Slow Cooker Braised Barbacoa Beef Tostadas

This recipe is shooting right to the top of all-time greats here at Two Recipes.  I’m a huge fan of slow cooker recipes plus anything braised is always a hit.  They’re great for the beginning of the week because they usually make a huge amount and are better the next day.

This one, however, stands out among the rest.  It’s incredibly easy, cooks all day long (while making your house smell awesome), and has a deep and mildly spicy flavor and rich texture.  I piled this beef high on a crispy tortilla with crumbly cheese and sour cream but K put his in a burrito with rice and cheese and it was wonderful both ways.  I’d suspect it would be heavenly on nachos, because everything is.

This slow cooker recipe follows a few basic tips that Bon Appetit says make a great crock pot meal.  Browning the meat on all sides before adding it to the crock pot and making a quick blender sauce with onions, garlic, and chipotles makes a rich, layered dish that tastes like it was simmered on the stove all day.

Let’s get started!

The basis of this dish is a quick blender sauce that acts as the braising liquid.  Chop some onions and garlic and throw them in the blender.

Then add lime juice and some chipotles in adobo sauce to the blender.

Next comes the seasonings:  Cumin, oregano and all spice go into the blender with some salt and pepper.

Add some water and blend that until smooth.

Add the blender sauce to the slow cooker.

Next get started on the beef.  Trim a three pound beef roast of all fat and then cut into three inch cubes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and brown the beef on all sides, working in batches.  Don’t crowd the beef or it won’t brown, so says Julia.

Once the beef is browned on all sides, transfer it to the slow cooker and nestle it into the blender sauce.

Throw in some bay leaves and nestle them into the sauce as well, then put the top on the slow cooker and set it to cook on low for 8 hours.

Once the beef has finished cooking, carefully pull it out of the slow cooker and shred it with two forks until it is very finely shredded.

Add that back to the sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.  Meanwhile, toast some corn tortillas until very crisp.

Once they are crispy, build your tostada.  Start with a thin layer of refried beans, then pile on the beef and some raw onions for crunch.

Add some feta cheese or cotija if you have it.

Throw that in the oven until the cheese is melted a little.  Top with sour cream, fresh cilantro, fresh thinly sliced radishes, and some hot sauce.

This is pretty much all of my favorite things.  More than that, the beef stood far above the rest.  It’s a little spicy, a little smoky, and the texture is incredible.  Pair that with some cooling sour cream and fresh herbs and it’s the perfect combination.

The possibilities are endless and it’s perfect for a crowd.  If you’re enjoying some football this weekend this would be perfect to start on a Sunday morning and enjoy Sunday evening in rice bowls, on nachos, in a burrito, in some tacos, or any other iteration you can think of.

This Barbacoa beef is definitely in the top three slow cooker recipes in my mind, and something I’ll be making a regular in our rotation.

Here’s the recipe!


  • 3 pound beef roast (top round or bottom round), trimmed of all fat and cut into 3 inch cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped and divided
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 chipotles in adobo sauce (two, if you want it less spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • corn tortillas
  • fat free refried beans, warmed through
  • fresh cilantro
  • sliced radishes
  • sour cream
  • feta cheese or cotija cheese (something crumbly and salty)


  1. Combine garlic, half of the onion, lime juice, chipotles, cumin, oregano, all spice, salt and pepper in the blender and add the water.  Blend until smooth and transfer to the slow cooker.  
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and working in batches, brown beef on all sides until golden brown and transfer to a plate.  When all the beef is browned, transfer to the slow cooker and nestle in the sauce.  Add the bay leaves and place the top on the slow cooker and set to cook on low for 8 hours.  
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  4. Once the beef is finished, carefully transfer it to a bowl and shred with two forks until very fine.  Add it back into the sauce and keep warm.  Meanwhile, toast the corn tortillas until very crisp.  Add a thin layer of refried beans and pile some of the beef on top.  Add a few raw onions and feta cheese then place back in the oven until the cheese is slightly melted.  
  5. Transfer to a plate and top with sour cream, fresh cilantro, and sliced radishes.  Serve immediately.