Kevin’s Amazing Burrito Bowl

5 from 12 votes

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A burrito bowl is a great way to enjoy beef burritos, but with less carbs. Make this recipe for a flavorful meal. This post also includes my recipe for better than Chipotle barbacoa!

overhead: burrito bowl with shredded meat, red onion, corn and black beans on lettuce

My burrito bowl recipe features tender, juicy shredded beef, black beans, corn and pickled onions on salad greens. If you like the barbacoa from Chipotle Mexican Grill®, this recipe is a must-make!

If you’ve ever taken a peek at my about me page, you may already know that cooking Mexican and Tex Mex foods is my specialty. I especially love to create (and eat!) Mexican and Tex Mex meat dishes, and barbacoa is a favorite.

After hearing people talk about how amazing the food at Chipotle is, I tried a few of them for myself.
I started with a burrito bowl, eventually working my way through the menu. The flavors in many of the menu items are good, but not great.

Kevin is Cooking has my “Better Than” recipes for Chipotle carne asada, Chipotle queso and as of today, Chipotle barbacoa!

The amazing burrito bowl

Because making a burrito bowl recipe is pretty darned simple, you’ll also find my recipe for Chipotle barbacoa in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. To be even more helpful, I also have a video tutorial. So, let’s get cookin’.

chipotle barbacoa bowl dinner

Ingredient notes and substitutions

The meat – If you would rather use something other than shredded barbacoa in your burrito bowl, go for it. Maybe some chicken fajitas meat or pork carnitas. Or, no meat at all- it’s up to you.

Incidentally, authentic Mexican barbacoa is typically made using beef cheeks, or sometimes goat. I prefer to use beef chuck or tri tip, as they are much easier to find in the U.S.

What’s in Chipotle barbacoa?

According to their website (and my taste buds), Chipotle Mexican Grill barbacoa is slow cooked beef shoulder, simmered with chiles, vinegar, citrus juice and spices.

overhead: platter of chipotle barbacoa beef

Burrito bowl ingredients

One reason a burrito bowl is such a fantastic meal is, there isn’t a requirement or set-in-stone burrito bowl recipe. The ingredients are easy to customize, so add whatever you’d like; just like you would at Chipotle! Here are a few ideas:

I don’t usually add any dressing, but feel free to whisk together a little lime juice, oil, and salt and pepper to wet the greens if you’d like. Or, you could add some fire roasted salsa or pico de gallo and a bit of avocado crema on top.

Video: making barbacoa

In the recipe card below, you can watch my video to see the process of making Chipotle barbacoa in a slow cooker. Obviously, you’ll find the recipe there too, as well as instructions for making it on a stove top.
Or, I also have an Instant Pot barbacoa recipe,

There… now you have plenty of cooking options.

overhead: chipotle barbacoa on salad greens with corn and black beans

Burrito bowl recipe notes

The burrito bowls are easy to assemble, so there isn’t too much involved there. As for the meat, I do have a few tips and notes for you.

  • Sear the meat for better flavor. It only takes an extra 10 minutes to sear the beef in hot oil before cooking it, and in opinion, it’s time well spent.

    Searing the beef first allows for an elevated flavor from the sugars in the meat caramelizing. This step is optional, but it creates a wonderful, crunchy texture on the edges of the beef.

Other uses for the meat

The shredded beef is great for making meal prep dinners and lunches. After cooking and cooling it down, just keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or, place it into a freezer safe container and store it frozen for up to 3 months.

You can use it for tacos, enchiladas, burritos and in quesadillas. I’ve even stirred it into soups. Flatbreads are great too, or scramble up eggs and use your Chipotle barbacoa in breakfast burritos.

overhead: burrito bowl with shredded beef and vegetables

Hope you’ll make this recipe soon. Please come back and leave a comment and rate the recipe. I’d love to know what you think of it!

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This post, first published on Kevin is Cooking June 20, 2018, was updated with new content on Dec. 11, 2021.

chipotle barbacoa burrito bowl

Kevin’s Amazing Burrito Bowl + Video

5 from 12 votes
A burrito bowl is a great way to enjoy beef burritos with less carbs. Make one using my amazing recipe for better than Chipotle barbacoa!
Servings: 8
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 6 hours
Total: 6 hours 15 minutes



For Burrito Bowls:


Slow Cooker Method – Barbacoa Beef:

  • If you don't have a crockpot, see recipe notes below for stove top instructions.
  • Cut the beef into 4-6 chunks and season with salt and pepper. Optionally, add meat to a tbsp of hot oil in skillet to sear on all sides before adding to slow cooker (See Note 2).
  • Add all other ingredients except bay leaves to a blender and puree.
  • Pour sauce over beef, add bay leaves to pot, cover and slow cook on Low for 6 hours, or until meat shreds easily.
  • Remove lid and shred beef with forks. Serve as-is, or cool and store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

For Barbacoa Burrito Bowls:

  • Chop lettuce greens and line each salad bowl.
  • Top with shredded barbacoa, corn, beans and pickled red onions and chopped cilantro.



  1. Authentic barbacoa is traditionally made using beef cheeks. By all means, use if you can find them. I typically use chuck roast or tri tip.
  1. Searing the beef on all sides first allows for an elevated flavor from caramelization. This step is optional, but it creates a wonderful, crunchy texture on the edges.
  1. Stove top instructions: Follow instructions 1 and 2 in recipe card above. Then, add pureed sauce and bay leaves over the beef in a large pot. Cover pot with a lid and cook over low or medium-low heat for 4 – 5 hours, or until meat shreds easily.


Calories: 348kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.2g | Protein: 50.4g | Fat: 14.3g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7.5g | Trans Fat: 0.6g | Cholesterol: 145.1mg | Sodium: 590mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 1.2g

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinners
Cuisine: Tex Mex
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled: chipotle barbacoa on greens in a bowl with corn and black beans


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    I love using my slow cooker during the summer Kevin! We’re always out for most of the day enjoying all that summer has to offer. So coming home to a bowl like this after that meet has been cooking all day is perfect.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this barbacoa recipe on my lunch break the other day. Threw everything in the crockpot and went on my way. I didn’t adjust the recipe (could only find 3 lb roast at store) so the result was a little runny. This was my own fault NOT a recipe fault. That being said, I drained off the access liquid and the final result was absolutely AMAZING. I put the meat in soft taco shells with avocado, pickled onions, queso fresco, a dab of plain greek yogurt and cilantro and these were to die for! Wish I could share a picture because the result was incredible. Already have shared the recipe, and blog, with many others!

    1. 5 stars
      And Kelsey shared the recipe with me, her mom, who doesn’t eat beef, so tried it with chicken, and it was amazing! Shredded chicken soaked up the excess liquid, so there was nothing to drain!

  3. 5 stars
    Kevin, I made these tonight and they were the! I could not believe that I did not have to add salsa or sour cream to this–it was just delish!

    Thank you for the great, healthy recipe!

    1. So, so happy you enjoyed these Eva. I called my IT guy and they are researching the issue you mentioned in your email, too. Thanks so much for letting me know! Cheers!

  4. I’m about to be reunited with my slow cooker, so I’m very glad to be reading this post. I love the idea of making a salad around the meat.

    1. Slow cookers rock in my book. From soup, stews to inexpensive meats made better through slow cooking. This is a super easy and versatile recipe and sometimes one just needs a salad, right?

  5. I love having some meat cooking in the crock pot. It is like smelling a fresh baked pie when you walk in. Plus I love knowing that I can use the meat for a couple of dishes over the next few days and ease my dinner cooking responsibilities! This is great for a lazy summer night or a busy one when school starts back.

    1. Exactly Jennifer, I so agree. Not only does the aroma fill the house, but you’re not slaving away over the stove. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the weekend!

  6. I am all about the salad bowls and this one looks on-point! The barbacoa sounds so flavorful and it doesn’t get any better than meat so tender it’s falling apart!

    1. Thanks Faith, completely agree with you on that one! Hope you’re still enjoying your getaway. With any luck, by the time you get home there will be something waiting for you. Enjoy!

  7. After reading this I am seriously thinking about buying a slow cooker! This looks absolutely divine and I can totally understand that there was nothing left when you came home 🙂

    1. Thanks Miriam, they are life savers. So easy. I use an Insta Pot. It’s a 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Cooker–Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer. I’m not paid by them, but LOVE their cooker. So versatile and it’s on Amazon too. Cheers!

  8. 5 stars
    You’re the meat king, Kevin! Well, did I say the same about flat breads? Well, then you’re the king of meat and flatbreads (Sounds good, isn’t it?) These bowls sound and look just fantastic – love this meat cooked to the perfection!

  9. 5 stars
    We have a little taco stand in Bend and LOVE the Barbacoa Beef tacos. I’m so excited to have a recipe for making them at home. Plus I’m always up for slow cooker recipes especially in the heat of summer! Thanks, Kevin!!

    1. Oh, thank you Marissa. We have two Mexican places we hit up near us and neither make it! There’s always Chipotle, but I don’t really go there. Homemade rocks! 🙂