These shredded beef tacos are a crowd-pleaser. The beef is so tender and flavorful that it practically melts in your mouth. It’s the perfect filling for a soft tortilla and pairs well with any toppings you choose. Trust me, you won’t be able to resist going back for seconds.
Mexican Shredded Beef Recipe Ingredients
These shredded beef tacos are extra tender, flavorful, and inspired by Mexican cuisine. You might also enjoy our recipes for slow cooker pulled pork, Mexican carnitas, and ground pork tacos. Here’s what you will need to make the recipe:
- Beef chuck roast – Use a high-quality, well-marbled chuck roast for the tastiest, most tender shredded beef. The marbling (white veins you see running through the meat) ensures melt-in-your-mouth, tender results. We use the same cut of beef for this beef stew recipe.
- Garlic and tomato paste – Tomato paste and garlic add a rich flavor to the cooking liquid. Since the garlic cooks for a while, it melts into the beef.
- Spices – I love the combination of spices used in this shredded beef. We include chili powder (homemade is best), coriander, cumin, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. These spices combine to make delicious and aromatic beef.
- Tortillas and toppings – If you have the time, make your tortillas! They are much better than store-bought and easier than you think. Here are our recipes for soft flour tortillas and homemade corn tortillas to help you out. We love avocado or guacamole, cilantro, onion, and a bit of red salsa for the toppings.
Find the full recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Shredded Beef Tacos
Our shredded beef is savory, rich, and delicious. We cook beef chuck low and slow with garlic and spices until it falls apart. We use our oven for this, but you can just as easily use a slow cooker. Check the tips section in the recipe below for our tips.
First, prepare the beef. We start with beef chuck and trim any excess fat. Then, pat it dry and season liberally with salt before searing it in a hot pan. We are looking for the beef to have a pretty browned crust on all sides.
Add lots of flavor with garlic, tomato paste, and spices (chili powder, cumin, coriander, bay leaves, and cinnamon).
Pour in some water — or use stock; here are recipes for homemade chicken or beef stock. You want the liquid to come up three-quarters of the way up the side of the beef. Cover with a lid, and then bake until tender. Shredded beef takes 2 to 3 hours.
When the beef is fall-apart-tender, you can remove it from the cooking liquid and shred it. The cooking liquid is delicious, so we strain it, remove excess fat, and then reduce it by half. When you are reducing the liquid, taste it and see if it needs salt or pepper. Pour the reduced cooking liquid over the shredded beef and serve next to tortillas and your favorite taco toppings. Delicious!
Tender Shredded Beef Tacos
The secret to the best shredded beef is to cook it low and slow. We use our oven for this, but you can just as easily use a slow cooker. Check the notes section in the recipe below for our tips. I love serving this in tortillas for shredded beef tacos, but you can skip the tortillas and serve with rice, in burritos, or over salad.
You Will Need
4 to 5 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grape seed or canola
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder, see homemade chili powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1Heat the oven to 275° Fahrenheit.
2Pat the beef dry, and then season both sides with salt.
3Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned beef and cook, turning occasionally, until well-browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.
4Scatter garlic cloves, tomato paste, chili powder, coriander, cumin, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks around the beef.
5Pour enough water so it comes up about three-quarters of the way up the side of the beef.
6Stir, then cover the pot with its lid and cook until the meat is fall-apart tender, 2 ½ to 3 hours.
7Transfer the meat to a bowl, let it cool, then shred it with a fork.
8Strain the cooking liquid and skim off most of the fat at the surface. Return the strained liquid to the pot and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by about half. Taste the liquid and adjust with more salt as needed. Pour over the shredded beef. Serve with tortillas and taco toppings.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- To make this in the slow cooker, follow the steps through searing the beef then add the beef, tomato paste, spices, and water to a slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for about 4 hours or on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. Then shred the meat and follow our instructions for the cooking liquid shared above.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. We have omitted salt since you will need to add to your tastes. We assumed 10 servings and did not include tortillas or toppings.
Recipe updated, originally posted January 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne