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Instant Pot Mexican Shredded Beef

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This Easy Mexican Shredded Beef is made in the instant pot and results in tender, flavorful beef that’s perfect for your favorite Mexican meals.

Shredded beef in a white dish with a blue napkin and cilantro on the side.

Easy recipes that take minimal time to prep but come out tasting like you spent hours cooking are absolutely the best! I used the instant pot, but a slow cooker works just as well.

This shredded beef reminds me of Chipotle’s version of Barbacoa, but I’m not going to label it that since the spices and meat used are different. I do have a more traditional recipe for Barbacoa using beef shank, but it’s still not 100% authentic since barbacoa traditionally uses tongue and cheek meat.

What kind of Beef to Use

Chuck Roast- This is what I used and have tested the recipe with this cut of beef. I trim some of the excess fat, if there’s a lot, but keep most of it on for flavor and moisture. 

Diced Chuck roast in a glass bowl.

Other options for the cut of beef included: Beef Roast, Rump Roast, Eye Round Roast, Stew Meat, or Chuck Shoulder. Any of these ‘tough’ meats will work since we are cooking it for a long time to break down the tough tissue. 

Keep in mind, the leaner the cut of beef the less tender it will be.

Seasoning for the Shredded Beef

What makes this shredded beef ‘Mexican’ inspired, are the spices. Don’t be afraid to use spices! They really help to bring out the flavor in the beef. 

Round white plate with spices and seasonings.

Ancho Chili Powder-  I love the sweet and smokiness in ancho chili powder, but you can use regular chili powder.

CuminSome people may not like cumin, and you can omit if you really don’t care for it. But cumin gives it warmth and earthiness.

Smoked Paprika– Similar to Ancho chili powder, smoked paprika delivers notes of sweet and smokiness. Regular paprika can be substituted. 

Garlic PowderYou can also use fresh minced garlic or granulated garlic. 

Onion PowderGranulated onion or onion powder will work, but we are also adding a half onion for even more sweet onion taste.

Mexican OreganoMexican Oregano is actually a different plant than regular oregano and the flavor profile is more robust.  If you can’t find Mexican oregano, you can sub regular oregano.

Spices being added to raw beef in a glass bowl.

Add some oil to your chuck roast and sprinkle on the spices. Mix to incorporate the seasoning onto each piece of meat.

Cooking Instructions

The chuck roast I used was 5 pounds, so a large size. Cut the chuck roast into large chunks so that the seasoning can coat each piece and the meat can cook evenly.

Uncooked chuck roast in the instant pot.

Add 1 cup of water first the the instant pot the the chunks of seasoned beef.

The cooking time I used for 5 pounds was 75 min in the Instant Pot.

Most chuck roast portions found in the store are about 3 pounds. So the cooking time can be decreased for the Instant Pot as follows:

  • 3 pounds- 65 min
  • 4 pounds- 70 min
  • 5 pounds- 75 min

When the beef is done cooking, this is what it will look like.

Cooked chuck roast in the instant pot.

Remove the beef into a bowl, shred it and remove any extra fat. You can either place it back into the broth, or add some broth into the meat.

This also makes a great consomé or dipping sauce to serve on the side for tacos. If you plan on storing leftovers, make sure store the beef with the liquid to prevent it from drying out.

What can Shredded Beef be used in?

This Mexican Shredded Beef turns out so flavorful and tender, and can be used in any of your favorite Mexican Dishes. Here are some of my favorites:

Tacos and Quesadillas– Pile the shredded beef on tortillas for tacos or load up with some cheese for a quesadilla. Add other toppings like salsa, avocado, or cilantro.

Three shredded beef tacos arranged on a white plate with a slice of lime on the side.

Salad or Bowls A great healthy option is a taco salad using crisp romaine or iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and jalapenos for spice!

This homemade Cilantro Lime dressing is easy to make and perfect on a salad.  You can also make a bowl with Rice and your favorite toppings. 

White bowl with shredded mexican beef, cilantro lime cauliflower rice, and topped with sliced avocado.

Tamales While tamales can be time consuming to make, the filling can be easy by using this shredded beef. Watch my YouTube video HERE on how to make tamales in the instant pot. 

Two tamales wrapped in corn husks on a plate with salsa on the side.

BreakfastWhether it’s a weekend breakfast or breakfast for dinner, this shredded beef goes really well with eggs. You can make scrambled egg and beef tacos, or Huevos Rancheros with some of the beef on top. 

You can also make the shredded beef crispy by using a slotted spoon to drain the juice and place on a greased baking sheet. Then place under the broiler for 5 min or until it gets some crispy edges. 

I recommend making a large batch and saving leftovers in a zip top bag in the freezer. Freeze the beef with it’s juices to keep it moist and flavorful when re-heating.

To re-heat, simple thaw overnight and heat on a skillet or microwave. 

Up close view of shredded beef in a white dish topped with cilantro and a lime wedge.
Up close view of 3 shredded beef tacos on a plate.

Mexican Shredded Beef Recipe

This Easy Mexican Shredded Beef is made in the instant pot or slow cooker and results in tender, flavorful beef that's perfect for your favorite Mexican meals.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 8


  • 1 Cup Water
  • 3-5 pounds Chuck Roast
  • 2 tablespoon Oil
  • 2 tsp Salt Add more later if needed.
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Ancho Chili Powder Can sub regular Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika Can sub regular Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano Can sub regular oregano
  • 1/2 White Onion Placed on top of the beef with the cut side up.
  • 1 tablespoon White Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, or Lime Juice Added after Beef is done. This helps add some acidity to the meat.


  • Cut chuck roast into large chunks. Add oil to beef and toss to coat. Season chuck roast with all the spices and salt, stir to coat.
  • Pour water into Instant Pot or slow cooker, then add seasoned chuck roast, and halved onion with the cut side up. (This makes it easier to remove after cooking).
  • Instant Pot- High Pressure and see times based on the weight of beef.
    3 pounds- 65 min
    4 pounds- 70 min
    5 pounds- 75 min.
    Once the timer is done, carefully (I use a kitchen towel) release the valve to venting. Or wait 10 minutes for pressure to release naturally, then move the valve to venting.
  • Slow Cooker- Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.
  • Once the beef is cooked, add vinegar or lime juice, then shred the meat with 2 forks in the pot with the juices. Taste and see if additional salt is needed. 



For a crispy version, place cooked shredded beef on a sheet pan drizzled with oil and place under a broiler to crisp up. 
If freezing leftovers then freeze with some of the juices to prevent it from drying out when re-heated.
Beef Shank Barbacoa
Shredded Beef Tamales


Calories: 350kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 33gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 117mgSodium: 739mgPotassium: 627mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 457IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 4mg

Nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and depends on ingredients and amounts used. Thai Caliente makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Keyword Instant Pot Shredded Beef, Mexican Shredded Beef
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  1. ” The searing does add a little more flavor, but if you’re short on time, then leave it whole.

    For both methods, always add the water in the instant pot first so the meat doesn’t burn.”
    I copied this portion of your recipe to ask you a question about it. Okay, Supposedly we’re going to sear the meat on all sides correct ?
    How is it going to be Possible to Sear and Brown the Meat on All Sides if You’re saying to Add Water to Keep it From Burning ?
    Maybe you can share your trick with the rest of us that know that after Browning Meat, Water will Remove some of the Caramelization that we just spent time doing.
    The process is to Seal In the Flavors.

    1. Thank you for the question, Michael! I will update the post to make it more clear. If you are searing the meat, then you’ll need to remove it after searing. The flavor will still be in the meat. The water is needed to de-glaze the instant pot, and release any bits, aka flavor, from the bottom of the pot to prevent it from burning.

      So start by adding oil to the pot, press the saute function to high, season the beef, then begin searing once the pot is hot. After the meat is seared on all sides, remove the beef from the pot, add water to the instant pot, scrape up any stuck on bits at the bottom, then placed the seared beef back inside along with the remaining ingredients, and proceed with the recipe. Does that help?

  2. This recipe is insanely yummy. (IF you have leftovers, those are amazing, as well). I made this in my IP and seared before putting under pressure. I will make this once a month for the rest of my life ♥️

    1. Hi Toni, thanks for the feedback. I’m sorry it didn’t turn out tender for you. If you are using a large piece of chuck roast it will need more time. Also try letting the pressure release naturally for 10 min then move the valve to venting. Let me know if you have any other questions, I’d be happy to troubleshoot!

  3. I don’t usually write reviews but this recipe is DELICIOUS! I added 1.5 the amount of spices for more flavor and lime juice for the acidity. The beef came out really tender and we dipped our tacos in the broth. Thank you Renee!