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. AUTHENTIC barbacoa is made from meat cut from a steer’s HEAD!! Not from a pot roast.
    The recipe was created by a person who’s not afraid to eat “Organ” meats.

    1. Yes Elbert that’s true. I mentioned it in the post: “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.”

  2. Real barbacoa is made with a cow’s lips; tongue and cheeks. I grew up in Texas. So i know which meats are cooked in barbacoa.

    1. Hi Queen. There is no “purée”, it means to purée using the blender. Hope that helps clarify!

  3. 5 stars
    It is the middle of summer, this is about the ONLY reason I would turn my oven on. O M G, 350 degrees & about 3 hours later my house smelled A FRICKEN MAZING!! I used a 6 LB bottom round roast since the price of chuck roast is through the ROOF! I did add 2 small cinnamon sticks. This was my first time making barbacoa. BTW, what’s the difference between barbacoa and Birria, if both are made with beef? This is just so very good! Thank you Kevin.

    1. Hello Patty! So glad you enjoyed this! I do love something simmered that makes the entire house smell good, too. The difference between Barbacoa and Birria is Birria a spicy stew, traditionally made from goat meat or mutton while Barbacoa is this recipe. Cheers!

  4. 5 stars
    I do everything in my power to not turn on the oven in the summer, especially now that we’re moving to east county where it’s going to be hotter this summer! This barbacoa beef sounds super delish. Totally something I need to make to bring for lunch at work while I “try” to be healthy. However, I’m pretty sure my boyfriend would put a pretty big dent in it too if I left it in the fridge while I’m gone.

    1. East County eh? We’ve been looking out that direction ourselves. This is super easy and flavorful. It’s so versatile in it’s uses. Enjoy Danielle!