Beef Barbacoa Street Tacos, Slow-Cooked at Home

Abuela Approved Badge beef barbacoa tacos carne asada

These beef barbacoa street tacos were sent into Familia Kitchen by one of our favorite Latina comida homecooks, Michelle Ezratty Murphy. “I’ve been hankering for a street taco lately, so I started playing around in my kitchen with the next best thing: barbacoa beef taco recipes at home. The best street taco barbacoa has the distinct flavor of cumin. And because it has been slow cooked for hours, the beef also takes on this unbelievably rich, deep, smoky, almost coffee-like flavor. That’s what I was going for: real-deal street taco sabor,” she tells Familia Kitchen.

“The best cut of beef to use for barbacoa tacos is brisket. Flank steak can be used as well, but would need a little more cooking time. Give it a good long cook on low heat, and the brisket becomes tender. As the fat slowly renders, it keeps the beef tender and juicy—so that it literally falls apart or shreds. This is what makes a most perfect shredded barbacoa street taco.

When she makes these, she advises, “Let your imagination go wild with topping.” Michelle and her Puerto Rican husband Pat love theirs with crema, avocado, cilantro, shredded cabbage with lime, onions, sliced tomatoes, and jalapeños. “Add some Mexican rice with beans to bring the meal together,” Michelle says.

“In the States, too often, Mexican food gets confused with drive-through hard-shell tacos topped with sour cream, lettuce and a ton of shredded cheddar. I live in the southwest—Arizona—and you would think that authentic Mexican food would be abundant. Yes, Mexican food is everywhere, but for the good stuff, you have to seek out the family-owned, hole-in-the-wall restaurants or food trucks. Mexican restaurants tend to lean TexMex or Southwestern. That’s not what I’m talking about or what I’ve been craving these home-bound pandemic days.“

The real-deal, traditional street tacos she and Pat crave are soft, made from ground corn, and usually filled with stewed or shredded beef with cumin and oregano, she says “It’s then topped with onions, cilantro and salsa. Usually sold out of food carts and trunks of people’s cars, these street tacos were originally made for locals looking for a quick lunch—without sacrificing calidad or sabor.“

Here is Michelle’s homemade homage to the beef-barbacoa street taco: earthy, filling, auténtico y sabroso.

For more of her Michelle’s family-famous Latino recipes, check out her chili con carne with bacon and sofrito, a Familia Kitchen Recipe Contest finalist; double-fried-plantain tostones with garlicky mojo saucepastelón, the Puerto Rican lasagnastep-by-step guide to baking melty quesitos, and her Familia Kitchen Recipe Contest winner: Pat’s Titi Rosa’s famous arroz con pollo.

Ready to Whip Up Barbacoa Beef Street Tacos—at Home?

Beef Barbacoa Street Tacos — Slow Cooked at Home

Recipe by Michelle Ezratty Murphy
3.5 from 32 votes
Cuisine: Mexican


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 4 lb brisket or flank steak

  • 2 Tbsp cumin

  • 2 tsp paprika, sweet or smoked

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

  • 2 poblano, Anaheim or green bell peppers, seeded and chopped

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • 12 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

  • 1 tsp coriander, ground

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 cup tomato sauce

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cup chicken broth

  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 10 soft corn or flour tortillas

  • Taco Toppings and Garnishes
  • 1 cup cabbage, shredded

  • 1/3 cup jalapeños, minced

  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

  • 1 cup pico de gallo

  • 1/2 Mexican crema, drizzled

  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 cup avocado, chopped

  • 3 limes, sliced


  • Add oil into a large caserola or Dutch oven on medium high heat. Place brisket in the pot and sear the meat—for 6 minutes on each side.
  • Into the same pot with the seared beef, add the chopped peppers, onion and garlic. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes, stirring them into the pot and turning the beef a few times.
  • In a 4-cup measuring cup or large mixing bowl, measure the tomato sauce and add the cumin, paprika, coriander, oregano, cider vinegar, salt, pepper and chicken broth. Stir well. Pour on top of the brisket and carefully turn the brisket to be sure it marinates in and incorporates all the ingredients.
  • Bring the brisket and its liquid to a boil, uncovered, on medium high heat. Once the brisket has begun to boil, cover and reduce to low heat.
  • In about 10 minutes, check to see that the brisket is simmering. If it isn’t, raise the heat to medium low.
  • Simmer the brisket, covered, for 4 to 5 hours.
  • When the brisket is fork tender and shredding in the pot, remove from the heat and let cool for 30 minutes.
  • Once cooled, carefully remove the brisket onto a large cutting board. With two forks, shred the brisket.
  • Put the shredded brisket back into the pot with the sauce, turn the heat back on to medium, and simmer the shredded beef for another 30 minutes—with the lid on.
  • Lightly warm your tortillas in a 200° oven for about 5 minutes before assembling with your choice of toppings: shredded cabbage, jalapeños, cilantro, tomatos, avocado, crema and/or a squeeze of fresh lime—however you like it!


  • For toppings, mix and match en la combinación you like best. Michelle’s non-negotiables are shredded cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes, a dash of crema, and a fresh squeeze of lime. Perfection.

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