This sous vide barbacoa recipe transforms chuck roast into an incredibly tender and flavorful filling for tacos and rice bowls, using a blend of chipotles in adobo, green chiles, vinegar, lime juice, and spices. The beef is slow-cooked to perfection for 24 hours at 165 degrees F, ensuring a fall-apart texture. Ideal for those seeking a hands-off cooking method, this recipe is a foolproof option for delicious homemade barbacoa.
I’ve got to say it: this may be my new favorite way meat for tacos and rice bowls. I know a 24 hour cook is a big ask, but it is so worth it for this big flavor and fall apart tender beef!
If you’re new to sous vide, make sure to check out my Beginner’s Guide to Sous Vide Cooking. Or, if you already love sous vide and are looking for more inspiration, I’ve got plenty of sous vide recipes here on the blog and in my cookbooks.
This cookbook outlines my entire method for keeping your freezer stocked with ready to sous vide meals (and some great recipes to boot!).
Time and Temp for Sous Vide Barbacoa
For the best sous vide barbacoa, you’re looking at a time commitment. But I promise it’s worth it! Many sous vide beef recipes offer options for time and temperature, but not this one.
Sous vide barbacoa is cooked at 165 degrees F for 24 hours. Sure, it requires a little planning, but it’s so hands off and far tastier than other methods, like the slow cooker.
What You’ll Need (Food and Equipment)
For the beef, I recommend using a chuck roast. Chuck roasts are inexpensive and shred beautifully. If you buy one with quite a bit of fat, trim it as you cube it.
In addition, you’ll be using chipotles in adobo, diced green chiles, red onions, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, and plenty of herbs and spices. The lime juice and apple cider vinegar give this dish a nice acidity.
This is delicious in tacos or rice bowls, so you’ll also want tortillas, rice, fresh chopped cilantro for garnish, avocados, etc. for the full experience.
If you already sous vide, you likely have all the equipment that you’ll need in your kitchen. Here’s a brief overview before we dive in:
- An immersion circulator (I like the Breville Joule)
- A vacuum sealer
- Vacuum seal bags
- Sous vide magnets
How to Make Sous Vide Barbacoa
This is an incredibly simple process – you can’t mess it up! You’ll start by mixing together all the ingredients, transferring to a vacuum seal bag, and sealing it. Since there’s liquid in the bag, you may find that you need to hit the “seal” button a little early, once liquid starts creeping up towards the seal line.
Add the bag to a water bath preheated with an immersion circulator to 165 degrees F and cook for 24 hours. Use sous vide magnets to hold the bag in place and keep it submerged – extra risky since this is such a long cook!
After it’s done cooking, pour the entire contents of the bag into a shallow serving bowl and use two forks to shred the beef. The juices make a really yummy “sauce,” so don’t discard them!
It’s that simple! Then serve with tortillas or rice, lime wedges, chopped fresh cilantro, avocado, and whatever else makes you happy.
Frequently Asked Questions
The short answer: yes. If you want the best possible texture, that is. If you’re really on a time crunch, you could try shortening it to 12 hours, but the results won’t be as good. If you’re really, really on a time crunch, I recommend looking at Instant Pot recipes! (Which, of course, will not be as good!)
Absolutely. This will freeze well before or after sous viding. I typically prepare it all the way through the vacuum seal step, freeze, then go straight from the freezer to the water bath when I want to cook it. You do not need to add extra cook time for this.
I always do tacos or rice bowls. So, choose your carb vessel, then make sure to have plenty of chopped fresh cilantro, lime wedges, avocado, and whatever else sounds yummy available! This is a great “build it yourself” meal for the family or guests.
Yes, you could! However, slow cooking with sous vide results in moister, more tender meat. Have you ever noticed that slow cooked meat is often somehow a little dry? You don’t get those results with sous vide.
You can also view this recipe as a step-by-step web story here.
Get the Recipe:
Fall Apart Sous Vide Barbacoa
For the barbacoa
- 1 3 lb chuck roast, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
- 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 4 oz can diced green chiles
- 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground oregano
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Limes, cut into wedges
- Avocado, diced
- Corn tortillas or white rice
- Preheat water bath using an immersion circulator to 165 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients for the barbacoa until the chuck roast cubes are coated. Transfer the mixture to a vacuum seal bag and seal. Tip: Cuff the top of the vacuum seal bag to make transferring easier. Since there's liquid in this mixture, you may need to press the "Seal" button on your vacuum sealer early. Press this button when liquid approaches the seal line.
- Add the bag to the preheated water bath and secure in place with sous vide magnets, or set something heavy like a ceramic plate on top of the bag to keep it from floating. Cover the bath with foil, plastic wrap, or a lid to prevent evaporation. Cook for 24 hours.
- When done cooking, pour the entire contents of the bag into a large, shallow serving bowl. Remove the bay leaves. Use two forks to shred the meat.
- Serve with corn tortillas or rice, cilantro, limes, and avocado.