The beef for these tacos literally falls apart, it is irresistible. Jump to the Shredded Beef Tacos Recipe or read on to see our tips for making them.
The shredded beef is savory, rich, and delicious. We cook them low and slow with garlic and spices until it falls apart.
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Making Tender and Flavorful Shredded Beef Tacos
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.
We add lots of flavor to the beef — garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, coriander, bay leaves, and cinnamon.
For the beef, we use chuck, but keep in mind that this recipe will also work with pork shoulder and lamb shoulder. It’s important to season generously with salt and pepper then sear it in a hot pan. You’re not looking to cook it all the way through — you only want to add a nice brown crust.
Add the spices as well as some liquid — water, stock, wine or even beer work. Then we cover the pot and slide it into a 275 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the beef falls apart when you pull at it.
Once cooked, you can remove the beef from the cooking liquid and shred it. The cooking liquid is delicious so we like to strain it, remove excess fat and then reduce it by half. When you are reducing the liquid, give it a taste and see if it need salt or pepper. When it is reduced, pour it over the shredded beef and serve next to tortillas and your favorite taco toppings.
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Recipe updated, originally posted January 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne
How to Make Irresistible 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.
You Will Need
4 to 5 pounds boneless beef chuck, pork shoulder or lamb shoulder
2 tablespoons neutral flavored 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 our homemade chili powder recipe
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
Taco toppings such as avocado, onion, cilantro, and lime
Heat oven to 275 degrees F and heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Generously season both sides of the beef with salt and pepper. Add oil to hot pot. Add beef and cook, turning occasionally, until beef is well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic, tomato paste, and the spices to the pot. Then, add the water so it comes up about three-quarters of the way up the side of the beef. Stir then cover with lid and cook until the meat is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Transfer the meat to a bowl, and let it cool, then shred it with a fork. Strain the cooking liquid and skim off the fat that has collected at the surface. Place the liquid back into the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced by about half. Taste the liquid and adjust with more salt or pepper. Pour liquid 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 Supertracker recipe calculator 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.