If you want a low and slow Taco Tuesday, we’ve got you covered. Create perfect Shredded Beef Tacos, starting with tender, slow braised chuck roast. The braising liquid transforms into a gorgeous sauce with big, bold flavors like citrus, cumin, and garlic. Tuck into warm tortillas layered with your favorite taco toppings.
There’s no shame in turning to tacos out of necessity. Everyone loves tacos, because tacos are the easiest meal to customize, especially for a group of discriminating (i.e. picky) eaters. So, in my house, Taco Tuesdays are a fact of life, and ground beef tacos are a fact of Taco Tuesdays.
I don’t mean to suggest I don’t enjoy them, but they’re not my go-to tacto recipe because they’re my favorite – they’re just my most reliable. They’re no risk and all reward. They require practically zero thought – or effort – on my part. Whiny kids? No gumption? Failed to plan? Beef tacos are the answer.
While I love an easy, crowd-pleas-y dinner idea, sometimes that’s not always the right answer. Sometimes the thing you really want requires a bit more effort (like skirt steak tacos). And sometimes the thing you really want requires a bit more effort and time.
Of all my beef taco recipes, shredded beef tacos take the lowest and slowest route to taco nirvana. You cannot just “whip ’em up;” you must prepare for them. Rest assured, though – every single second it takes to get this Mexican shredded beef where it needs to be is a second well spent.
How to Make Mexican Shredded Beef Tacos
Mexican shredded beef is a dream for both taco lovers and leftover lovers. This recipe for slow cooked chuck roast makes the best shredded beef tacos. Braise in the oven until the beef falls apart into tender shreds, swimming in a rich and flavorful sauce.
- Portion out the seasonings – chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander, and oregano.
- Divide the chuck roast into 6 pieces, then season generously with salt and pepper. Trim away any very large fat deposits for easier shredding after cooking.
- Sear the chuck roast in a dutch oven in batches. Cook undisturbed for 4-5 minutes on at least 2 sides until the meat develops a deep golden brown crust. Repeat with the remaining pieces, then set all pieces aside on a plate.
- Saute the onions until soft, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Add the tomato paste and spices and work into the onions and garlic until well mixed. Cook 2-3 minutes to work off the canned flavor.
- Pour in 1 cup of beef broth to deglaze the bottom of the dutch oven – stir and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wood spoon until the pot appears “clean” and no stuck browned bits remain.
- Add the remaining broth, along with the orange juice and lime juice.
- Give everything a good stir, then nestle the chuck roast pieces into the liquid. Bring the liquids to a boil, then cover and remove from heat.
- Transfer the dutch oven to a 300°F oven and braise 3-4 hours, until the beef is very tender and easily pulls using the tines of a fork.
- Remove the chuck roast pieces using a slotted spoon; transfer to a shallow bowl or cutting board and shred using two forks.
- Optional: whisk cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the pot sauce and simmer over low heat until thick.
- Return the shredded beef to the pot and toss with the sauce.
- Portion the Mexican shredded beef into warm tortillas and garnish with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Instructions
Choosing an oven braise over a slow cooker for chuck roast recipes is really a matter of preference and time. In this case, both methods will result in tender, flavorful shredded beef for tacos.
Braising in the oven takes less time, but requires more attention (the most important being, you have to be home to have the oven on!). Using a crockpot, however, allows you to mostly “set it and forget it”. Here’s how you do it:
- Arrange the sliced onions and garlic on the bottom of the crockpot.
- Combine the tomato paste, broth, orange juice, lime juice, and seasonings in a bowl; whisk until the tomato paste is worked in and the sauce is very smooth.
- Cut, season, and sear the chuck roast pieces as instructed. Place the seared beef on top of the onions and garlic, then pour in the sauce.
- Seal the slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4-5 hours. Crack the lid in the final hour to allow the sauce to thicken.
- Shred the beef as instructed and toss with the sauce. Enjoy!
- Trim and discard any excessively large fat deposits from the chuck roast before searing, especially if you’re preparing the shredded beef in a slow cooker.
- Braise the beef low and slow until it easily pulls apart using the tines of a fork. This should take 3-4 hours.
- For a thicker sauce, pour a cornstarch slurry into the liquids after removing the beef. Gently simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes until thickened.
How to Warm Tortillas
In the Oven: heat the oven to 350°F. Stack 8-10 tortillas and wrap first in a damp paper towel and then in aluminum foil. Place the tortillas directly on the oven rack for 10-15 minutes.
On a Gas Stovetop: place individual tortillas directly on the burner over medium heat. Warm 10 seconds per side, until lightly charred. Transfer to a plate and cover with a tea towel to keep warm.
On an Electric or Convection Stovetop: heat a skillet over medium heat. Place individual tortillas into the skillet and warm 15-20 seconds per side, until lightly charred. Transfer to a plate and cover with a tea towel to keep warm.
In the Microwave: wrap up to 6 tortillas in a damp paper towel, place on a plate, and microwave 30 seconds. Repeat as needed.
Shredded Beef Taco Toppings
Tacos wouldn’t be tacos without toppings. These two combos are always a winner, but always feel free to reach for your favorites:
- Street style: diced red onion, fresh cilantro, avocado, and crumbled queso fresco.
- American style: shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado, and shredded cheddar cheese or crumbled cheese.
Storing and Freezing
A four pound chuck roast will yield about 12 four-ounce servings per person. That’s a lot of beef! Freeze half for a quick meal in the future, or tuck the leftovers into the fridge for a tasty lunch all week.
- In the Fridge: store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days; see below for reheating instructions.
- In the Freezer: place into an air-tight container (we like gallon freezer bags) and freeze for up to 6 months. Place in the fridge overnight to defrost, and reheat as directed below.
- To Reheat: we prefer to reheat shredded beef in a skillet on the stove over medium heat with a splash of beef broth (about a tablespoon per half cup). As the shredded beef simmers, the fat will loosen and the broth will evaporate – this allows the edges to crisp in the fat for extra flavor. Shredded beef can also be reheated in the microwave.
Did you make these shredded beef tacos? I’d love to know how the recipe turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Shredded Beef Tacos (Mexican Shredded Beef)Print Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 4 lb chuck roast
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 2-3 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp oregano, Mexican oregano if available
- 2 c beef broth
- ¾ c orange juice
- ¼ c lime juice
- 1 tbsp cornstarch, optional
- 1 tbsp water, optional
- Flour tortillas, warmed
- Avocados, diced or sliced
- Red onion, finely chopped
- Queso fresco cheese, crumbled
- Fresh cilantro
- Heat the oven to 300°F.
- Pat the chuck roast very dry, then divide into 6 pieces. Trim away any excessively large fat deposits and discard. Generously season each piece with salt and pepper.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add half the chuck roast pieces in a single layer and sear 4-5 minutes, or until a deep golden brown crust forms. Turn the pieces and sear on at least 1 more side. Using tongs, remove the pieces to a plate and set aside and repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander, and oregano; work the tomato paste and spices into the onions until the tomato paste is fully incorporated and deepens slightly in color, 2 minutes.
- Pour in 1 cup of beef broth to deglaze the pot. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot until it appears “clean. Pour in the remaining broth, as well as the orange and lime juices. Give everything a good stir.
- Nestle the browned chuck roast pieces into the liquid. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and transfer the pot to the oven.
- Braise 3-4 hours, until the beef is very tender and easily pulls using the tines of a fork.
- Remove the beef pieces using a slotted spoon. Place on a cutting board in a shallow bowl and shred using two forks.
- Optional: whisk the cornstarch and water until smooth to create a slurry. Pour the slurry into the sauce and whisk to combine. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce thickens.
- Return the shredded beef to the pot and toss with the sauce.
- Layer the shredded beef into warm flour tortillas and garnish with your favorite taco toppings. Enjoy!