Close up of Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Beef
Print Recipe
4.94 from 73 votes

Mexican Shredded Beef (and Tacos)

Recipe video above. This is how I make Mexican Shredded Beef. The sauce is rich, thick and full of flavor, and the beef is very tender and juicy. I use this shredded beef for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas and even to make sliders - see in post for list of ideas and directions! 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 20 mins
Course: Beef, Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Mexican Shredded Beef, Shredded Beef recipe, Slow Cooker Mexican Beef
Servings: 20 tacos
Calories: 372kcal
Author: Nagi | RecipeTin Eats

Ingredients

Spice Mix

  • 2 tbsp chipotle powder (Note 5)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp All Spice powder (ground All Spice)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder or garlic powder OR 1 tsp of each
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper , each

Beef

  • 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 lb / 1.5kg beef chuck or brisket (or gravy or any other slow cooking beef) cut into 4 pieces
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion , diced (yellow, brown or white)
  • 3/4 cup (185 ml) orange juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 14 oz / 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups (500 ml) beef or chicken broth/stock
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Combine the Spice Mix ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle 4 teaspoons over the beef and pat so it sticks.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pot over high heat. Add the beef (in batches if necessary) and brown well on all sides. Remove onto a plate.
  • Turn the stove down to medium. If the pot looks dry, add more olive oil. 
  • Add the garlic and onion and cook for 3 minutes until soft.
  • Add the orange juice and lime juice, and scrape the bottom of the pot so the brown bits mix into the liquid. 
  • Add remaining ingredients, mix, then return beef into pot. 
  • Put the lid on, bring to a simmer then turn the stove down so it is bubbling gently, not rapidly. 
  • Cook for 2 hours, then remove lid and simmer for another 30 minutes until beef is tender enough to shred. (Note 2 other cook methods).
  • Remove the beef from sauce, shred with 2 forks. 
  • Leave the sauce to simmer with the lid off for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce and thicken to your taste. Adjust salt to taste. Optional: puree with stick blender to make it smooth (I do this for company)
  • Toss beef back into the sauce (can reserve some Sauce for drizzling on tacos if you want, there's plenty).
  • Transfer beef into large dish and serve. See notes for suggestions.

Tacos

  • To make tacos, serve the beef with warmed small tortillas, avocado slices, Pico de Gallo, shredded cheese, sour cream, lime wedges and extra cilantro/coriander leaves.

Notes

1. Cook time - The cooking time will vary depending on what cut of beef you use, how heavy based your pot is (dutch ovens cook faster because they retain heat better) and also how thick your cut of beef is. This recipe is very forgiving so even if you leave it 1 hour too long, it will still be great! Check it at 2 hours and every 30 minutes thereafter to see if it is "shreddable" tender.
2. Other cook methods - slow cooker for 8 hours on low, pressure cooker & Instant Pot on high for 50 minutes.
For Slow Cooker and Pressure Cooker - after deglazing the pot in step 4 with the orange juice and lime juice, pour the liquid and onions into the slow/pressure cooker (IP) and add all remaining ingredients + beef. Cook per above. Transfer the liquid to a saucepan to reduce the sauce on the stove, as required by the recipe.
Oven - after completing step 4, cover and place in 325F/160C oven for 3 - 3 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender enough to shred. The liquid should reduce enough to make a thick sauce. If not, just simmer it on the stove until thickened to your liking.
3. Quantity - This makes enough for 20 - 25 tacos, 12 - 15 burritos. It is enough to serve 8 to 10 people.
4. Storage - To freeze or refrigerate, keep the sauce and beef separate. Reheat the beef in the microwave or in the oven (covered with foil), heat the sauce then toss. It's best to keep it separate because otherwise I find the beef gets quite soggy (especially when defrosting).
5. Chipotle powder can be annoyingly difficult to find in Australia. :) Now sold in Harris Farms. It is not sold in the major supermarkets (yet) but you can find it in fruit & veg stores, delis and gourmet/speciality stores. It does not cost much more than ordinary spices. If you can't track it down, I think the best substitute is 1/2 tbsp each SMOKED paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper.
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings.

Nutrition

Serving: 323g | Calories: 372kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.3g | Protein: 53.8g | Fat: 12.9g | Saturated Fat: 4.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8.5g | Cholesterol: 152mg | Sodium: 597mg | Fiber: 1.2g | Sugar: 4.3g