Barbacoa

I strongly suggest you don’t omit the banana leaves, as they definitely add unique flavor tones. It makes a huge difference to have them in the recipe, along with the avocado leaves, which infuse the meat with floral and grassy tones that are pivotal for the taste experience.

Avocado and banana leaves in a pot, ready for a beef barbacoa.

First, watch this video tutorial to learn how to make the most delicious Beef Barbacoa recipe you will ever try! Additionally, having an in-depth knowledge and the visuals of the step-by-step process will enhance your understanding. You will also find it in the recipe video section. enjoy!

FULL YOUTUBE Video tutorial on how to make this Beef Barbacoa recipe

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Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Recipe by Villa Cocina
5.0 from 8 votes
Course: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Medium


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A fall of the bone tender barbacoa recipe is what meat lovers dream of! The process of cooking such a delicacy can be seen as an important ritual, that will have its coronation as you taste the end result. It will make you feel like a king or queen! It’s food for royalty. Barbacoa is tender, juicy, and delicious. Enjoy this masterpiece. 



  • Prep banana leaves: Rinse and dry them with a kitchen towel. Heat a comal over medium heat. Lay the leaves over the hot surface just until they become pliable, brighter in color and release their aroma. Should only take a few second. Avoid burning them. Set aside. 
  • Prep the chiles (dried peppers): Remove seeds, veins and stem from the guajillos, puyas, and ancho.Use of kitchen gloves is optional. Wipe them clean with a damped paper towel. Cut them into smaller pieces and set aside. 
  • Beef cuts: Pat dry both cuts with a kitchen paper towel. Season both sides generously with salt and black pepper. Brown: Place a large pan over medium-high heat. Heat the oil. Then, brown both sides of the meat. Do this step in batches to prevent over crowding. Remove all the meat from the pan.

    Chili sauce: Lower the heat to medium-low and sauté/sweat the onion and garlic. Once slightly softened, add the spices and toast them for a minute. Now, add the prepped dry peppers and toast them until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Avoid burning them. Carefully, pour in the water and allow it to reach a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the peppers hydrate until soft. About 5-10 minutes. 
  • Blend: Transfer the hydrated peppers and mix unto a blender. Add vinegar and 1 tsp of salt. Process until smooth and the chili skin has completely broken down. If you cannot get it super smooth, strain the sauce. Pour the sauce into a bowl and taste for salt, stir in some more if needed. 
  • Large steamer pot with rack/base : Remove the rack from the bottom of the pot. Add the aromatics: onion, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Place the rack back inside. Pour in the 10 cups of water or enough to touch the rack. Line the rack with two of the prepped banana leaves. Leave a few gaps for the sauce to drip into the bottom. Arrange half of the avocado leaves over the banana leaves. Dip one piece of meat into the sauce, and place over the avocado leaves. Do this until the entire bottom is covered by the meat. Arrange the remainder of the leaves over the meat. And, make a second layer with the rest of the beef. First dip into the sauce, then arrange inside the pot. 
  • Pour the remainder of the sauce all over the meat. Cover with 3 banana leaves. Turn the heat to medium-high and let it reach a boil. Now, lower to medium-low and let it reach a gentle simmer. Cover and allow it to cook until the meat is fall off the bone tender, about 3 hrs. 
  • Carefully, uncover the pot. Transfer the meat onto a plate; be careful, its very soft. Remove and discard the aromatics, banana and avocado leaves. You should be left with a delicious red consomé. Taste, add salt if needed. Place the meat back inside to keep hot and moist. Keep on low heat.
  • Serve as en entree: Add the meat to your plate, and spoon some of the consomé over it. Accompany with Mexican rice, frijoles de la olla, corn tortillas and a delicious salsa
  • For tacos: Shred the meat, pour some of the consomé over it. Make into tacos using corn tortillas. Top with onion, cilantro, lime juice and a salsa taquera. Pair it with a bowl of consomé, also topped with onion, cilantro, and lime juice. ENJOY!

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