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Mexican Shredded Beef in a serving bowl with cilantro on top, lime wedge on side and wood serving spoon in bowl. it's incredibly easy to make in a slow cooker or in the oven and can be used for quick and easy family weeknight dinners! 

Mexican Shredded Beef Recipe {in the Slow Cooker or Oven}

Mexican Shredded Beef Recipe is smokey and peppery, but not spicy or hot, and utterly melt-in-your-mouth tender.  Ancho chiles, tomatoes, cilantro, and so much more cooked and then blended harmoniously. This beef cooks in the slow cooker until fall-apart tender, but you can also make it in the oven.  It tastes amazing nestled into a taco, topped over a salad, loaded in nachos, added to a rice bowl, or perfectly mixed into pasta.  Make one pot and eat for 2-3 family dinners to save tons of time!  

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword beef recipes, beef roast, crockpot, shredded beef, slow cooker
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Carrie Tyler


  • 2 pounds Beef chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 Yellow onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Dried Ancho chiles
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Smoked Paprika or Ground Chipotle Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Dried thyme ground or whole
  • 1 tablespoons Dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • 8 ounces Tomato sauce
  • 4-5 cups Beef stock or broth


Prep-Ahead Steps

  1. Dice the onions, rough chop the garlic, remove/discard the stems from the dried chiles and shake out the seeds. Discard the seeds and cut the chiles into 2-3 pieces each (will get pureed once cooked, so this is just to fit into slow cooker).
    Hand shaking seeds out of dried ancho chile for Mexican Shredded Beef.

Cooking Steps

  1. SEAR BEEF. Preheat a frying pan or skillet on high heat. Season your chuck roast with salt, and pepper to coat all sides. Drizzle the olive oil in the hot pan and add the beef and sear for 2 minutes on each side to brown evenly. On the final side, pour 1 cup of the beef stock in the pan to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker and pour in the liquid from the pan.
    Tongs placing seasoned beef chuck roast in a pan for Mexican Shredded Beef.
  2. SLOW COOKER. To the slow cooker with the beef, add the onions, garlic, cilantro leaves, crushed tomatoes, chiles, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Then pour in the rest of the beef stock until it reaches the top of the beef. Set the slow cooker to 8 or 10 hours, depending on your schedule.
    Fork pressing ingredients into liquid in slow cooker insert for Mexican Shredded Beef recipe.
  3. BLEND SAUCE. When the cooking time is done, transfer the beef using tongs to a platter or cutting board. Scoop out the bay leaves and discard. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out all of the onions and ancho peppers and transfer to a blender. (alternatively, you could strain the liquid into another bowl, add then add onions and peppers to the blender.) Blend the onions and the peppers until smooth. If needed, add ½ cup of the cooking liquid to the blender to help smooth it out. Once smooth, pour it back into the liquid in the slow cooker and stir to combine.

    Blended sauce in a blender for Mexican Shredded Beef.
  4. SHRED BEEF. Shred the beef with forks and discard any string that may have been tied around the roast. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker.

    Two forks shredding beef chuck roast for Mexican Shredded Beef.

Recipe Notes

  1. What if I don’t have a slow cooker?  If you do not have a slow cooker, you can make this in a dutch oven in the oven, cooking the beef at 400 F degrees for 3 hours until the beef is fall apart tender. You could also use an Instant Pot or pressure cooker if you have one. Refer to the equipment instructions for a beef roast or short ribs.
  2. Are there other cuts of beef I can use for the Birria Beef?  For cooking this Birria Beef in the slow cooker, a Chuck roast is best. If you cannot find Chuck Roast, sometimes labeled as blade roast, arm roast, or pot roast, you can use tri-tip, top round, bottom round, or rump roast.
  3. What can I substitute for Ancho Chiles in this Birria recipe?  For this recipe, you really want smokey and peppery, but not spicy. If you cannot find Ancho chiles, then look for dried Guajillo peppers. If you cannot find any of these dried peppers, you could use Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, but go light, as they tend to be spicy. Then supplement with another ½ to 1 teaspoon of ground Smoked Paprika.
  4. Is there a cheese other than Oaxaca cheese that could go in Birria Tacos?  The best cheese to use for Birria Tacos for authentic Mexican melty goodness is Oaxaca cheese. You can find Oaxaca in the specialty cheese section of your grocery store. However, if you cannot find it mozzarella works great as a melty substitute. In fact, Oaxaca is made using the same pulling and stretching process as mozzarella which makes the texture so similar. Do not, however, substitute Cotija cheese as it is a hard cheese is great for sprinkling on top of tacos, but does not melt the way that Oaxaca or Mozzarella do. You could also use Jack cheese in a pinch!
  5. Should I use Mexican Oregano or Regular?  If you can find Mexican oregano, that’s the way to go so that you get a more authentic flavor. However, I used a regular dried oregano and it turned out delicious.
  6. Garnishes – You can garnish the dipping sauce and the tacos with fresh cilantro, diced onions, radishes, or roasted corn.