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 Sweet Barbacoa. Better than Cafe Rio or Costa Vida! This flavorful sweet barbacoa recipe is slow cooked all day long leaving it tender, juicy, and full of flavor.  Perfect for tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever else you can dream of to put it on.

Sweet Barbacoa loaded up in corn tortillas, topped with melty jack cheese and chopped cilantro.


I’m going to come right out and say, this is not a traditional recipe. But it’s definitely tasty! 

If you’re looking for a more traditional Barbacoa recipe, then click here!

I’m sure you know of several Mexican style restaurants that offer Sweet Pork Barbacoa. It’s one of my favorite things to order when we eat out. And yes, those places typically do a sweet pork barbacoa. You can use pork if you want. I prefer beef with this recipe just because it comes out more tender and flavorful.

How to make Sweet Barbacoa:

  1. Sear the meat. This helps give wonderful flavor as the meat cooks in the slow cooker.
  2. Make the sauce mixture. Pour this over the top of the meat in the slow cooker. This will give the flavor to the meat.
  3. Cook low and slow. This helps the meat fall apart and shred.
Bowl filled with shredded barbacoa topped with chopped cilantro and lime wedges.

How to make this a Sweet Pork Barbacoa:

The ingredients are all still the same. Just the method changes a bit.

Pork needs to cook longer than the beef, otherwise it will come out slightly tough. It also needs to be simmered in the sauce longer once its been shredded. I find that the pork is more resistant to taking on flavor.

Corn tortillas loaded up with slow cooker sweet barbacoa, topped with melty cheese and chopped cilantro.

How to Enjoy:

What to Serve on the side:

{Slow Cooker} Sweet Barbacoa

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Total: 8 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Serene
This flavorful sweet barbacoa recipe is slow cooked all day long leaving it tender, juicy, and full of flavor. Perfect for tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever else you can dream of to put it on.
Sweet Barbacoa loaded into soft white corn tortillas and topped with melted cheese.


  • 5 lb roast I use chuck roast
  • 2 tbsp oil olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • tsp garlic salt


  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, drizzle with a small amount of oil. Sear the roast on all sides for about 1 minute each side.
  • Place the seared roast into the slow cooker.
  • In a medium size bowl combine the other ingredients and stir until fully combined. Pour the spice mixture over the roast in the slow cooker.
  • Cook over LOW heat for 6-7 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours.
  • Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred. Return to the slow cooker and stir into the remaining sauce. Let simmer on high for about 30 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, or store in closed container in refrigerator.



If using pork, you may need to cook 7-8+ hours on low to get tender, easy to shred pork. Also let the meat simmer in the sauce after shredding for an additional 20-30 minutes to get more flavor.
Recipe is for a larger 5 lb roast. Can easily be divided in half to make a 2.5 lb roast. Cooking time is the same.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 22g | Sodium: 240mg | Sugar: 13g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

Welcome to my kitchen!

Welcome to the House of Yumm!! My name is Serene. I’m the food photographer, recipe developer, and official taste tester around these parts.

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Recipe Rating


  1. We made this recipe with a chuck roast. We followed the recipe, except at about the 2 hour mark I cut the meat into smaller pieces and added white grape juice so that each entire piece was covered by liquid (our slow cooker is too big for our family!). After shredding it up at the end of 5 hours in the slow cooker, I let it simmer in the sauce while we toasted tortillas. The only thing I would change is to add little more salt.

  2. Recipe looks great! I’ll give that a try.
    One question: If I use pork, wouldn’t that be Carnitas? Not Pork Barbacoa?

    1. Barbacoa refers to the method of cooking. Typically it’s made with beef, or traditionally they used beef cheeks, since it’s so tender! But it can be made with other types of meat also, including pork.

  3. Giiiirl. This looks ridiculously good. Like melt in your mouth good. Haha, I like the way you do tacos 🙂 If it has this meat, then I’m good!