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Barbacoa Beef Cheek Tacos Recipe

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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
9 hrs
Makes 8 – 12 tacos
In this Recipe

Here’s a taco recipe that we bet you haven’t made before – Barbacoa Beef Cheek Tacos! Barbaco is a traditional way of cooking meat over an open fire in a pit and beef cheeks make delicious tacos. If you’ve never had beef cheek meat before, it literally is the meat from the cheek of a beef animal. The meat is very flavorful and has plenty of intramuscular marbling to keep the meat fall apart tender. They’re wonderful when braised, slow cooked or even smoked. They can be hard to find, but at Lake Geneva Country Meats, you can always call us, and we’ll be happy to set some aside for you. The directions for this recipe will be done two ways. The first is over a traditional barbacoa pit, which you can learn how to make by reading our How to Build a Barbacoa Pit post. The second is done in a slow cooker, which is a more convenient way of making this dish. Have questions about cheek meat or barbacoa? Leave us a comment below and we’ll be happy to answer!


  • 3 lb(s) Beef Cheek Meat (about 4 cheeks)
  • 2 Tbsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Onion (diced)
  • 4 clove Garlic Clove (minced)
  • 1 cup Beef Broth ((if cooking in slow cooker))
  • 1 Onion (chopped for serving)
  • 2 Jalapeño Pepper (sliced)
  • Cilantro (stems and seeds removed for serving)
  • Lime (for serving)


  1. BARBACOA METHOD: Build a fire in your barbacoa pit and let the fire burn to embers.

  2. BARBACOA METHOD: While the fire is burning down, season your beef cheeks with the salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper. You can also use your favorite taco or fajita seasoning mix. Put the cheeks in aluminum foil, add the onion and garlic over top and close up tightly. Wrap one more time with foil and place the packet on the embers. Seal your pit and let cook for 8 hours, replenishing the fire as necessary, until the cheeks reach a temperature of 210ºF. Make sure the cheeks stay above 140ºF while they are cooking.

  3. SLOW COOKER METHOD: Season your beef cheeks with the salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper. You can also use your favorite taco or fajita seasoning mix. Pour the beef broth into the slow cooker, then add beef cheeks, onions and garlic. Cook on low for 8 hours.

  4. BOTH METHODS: Once the cheeks are done cooking, remove them from the fire and shred the meat with two forks. Put the shredded meat in a bowl. Then add the onion / garlic / liquid mixture remaining in the foil packet or slow cooker back into the meat until you reach your desired consistency.

  5. TACO ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS: Serve the tacos on a warmed tortilla and top with chopped fresh onion, slices of jalapeno, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice. Enjoy!

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