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Slow Cooker Smoky BBQ Beef Tacos

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These slow cooker beef tacos are kissed with smoky BBQ flavor and topped with fresh slaw and pico. Each mouthful has a spicy sweet bite tempered by cooling fresh veggies — full of delicious flavors + textures!

Four beef tacos on a plate next to slices of lime and jalapeno.

OH, HEY…This recipe appears as part of our Taco Bar Party menu. Check it out for all the make ahead recipes and prep checklist!

Shredded BBQ Beef Tacos from the Crockpot

It would be so amazing to spend the day stoking the old kettle grill, smoking a brisket to make yummy tacos. But, who has that kind of time? Not me! However, if you want that smoky beef taco situation without a ton of effort, you CAN get it from your slow cooker.

It takes just a few minutes to get it going in the morning and by the end of the day, you’ve got fall-apart tender shredded beef with a ready-made sauce. And, all the other elements of these tacos are make-ahead!

A plate with slow cooker beef tacos with garnishes in the background.

What Goes Into Slow Cooked Steak Tacos?

Please don’t be alarmed by the lengthy list of ingredients for these tacos! I’ll provide a couple short-cut options for you. And, keep in mind that you can make the garnishes ahead of time or spread them out throughout the day. 

For the full list of ingredients, refer to the recipe card below. Here, I just want to call attention to the ‘must-haves’

  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce — this is what will give the beef that smoky quality (and some spice, too). Chipotles are jalapeños that have been dried and smoked, then are packed in a sauce of tomatoes and spices. You’ll use just one minced pepper and some of the adobo sauce. 
  • BBQ spice rub — rather than measure out a variety of spices to bring that bbq flavor, simply use your favorite BBQ spice rub blend (store-bought or homemade). 
  • Boneless beef chuck roast — this is a lesser expensive cut of beef typically used for a classic pot roast. It’s got plenty of fat running through it which adds flavor as it renders. When cooked low and slow, it will become tender and very easy to pull making it ideal for shredded meat tacos.
A plate with four slow cooker beef tacos and some lime wedges.

Ingredient Substitutions + Shortcuts

Smoke + Spice

If for some reason you can’t find chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or you prefer less spice, omit those two ingredients and use one of these combinations instead:

  • 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke; increase tomato paste to 4 tablespoons (least spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika; increase tomato paste to 4 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons of regular chili powder; increase tomato paste to 4 tablespoons (least smoky)
  • 2 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder; increase tomato paste to 4 tablespoons (most spicy)

The Meat

Some alternative cuts of beef to the chuck roast that also work well in the slow cooker are:

  • Tri-tip roast
  • Top round or bottom round roast
  • Brisket (not corned)

Shortcuts

As for the accompaniments…these are easy and pretty quick to make, but here are a few shortcuts if you need them:

  • Pico de gallo — purchase ready-made pico from your grocery store’s produce or deli department to save a little time and effort
  • Creamy slaw — again, pick up some ready-made from the deli or grab a slaw kit in produce (look for ones with a southwest flair!)
  • Avocado — slicing an avocado is totally easy, but you could also use prepared guacamole instead.
A plate with some beef tacos and half and avocado in the background.

Steps to Make Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Tacos

  1. Combine the ingredients for the BBQ braising liquid in your slow cooker. This will turn into a flavorful sauce for your tacos later.
  2. Season and sear the chuck roast on all sides, then add to the crockpot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  3. Prepare the pico de gallo and refrigerate.
  4. Prepare the slaw and refrigerate.
  5. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred. Skim the fat from the cooking liquid using a spoon or fat separator, and add enough to the beef to keep it moist. Reserve the remainder for serving.*
  6. Warm tortillas using your preferred method.

(*Optional step — reduce the remaining cooking liquid to concentrate the flavors and sweeten the sauce. I’ve used the extra sauce just as it is and have reduced it down as well. Either way, a little extra drizzle of this over your tacos is just right!)

Layer ingredients onto your tortillas and drizzle with a little extra slow cooker sauce!

Photo collage with the six steps for making slow cooker beef tacos.

Taco Bar!

This recipe produces a lot of tacos making it perfect for a party. Place the shredded beef into a warm serving dish or back into your slow cooker (especially if it has a ‘warm’ function) alongside tortillas, pico de gallo, slaw and other condiments and garnishes. Guests can assemble tacos themselves and you can sit back and relax!

And, here are some side dish recipes perfect for your taco bar:

Don’t forget the cervezas and margaritas!

More Serving Suggestions…

Oh…you can enjoy this slow cooker beef in other ways, too!

  • Burrito bowl — with rice, corn, black beans, shredded lettuce + pico…with a little chipotle ranch dressing.
  • BBQ sandwich — piled high on buns and drizzled with your favorite BBQ sauce, with some slaw on the side.
  • Empanadas — combine the beef with some fire roasted tomatoes and cheese and bake in puff pastry for easy empanadas.
A hand holding a slow cooker beef taco.

If You Like This Recipe, You Should Check Out…

Four beef tacos on a plate next to avocado and cilantro.

Slow Cooker Smoky BBQ Beef Tacos

Sip + Sanity | Linda Feller
These slow cooker beef tacos are kissed with smoky BBQ flavor and topped with fresh slaw and pico. Each mouthful has a spicy sweet bite tempered by cooling fresh veggies — full of delicious flavors + textures!
Prep time.30 minutes
Cook time.8 hours 10 minutes
Total time.8 hours 40 minutes
Course.Main Course
Cuisine.American, Mexican
Number of servings.8 2 tacos per serving
Calories per serving.640 kcal

Ingredients

Slow Cooker Beef

  • 1 cup beef broth, low sodium
  • 2 chipotle pepper, jarred/canned in adobo, minced
  • 2 tablespoon adobo sauce, from the jar/can
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon BBQ spice rub, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 7 whole cloves
  • kosher salt + fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • pounds boneless beef chuck roast
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil

Pico de Gallo (substitute store-bought if you prefer)

  • ¼ white onion, finely diced
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 large roma tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

Creamy Slaw

  • ½ head green cabbage, shredded or sliced very thin
  • 4 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

For Serving

  • 16 white corn tortillas, 5"-6" round
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles

Instructions

  • In the bowl of your slow cooker, stir together the broth, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, tomato paste, spice rub, dry mustard, brown sugar, cloves + bay leaf.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high. Season the chuck roast with kosher salt + pepper, then sear on all sides. Transfer to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the pico de gallo by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve.
  • During the last hour of slow cooking, prepare the slaw by combing all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve.
  • Remove the roast to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.
  • Skim the fat off the liquid in the slow cooker or use a fat separator. Discard the bay leaf and cloves. Spoon enough of the slow cooker liquid over the meat to moisten, and mix together. Reserve the remaining sauce to use as needed.
  • Warm tortillas until pliable.
    Microwave method: wrap in wet paper towels and microwave for 45 seconds, flip over and cook another 45 seconds.
    Skillet method: place a cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until really hot. Toast the tortillas for 30 to 45 seconds on each side.
    Open-flame method (my preferred method): using tongs, place a tortilla directly over an open flame on your gas cooktop and toast on both sides. You can have multiple burners going at the same time. Similarly, you can do this on an outdoor grill.
  • Spoon some slaw into a tortilla. Top with about 1/4 cup of shredded beef, a slice or two of avocado, some pico de gallo and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle a little extra sauce over the top, if desired, and enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 640kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 1311mg | Potassium: 1107mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 624IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 239mg | Iron: 6mg
Keywords.beef, make ahead, slow cooker, stove top
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