Pressure Cooker Barbacoa Beef

This healthier spin on barbacoa beef makes ultra tender and flavorful shredded beef from lean eye of round roast. You can make it in an Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or even a slow cooker. Every serving has 13 grams of protein with only 2 grams of fat and 90 calories, making it an excellent healthy meal prep recipe. Burrito bowls, cheesy baked tacos, taquitos, quesadillas, nachos—you name it! 

barbacoa beef burrito bowls with rice and roasted corn salsa

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Pressure Cooker Barbacoa Beef Recipe Walkthrough

I’ve included a visual guide below with notes about ingredients, types of pressure cookers, and tips for making this recipe successfully. If you’ve made recipes like my pressure cooker Mexican chicken or Ninja Foodi carnitas, or you’re a pressure cooking pro, you can probably skip down to the recipe card.

And as always, if you have a recipe question I forgot to cover drop a comment at the bottom of the post. 

Slice a 2-pound eye of round roast into 4 pieces.

eye of round roast cut into 4 pieces

The recipe calls for eye of round, which has 145 calories, 26g of protein, and 4g of fat per 4 oz raw according to the USDA FoodData Central. Most traditional barbacoa recipes will call for fattier cuts like beef cheeks or chuck roast, but I’ve found you can still get super tender barbacoa with leaner cuts. In case you have trouble finding eye of round, I’ve included a few alternatives below. 

Other lean beef options (nutrition information for 4 oz raw via USDA): 

  • bottom round roast:  160 calories, 25g of protein, and 6g of fat
  • tri-tip sirloin roast: 175 calories, 21g of protein, and 10g of fat
  • chuck eye roast: 160 calories, 23g of protein, and 7g of fat

Since the recipe doesn’t call for any additional oil or high-fat ingredients, you can certainly get away with a fattier cut of beef if you’d like.

Salt and pepper both sides and sear all sides using a pressure cooker’s sauté function. 

pieces of the beef with salt and pepper in the pressure cooker

I used my 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi, which has a ceramic coated pot. If you’re using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker with a stainless steel pot, you might want to use a little oil instead of cooking spray. 

You’ll want to make sure the pot is hot before adding the beef. Once you’re in business, give the first side of the beef a full 3-4 minutes to develop some nice color. Then flip for another 2-3 minutes and use tongs to brown the sides of each beef piece for 30 seconds or so. 

seared eye of round pieces in the ninja foodi pot

You’ll deglaze the pot to get all the fond off the bottom in the next step. So don’t sweat the crispy bits when browning the beef. Give it time and brown that beef! 

Add spices, diced green chiles, lime juice, and beer or beef stock and pressure cook for 55 minutes with natural release pressure.

beef pieces after pressure cooking

Many barbacoa recipes call for fresh onion, garlic, and canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. To keep things simple, my version takes a shortcut with dried chipotle chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. You’re more than welcome to go with fresh, though. I’d go with something like half an onion, 5-6 cloves of garlic, and 2-3 chipotle peppers finely minced or blended together. 

Spices aside, the only other question mark might be the cerveza. I used Tecate, but you could use any beer here. The alcohol will cook off but if you wanted to go alcohol free, beef stock would work as a substitute. Or you could use a non-alcoholic option like Athletic Brewing

Shred the beef. 

shredding the beef with forks

The beef should be fall-apart tender. If it’s not, you can seal your pressure cooker and add another 10-15 minutes. The long cook time should help turn the collagen in the beef to gelatin and make the beef super tender. 

Optional: Use your pressure cooker’s sauté function to reduce the remaining juices.

If you’re planning to make things like tacos or enchiladas were a more concentrated mixture would come in handy, this extra step may be the move. Around 5 minutes should do the trick. Be careful to not reduce too much. 

Add the barbacoa beef back to the juices.

shredded beef in the juices

That’s it, you’re ready to rock. As you’d expect, this barbacoa gets better the longer it’s in the juices. So if you’re not in a rush, let it hang out in the juices with your pressure cooker set to its “keep warm” function. 

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the optional step of broiling your finished barbacoa beef if you are using a Foodi or Instant Pot Duo Crisp. Like I mentioned in my Instant Pot BBQ pulled chicken, this is a great way to add some extra texture and crispy edges to shredded proteins without overcooking. Usually 6-10 minutes does the trick. 

Serving Your Healthy Barbacoa Beef

two cheesy grilled tacos with barbacoa beef

If you’ve tried my ground turkey tacos, you know I love to make cheesy, crispy tacos on a griddle. To make tacos in bulk, you could bake a big batch. Check out my baked beef tacos for an example.

You could also use your barbacoa beef to make air fryer taquitos or nachos using my low calorie tortilla chips.

If you’re making burrito bowls a roasted corn salsa works great with some rice and black or pinto beans. And my Mexican potatoes and 10-minute street corn would be great side dishes for tacos, enchiladas, or whatever else you decide to make with your barbacoa. 

beef barbacoa enchiladas and barbacoa beef tostadas

Update: I’ve now used this beef barbacoa for two spin-off recipes—leftover barbacoa beef enchiladas and barbacoa beef tostadas.

I can’t wait to hear what you come up with. Let me know how you serve your pressure cooker barbacoa or what you thought about the recipe in a review below! 

Pressure Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Pressure Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Yield: 15 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

A high protein, healthy barbacoa beef option perfect for tacos, enchiladas, burrito bowls, and more.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Eye of Round Roast, fat trimmed*
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

For Pressure Cooking

  • 12 oz Cerveza or Beer**
  • 4 oz can Diced Green Chiles
  • 1/4 C (60g) Lime Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 4 Bay Leaves

Instructions

  1. Cut the beef into 4 pieces, about 3" each. Salt and pepper both sides of each piece.
  2. Set a pressure cooker's sauté function to high. Once hot, add cooking spray and brown all sides of the beef, about 2-3 minutes per side and 30-60 seconds around the edges.
  3. Use the beer to deglaze the pot and get any crispy bits off the bottom. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring everything together.
  4. Seal and pressure cook for 55 minutes with 10- 15 minute natural release pressure.
  5. Transfer the beef to a bowl to shred and remove the bay leaves. If the beef is not fall apart tender, cook 5-10 minutes longer.
  6. If you'd like to thicken the remaining sauce, use the sauté function for about 5 minutes before adding the shredded beef back to pot.

Notes

*Bottom Round and Sirloin Roast are other lean options.

**I used Tecate but other beers will work. You can also use beef broth in place of the beer.

Each 3-ounce serving of barbacoa beef has 2 WW SmartPoints (blue).

For Slow Cooker Barbacoa

Use a large skillet to brown the beef pieces before adding to a slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the beef is tender and easily shredded.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Servings Serving Size: 3 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90Total Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 13g

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20 thoughts on “Pressure Cooker Barbacoa Beef”

  • Made it the day it dropped on Patreon because I have a slight addiction to Chipotle’s Barbacoa…AND THIS BLOWS IT OUT OF THE WATER. I think the Tecate is the trick. I have made pan-fried lavash bread breakfast burritos the last 3 days and I dont see it stopping! 1000% will make again

    • I’d be guessing. Sorry! You could always try it and extend the cook time as needed. Maybe start with 75 minutes and extend if needed. I’ve vented and resealed pressure cooked meats a ton during testing. Works like a charm.

  • Super good! I personally think this recipe is one of the best. My daughter said it was a bit spicy so I added a little honey and it was good to go.

  • This recipe is amazing. Really gives the Mexican Chicken a run for the money. We made a bowl with rice, black beans and Mason’s Mexican Street Corn off the Cob. So good!!

  • Woah! Someone mentioned Chipotle’s barbacoa, and I have to say, they aren’t wrong! This recipe is SO GOOD and so simple!! It’s easily just as good as the barbacoa at Chipotle, if not better!! Thanks so much!

  • This was delicious! I just have a question about the macros in the serving size, so a 3oz portion is 13grams of protein total?

    • Correct. That will include some of the juices as well. To calculate nutrition facts for my recipes, I weigh the entire finished product (45 ounces in this case) and split that into smaller servings. Hope that helps!

  • You’re a genuis! We buy a whole cow at a time and get stuck with some really lean roasts that I haven’t been able to cook without turning into shoe leather. Its awful. I hate using them. UNITL NOW! I used a rump roast for this. I don’t know how big it was, but it was hefty. This recipe was PERFECT. It shredded with ease and has an incredible amount of flavor. It shredded just like a fatty chuck roast would! I let the cooker completely natural release and its awesome. Perfect shredded beef. Thank you for solving a big problem for me. I can use lean roasts just like chucks now!

  • I know Barbacoa is supposed to be beef. Do you think it would be okay to use pork shoulder? It’s all I have in my freezer right now 😬

    • Barbacoa actually translates to barbecue in English. So we’re already cheating with a pressure cooker here! But to answer your question, I think pork shoulder would work great in place of the beef in this recipe.

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