Shredded Beef Tacos

Beef Tacos stuffed with juicy, tender shredded beef (made in the crockpot, oven, stove or instant pot) and oozing cheese, baked until crispy!

This Beef Taco recipe of saucy, spoon tender shredded beef, melty cheese and crispy tortillas is mouthwatering flavor fireworks in each juicy, cheesy, crunchy addictive bite. Finish it off with cool and creamy Cilantro Lime Ranch and these might be the best tacos of your life. These Shredded Beef Tacos are an easy, crowd-pleasing dinner, perfect for weeknights or entertaining because the beef can be made 100% ahead of time in the crockpot, oven, stove or instant pot and all the tacos can be baked at once!  PS.  You’ll be amazing at how crispy the tacos become without frying! 

Living in Carlsbad, Southern California, we are slightly obsessed with tacos at our house. You just can’t beat the symphony of flavors and textures!  If you love tacos like us, don’t miss Carne Asada Tacos, Weeknight Shredded Chicken Tacos, Salsa Verde Honey Lime Chicken Tacos, Blackened Fish Tacos, Korean Beef Tacos, Chili Lime Chicken Tacos, Ground Beef Tacos and Teriyaki Chicken Tacos

PIN THIS RECIPE TO SAVE FOR LATER

HOW TO MAKE BEEF TACOS VIDEO

top view of shredded beef tacos lined together showing how crispy they are

Why this beef taco recipe works

This beef taco recipe comes after sharing my hypnotic Mexican Shredded Beef with you – because what’s the best thing to make with shredded beef?  Crispy, cheesy tacos!  These tacos are a nod to quesabirria tacos, but in more accessible, weeknight dinner form!

These beef tacos are easier to make than beef birria tacosWhile quesabirria tacos are worth the effort, sometimes you just don’t have the time, patience or ingredients to make chili sauce from scratch. This recipe requires half the prep time by utilizing pantry friendly, flavor packed shortcuts like chili powder, ground chipotle chili pepper and salsa.

The beef tacos are baked, not fried.  You will be blown away at how crispy these BAKED tacos become! The tortillas are lightly coated in olive oil, folded over the shredded beef then baked to crispy gloriousness, without the extra fat.  This technique is SO easy and you’ll love that all the hand-held heroes come out of the oven at once.

Shredded beef tacos are only as good as the beef, so we’re using the best!  The shredded beef is rich and saucy, with an enticing complexity of flavor and SO tender.  It’s braised low and slow in a mélange of earthy, fiesta seasonings, punchy salsa, tangy green chilies, rich beef broth and smoky liquid smoke until it’s succulent, meltingly tender. 

Most of the cooking is hand’s off!  The braising does the tenderizing in the crockpot, oven, stove or instant pot and the oven crisps up the tortillas.  Just add the cheese, beef and bake!

up close of juicy shredded beef for tacos showing how juicy it is

WHAT IS THE BEST CUT FOR SHREDDED BEEF TACOS?

For the most tender, juicy and flavorful shredded beef tacos, use boneless chuck roast. It can also be labeled as a shoulder roast, chuck eye roast, or arm chuck roast.  It boasts a succulent, beefy flavor and melt-in-your mouth texture due to its rich marbling. The marbling melts as it slow cooks, creating a self-basting effect that drips over the meat, keeping it extra juicy and infusing it with a coveted depth of flavor.  It is guaranteed to become fall apart tender when cooked long enough.

A few notes about using chuck roast in this recipe:

  • This recipe calls for a 3–4-pound chuck roast but the seasonings and liquid are very forgiving – so don’t worry if your roast is slightly larger. If it is smaller, than reduce the salt.
  • Use boneless beef chuck roast that is thick cut and not rolled and tied with a string.
  • I purchase my chuck roast at Costco, use one roast for this shredded beef recipe and freeze the other for later. You’ll love having it on hand to pull out when you need it!

Do I have to use chuck roast?

Chuck roast is the best choice for shredding although many other tough cuts such as brisket, rump roast, round roast and even flank and skirt steak can be used as long as they are cooked long enough. Take care that whatever beef cut you choose has rich marbling (fat=flavor and tenderness) because these cuts are already leaner than chuck roast and therefore won’t be as flavorful.

SHREDDED BEEF TACO RECIPE INGREDIENTS

This shredded beef taco recipe requires a few ingredients, but remember, you’re just dumping most of them into the slow cooker!  You will need:

FOR THE TACOS

  • Corn tortillas:  We love corn tortillas in this recipe for their robust, nutty, sweet corn flavor and thicker, pliable texture that becomes crispy when baked. In order for your corn tortillas not to tear when folded, you must choose from the following two options, dry run-of-the-mill tortillas will not work:
    • White corn tortillas: Are made with white masa harina as opposed to yellow masa harina and tend to be softer, more tender, with a higher moisture content, which makes them more pliable. White corn tortillas can be easily rolled and folded without cracking or breaking. Look for “super soft” white corn tortillas (like Mission brand).
    • Freshly made or homemade corn tortillas: Are moister, thicker and more pliable. The packaging will often be labeled “homemade,” “organic” or “made in small batches,” – or just look at the edges!  I love La Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas, specifically their corn/flour combo which are extra malleable. I used to only be able to find them at Sprouts but I just picked them up at Alberton’s last week, so be on the lookout!  You can also pick them up on Amazon here.  
  • Cheese: You can use any good melting cheese that you shred yourself such as Oaxaca, Monterey, Pepper Jack, mozzarella or sharp cheddar. I’ve used Pepper Jack here because I love cheese with an extra kick.

What about flour tortillas?

You can absolutely use flour tortillas and should use flour tortillas if you can’t find white corn tortillas or homemade corn tortillas as discussed. Just be aware that flour tortillas won’t be as crispy.  Flour also tends to come in larger sizes, so be aware you will get less tacos out of the recipe.  

showing how to serve shredded beef tacos by topping with cilantro lime ranch and pic de gallo

FOR THE SHEDDED BEEF

  • Chuck roast:  Select boneless chuck roast that’s deep red, smells sweet and boasts bright, white marbling of fat throughout the meat. Beef that appears grayish brown isn’t as fresh and may have been sitting on the shelf too long.
  • Oil: You need a little oil for searing the roast. Use a high smoking point oil such as vegetable oil, avocado oil or sunflower oil to sear the beef– don’t substitute olive oil.  Olive oil has a lower smoking point and will not only smoke like crazy but can burn, leaving behind a bitter taste and harmful chemicals.
  • Beef Broth: Use low sodium beef broth so we can control the salt level and also add beef bouillon for more flavor.
  • Beef bouillon:  Adds a depth of concentrated beefy flavor. I use granulated beef bouillon for ease but you may also use an equal amount of better than bouillon, or cubes. If using cubes, crush them up then add directly to the crockpot then stir to dissolve.  You will need three cubes in this recipe.
  • Salsa:  Use your favorite salsa, whether chunky or smooth.  Use mild if you don’t like spicy foods or use medium if you crave some heat.
  • Chopped green chilesCome in a 4 ounce can and are delightfully tangy to cut through the richness of the beef.  Use mild diced green chiles so it’s easy to control the heat. 
  • Tomato paste: Adds concentrated tomato flavor that mingles with the spices to create a thick, rich aromatic sauce.
  • Lime juice: Freshly squeezed lime juice is best but you may also use bottled.
  • Liquid smoke:  Adds a delightfully subtle smoky flavor that makes the recipe.  Liquid smoke comes in a bottle and is located next to the barbecue sauces at your grocery store.  I use mesquite but hickory will also work.
  • Brown sugar: A little sugar is needed to balance out the tangy heat in this dish. If you must omit the sugar, it will still be tasty, just tangier.
  • Dried herbs and spices: A mixture of chili powder, ground chipotle pepper, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, ground coriander, salt and pepper create a spice rub to bring the FLAVOR.  

HOW TO MAKE BEEF TACOS

You will love the explosion of bold, unapologetic, flavor in these crispy shredded beef tacos! Below I’ve detailed the slow cooker method for the beef (my personal favorite) and included the different cooking options in the notes in the recipe card (full recipe with ingredient measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

STEP 1: SEASON THE BEEF

  • Whisk together seasonings:  You’ll combine all of the seasonings except the oregano to create the spice rub. Instead, the oregano is added to the slow cooker with the salsa because the delicate herb can burn over the high heat of searing.
  • Cut the beef into 7 or 8 pieces: You want the pieces about 3-inches thick. I cut the beef along the seams of fat.  These smaller pieces mean the beef will cook faster but more importantly, it will be more flavorful because 1) more sides of the beef are seared resulting in the caramelizing Maillard reaction and 2) the chili salsa sauce will penetrate deeper into the beef as it cooks.  
showing how to make shredded beef taco recipe by cutting chuck roast into 7 pieces
  • Spice rub the beef: Pat the beef dry with paper towels to ensure the seasonings stick.  Season all sides of the pieces with the spice rub.  There is a lot of seasonings so be as liberal as you can.  Save any leftover seasonings (including seasonings that fall off the beef) and add them to the crockpot with the beef broth.
showing how to make beef taco recipe by seasoning the chuck roast with Mexican spice rub on a cutting board

STEP 2: SEAR THE BEEF

  • Sear the beef in batches:   Sear every piece of beef on all sides until deeply golden to develop flavor and to seal in the juices. You can use tongs or two forks to rotate your pieces. Transfer the seared roast to a 6-quart crockpot or large Dutch oven. 
showing how to make shredded beef taco recipe by searing beef in a cast iron skillet

STEP 3:  ADD INGREDIENT TO SLOW COOKER

  • Add ingredients: Add beef broth, beef bouillon, salsa, green chilies, tomato paste, lime juice, brown sugar liquid smoke and any leftover seasonings.
  • Give them a stir.  Stir the ingredients together on top of the beef but don’t worry too much about evenly combining, because they’ll become one with the sauce as the beef cooks and shrinks.
showing how to make shredded beef taco recipe by adding beef, beef broth, salsa and seasonings to a slow cooker

STEP 4:  COOK the BEEF

  • Cover and cook: Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours OR until roast is super tender and easily sheds with a fork.   I suggest checking your beef on the earlier end of the cooking spectrum but don’t be alarmed if it takes another two hours.
  • How do I know when the shredded beef is done? There are many factors when it comes to cooking times – the size and thickness of the beef, the shape/size of your crockpot and your actual slow cooker (they all cook differently!).  If your beef is not tender, then cook on, it just needs more time.  Even 30 minutes can make the difference between okay beef and melt-in-your-mouth beef. Your beef is done when it falls apart with the tug of two forks.
showing how to make beef tacos by shredding beef on a plate with two forks

STEP 5:  SHRED AND SOAK BEEF

  • Shred beef:  You may shred the beef directly in the slow cooker or I find it easier to transfer to a rimmed plate or bowl to remove excess fat. 
  • Soak beef:  Add the shredded beef back to the slow cooker to cook on low for another 20 minutes. The beef is now thin enough to soak up even more flavor in every nook and cranny. This is when the magic really happens and your beef emerges buttery tender and exploding with flavor.  This shredding and soaking trick will change your culinary life. I do it with EVERY shredded meat or chicken I cook in the slow cooker.
showing how to make shredded beef tacos by cooking the beef until fall apart tender in the crockpot

 STEP 6:  make the tacos!

  • Prep tortillas.  The tortillas need to be nice and pliable so they will fold in half to create the tacos without breaking.  The easiest way to do this is to place the tortillas between two damp paper towels and microwave for about 60 seconds.
  • Lightly oil the tortillas.  We need a little olive oil or cooking spray to help crisp up the shells.  Lightly brush the top of the tortillas with olive oil then flip them over.   The oiled side should now be face down on the baking sheet.   
showing how to make shredded beef tacos by brushing the corn tortillas with olive oil
  • Add cheese and beef.  Add a layer of cheese to the bottom half of the tortilla and top it with shredded beef (about ⅓ cup of each, give or take).  The exact amount will depend on your size of tortillas and how cheesy/beefy or stuffed you’d like your beef tacos.  Fold the tortillas over in half and lightly press so they stay folded, you may need to flip the whole tacos over so they stay.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.   
showing how to make beef taco recipe by lining cheese then shredded beef on top of corn tortillas on a baking sheet
  • Bake.  Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes, flip the tacos over and bake an additional 5-8 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the tacos are crispy.  Add toppings and dig in!
showing how to make shredded beef taco recipe by folding the corn tortillas over to form tacos on a baking sheet before baking

What Toppings for beef tacos?

I love how toppings such as sweet corn salsa and tangy pickled red onions can completely change the flavor profile of your tacos. For these shredded beef tacos, feel free to be as minimalistic or as over the top as you’d like!   

  • Cilantro Lime Ranch: I made this ranch specifically for this beef taco recipe because its cooling, silky creaminess and zesty cilantro punch cut through the crunchy cheesy richness.  It’s made by simply whisking sour cream, a touch of mayo, cilantro, lime juice, pickled jalapenos and seasonings together.  It calls for dill and chives but if you don’t keep them stocked, just skip them.  You also don’t have to add the pickled jalapenos to keep it on the mild side.
  • Sour cream or Mexican Crema: Are each a great refreshing, creamy alternative to the Cilantro Lime Ranch.
  • Pico de gallo:  Fresh tomato salsa that adds a vibrant, punchy freshness.  You can use my homemade pico de gallo recipe or store bought. You can make the pico de gallo ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • More salsa options:  Salsa is my favorite way to customize and elevate any taco recipe! Go simple with restaurant style salsa or salsa verde, but to really bring the flavor AND texture, go with black bean corn salsaavocado corn salsacharred corn salsapineapple salsa, or mango salsa – all SO good!
  • Avocado Crema:  A marriage of avocados, sour cream and lime juice, is wonderfully silky, tangy and just takes minutes in your blender.  The luscious, refreshing tanginess cuts through and compliments the robust, smoky flavors.
  • Guacamole:  Use my sensational homemade guacamole recipe, your favorite recipe or even use store bought.
  • Avocados: Chopped or sliced avocados are the easiest avocado option and add a wonderful creaminess.
  • Pickle red onions:  One of my all-time favorite condiments!  They are tangy, punchy fantastic with a slight crunch
  • Lettuce: Chopped Romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce – anything with a nice crunch and neutral flavor.
  • Cilantro:  If you skip the pico de gallo, you can load on fresh cilantro and tomatoes instead for a fresh, zesty flair.
  • Jalapeños or hot sauce: Amp up the heat with chopped or sliced jalapeños or I particularly love these sweet and spicy pickled jalapeños from Trader Joes.  They are similar to candied jalapenos but a little less sweet AKA perfection.

Beef Taco Toppings

TIPS FOR THE BEST BEEF TACO RECIPE

This recipe is very simple and will deliver dynamically flavorful, tender beef and crispy tacos as long as you follow these tips:

  • Set yourself up for success with the right cut of beef. Choose a chuck roast that is fresh, bright in color and contains lots of marbling because marbling = flavor and tenderness. If you use a different cut of beef, I cannot guarantee it will be melt-in-your-mouth tender.  
  • Sear for flavor and moisture.  Searing the roast creates the Maillard reaction resulting in rich, deep, complex flavor and prevents the surface of the beef from becoming dehydrated. Sear ALL sides of each piece of beef until deeply golden – no sorry grey beef please!  You may need to sear the beef in batches so it will sear and not just steam.   
  • Use a cast iron skillet to sear the beef. Cast iron gets piping hot without ruining the finish of your pan and retains heat exceptionally well for more even results.  
  • Cook the beef until very tender.  If your beef isn’t crazy tender, then cook on!  It just means the proteins needs more time to break down and tenderize. Even 30 more minutes can make the world of difference between “okay” and melt-in-your-mouth beef.
  • Don’t forget to season.  Taste the shredded beef after it has soaked. If you feel like it’s missing something, it is likely salt and/or heat. Once you season to taste with salt, and either cayenne pepper or hot sauce heat, then all the flavors will come alive.
  • Grate the cheese yourself. No matter what kind of cheese you use, make sure it is freshly grated by YOU!  Pre-packaged cheeses are coated with anti-clumping chemicals which inhibit them from melting beautifully.  Freshly grated cheese is much more flavorful, creamier and melts more easily.
  • Use quality tortillas.  Quality soft or “homemade” corn tortillas or white corn tortillas are necessary so they don’t tear when folded. If you can’t find them, then your best option is to use flour.
  • Use tortillas while fresh.  Using the tortillas while they are the freshest possible will also help avoid tearing.  Avoid using packages that have been opened and closed a few times.  
  • Work quickly once the tortillas are microwaved. Have your beef and cheese all ready to go before the tortillas go into the microwave so they stay as warm and pliable as possible. It is best to work with a few tortillas at a time and keep the rest under the paper towels until ready to use.
  • Use a light hand when brushing the olive oil over the tortillas.  If you use too much oil, then the tortillas will be too wet and have hard time getting crispy. 
  • Bake until crispy. I have experimented with a couple different types of tortillas and some take longer to crisp up than others – so be flexible and patient and bake until crispy.

BEEF TACO RECIPE VARIATIONS

This beef taco recipe is very adaptable, here are just a few ideas to mix things up:

  • Make it spicy: I use medium salsa and 1/1 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper for spicy. You can also add cayenne pepper, chipotle chili peppers in adobo, hot sauce and/or use spicy salsa or spicy diced green chilies for more heat.  
  • Make it tangy:  Add additional lime juice to taste after shredding the beef. You can also combine lime juice and apple cider vinegar for a tangier finish.  
  • Use flour tortillas:  As discussed, flour tortillas won’t be as crispy, but still delicious and easier to work with if you can’t find quality corn tortillas.
  • Use different cheese: This recipe will work with any good melting cheese from Oaxaca to Chihuahua, asadero, Monterey, Pepper Jack, mozzarella or sharp cheddar. You can also combine cheeses or omit the cheese completely if you’d like.
  • Use store-bought crispy taco shells.  Not as good as homemade, but you’ll still get a satisfying crunch.  Line a 9×13 baking dish with hard taco shells and evenly divide 1 cup cheese between taco shells. Bake the taco shells for 8 minutes at 350 degrees F (baking crisps up the shells and the cheese prevents the shell from becoming soggy).  Add shredded beef and another sprinkling of cheese and bake an additional 15-18 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
  • Make soft tacos:  Instead of baking the tacos, toast them in a skillet or char them over the flame of your gas burner and then stuff with the shredded beef and toppings.
  • Use a different beef recipe.  You can follow the taco making technique and stuff the tacos with beef barbacoa, beef birria or carne asada (see below).

beef variations

  • Beef Barbacoa (Crockpot): Crazy juicy beef slow cooked until melt-in-your-mouth tender infused with a tangy, chipotle sauce.  Barbacoa Beef is known for its intense flavor and perfect balance of chipotle peppers, cumin, oregano and lime juice.
  • Beef Birria: An explosion of complex earthy, smoky, savory, slightly spicy, juicy, addictiveness in each and every saucy bite.  The beef is stewed until fall apart juicy tender in a from-scratch rich broth made from chilies, onions, garlic, tomatoes and toasted spices including peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon. 
  • Carne Asada: The quintessential Mexican steak marinated in orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce and a splash of liquid smoke then spice rubbed with cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic and onion. It’s juicy, flavorful and crazy good.
top view of shredded beef tacos lined on a plate with tomatoes

CAN THIS RECIPE BE MADE AHEAD?

The tacos will be the crunchiest when freshly made unless you have an air fryer to reheat them.  The good news, the shredded beef can be made 100% ahead of time and just reheated so the taco assembly can be done in minutes.  Here’s how to prep the prep the beef to different stages:  

  • Beef: Can be seasoned, seared and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • RECOMMENDED – store assembled:  Add the seared (uncooked) beef to the crockpot or Dutch oven along with all of the ingredients.  Cover and store for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.  This will marinate the beef and infuse it with deeper, richer flavor.  The next day, all you have to do is turn on the slow cooker or pop it in the oven.  Just expect to add an additional hour or so to cooking time.  
  • Cheese:  Shred the cheese and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Cilantro Lime Ranch:  Can be made and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container three days ahead of time.
  • Toppings:  Prep all your toppings and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to use.

HOW to store and reheat

These shredded beef tacos are best when served fresh.  They won’t be as crispy when reheated unless you use an air fryer, but they will still be tasty.   

  • Storage:  Store tacos in a single layer (with parchment paper in between layers if stacked) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • Air fryer:  Restores the tacos to their former crispy glory as if they were freshly made – seriously amazing!  Place your tacos in the air fryer basket and air fry at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Stove:  Heat a skillet to low then add the taco(s). Cook until heated through, rotating as needed.  Once the inside is warm, you can crank the heat to medium-high to quickly toast the outside.
  • Oven:  Place tacos on a wire rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until warmed through. 
  • Microwave:  The microwave won’t crisp up the exterior again so it will remain soft from refrigeration, but it’s convenient for hands off reheating. Transfer tacos to a microwave safe plate and microwave on high or 45 seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH SHREDDED BEEF TACO RECIPE?

I love my crispy shredded beef tacos with a side of beans, Cilantro Lime Rice,  Elote (Grilled Mexican Street Corn), a big bowl of tortilla chips and salsa, followed by Tres Leches Cake.  Here are some more favorites:

MORE EASY MEXICAN RECIPES:

If you love Mexican food, you will also love: 

up closer of beef tacos showing how juicy they are

WANT TO TRY THIS beef taco RECIPE?

PIN IT TO YOUR MEXICAN, TACOS OR BEEF BOARD TO SAVE FOR LATER!

FIND ME ON PINTEREST FOR MORE GREAT RECIPES!  I AM ALWAYS PINNING :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Shredded Beef Tacos

This Beef Taco recipe of saucy, spoon tender shredded beef, melty cheese and crispy tortillas is mouthwatering flavor fireworks in each juicy, cheesy, crunchy addictive bite. Finish it off with cool and creamy Cilantro Lime Ranch and these might be the best tacos of your life. These Shredded Beef Tacos are an easy, crowd-pleasing dinner, perfect for weeknights or entertaining because the beef can be made 100% ahead of time in the crockpot, oven, stove or instant pot and all the tacos can be baked at once!  PS.  You’ll be amazing at how crispy the tacos become without frying! 
Servings: 16 -20 tacos
Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 8 hrs

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!

Ingredients

BEEF AND TORTILLAS

  • 3-4 lb. boneless beef chuck roast trimmed of excess fat, cut into 7-8 pieces
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 16-20 soft white corn tortillas or quality homemade (see notes)

SPICE RUB

BRAISING LIQUID

  • 1 cup reduced sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup mild salsa, medium if you like spicy
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chilies, don’t drain
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-3 teaspoons liquid smoke, depending on how “smoky” you like it
  • 1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules, cubes or base (crush cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

CILANTRO LIME RANCH (Optional)

  • 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro, finely chopped (measure before chopping)
  • 2-4 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos, optional
  • ½ tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, dried chives, dried dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

COOKING THE BEEF (CROCKPOT)

  • Whisk together all of the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
  • Pat beef pieces dry with paper towels then liberally season with the spice rub, gently pressing to adhere. Save any excess spices to add to the pot later.
  • Heat 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet (or large Dutch oven for oven/stovetop method) over medium-high heat. Once very hot, add cubed beef and sear on all sides.
  • Transfer beef to a 6 quart (or larger) slow cooker along with all remaining ingredients, including any leftover spices. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 ½ – 4 ½ hours or on LOW for 6-8 hours, OR until the beef shreds easily with two forks.
  • Meanwhile, make Cilantro Lime Ranch (if using), by whisking all of the ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Remove the beef to a rimmed plate or large bowl (do NOT discard juices in slow cooker), and shred with two forks, discarding any excess fat.
  • Add the shredded beef back to slow cooker and toss with slow cooker juices. Cook on low for 20 minutes for beef to absorb juices. Taste and season with hot sauce/cayenne pepper, lime juice or brown sugar to taste.
  • Remove beef with a pair of tongs to a serving bowl or strain in colander so tacos don’t get soggy. I like to save the liquid to cook my rice in (just add liquid plus water needed for rice).

MAKING THE TACOS

  • A little before making the tacos, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Place tortillas between two damp paper towels and microwave for 30-60 seconds, or until pliable. Working in 2 batches (because the tortillas won’t all fit open faced on the baking sheet at once), lightly brush the top of the tortillas with olive oil then flip over (the oiled side should now be face down, touching the baking sheet so it gets crispy).
  • Add a layer of cheese to the bottom half of the tortilla and top it with shredded beef (about ⅓ cup of each, give or take). Make sure to drain the beef well so it doesn’t make the tacos soggy. Fold the tortillas over in half and lightly press so they stay folded, you may need to flip the whole taco over so it stays. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes, flip the tacos over and bake an additional 5-8 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the tacos are crispy.
  • Stuff with desired toppings and dig in!

Video

Notes

This recipe makes up to 16-20 tacos, but just grab a package of tortillas and make as many as you’d like. 

STOVETOP METHOD

  • Follow the recipe through step 3. 
  • Stir in all of the remaining ingredients including any leftover spices.  Add an additional ½ cup beef broth for a total of 1 ½ cups. 
  • Gently simmer, covered, for 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours, until the beef is fall apart tender. I recommend checking to see if the beef is fork tender at 2 ½ hours, and if not, continue to cook an additional 30-60 minutes – or as long as it takes!  Keep an eye on the beef and add additional broth if needed because more liquid will evaporate on the stove.
  • Remove the roast to a rimmed plate or large bowl and shred with two forks, discarding any excess fat.
  • Return the beef to the pot and let rest for 20 minutes to soak up additional juices.

OVEN METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Follow the recipe through step 3.  
  • Stir in all of the remaining ingredients including any leftover spices.  Add an additional ½ cup beef broth for a total of 1 ½ cups. 
  • Bring to simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven.  Cook, covered, for 3 to 3 ½ hours, until the beef is fall apart tender.  Keep an eye on the beef and add additional broth if needed.
  • Remove the roast to a rimmed plate or large bowl and shred with two forks, discarding any excess fat.
  • Return the beef to the pot at room temperature and let rest for 20 minutes to soak up additional juices.

PRESSURE COOKER AND INSTANT POT

Sear the beef then add the rest of the ingredients, including any leftover spices.  Cover and set the lid to “Sealing.” Pressure cook on “Manual” for 50 minutes, followed by a quick release.

Use the correct corn tortillas

In order for your corn tortillas not to tear when folded, you must choose from the following two options, dry run-of-the-mill tortillas will not work:
  • White corn tortillas: Are made with white masa harina as opposed to yellow masa harina and tend to be softer, more tender, with a higher moisture content, which makes them more pliable. White corn tortillas can be easily rolled and folded without cracking or breaking. Look for “super soft” white corn tortillas (like Mission brand).
  • Freshly made or homemade corn tortillas: Are moister, thicker and more pliable. The packaging will often be labeled “homemade,” “organic” or “made in small batches,” – or just look at the edges!  I love La Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas, specifically their corn/flour combo which are extra malleable. I used to only be able to find them at Sprouts but I just picked them up at Alberton’s last week, so be on the lookout!  You can also pick them up on Amazon here.  

Tortilla Tips

  • Work quickly once the tortillas are microwaved. Have your beef and cheese all ready to go before the tortillas go into the microwave so they stay as warm and pliable as possible. It is best to work with a few tortillas at a time and keep the rest under the paper towels until ready to use.
  • Use a light hand when brushing the olive oil over the tortillas.  If you use too much oil, then the tortillas will be too wet and have hard time getting crispy.
  • Bake until crispy. I have experimented with a couple different types of tortillas and some take longer to crisp up than others – so be flexible and patient and bake until crispy.

Can I use Flour Tortillas?

You can absolutely use flour tortillas and should use flour tortillas if you can’t find white corn tortillas or homemade corn tortillas as discussed. Just be aware that flour tortillas won’t be as crispy.  Flour also tends to come in larger sizes, so be aware you will get less tacos out of the recipe.  

Prep Ahead

The tacos will be the crunchiest when freshly made unless you have an air fryer to reheat them.  The good news, the shredded beef can be made 100% ahead of time and just reheated so the taco assembly can be done in minutes.  Here’s how to prep the prep the beef to different stages:  
  • Beef: Can be seasoned, seared and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • RECOMMENDED – store assembled:  Add the seared (uncooked) beef to the crockpot or Dutch oven along with all of the ingredients.  Cover and store for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.  This will marinate the beef and infuse it with deeper, richer flavor.  The next day, all you have to do is turn on the slow cooker or pop it in the oven.  Just expect to add an additional hour or so to cooking time.  
  • Cheese:  Shred the cheese and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Cilantro Lime Ranch:  Can be made and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container three days ahead of time.
  • Toppings:  Prep all your toppings and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to use.

HOW to store and reheat

These shredded beef tacos are best when served fresh.  They won’t be as crispy when reheated unless you use an air fryer, but they will still be tasty.   
  • Storage:  Store tacos in a single layer (with parchment paper in between layers if stacked) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • Air fryer:  Restores the tacos to their former crispy glory as if they were freshly made – seriously amazing!  Place your tacos in the air fryer basket and air fry at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Stove:  Heat a skillet to low then add the taco(s). Cook until heated through, rotating as needed.  Once the inside is warm, you can crank the heat to medium-high to quickly toast the outside.
  • Oven:  Place tacos on a wire rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until warmed through. 
  • Microwave:  The microwave won’t crisp up the exterior again so it will remain soft from refrigeration, but it’s convenient for hands off reheating. Transfer tacos to a microwave safe plate and microwave on high or 45 seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10 Comments

  1. Whitney says

    Outstanding meat flavor! We used a tri tip in the instant pot!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Whitney, thank you! I’m so happy it was a hit!

  2. Cynthia says

    These shredded beef tacos were delicious! I don’t have an Instant Pot, so just used my stovetop pressure cooker and the meat was succulent and fall-a-part tender in 50 minutes! And, baking them in the oven yielded perfectly crispy tacos! These tacos and this method of baking them will make our Taco Tuesday’s so much easier! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the glowing review Cynthia! I’m so pleased they were juicy tender in just 50 minutes and that you loved the oven baking method – a game changer for sure!

  3. Stacy says

    This was literally the best taco I have ever eaten! Like everyone needs to stop what they’re doing and make these! The cilantro ranch is so so good. I popped one of these in the microwave the next day…still amazing!

    • Jen says

      Thank you for the glowing review Stacy! I’m thrilled you loved these tacos so much!

  4. Diane Decker says

    I just checked on Amazon for the La Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas, and almost had a heart attack. One package costs between $30 and $45 dollars for eight tortillas! I would love to use their higher quality corn tortillas, as we are limited to superthin (that’s how they are labeled!) tortillas here in our small town in Nebraska. Even if I could afford them, I cannot have the variety that contains corn AND wheat, as I have celiac disease. Guess I should just give up and move back to Arizona where REAL Mexican food is everywhere.

    • Jen says

      That is crazy! They are not that expensive here and there are all corn as well – so sorry!

  5. Heather says

    Direct quote from kids.. can we do this every week? Really yum. Instant pot for the win.

    • Jen says

      Yesss! I love that, thanks Heather!

5 Secrets to
30 Minute Meals

Tips, tricks & recipes to get dinner on the table fast!

FREE EMAIL BONUS