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.

Sweet Barbacoa:

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

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. I prefer to make this as a beef recipe. You can use pork if you want. I prefer beef with this recipe just because it comes out more tender and flavorful.

I also drew some inspiration from a local family owned restaurant from down the street that makes the BEST Barbacoa tacos. They use beef. A more authentic cut, beef cheek. And simmer it in simple ingredients. I plan on attempting to recreate it soon. That recipe will definitely be a more traditional barbacoa recipe than this one.

But in the meantime, this is a super easy recipe to toss in the slow cooker for a weeknight meal. Tender, flavorful, and always a hit! I make this recipe often when we have company coming over, just because it is so easy.

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 this Sweet Barbacoa

  • Tacos
  • Burritos
  • Quesadillas

What to Serve alongside the sweet barbacoa:






{Slow Cooker} Sweet Barbacoa

  • Author: Serene
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 20 1x


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.



  • 5 lb roast (I use chuck roast)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 and 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt


  1. 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.
  2. Place the seared roast into the slow cooker.
  3. 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.
  4. Cook over low heat for 6-7 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
  5. 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 3o minutes.
  6. 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.

  • Category: meat
  • Method: slow cooker
  • Cuisine: tex mex


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 320
  • Sugar: 13 g
  • Sodium: 240 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 14 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 22 g

Keywords: barbacoa, slow cooker,