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Slow Cooker Short Rib Barbacoa Tacos Recipe

Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
11 hrs
Makes 12 tacos
In this Recipe

We love tacos and we love short ribs, and this recipe conveniently combines the two into one delicious meal. Now, you probably think of short ribs as a braised comfort food, maybe served with mashed potatoes and a rich gravy, and that’s a super yummy, awesome meal. However, short ribs can be so much more! This recipe sears the ribs for crunchy outside bits, and then slowly cooks them in a flavorful, smoky sauce with a touch of heat. After cooking, the meat is ready to fall off the bone and easily shreds for taco meat. We love being able to start this meal in the morning and come back home to the amazing smell of perfectly cooked beef!

Barbacoa tacos are traditionally made by slowly roasting meat over an open fire, or over coals in a pit in the ground. Traditional recipes often use beef heads or cheeks (check out our beef cheek taco recipe here) or even goat. Today, you’ll commonly see a boneless beef chuck roast used for barbacoa tacos and instead of an open fire or pit, a slow cooker or Dutch oven is used. If you like, you can adapt this recipe to a Dutch oven braised recipe, or use boneless beef chuck roast instead of short ribs. We think the short ribs add a bit more of savory flavor than chuck roast, so if you have short ribs available, we definitely recommend using them!

What do you think of these tacos? Did you make any tweaks to the recipe? Let us know in the comments below!


  • 4 lb Leahy’s Angus Beef Short Ribs (bone-in)
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil (English cut)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Beef Broth
  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • 1 Yellow Onion (see prep instructions in recipe)
  • 4 clove Garlic (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin (minced)
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • Tortillas
  • Cilantro (for serving)
  • Red Onion (chopped)
  • Lime Wedges (for serving)


  1. Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat to medium high heat. Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Sear for about 3 minutes per side until all sides of the ribs are brown. Do not overcrowd the pan, and cook in multiple batches if necessary. Once the ribs are browned, set aside on a plate while you prepare the slow cooker.

  2. Add the beef broth, apple cider vinegar, adobo peppers*, chopped yellow onion, minced garlic, cumin, and oregano to the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix together. Add the short ribs on top of the sauce, cover, and cook on low for 10 hours, until the beef is falling off the bones.

    *To prepare the adobo peppers for this recipe, take 2 peppers from a can, remove the seeds, and chop them. Add a spoonful of the sauce to the mixture as well. For spicier tacos, use more peppers or keep the seeds in the mixture.

  3. Once the beef is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and cut the beef away from the bones. Discard the bones, and shred the meat. Skim any fat that is on the top of the sauce in the slow cooker and discard. Return the shredded meat to sauce mixture in the slow cooker and mix together. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.

  4. Assemble your tacos by warming the tortillas, and topping with the beef mixture, freshly chopped cilantro, raw red onion (the bite cuts the fat of the beef short ribs, but you can skip these if you don’t like), and lime wedges. Squeeze the lime on top of each taco and enjoy!

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