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Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

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Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos are a set-it-and-forget-it dinner perfect for busy weeknights. Be sure to try the red onion garnish!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Two slow cooker shredded beef tacos on a serving plate with a kitchen towel underneath.

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos are a tasty, no-mess dinner perfect for busy weeknights! This set-it-and-forget-it Mexican dish is sure to be a hit with even your pickiest eaters.

Out of all the convenient kitchen appliances we have these days, my favorite is always the slow cooker. It’s perfect for warm weather when no one wants to heat up the house. And it’s still perfect for cool weather when you crave lovely rich soups and stews.

Two slow cooker shredded beef tacos on a serving plate with a kitchen towel underneath.

These spicy and savory Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos are a great choice to make in your slow cooker no matter the weather. They’re made with beef, onion, green chilis, salsa, and taco seasoning for a six-ingredient recipe that is tantalizingly simple.

I love serving this slowly cooked Mexican beef inside corn tortillas with a pickled onion garnish, but you can add it to almost any dish. Plus, it stores and freezes beautifully, making it perfect for prepping ahead. There’s nothing not to love about this easy, flavorful slow cooker meal.

💗 Why We Love This Recipe


  • No hot oven or stovetop is needed.
  • Made with pantry-staple ingredients.
  • Easy to prep ahead and store after.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING …

“Beautiful! I could eat a dish like this every single week!”

“YUM…this is a winning slow cooker recipe!”

🥘 About the Ingredients


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  • BeefI recommend either stew meat or chuck roast for this recipe. Either of those will stand up to the longer cooking time.
  • Taco SeasoningPurchase a package from the store or make your own taco seasoning with my easy recipe.
  • Onion — Either white or yellow onion works well in this.
  • Chopped Green ChilisUse your favorite brand of canned chiles. I love Hatch chiles in this!
  • SalsaUse your favorite! I’ve used both homemade salsa and purchased salsa with great results.
  • Corn TortillasFor the most authentic flavor, go with corn tortillas.
  • GarnishesTomato, cilantro, guacamole, and cheese are all great additions.
  • Red Onion GarnishA mix of chopped red onion, salt, sugar, and red wine vinegar. See the directions below for how to make it!

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Make Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos


Add the Taco Meat Ingredients to the Crockpot

Photo collage showing all ingredients in a slow cooker.
  • Add the beef to the slow cooker and sprinkle with the taco seasoning, tossing to coat.
  • Peel and chop the onion roughly and add it on top of the seasoned meat.
  • Add the green chilies with their liquid, the salsa, and water.
  • Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.
  • After two hours, stir the mixture, turn the crockpot down to low and cook for an additional 3-4 hours.

Prep the Red Onion Garnish

Sliced red onions in a small bowl with red wine vinegar.
  • An hour or two before serving, thinly slice the red onion.
  • Place it in a small bowl with the sugar, salt, and enough red wine vinegar to just cover the onions.
  • Allow the onions to stand in the vinegar mixture until ready to serve.

Finish the Taco Filling

Cooked beef on a plate with two forks.
  • Thirty minutes before serving, remove the meat.
  • Using two forks, pull the meat until it’s thoroughly shredded.
  • Return the shredded meat to the crockpot and continue cooking for another 30 minutes.

🍽 How To Serve


When ready to serve, heat the tortillas in the oven or in a skillet on the stovetop. Garnish with marinated red onions, fresh tomato, and fresh cilantro.

I highly recommend serving these tacos alongside some simple Mexican-inspired sides. My black bean and corn salad, cheesy green chili cornbread, or pinto beans with fresh tomato relish are all good choices.

🔀 Variations


  • Create spicy shredded beef tacos by swapping out the canned green chilis for a hotter pepper like serranos, jalapenos, or habaneros (if you dare!).
  • You can easily substitute the beef in this recipe with chicken or pork.
  • This Mexican shredded beef doesn’t have to be just for tacos! Try using this recipe as the protein in your burritos, enchiladas, or nachos.

💡 Tips


Don’t have a taco seasoning packet on hand? No problem! Try my recipe for making your own Taco Seasoning! It’s a simple combination of chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.

These shredded beef tacos can also be made in the instant pot! Simply place the beef, seasoning, onion, green chilis, salsa, and water into the pressure cooker and cook on high for 30 minutes with a 20-minute natural release.

🍚 How to Store/Reheat


Any leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. I recommend reheating in the oven or microwave.

🌞 How to Make Ahead


To make Mexican shredded beef with an even deeper flavor, you can combine the beef, taco seasoning, onion, green chilis, salsa, and water in a ziplock bag and allow the mixture to marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to cook, simply transfer the entire mixture to the crockpot and follow the recipe directions!

Two slow cooker shredded beef tacos on a serving plate with a kitchen towel underneath.

You really can’t go wrong with this savory and spicy Mexican shredded beef. Enjoy this hearty and flavorful set-it-and-forget-it meal!

❓ Questions About Shredded Beef Tacos


What cut of beef is best for shredding?

Any cut of beef that is traditionally considered “tough” is actually great for shredding! Because you’re taking the time to slowly cook this beef, these tougher cuts will become tender and will shred easily.

Is Barbacoa the same as shredded beef?

It’s very close! Although, the seasoning can differ a bit from recipe to recipe.

Is shredded beef the same as carne asada?

No. Although carne asada is also made from beef, it is typically marinated in a citrus mixture. It’s also usually grilled instead of slow cooked and shredded.

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📖 Recipe

Two slow cooker shredded beef tacos on a serving plate with a kitchen towel underneath.

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos are a set-it-and-forget-it dinner perfect for busy weeknights. Be sure to try the red onion garnish!
5 from 6 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 165kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef (recommend using stew meat or chuck roast)
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces canned chopped green chilies
  • cup salsa (your choice of hot, medium, or mild)
  • cup water
  • 12 corn tortillas

For the Onions:

  • ½ small red onion
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Red wine vinegar

Garnishes:

  • Fresh chopped tomato
  • Fresh cilantro

Instructions

  • Add the beef to the slow cooker and sprinkle with the taco seasoning, tossing to coat.
  • Peel and chop the onion roughly and add it on top of the seasoned meat.
  • Add the green chilies with their liquid, the salsa, and water.
  • Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.
  • After two hours, stir the mixture and turn the slow cooker down to low. Cook for an additional 3-4 hours.
  • Remove the meat from the slow cooker and use two forks to shred it. Return the meat to the slow cooker and continue cooking for another 30 minutes.
  • An hour or two before serving, thinly slice the red onion. Combine it in a small bowl with the sugar, salt, and enough red wine vinegar to just cover the onions. Allow it to stand until ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, heat the tortillas in the oven or in a skillet on the stovetop. Garnish with the marinated red onions, chopped fresh tomatoes, and fresh cilantro.

Notes

  • Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the oven or microwave.
  • To make ahead, combine the beef, taco seasoning, onion, green chiles, salsa, and water in a zip-top bag and allow the mixture to marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Transfer the entire mixture to the slow cooker and follow the recipe directions.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 165kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 194mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 102IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on June 20, 2014.

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26 Comments

  1. I love using my slow cooker in the summer. The meat turns out great and it doesn’t heat the house. It’s a win win!

  2. I LOVE TACOS. I eat them more than anything else on the planet. I’m going to make these tacos tomorrow and add pickled radish to the onion and go to town! Thankyou for sharing!

    1. Yes, radish would be a fantastic addition! Even cabbage would be good, too. Lots of freshness and crunch.

  3. Great idea. I have been using my slow cooker for pulled pork this summer. Might be time to expand to beef!

    By the way – 98 degrees here this afternoon….. and, that means lightning. Fairly impressive.

    Miss P

    1. I love doing a pork shoulder for pulled pork in the slow cooker. Best way to get it nice and tender, I think. We weren’t quite as hot as you but we’ve had storms every day this week. Lightning and hail!

  4. I love using a slow cooker in the summer, too… it’s perfect for getting those delicious slow-cooked dishes made without heating up the whole house, plus it means I can go outside and enjoy the warm weather while dinner takes care of itself. I mean, who doesn’t love that? :)
    My mom used to have a similar recipe for making fajita filling, but it got lost during a move at some point. Can’t wait to try this one out!

    1. Well, I tend to stay inside with the air conditioning going for the majority of the summer, but using the slow cooker sure helps keep the energy bill down. Hope you enjoy the recipe, Isabelle!

  5. You are right, slow cookers are great in the winter BUT even better in the summer! This looks delicious. Who doesn’t love tacos, right?!

    1. We love tacos here and so do our kids and grandkids. I can double or triple this recipe according to how many are here at any time. Works great!

  6. I love using my Crock-pot year round! =)
    Pinning your recipe, it sounds great!

  7. I don’t use my slow cooker nearly enough in the summer. But these tacos look like the perfect summer treat!

    1. They’re great for summer. Especially busy days when you’re on the run. Just throw everything in the slow cooker and have supper ready when you get home!

    1. I keep some of those marinated onions in the fridge a lot of the time, Ginny. I enjoy them on sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs, too.

    1. They’re great year-round appliances, aren’ they? My next project is to try baking in mine.

  8. Just today my FB readers said they would like more slow cooker recipes- this one looks fabulous! I’ll share on my page!

  9. Yes, I love my slow cooker all year round too! It’s a life saver when it’s 85 degrees in my house haha! Great idea to make taco meat in one. I bet the meat turns out so tender!