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Slow Cooker Beef Tacos

These slow cooker beef tacos are braised for hours in garlic and beer to create a simple and flavorful barbacoa-style filling for your favorite tacos. Makes about 2 pounds of meat.

slow cooker beef tacos topped with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and avocado slices, surrounded by taco toppings in bowls, halved avocados and tortillas

Since we went dairy free, I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with different taco recipes and toppings. I’ve realized that I don’t actually need cheese or sour cream to make a delicious taco, and there are so many flavor options out there besides those traditional box-kit tacos, even if they are super tasty and convenient.

Shredded beef tacos have always been my first choice at my favorite Mexican restaurant, and that’s no different at home. I love the flavor of these slow cooked shredded beef tacos, but they can take a long time. That’s why I turned to my slow cooker. I wanted to keep things super simple, with as little hands-on time as possible. So I’ve kept the ingredient list short and used my favorite taco seasoning from Costco (hello, cocoa powder and cornmeal flavors) and just a few other ingredients to make these slow cooker beef tacos.

More dairy free taco recipes: Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw / Fish Tacos with Chipotle Aioli / BBQ Dry Rub Steak Tacos with Corn Salsa / Asian Pork Wonton Tacos

slow cooker shredded beef taco meat in a bowl, surrounded by taco toppings in bowls, tortillas and avocados

Can you make taco meat in the slow cooker?

You can easily make taco meat in the slow cooker, but the trick is to choose the right kind of meat. Ground beef can be made in the slow cooker, but I find it either gets too dry (if you brown it before), or it just isn’t the right texture.

So, let’s go back to slow cooker 101 and choose a meat that like to be cooked low and slow – one that has a decent amount of fat and shreds beautifully after hours of cooking. My favorite choices are beef and pork.

45 degree angle view of slow cooker beef tacos topped with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and avocado slices, surrounded by taco toppings in bowls, halved avocados and tortillas

What kind of meat do you use for barbacoa?

Shredded beef taco meat is often called barbacoa (although there doesn’t seem to be a complete consensus about the subject on the internet). But, let’s roll with it and say it’s barbacoa because that’s what they serve at places like Chipotle and Qdoba.

You can use several cuts of meat to make barbacoa in your slow cooker, but my favorite is a chuck roast. Mostly because I find them in the perfect size (2 – 3 pounds) and they have just enough fat and marble to create a ton of flavor. When I find them on sale, I always buy them and freeze until I’m ready to cook something like this or my favorite slow cooker beef ragu.

closeup of slow cooker shredded beef taco meat in a bowl, surrounded by taco toppings in bowls, tortillas and avocados

Here’s what you’ll need to make this taco meat

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45 degree angle view of slow cooker beef tacos topped with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and avocado slices, surrounded by taco toppings in bowls, halved avocados and tortillas

How do you make slow cooker beef tacos?

Prepare your meat. Get the biggest, fattiest chuck roast you can find and season it liberally with salt and pepper. I really mean it when I say liberally, too. This is a big cut of meat and you’re only able to season the outside of it. Don’t hold back. Then, sear every side in a super hot skillet. You’ll know it’s ready because the meat should release from the pan on its own.

Slow cook it. Transfer the roast to your slow cooker and add one can of beer (I used Modelo), a bunch of garlic (the more the better) and some lime juice. Ideally, you should cook it on low for 8 – 10 hours, but you can also do high for 4 – 6 hours if you’re in a rush.

overhead view of slow cooker shredded beef taco meat in a bowl, surrounded by taco toppings in bowls, tortillas and avocados

Shred and season the meat. Take your beef out of the slow cooker and put it on a cutting board *affiliate link to shred it. Save at least 1 cup of your cooking liquid for later, but you can discard the rest. I like to shred mine with my tongs and a fork, but you can use two forks or even this stand mixer *affiliate link method – whatever works for you. While the meat is on the cutting board *affiliate link, sprinkle about 4 – 6 tablespoons of your favorite taco seasoning oven the meat.

Finish on high. Put it back in the slow cooker with 1 cup of the cooking liquid and cook for about 30 more minutes on high. Add additional liquid if you need it.

Make ahead tip: If you want to make your beef taco meat ahead of time, don’t put it back in the slow cooker. Finish the last 30 minutes of cooking on the day you want to serve it.

closeup view of slow cooker beef tacos topped with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and avocado slices, surrounded by taco toppings in bowls, halved avocados and tortillas

Dairy free taco topping suggestions

Other Mexican-inspired DF recipes: refried black beans / chipotle blender salsa / chili con queso dip / pineapple mezcal margaritas

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slow cooker shredded beef taco meat in a bowl, surrounded by taco toppings in bowls, tortillas and avocados

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

These slow cooker beef tacos are braised for hours in garlic and beer to create a simple and flavorful barbacoa-style filling for your favorite tacos.


Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 pound chuck roast
  • 1 12-ounce can Mexican-style lager
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons taco seasoning

Instructions

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium-high (add 1 tablespoon olive oil if using a stainless pan). Liberally season chuck roast with salt & pepper. Add to skillet and sear on all sides until it naturally releases for pan. Transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Add beer, minced garlic and lime juice to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 – 1- hours.
  3. Remove chuck roast from slow cooker and reserve 1 cup cooking liquid. Shred beef and season with taco seasoning. Return beef and cooking liquid to slow cooker and stir until seasoning is evenly distributed. Cook on high for about 30 minutes.

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