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barbacoa beef quesadilla with radish topping

Barbacoa Quesadillas

Barbacoa Quesadillas are made quick and easy by pressure cooking the beef roast with an amazing chipotle sauce, then melting cheese in the best tortillas.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 20 mins
Servings 8 servings
Calories 589


Instant Pot Barbacoa

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
  • 2.5 pound beef chuck roast (bone in recommended, size can range from 2-3 pounds)
  • 1 small yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup lime juice (2-3 limes needed)
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano (Mexican, if available)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves (whole cloves recommended but ground will work)
  • ½ cup beef broth (or substitute with water)
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 16 Corn Tortillas
  • 16 ounces shredded cheese (any kind of a Mexican blend works (cheddar, pepper jack, etc))
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or oil spray)

Pickled Radishes

  • 1 bunch radishes (chopped)
  • 1 jalapeno (stem and seeds removed, chopped)
  • 1 small red onion (chopped)
  • Juice from one lime
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • fresh cilantro (minced)


To make the barbacoa beef:

  • Cut the add chuck roast into chunks that are no larger than 4 inches wide. Heat the Instant Pot on Saute mode with the oil. When the oil is extremely hot, place pieces of the roast in the pot allowing room in between each piece of meat (you may have to brown the meat in batches to avoid over crowding). Allow the meat to sear to a nice brown by cooking for about 5 minutes per side, flipping only once. Transfer browned meat to a separate plate and continue untiil all the meat is browned.
  • With the meat removed but the Instant Pot still set to saute mode, add the onion. Stir a few times while scraping the bottom of the pot to release any meat that stuck to the bottom. Allow onions to brown slightly.
  • Add the remaining barbacoa ingredients to the Instant Pot, along with the browned pieces of roast and any juices that may have accumulated on the plate. Stir to combine. Close lid with pressure valve seated correctly. Set to high pressure for 60 minutes.
  • When the Barbacoa beef is done cooking, allow the pressure to naturally release. Then remove the meat from the pressure cooker and transfer it from a cutting board. Set the Instant Pot back to saute mode and allow the liquid to cook with the lid off so that the sauce reduces and thickens. This may take 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the meat is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and discard any fat and bone. Add the shredded beef back to the pot with the sauce, stir, and turn the Instant Pot off.

To make the pickled radishes:

  • While beef is cooking, prepare the pickled radishes by combining radishes, jalapeno, red onion, lime juice, salt and cilantro in small bowl.

To make the quesadillas:

  • Heat a griddle over medium high heat. Spray bottom side of a corn tortilla with a very thin layer of oil, and place oil side down on hot griddle. Add a sprinkle of cheese, then a small handful of the shredded Barbacoa, then more cheese, and top with a second tortilla that has been lightly brushed with oil. Cook until tortillas start to turn golden brown and cheese melts and flip once. It may take about about 3-4 minutes each side.
  • Serve Barbacoa Quesadillas with pickled radishes.


  • Chose the right cut of meat. I recommend finding a roast that has a fair amount of marbled fat as well as bone. I think a chuck roast is the perfect choice when making chipotle barbacoa because it cooks up so incredibly tender and is easy to shred.
  • Good barbacoa requires excellent seasoning. Although there are a lot of ingredients, each one plays it's roll in creating a very unique flavor. I don't recommend any substitutions, but you can certainly increase or decrease the amount of chipotle pepper depending on how spicy you like it.
  • Make ahead and freezing instructions - Barbacoa beef can be made ahead of time. If not being used within a couple of days, freeze the cooked shredded beef in it's sauce in an airtight container for a future date. To reheat, just thaw in the refrigerator and heat in a pot on on a baking sheet under the broiler.


Calories: 589kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 1053mg | Potassium: 688mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 686IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 368mg | Iron: 4mg