Recipe By streetgang
Published Apr 4th
Barbacoa Meat
Prep 10m Cook 7h Additional 4h Ready In 11h 10m
Servings 12 servings Calories 316.4

Traditionally a Sunday morning treat, but barbacoa is great any morning. Barbacoa can be for the more adventurous, but a real treat none-the-less. I do not recommend substituting the cheek meat with roast, it won’t taste right. Barbacoa has a certain gelatinous slide and tack that is the hallmark of the genre. Serve on tortillas with hot sauce and chopped cilantro.

Recipe Ingredients

  • 3 pounds beef cheek meat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water, or more as needed
  • ½ yellow onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

Cooking Directions

  1. 1 Coat beef cheek meat with olive oil. Rub salt, cumin, and pepper into meat. Wrap meat in aluminum foil and refrigerate, 4 hours to overnight.
  2. 2 Pour water into a slow cooker.
  3. 3 Arrange onion and garlic around beef cheek meat in the aluminum foil. Wrap foil tightly around meat and vegetables. Add a second sheet of aluminum foil around meat mixture, sealing tightly; place in the slow cooker.
  4. 4 Cook on Low, adding more water if it has evaporated, until meat is very tender, 7 to 8 hours. Remove foil packet from slow cooker and shred meat using 2 forks.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 316.4
  • Carbohydrate 1.3 g
  • Cholesterol 80 mg
  • Fat 26.2 g
  • Fiber 0.2 g
  • Protein 18.2 g
  • Saturated Fat 10.2 g
  • Sodium 77.3 mg
  • Sugar 0.4 g

Chef's Notes

This recipe calls for a lot of salt, but it is needed.


  1. I love making this dish. I try to make it on a regular basis. My family is of Hispanic origin and we got tired of having to go out to eat this dish.
  2. This turned out excellent. Tasted just like the authentic Barbacoa my Mother in law got for us on Sundays. Will definitely make again.
  3. Will definitely not be making this again. I could not get past the "gelantinous slide". I used beef cheek. I had to throw it out after a few bites.
  4. I bought cheek meat on sale not knowing what recipe I would even use it for. I found this recipe and although I found some others that used chuck roast instead, I wanted to try and make Barbacoa authentically. I reduced the salt by a tablespoon (we still really like salt, although I think I - Read more ...
  5. So few ingredients and few steps and yet a very delicious meal. Didn't have 3# so had to modify proportions a bit. It was so tender and flavorful. Definitely going to be repeated.
  6. Was so easy and straightforward. I did find the beef cheek way too salty for us. I will definitely use this recipe again but reduce the salt. Other than that it reminded me of the taco places back home in Texas. Thank you for sharing your recipe.
  7. I cut the salt down to 1/3 cup and added 2 tsp ground Oregano to the marinade.
  8. I'll never buy meat market (carniceria) barbacoa again. This came out perfect and was so delicious!
  9. FAN FLIPPIN TASTIC! ! I used the oven, low n slow-300 degrees for 4-5 hrs. 2 bottles of beer n some bay leaves, left this beef incredibly tender! The meat is very versatile, use it for casseroles, tamales, tequitos, even shredded beef burgers. As far as the salt issue, I just sprinkled the beef liberally - Read more ...
  10. With the mixed reviews, I was hesitant to make this recipe. After cutting off most of the fat, I did have about 2 lbs of meat remaining. I cut the salt (used flake sea salt), cumin, and garlic by half but kept the water and onion the same since I had appointments that day. I - Read more ...