This is the only Mexican Shredded Beef recipe you will ever need! It’s unbelievably melt-in-your-mouth tender and loaded with bold, rich flavor! Plus, it is made with simple ingredients, so easy to prepare, incredibly versatile and freezer friendly! Cook it once and use it in various meals throughout the week! This flavorful recipe is guaranteed to become a family favorite and your go-to for quick and easy meals!
You can prepare this Mexican beef in the slow cooker, crockpot, oven or on the stovetop! Use it in salads, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, casseroles, sandwiches, soups and even eggs! Plus, I’ve included tips and tricks on how to build the perfect beef tacos!
Hi, friends! I am super excited for today’s recipe! If you have been searching for some next level beefy goodness, you have come to the right place! Today’s recipe isn’t just absolutely delicious, it’s also a breeze to prepare! It’s one of our favorite beef recipes, and after one bite I’m positive it will become your family’s favorite too!
Easy Mexican Shredded Beef (Tacos)
This shredded beef is legitimately epic! It’s crazy tender, insanely succulent and just melts-in-your-mouth!
This recipe features chuck roast generously seasoned with smoky, warm spices, plus fragrant dried herbs before it’s slowly-braised in a flavorful, complex sauce flavored with spicy chipotle chiles. The end result? Mind-blowingly moist, ridiculously tender shredded beef smothered and glistening in a smooth, smoky, rich sauce! If you are worried about the spicy heat from the chipotles, don’t be – this recipe is completely flexible! You can easily adjust the recipe to be as mild or spicy as you and your family prefer!
Aside from this beef being bodaciously delicious and finger-licking-good, it’s also a total cinche to make! It requires mere minutes of hands-on preparation and it can be cooked three different ways – in the oven, slow cooker (crockpot) or on the stove! It’s dinner made quick and easy!
Plus, the flavorful beef just gets better with time and leftovers store beautifully in the refrigerator or freezer! You can cook it once, and then reheat it gently on the stove top or in the microwave and eat it for days! This Mexican shredded beef is astoundingly versatile and can be used in limitless ways! Utilize it as a filling for tacos, burritos and enchiladas, or as a topping for nachos and taco salads for a Mexican-themed meal! Or, shake things up and use it in Mexican casseroles, omelettes, sandwiches, soups and more!
What is Mexican shredded beef?
Authentic Mexican shredded beef is known as Machaca. Traditionally, Machaca is made from marinated, dehydrated and shredded beef. Essentially, it’s comparable to a Mexican version of beef jerky. The dehydration process was used to preserve the meat, making it easy for ranchers and cowboys to pack on trips. The beef would be enjoyed as a snack or rehydrated and used in a meal. Nowadays, most modern Machaca recipes skip the dehydration process and instead simply braise and shred the beef.
This easy recipe uses the same blend of intensely savory, slightly spicy seasonings and slow cooks the beef. The end results – the same delicious, rich flavor and fall-apart-tender texture of traditional Machaca, but without all the effort or hassle!
What ingredients do I need for shredded beef?
- Beef: You can use a few different cuts of beef for this recipe (see below). Make sure you trim any excess fat and cut the beef into large pieces, roughly 3-inches each in size.
- Seasoning Blend: A combination of Mexican dried herbs and spices, along with kosher salt and ground black pepper, provide deeply savory and slightly spicy flavor. (See below for more information on the Mexican seasoning blend.)
- Oil: Two tablespoons of neutral oil is used to sear and brown the beef. You can use vegetable oil or canola oil.
- Onion: One yellow onion adds a touch of delicate, astringent flavor.
- Garlic: Fresh cloves of garlic provide the best distinctive, punchy taste!
- Tomato Paste: Two tablespoons of thick tomato paste add a rich, meaty flavor.
- Chipotle Peppers: Canned chipotle chili peppers in adobo add a deliciously spicy, smoky kick. The number of chili peppers will depend on personal taste! You can freeze any remaining chilis and use them at a later date.
- Lime Juice: Fresh lime juice provides the perfect tart acidity to balance everything out.
- Stock: Beef stock adds a ton of flavor and prevents the beef from drying out. You can substitute beef broth or chicken stock if that’s what you have on hand.
- Picante: Picante sauce infuses the cooking liquid with mildly spicy, savory tomato flavor. Picante has a thinner consistency than traditional salsa. You can find it located in the Mexican or international aisle of most major grocery stores.
What spices are used in Mexican shredded beef?
A homemade spice blend is the secret ingredient to flavorful Mexican beef! A combination of classic dried herbs and spices are used in this recipe to season the beef and provide tons of robust flavor.
This blend of spices is totally customizable! You can easily omit any spices you don’t have or add any specific seasonings you love! Or, if you are in a pinch, you can use store-bought or homemade taco seasoning instead.
- Cumin: While cumin is used more often in Tex-Mex than traditional Mexican cuisine, it delivers a distinctive earthy flavor.
- Oregano: Mexican oregano offers a pungent flavor with a subtle hint of citrus and licorice. If you can’t find Mexican oregano, you can use regular oregano; however, do not substitute Mediterranean oregano!
- Smoked Paprika: While it’s not a traditional Mexican spice, I absolutely love smoked paprika. It provides deliciously rich, smoky flavor. You can substitute chipotle powder for a similar smoky flavor. Or, you can use regular or sweet paprika for a more traditional blend.
- Chile Powder: Chile powder is made from dried ground chiles. I prefer to use ancho chile powder (moderately spicy) or chipotle chili powder (spicy) in this blend.
- Onion Powder: Onion powder provides a subtle onion kick.
- Garlic Powder: Garlic powder has a pungent flavor that plays well in this blend.
- Coriander: Ground coriander comes from the whole dried seeds of the cilantro plant. It has a citrusy, floral and sweet flavor.
- Bay Leaf: One Dried bay leaf adds a slightly floral and herbal flavor. Be sure to use a Mexican Bay leaf if you are looking for authentic flavor!
- Salt and Pepper: Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper enhance all the flavors and allow the other ingredients in the blend to come together and shine through.
What can I add to my Mexican seasoning blend?
- Achiote powder: Achiote is made from the ground seeds of the annatto tree and it’s a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine. It is sweet and earthy in flavor.
- Allspice: Despite common misconception, allspice isn’t a blend of multiple spices – it’s actually the dried unripe berry of a Pimenta dioica tree. It’s an aromatic spice that flavors savory dishes beautifully.
- Anise: Ground anise has a sweet, fragrant aroma with a licorice-like taste. Be sure to use anise sparingly.
- Cayenne: If you like a lot of heat, add a bit of cayenne! It offers up a pungent aroma with a spicy, slightly earthy and neutral peppery flavor.
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick adds a depth of flavor with a woodsy, sweet spice taste.
- Cocoa powder: While it may seem like an odd addition, unsweetened cocoa powder will accentuate the smoky flavors found in this blend.
Is Mexican beef spicy?
Traditional Mexican food can be moderately spicy, depending upon the region. However, this beef recipe relies on a variety of seasonings for their subtle flavors and not just their heat. Plus, you can easily modify this recipe to be as tame and mild or fiery and hot as you like – which makes it perfect for feeding your whole family!
To adjust the heat level:
- Chipotle Peppers: If you prefer an extremely mild dish, omit the chopped chipotle peppers in the dish; however, don’t omit the chipotle sauce! For moderately hot shredded beef, use 3-5 peppers. If you prefer to bring on the heat, use seven or more chipotle peppers!
- Cayenne: Do you like it flaming hot? Add cayenne pepper to your spice rub!
- Fresh Lime Juice: If you have fully prepared the shredded beef and find it to be too spicy, add a liberal amount of fresh lime juice. Acid does wonders for balancing out the spiciness.
- Dairy: If you have tried everything and still find the dish to be too hot, add a dollop of sour cream or even plain yogurt to the top of your beef. Dairy has a wonderful cooling effect and is fantastic at counteracting spicy foods!
What cut of beef is best for shredding?
Shredded beef is very easy and forgiving to prepare, but you want to make sure you start with the correct cut of beef. While it may seem counterintuitive, the best cuts of beef for shredding are tough cuts of meat. Tougher cuts contain plenty of marbling and connective tissue. They become melt-in-your-mouth-tender and succulent after hours of cooking over low heat.
- Chuck Roast: Chuck roast can also be labeled as chuck pot roast, shoulder roast, chuck eye roast or arm chuck. This cut of beef is from the shoulder area of the cow. It contains a good amount of marbling (or fat), which creates tender beef that shreds well. Tip: This recipe calls for approximately 4 pounds of boneless beef. If you can’t find a single roast that big at the store, select two smaller roasts instead!
- Brisket: Beef brisket is from the foreshank/brisket part of the cow. While I prefer chuck roast, brisket can also be used.
- Bottom Round: The round is from rear leg of the cow. It is leaner than both the chuck and the brisket. Look for a bottom round roast that has a good amount of marbling running through it.
Pro-tip: The quality of your beef is also important! USDA Prime beef has the most marbling and is of the highest quality. USDA Choice has less marbling than prime, while USDA Select is the bottom grade with the least amount of marbling. Remember that marbling helps transform tough meat into tender beef after cooking. For the best shredded beef, use the best quality meat.
Can I use chicken or pork instead of beef?
Absolutely! If you don’t like beef, or simply prefer a different type of meat, chicken and pork can be used instead!
- Pulled or Shredded Chicken: Chicken thighs are incredibly moist and flavorful, which make them a wonderful alternative to beef!
- Shredded Pork: Pork shoulder roast is from the shoulder of the pig. Shredded pork shoulder has a very similar texture to shredded chuck roast!
How do you shred beef quickly?
Once you have chosen your cut of beef and slowly cooked it to juicy perfection, transforming it into succulent shredded beef is simple! The entire process is quick, easy and doesn’t require any fancy tools or kitchen gadgets!
- Two Forks: To shred beef, place two large forks adjacent to each other, with their backs facing each other. Pull the forks in opposite directions, breaking the beef into long shreds as you pull. Discard any large bits of fat or gristle. Repeat pulling the forks apart until all your beef is shredded.
- Meat Claws: If you prepare shredded beef or pulled pork often, you may want to consider purchasing meat-shredder claws. This kitchen tool makes shredding beef a breeze. You employ the same method – pulling – as if you were using forks (like above).
Pro-tip: Avoid shredding your beef too finely or it may cause the meat to dry out. Thick, succulent shreds of beef are the end goal!
How to make Mexican shredded beef?
This Mexican pulled beef recipe is super simple to prepare and can be made in the oven, crockpot or on the stove! (Don’t forget to scroll down for the detailed instructions in the complete printable recipe at the bottom of the page.)
- Combine seasoning blend: Add all the ingredients for the spice blend to a small bowl. Stir well to combine.
- Season beef: Place the pieces of beef on a clean work surface. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the seasoning blend all over the beef. Use your hands to rub the spices into the beef.
- Sear beef (optional, but recommended): Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the beef and sear until well browned on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Sauté vegetables: Add a splash of oil to the pot and add in the onions. Sauté until softened. Add the garlic and remaining seasoning blend. Cook until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and chopped chipotles. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Deglaze + add beef: Add the lime juice to deglaze the pan. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the adobo sauce, stock, picante sauce and bay leaf. Add the seared beef to the pot.
- Cover + cook: Bring the contents to a simmer. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for 3 – 3 ½ hours, or until the meat tender and begins to fall apart.
- Shred beef: Turn off the heat under the pot. Use two forks to shred the beef.
- Gently simmer to warm: Adjust the heat to low and gently simmer the beef for 10-15 minutes.
- Serve: Transfer beef to a serving dish and enjoy! Or, serve in tacos! (Scroll down to read all about how to make the perfect beef taco!)
How to know when beef is done cooking?
It’s almost impossible to overcook chuck roast using this method – as long as the moisture (cooking liquid) is maintained! However, once the beef starts to become tender, you want to keep an eye on it, as the texture can become mushy and unappetizing if it cooks for too long.
Beef is perfectly cooked when it’s fork-tender and easily falls apart with a little bit of pressure.
If your meat isn’t fall-apart-tender, then it needs a little bit longer to cook. Simply continue to cook the beef, checking every 30 minutes for doneness, until the meat easily pulls apart with the help of two forks.
How to store cooked beef?
Allow the cooked and shredded beef to cool completely. Add a little bit of the cooking juices to the leftover shredded meat – use enough to just barely moisten the beef. Toss the beef to coat it in the juices. Place the leftover beef in an airtight container and pour the remaining cooking liquid into another. Store both in the refrigerator for up to four days. To further extend the shelf life of cooked beef, freeze it (see below).
Can you freeze it?
This beef freezes beautifully! In fact, I always make a double or triple batch to have on hand for quick and easy meals! Having shredded beef stocked in the freezer makes meal prep a breeze!
To freeze beef, cook and shred the beef according to the recipe instructions. Remove the beef from the cooking liquid. Allow both the beef and liquid to cool completely. Once cooled, toss the beef with just enough of the liquid to barely moisten the meat. Transfer the beef and liquid to separate heavy-duty freezer bags. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To use, thaw the beef and cooking liquid in refrigerator overnight.
To reheat, preheat an oven to 250 degrees F. Transfer the beef to a baking dish and toss with some of the cooking liquid. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Reheat in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the beef is heated through and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
How to serve Mexican beef?
This beef recipe is incredibly versatile! You can use it in numerous dishes, making it the perfect foundation for various quick and easy meals! It’s the perfect meal prep recipe! You can cook this beef once and then repurpose it into exciting different meals throughout the week!
Traditional ways to use beef:
- Tacos: Tuck succulent shredded beef into a taco! (See below!)
- Soup: Stir beef into taco soup for a hearty upgrade!
- Salad: Create a Mexican salad! Spoon beef over a pile of leafy greens and top with your favorite vegetables, cheese, salsa and sour cream!
- Eggs: Substitute shredded beef for ground beef in your beefy Huevos Rancheros!
- Nachos: Add a generous pile of beef to your favorite cheesy nachos!
- Torta: Create a delicious Mexican Torta with a generous helping of beef along with beans, avocado, pepper and your favorite cheese!
- Burritos: Fill a large flour tortilla with shredded beef, beans, rice, veggies and cheese. Roll it up and chow down!
- Bowls: Top a bed of rice or shredded lettuce with Mexican beef plus your favorite burrito fillings!
- Quesadillas: Use beef as a filling in quesadillas with plenty of melty cheese!
- Enchiladas: Make traditional rolled beef enchiladas or take the easy route and make a stacked beef enchilada casserole!
Less traditional ways to serve beef:
- Eggs: Use beef as a filling for omelettes or use it to make Mexican-style scrambled eggs!
- Chili: Do you love homemade beef chili, but don’t have time? Skip browning ground beef in your favorite recipe and add the beef when you stir in the canned beans!
- Sandwich: Layer beef, sliced avocado, sliced tomato and pepper jack cheese between your favorite toasted roll or bun!
- Loaded fries: Make Mexican-style poutine!
- Baked potatoes: Stuff a loaded baked potato with a pile of beef and don’t forget extra sour cream!
- Pasta: Replace ground beef with shredded beef in your favorite taco pasta!
- Lasagna: Love classic Italian lasagna? Switch things up with and make a beefy Mexican lasagna! Try using ravioli instead of lasagna noodles for a heartier twist!
How to make Mexican shredded beef tacos?
You can easily make flavorful, restaurant quality Mexican tacos with this shredded beef recipe! Create a taco bar and load them up with your favorite toppings, or simply serve them street-style with onion, fresh cilantro and plenty of lime juice for easy family dinners!
Building a Mexican shredded beef taco is incredibly simple! As long as you start with this succulent shredded beef and use your favorite toppings – layered in the right order – you will have perfect tacos in no time! Below are few helpful tips to help improve your taco night!
How to build the perfect taco:
- Tortillas: Warm tortillas are where a great taco starts! Flour tortillas are great for larger, but messier tacos. Smaller corn tortillas aren’t as sturdy as flour tortillas, however they have a superior taste. No matter what tortilla you select, make sure you select a quality brand. And, be sure to warm them up before filling!
- Grated cheese: If you prefer melty cheese in your taco, layer on the cheese first. Use freshly grated or shredded cheese for the best taste!
- Beef: Next up comes the melt-in-your-mouth-tender beef! And, don’t be stingy where the beef is concerned!
- Beans or Rice: If beans and rice are your thing, add them after the beef.
- Veggies: Fresh chopped vegetables go on next!
- Crumbled Cheese: I’m a huge fan of crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese on tacos! A little bit goes a long way.
- Lettuce: Add the lettuce second to last last, before any salsas, sour cream or hot sauces. Adding the lettuce close to the top of the taco will help prevent it from wilting.
- Salsa and sauces: Add any salsa, sour cream or guacamole on top of the lettuce. Placing the wet ingredients on last helps prevent your taco from becoming soggy.
- Hot sauce: A final drizzle of your favorite Mexican hot sauce provides the perfect flash of delicious heat!
Tips for the perfect beef taco?
- Don’t overstuff: Try not to overstuff your taco with too many fillings! It can be tempting to load up each tortilla with all your favorites. However, don’t do it! You need to fold the tortilla over your fillings. Tacos aren’t a knife and fork meal.
- Consider your fillings: Aim for a balance of flavors! Consider pairing spicy salsas with cooling vegetables or sour cream. And, the same goes for texture – pair tender beef with crunchy, fresh toppings.
- Eat them fresh: Tacos get soggy. Make sure you eat them immediately.
Toppings for Mexican beef tacos:
- Chopped lettuce or shredded cabbage
- Crumbled or shredded cheese
- Pickled Onions
- Pickled jalapenos
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Roasted butternut squash (cubes)
- Fresh Cilantro
- Beans or refried beans
- Sliced avocado or Guacamole
- Pico de Gallo or salsa
- Queso cheese sauce
- Sour cream
- Hot sauce
- Lime wedges
What sides to serve it with?
Looking for delicious sides to pair with tender, succulent pulled beef? Below is a list of Mexican-inspired sides to round out your meal!
- Classic salsa or Salsa Verde and chips
- Queso dip and warm tortilla chips
- Mexican avocado corn Salad
- Easy Mexican Coleslaw
- Mexican Bean Salad
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Healthy Mexican Rice
- Refried Beans
If you love tender beef, you are going to fall head over heels for this juicy, rich, mouth-wateringly delicious shredded beef! It’s simple to prepare and can be used in a myriad of ways! Cook it once and make dozens of different meals you and your family will love!
Until next week, friends, cheers!
Looking for more easy beef recipes?
If you love this tender beef, try one of these delicious recipes next:
The best Mexican Shredded Beef Tacos recipe👇
Mexican Shredded Beef Tacos
- Small mixing bowl
- Large Heavy-Bottomed Pot (or Slow Cooker)
- 1 (3-4 pound) Boneless Beef Chuck Roast – trimmed of excess fat & cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 TBS EACH: Cumin, Mexican Oregano & Smoked Paprika (SEE NOTES)
- 1 tsp EACH: Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder & Coriander
- Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper - to taste
- 2 TBS Neutral Oil (vegetable or canola) - DIVIDED
- 1 large Yellow Onion – peeled & medium dice
- 4-6 cloves Garlic – peeled & minced
- 2 TBS Tomato Paste
- 2-7 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (plus 1 TBS sauce) – peppers roughly chopped; keep peppers and sauce separate (SEE NOTES)
- 1/3 Cup Fresh Lime Juice (about 2 large limes)
- 1 ¼ Cup Beef Stock
- ¾ Cup Picante Sauce (salsa)
- 1 Bay Leaf (Mexican bay leaf or regular bay leaf)
Optional for Serving: Fresh Cilantro, Lime Wedges, Warm Corn Tortillas, Pico de Gallo, Crumbled Cotija, Guacamole, Sour Cream
- Combine seasoning blend: In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the spice blend – paprika, cumin, oregano, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and coriander. Add 1 ¼ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Season beef: Place the pieces of beef on a clean work surface. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the seasoning blend all over the beef. Use your hands to rub the spices into the beef.
- Sear beef: Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat (in batches if necessary) and sear until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. (If browning meat in batches, add more oil as needed.) Remove to a plate.
- Sauté vegetables: Reduce the heat under the now empty pot to medium and add the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and season with a pinch of pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and remaining seasoning blend. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and chopped chipotles. Cook, stirring constantly, until paste is caramelized, about 1-2 minutes.
- Deglaze + add beef: Add the lime juice to deglaze the pan. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the adobo sauce, stock, picante sauce and bay leaf. Mix well to combine. Add the seared beef, along with any accumulated juices, to the pot.
- Cover + cook: Bring the contents to a simmer. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for 3 – 3 ½ hours, or until the meat tender and begins to fall apart. For the best results, I recommend quickly stirring the beef every hour.
- Shred beef: Turn off the heat under the pot. Use tongs to remove and discard the bay leaf. Use two forks to shred the beef. (Alternatively, you can remove the beef to a cutting board, shred it and return it to pot.)
- Gently simmer to warm: Adjust the heat to low and gently simmer the meat for 10-15 minutes.
- Serve: Transfer beef to a serving dish. Top with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!
- For tacos: Pile shredded cheese inside warmed corn tortillas and top with shredded beef. Finish with chopped veggies, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, guacamole and/or sour cream. Enjoy!
- Oregano: Mexican oregano is preferred; however regular oregano is fine!
- Chipotle Peppers: If you don’t like spicy food, use 1 pepper. For mild, use 2 peppers. For medium, use 5 peppers. For spicy, use 7 or more!
- Cook Time: The cooking time is approximate. Precise length of time will depend upon your pot and the thickness (size) of your beef. Check the beef at 3 hours. If you can’t easily shred the beef, cover and continue to cook, checking for doneness every 20-30 minutes.
- Other cooking methods:
- Slow Cooker or Crock Pot: After searing the beef, sautéing the vegetables and deglazing the pan – transfer the mixture to a slow cooker/crock pot. Add the picante sauce, bay leaf and seared beef. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. Proceed with recipe as directed.
- Oven: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Instead of simmering the beef on the stove, cover it and transfer to the oven. Bake for 3 to 3 ½ hours, stirring every hour during the cooking process. Proceed with recipe as directed.
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