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6 Secrets for Making Perfect Barbacoa (aka Mexican Barbecue)

In the United States, you have BBQ. In Mexico, there’s barbacoa. Barbacoa refers to a way of slow cooking meat at low temperatures, that leaves traditionally tough meat pull-apart tender. Though usually made with lamb or goat, these days, you’ll most likely find beef versions. You’ll find barbacoa served one of two ways: watery or dry. Watery barbacoa is served in consommé or juice (think of sandwiches au jus) and dry barbacoa is usually served as a stew, with rice and beans.

But, on to the important stuff: how to make barbacoa. Though barbacoa is one of Mexico’s most iconic dishes, it’s made differently in each region of the country. We talked to a few masters of trade in southern Mexico City about the six essential elements of any perfect barbacoa. Here they are.

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