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Barbacoa Chipotle Style

By Marcus | In Recipes | on May 3, 2012

Many of you are familiar with the Chipotle chain of restaurants and I posted my advice on ordering way back in Intrepid’s infancy (October 2009). As I mentioned in that post, their barbacoa is one of my favorite choices there. It’s a shredded beef that is full of flavor and slightly spicy. When I came across a recipe on EliteFTS for a version I could make in my crockpot, I tweaked it a bit and gave it a try. The results were almost identical to the original, if not better!


  • 1 can of chipotle peppers along with the adobo sauce**** (use only half a can if you can’t handle much spice)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic cloves, peeled
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5-7 lb beef brisket
  • 5 dry bay leaves
  • ~1-4 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock


Take your cilantro, wash it thoroughly, then grab at the top of the stems and twist the full bunch so you are left with only the leaves. Discard stems.

Add cilantro, chipotle peppers, red onion, garlic, and lime juice into a food processor. (If you don’t have one, you’re gonna have a little extra work — chop up the peppers, cilantro, onion and garlic really well.)

Toss this mixture into the crockpot and add the vinegar and remaining spices, except the bay leaves.

Depending on the size of your brisket, you may need to cut it in half, as I did, to make it fit. Use tongs to submerge it in all those delicious spices.

Pour stock to ensure the brisket is fully immersed. It only took me a cup or so, but your crockpot size may vary. Throw the bay leaves in on top.

You should have something about like this:

Crank the crockpot up to HIGH for 4 hours. After that, turn it to WARM and let it cook another 6-8 hours.

Take the meat out and transfer it to a cookie sheet with a rim on it. Use a couple forks to shred the meat thoroughly, as it should pull apart very easily at this point.

Place the meat in your storage containers or serving bowl and spoon a couple ladles of the liquid from the crockpot over it. Mix well and repeat until your barbacoa is well coated, but not swimming in liquid.

Serve and enjoy.

I found it worked fine in a salad like I would usually get at Chipotle, but I really loved using it in a scramble for breakfast!

**** — warning about the chipotle peppers. Read your labels! Many brands I found were full of crappy ingredients. The one I ended up using did have sugar and canola oil in small amounts, but others had even worse.

WOD 05.03.12

Skills Day

4 Comments to "Barbacoa Chipotle Style"

  • Sean says:

    May 3, 2012 at 7:24 AM -

    The sample you gave Ruth and I was awesome! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe out. Thanks Chef Marcus!

  • Amy says:

    May 3, 2012 at 8:33 AM -

    oooh! I think i’ll be making this this weekend! Thanks Marcus!

  • Amanda says:

    May 3, 2012 at 8:55 AM -

    Marcus, looks yummy! I can’t wait to try it out.

    What brand of chipotle peppers did you settle with?

    1. Marcus says:

      May 3, 2012 at 9:29 AM -

      @Amanda — I went with San Marcos brand. Beware another very common brand, Embasa, which contains wheat flour.

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