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Barbacoa taco

Beef Barbacoa Tacos: Temp Tips for Ultra-Rich Results

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 6-7 hours
  • Total Time: about 6.5 hrs
  • Yield: tacos for 4-6
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: smoking
  • Cuisine: Mexican


Barbacoa tacos based on those from Meat Church BBQ


  • 1 package fresh beef cheek, about 3 lbs
  • Your favorite BBQ seasoning
  • 18 oz beef stock or broth
  • 1 head of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped 

You’ll also need a half-size steam pan or disposable aluminum pan and some foil.

For serving:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Finely diced white onion
  • Salsa of your choosing


  • Preheat your smoker to 275°F (135°C). If using the Billows BBQ control fan, set it up with your Smoke X2 to maintain that temp. 
  • Trim the beef cheeks to your liking.
  • Season the beef cheeks well with the BBQ rub. Allow the seasoning to sit on the meat for a few minutes before you smoke them. 
  • Put a probe into the largest cheek section and set the high-temp alarm to 160°F (71°C). Smoke the cheeks! This step will take about 2–2-1/2 hours.

Probing the meat

  • When the beef gets up near the target temp, heat the beef broth.  
  • When the meat is fully at temp, place it into the pan with the onions and garlic and add the hot broth. Cover the pan tightly with foil. 

Preparing the braise by adding broth to the pan

  • Insert a probe through the foil and set your high-temp alarm for 203°F (95°C). Put the pan back into the smoker and smoke to temp (about 4 more hourss).
  • When the high-temp alarm sounds, check that it is at the proper temperature throughout and that it is probe tender using a Thermapen® Mk4.
  • Allow the meat to rest in the pan for at least 15 minutes, during which time you can heat your tortillas and prepare your toppings. 
  • Shred the meat and taco up!

shredding the barbacoa