Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef Tacos

Revamp taco night with a kick of spice with these Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef Tacos. This flavorful meat is deliciously seasoned and cooked until perfectly tender. Layer it in tortillas with all your favorite toppings your next taco night!

open-faced tacos with beef barbacoa

This post is sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

Did you get gifted an Instant Pot this holiday season? The Instant Pot is a single appliance that does the job of seven (yes, seven!) different kitchen appliances. It can handle the tasks of a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and a warming pot. Think of all those appliances taking up space in your kitchen that can be replaced by one.

Don’t be intimidated by this new appliance. Read up on these 7 Things You Need to Know About Your Instant Pot before you get started.

Beef barbacoa in the Instant Pot

What is barbacoa?

Barbacoa refers to the method of cooking meat. Barbacoa is an authentic Mexican dish typically made with a cut of beef head meat, like beef cheek. When cooked long and slow it becomes extra tender. It is traditionally seasoned with dried chilies and spices and slowly cooked.

Barbacoa is now used to refer to a seasoned beef, that has been slow-cooked. 

open-faced beef barbacoa taco on a flour tortilla

Choosing lean beef

Forget about sacrificing taste for nutrition. These lean beef cuts are chock-full of flavor and 10 essential nutrients. Beef can only be claimed as “lean” if the cut of beef is less than 10g total fat, 4.5g or less saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100-gram serving.

Beef chuck

Beef chuck is a primal cut that comes from the shoulder area and yields cuts known for their rich, beefy flavor. Beef chuck is ideal for slow cooking to yield tender beef.

beef barbacoa tacos with toppings
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open-faced taco with Barbacoa Beef

Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef Tacos

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: meat
  • Method: instant pot
  • Cuisine: mexican


Revamp taco night with these Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef Tacos! This flavorful meat is deliciously seasoned and cooked until perfectly tender. Layer it in tortillas with all your favorite toppings your next taco night!


For the beef barbacoa:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chipotle peppers (from a can in adobo sauce – reserve sauce), chopped
2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the chipotle peppers)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 pounds beef chuck, fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 bay leaves

For the tacos:
Tortillas, soft or hard shells
Sliced avocado
Pickled onions
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges


  1. Press the “saute” setting on the Instant Pot. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until heated and shimmering. Add the onion and garlic, saute for 1-2 minutes until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Press “cancel” to turn off the heat.
  2. Remove contents from the Instant Pot into a food processor and add beef broth, apple cider vinegar, and lime juice. Pulse until smooth and set aside.
  3. Press the “saute” setting on the Instant Pot. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until heated and shimmering. In batches, add beef and brown all sides. Be mindful not to overcrowd the pan. Repeat until all beef is browned. Press “cancel” and turn off the heat.
  4. Add all the beef, bay leaves, and reserved sauce in the Instant Pot. Stir well to combine. Close lid securely and set vent to “sealing”. Press “manual”, then press “Pressure” until the light on “High Pressure” lights up, then add 60 minutes of cook time.
  5. When cook time is complete, very carefully, turn the vent to “venting” for quick release, and wait until all of the steam has released.
  6. Remove the lid and discard the bay leaves. Using two forks, shred the beef into bite-sized pieces. Stir shredded beef with the juices so it can soak up all the flavor.
  7. Assemble tacos by layering beef barbacoa on a tortilla and top with avocado, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge on the side.

Keywords: beef, tacos, barbacoa, instant pot

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Other ways to use beef barbacoa

This Instant Pot barbacoa beef is so flavorful and tender, and it’s so versatile!

  • Tacos
  • Burritos (wraps or bowls)
  • Salads
  • Nachos
  • Quesadillas
  • Enchiladas
  • Or just about any other use, you can think of for spicy shredded beef

Pineapple Beef Stir Fry

Beef stir fry in a white bowl with white rice

This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff. Thanks for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

Dietitians are celebrating all month long because March is National Nutrition Month! This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food”. This theme encourages us to achieve the numerous benefits healthy eating habits offer while including a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.

Beef Up Nutrition Month - Understanding Beef Labeling + Pineapple Beef Stir Fry Recipe via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #sponsored by The Beef Checkoff

Previously working as a Supermarket RD, I quickly learned that a grocery store is a confusing place, especially in certain areas like the meat section.

It can be challenging grocery shopping for beef if you are unsure of the difference between flank steak and skirt steak. The different costs, categories, or even proper cooking techniques of various cuts of beef can throw off even a savvy home cook.

pineapple beef stir fry in a pan

At the supermarket meat case, each beef package label typically identifies the primal cut and the sub-primal cut name. It also includes the weight, price per pound, total price, sell-by date, and safe handling instructions. It may also include a grade, nutrition and preparation information, and the country of origin.

Understanding Beef Labeling + Pineapple Beef Stir Fry Recipe via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #sponsored by The Beef Checkoff #beef #stirfry #dinner #nutrition

It’s time to “Beef Up Nutrition Month” with decoding what the labels mean in the supermarket meat case.


The USDA divides beef into categories by different grades. Prime, Choice, and Select are the ones you will see at the grocery store.  The certain qualifications that determine the quality grade of beef are:

  • Distribution of marbling within the lean muscle at the 12th/13th rib
  • Age/maturity of the carcass
  • Color, texture, & firmness of the lean muscle

Prime-Grade Beef is the USDA’s highest designation. Coming from younger, well-fed cattle, this beef has more marbling with a firmer flesh. Prime-grade beef accounts for less than approximately five percent of the market in the United States, with the vast majority going to steakhouses and fancy hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for roasting, grilling, or broiling.

Choice-Grade Beef is of high quality and produced in highest quantity. Choice-grade beef has less marbling than Prime.  This is the standard option at supermarkets. Choice roast and steaks, especially from the rib and loin, will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful when roasted, grilled, or broiled. Less tender cuts are great for slow cooking.

Select-Grade Beef is slightly leaner than Prime and Choice because it has less marbling.  It can lack some tenderness, flavor, and juiciness as compared to the higher grades. Select grade beef often benefits from marinating prior to grilling or broiling. 1

Check out this easy to explore chart, outlining the various Grades of Beef.


Beyond just the quality grade, beef comes along with additional labels. Package labeling can be very confusing.

All cattle spend the majority of their lives eating grass on pastures. But beef can be finished in a variety of ways, giving you choices when at the meat case in your local grocery store or at a restaurant.

“Natural” This label implies the beef has no artificial ingredients or colors added to it an is minimally processed. 2

“Naturally Raised” does have validity. As of 2009, the label ensures that the animals are free of antibiotics, never received growth-promoting hormones, never fed animal by-products, and may spend time at a feed yard. Naturally raised cattle may be either grain- or grass-finished.

“100% Organic Beef” means that the animals must be fed completely organic feed grains and have never received antibiotics and growth-promoting hormones. This is certified and inspected by the government. Organic beef cattle may be either grain- or grass-finished, as long as the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service certifies the feed is 100% organically grown and can be fed in a feed yard. 3

“Grass Finished” cattle spend their lives eating grass or foraging, but not always necessarily stay on a 100 percent grass-fed diet or finished on grass.  Some “grass-fed” cattle are still fed grain for their last few weeks to help fatten the cattle. Grass-fed cattle may or may not be given FDA-approved antibiotics to treat, prevent, or control disease and/or growth-promoting hormones. 2

Learn how to Decode the Label with this simple infographic.

Need help choosing lean beef or wondering what type of cooking method works best? Use the Beef. It’s what’s for dinner’s cooking guide.


Beef provides you with 10 essential nutrients that support a heart-healthy lifestyle including protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins. The nutrients found in beef provide our bodies with the strength to thrive and grow throughout all the stages of life.

Beef is an excellent source of protein.

One 3-ounce cooked serving of beef provides approximately 50% of your Daily Value (25 grams) of this important nutrient—making it an excellent source! Protein helps maintain a healthy weight, as well as preserve and build muscle.

New research suggests it’s not only important to just get enough protein in at dinner or lunch but to spread it throughout your day for optimal health. Aim for 25-30 grams of protein at each meal. 4,5

What is considered lean?

6 Look for the word “round” or “loin” in its name when choosing lean cuts of beef.

Lean cuts include top sirloin steak, tenderloin steak, strip steak (or top loin steak), or 95% lean ground beef.

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pineapple beef stir fry with white rice in a white bowl

Pineapple Beef Stir Fry Recipe

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: dinner


Whip up this simple and delicious stir-fry for dinner.


  • 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, 3 tablespoons juice reserved
  • 5 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 lb. flank steak, cut into strips
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1 sweet pepper, sliced


  1. Whisk the reserved 3 tbsp pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Place beef in a medium bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Let marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Add cornstarch to the remaining sauce and whisk until smooth.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Transfer the beef to the pan. Whisk any remaining marinade into the bowl of sauce. Cook the beef, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tsp oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add garlic, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, snap peas and sweet pepper to cook, stirring often, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Pour in the sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and pineapple and cook, until heated through.
  5. Serve over rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice.

Keywords: stir fry, beef, dinner

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other recipes you may enjoy

Learn more about the health benefits of beef via Snacking in Sneakers
Fun Facts About Beef: Nutrients, Recipes, and a Free Printable Placemat! via Mama Teaches
Fresh Homemade Cheesy Beef-a-Roni via Brooklyn Active Mama
Slow Cooker Cuban Shredded Beef via Snacking in Sneakers
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1. Inspection & Grading of Meat and Poultry: What Are the Differences?
2. Meat & Poultry Labeling Terms
3. Organic Labeling Standards
4. Paddon-Jones D, Rasmussen BB. Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2009;12:86-90
5. Mamerow MM, et al. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. J Nutr 2014;144:876-80
6. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety, and Inspection Service. Beef from Farm to Table. Available at:
Grades of Beef
Decode the Label

Flank Steak with Creamy Chimichurri

Need a dinner idea? Fire up the grill for lean cuts of beef, like flank steak and top it with a creamy chimichurri for a simple dinner solution. 

Flank Steak with Creamy Chimichurri via RDelicious Kitchen @rdkitchenDisclosure: By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time. 
Significant research shows that some people can lose and/or maintain a healthy weight, support a healthy metabolism, and age more vibrantly when they consume more high-quality protein, within calorie goals. With 25 grams of protein and 10 essential nutrients in just one 3-ounce serving, lean beef should make its way onto your dinner plate.
Flank Steak with Creamy Chimichurri via RDelicious Kitchen @rdkitchenConsuming about 20-30 gram of protein per meal has proven benefits including feeling satisfied after a protein-packed meal, which helps reduce mindless eating as well as helps build muscle and reduce body fat. But not all proteins are created equal. High quality proteins (like lean beef) are “complete” proteins that contain all the essential amino acids in the ratio needed by the body and are easily digestible.
Flank Steak with Creamy Chimichurri via RDelicious Kitchen @rdkitchenThe one thing about nutrition, is that the media really takes over with promoting or demoting certain nutrition attributes. For awhile red meat was put in a negative light due to it’s higher saturated fat content, but there are plenty of leaner cuts of red meat. Red meat contains Vitamin B12, B3 (Niacin), B6, Iron, Zinc, Selenium and plenty of other vitamins and minerals, so it is beneficial to incorporate in your diet in moderation.

The Beef Check Off makes it super easy to find out what cuts of beef are lean. Check out this online Butcher’s Counter to help you choose leaner cuts next time you are at the grocery store.
Flank Steak with Creamy Chimichurri via RDelicious Kitchen @rdkitchenThe lean cut I decided to use for this recipe is flank steak. I used to cook for a family and they would always request chimichurri to put in top of their flank steak. Chimichurri is an Argentinean sauce most commonly served with red meat. It was one of their favorite dinners, so I would cook it often. I was inspired to create a similar topping for flank steak but with a little twist. I made by regular chimichurri sauce but added plain Greek yogurt and avocado to make a rich a creamy.
Flank Steak with Creamy Chimichurri via RDelicious Kitchen @rdkitchenThe creamy chimichurri makes extra, which can be a great addition to a meal or snack as a dip or spread.


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sliced flank steak topped with creamy chimichurri

Flank Steak with Creamy Chimichurri

  • Author: Julie @ RDelicious Kitchen
  • Yield: 4


  • Creamy Chimichurri:
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (6 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 avocado
  • Flank Steak:
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds flank steak


  1. Preheat grill.
  2. For the creamy chimichurri: Combine the parsley, basil, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper in a blender. Process until fresh herbs are finely chopped. Add the Greek yogurt and avocado and blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. For the flank steak: Combine the chili powder, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Rub evenly over the flank steak. Grill steak on both sides about 4 minutes each or until preferred doneness. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes (to retain juices). Cut on bias into strips.
  4. Serve with the creamy chimichurri sauce.


This recipe makes extra creamy chimichurri. Enjoy as a dip or spread to accompany other recipes.

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Cheesy Stuffed Peppers with Beef and Quinoa

Cabot recently released their new line of farmers’ legacy collection of aged cheddar cheese.

cabot cheese(source)

They are currently holding a contest open to everyone! Go to their website or facebook page to learn how to enter!


Look at those awesome prizes! One of the prizes is a trip to Smuggler’s Notch Resort. I will actually be there in September to attend the Blog Brulee. Have you heard the buzz about #blogbrulee yet? Don’t worry I will give you the full scoop soon.

Anyway, back to the recipe contest. I wanted to try the white oak cheddar in my lightened up stuffed pepper recipe. Why choose the white oak? It is described as oaky and buttery. I lighted up my stuffed peppers by using very lean beef (without the fat content can become dry) and kept the recipe very simple, but wanted to keep a rich indulgent flavor.

stuffed peppers 1
Traditionally, stuffed pepper recipes call for beef and rice. I swapped out rice for quinoa to incorporate whole grains and a little extra protein punch!
stuffed peppers 2
I served these peppers with green beans on the side for a complete satisfying meal.
stuffed peppers 3


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stuffed peppers on a wooden board

Cheesy Stuffed Peppers with Beef and Quinoa

  • Author: Julie @ RDelicious Kitchen


  • 4 large bell peppers
  • 1 lb ground beef, 96% lean
  • 2 tbsp, onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 (15 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup Cabot white oak cheddar, shredded


  1. Cut a thin slice on the top each bell pepper to remove top stem of the pepper. Remove seeds and membranes inside. Cut a thin slice from bottom of each pepper to help the peppers stand up. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the peppers and cook for about 2 minutes; drain.
  2. In a large skillet sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Add the beef and cook for about 8-10 minutes until browed; drain. Return beef back to the pan and add the quinoa and fire roasted tomatoes; cook until heated through. Stir in ¾ cup of cheese.
  3. Heat oven to 350°F.
  4. Stuff peppers with beef mixture. Stand peppers upright in baking dish.
  5. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 10 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes longer or until peppers are tender. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

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What would you make with one of the three new farmers’ legacy collection aged cheddar cheeses?

In Good Health,
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