Best Beef For Shredded Beef


When you google “Best Beef for Shredded Beef”, you get pictures of a nice BBQ pulled steak. That’s great. But the question is about the best beef for Shredded Beef, not for BBQ. What’s important is that it’s tender and has a good texture which makes it easier to mix with salsa and wrap in tortillas or eat with a fork. The best beef for Shredded Beef should be lean and tasty, perfect to make your favorite Mexican dish – Burritos!



Your arsenal should include this crowd-pleasing, quick-and-easy Mexican shred beef. The shredded beef is cooked till fall-apart soft (in the crockpot, oven, stovetop, or instant pot) with a combination of rich, earthy, fiesta seasonings, zippy salsa, sour green chiles, savory beef broth, and smoky liquid smoke. The crowds (think taco bar/game day! ), make-ahead dinners, and several meals throughout the week like tacos, burritos, nachos, salads, enchiladas, enchilada casserole, and more are all terrific uses for this very juicy, Mexican beef.


The time has come for this Mexican shred beef. Its distinctive blend of succulent meat and tantalizing flavor pyrotechnics will leave you desiring its unique brand of signature delectable. This is why it’s such a surprise:

Despite being simpler to prepare than Beef Birria, it is just as flavorful. Although Beef Birria is fantastic, making it from scratch requires a process that begins with homemade chili sauce and dried chili peppers. By using pantry-friendly, flavor-packed short cuts like chili powder, ground chipotle chile pepper, and salsa, I was able to create a more approachable Mexican shredded beef recipe that requires half the preparation time.

It has an alluring depth of flavors and is rich and saucy.

The Crockpot Mexican Shredded Chicken recipe, which has received hundreds of positive reviews, is the inspiration for this Mexican Beef meal. With the addition of beef broth and tomato paste, I transformed components of that recipe, including the seasonings, chilies, salsa, and liquid smoke, to produce a robust, aromatic, gently smokey, deeply gratifying chili sauce with a customizable kick of heat.

Tenderization occurs during braising.

The EASE and FLAVOR of this shredded beef will make you fall in love – just sear, pour, and let the crockpot, oven, stove, or instant pot do the work! The beef is slow-braised in a mixture of salsa and seasonings until it is juicy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. If it isn’t as tender as you’d like, what then? It will become the most spoon-tender beef you have ever tasted if you just continue to cook it.



Chuck roast, also known as a shoulder roast, chuck eye roast, or arm chuck roast, is the ideal beef cut for shredding. Chuck roast produces only soft results in all of my shredded beef dishes, including Beef Barbacoa, Mississippi Pot, Traditional Pot Roast, and Italian Beef.

Due to its rich marbling, which provides luscious, meaty flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture, chuck roast is known as the Mercedes of roasts. As the meat slowly cooks, the marbling melts and forms a self-basting effect that drips over the flesh, keeping it moist and giving it a much-desired depth of flavor.

Observations regarding the use of 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.
  • 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!


  • Different cuts:  Many tough cuts of beef can be used for shredding as long as they are cooked long enough such as brisket, rump roast, round roast and even flank and skirt steak. Take care that whatever cut you choose has rich marbling (fat=flavor and tenderness) because they are already leaner than chuck roast and therefore won’t be as flavorful.
  • Multiple cuts: Chuck roast can be combined with short ribs, beef oxtail or beef shank to equal 3 pounds.
a bowl of shredded Mexican Beef garnished with cilantro


This Mexican Shredded Beef recipe elevates pantry staples to new heights complete with a saucy, rich finish.  You will need:   

  • 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 chiles: Come 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.  


This recipe for Mexican Shredded Beef will blow your mind with how flavorful it is and, more importantly, how easy it is to prepare. Simply sear, heat, shred, and soak. The slow cooker method, which is my personal favorite, is described below, followed by the various alternatives. (The recipe card with the complete recipe and ingredient measurements is at the bottom of the post.)


  • All of the seasonings—all but the oregano—should be whisked together to make the spice rub. Instead, because the delicate herb can burn over the high heat of searing, oregano is placed to the slow cooker along with the salsa.
  • Cut the beef into seven or eight pieces, each of which should be about three inches thick. Along the seams of fat, I cut the beef. Because the beef is cut into smaller pieces, it will cook more quickly, but more significantly, it will be more flavorful because: 1) more of the steak will be seared, causing the Maillard reaction to caramelize; and 2) the chile salsa sauce will cook deeper into the beef.
  • To guarantee that the seasonings stay on the beef after spice-rubbing it, pat it dry with paper towels. Use the spice rub to season the pieces on all sides. Use as much of the seasonings as you can since there are many of them. Seasonings that are still on the beef, as well as any leftover seasonings, should be saved and added to the crockpot with the beef broth.


  • Using tongs or two forks to rotate the pieces, sear the beef in batches until each side is deeply golden. Transfer the seared roast to a 6-quart crockpot or big Dutch oven to develop flavor and seal in juices.


  • Ingredients: Add the remaining seasonings, along with the beef broth, beef bouillon, salsa, green chilies, tomato paste, lime juice, and brown sugar liquid smoke.
  • On top of the beef, combine the ingredients, but don’t worry too much about mixing them evenly; as the beef cooks and shrinks, the ingredients will meld with the sauce.
showing how to make Mexican shredded beef recipe by adding beef, beef broth, salsa and seasonings to a slow cooker


  • I suggest checking your beef on the earlier end of the cooking spectrum but don’t be alarmed if it takes another two hours. 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.
  • How do I know when the shredded beef is done? There are many variables that affect cooking times, including the size and thickness of the beef, the shape and size of your crockpot, and your actual slow cooker (they all cook differently!). If your beef is not tender, continue cooking; an additional 30 minutes can make the difference between good beef and melt-in-your-mouth beef.


  • Shredding beef: You can shred the beef right in the slow cooker, but I find it’s simpler to transfer it to a plate or bowl with a rim to drain off the extra fat.
  • This shredding and soaking trick will change your culinary life and I do it with EVERY shredded meat or chicken I cook in the slow cooker. 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 shredded beef recipe is easy to make on the stove, but be sure to add an extra ½ cup beef broth for a total of 1 ½ cups, then be ready to as more as needed.

  • Instead of using a cast iron pan, use a big Dutch oven to sear the beef after seasoning it according to the recipe.
  • The beef should be completely soft after 2 1/2 to 3 12 hours of gentle simmering with the lid on.
  • If the beef isn’t fork tender after 2 12 hours, I suggest cooking it for a further 30 to 60 minutes, or however long it takes!
  • Watch the meat carefully and add more broth as necessary because more liquid will evaporate while it cooks on the heat.
  • Shred the roast with two forks over a large dish or rimmed plate, discarding any extra fat.
  • After adding the beef back to the pot, give it a 20-minute rest so it may absorb more juices.


I prefer the oven over the stove because there is less babysitting involved and it cooks more evenly.  The directions are essentially the same, except that you’ll pop it in the oven.  You will also need an additional ½ cup beef broth, for a total of 1 ½ cups.

  • Set oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In the interim, season the steak and brown it in a Dutch oven.
  • All of the ingredients should be combined and simmered before being covered and placed in the oven.
  • Cook the beef, covered, for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until it is completely soft. Watch the beef carefully and add more broth if necessary.
  • Shred the roast with two forks over a large dish or rimmed plate, discarding any extra fat.
  • After resting for 20 minutes at room temperature to absorb more juices, put the beef back to the saucepan.


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


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

  • Choose a beef cut that will help you succeed. Pick a chuck roast with plenty of marbling, which is a sign of freshness, brightness, and softness. I cannot promise that the steak will be melt-in-your-mouth tender if you use a different cut.
  • For flavor and moisture, sear. The Maillard process, which results in a rich, deep, complex flavor and stops the surface of the beef from drying up, is triggered by searing the roast. No sorry, grey beef please! Sear EVERY side of each piece of steak until thoroughly brown. To ensure that the steak sears and doesn’t just steam, make sure to sear it in batches.
  • Cast iron frying pan is used to sear the steak. Cast iron heats up quickly without damaging your pan’s coating and maintains heat incredibly well for more consistent results.
  • Beef should be well tenderized.
  • Cook on if your steak isn’t really tender. It just indicates that the proteins need additional time to digest and tenderize. Between “okay” and melt-in-your-mouth beef, only 30 extra minutes can make all the difference in the world.
  • Don’t forget to marinate the beef.
  • The fantastic salsa chile sauce can now permeate the flesh, turning the already tasty beef into flavor pyrotechnics that are even more juicy and soft.
  • Don’t overlook seasoning.
  • After being shred and soaked, the Mexican meat should be tasted. If something seems to be lacking, it probably only needs more salt and heat. All the tastes will come to life once you add salt to taste and either cayenne pepper or hot sauce heat.


This recipe is very adaptable, just use the spice rub then get creative!

  • Change the protein: Instead of using 3 pounds of lamb, you can substitute 3 pounds of goat, mutton, veal, or any mix of those meats. Each will give a flavor and texture that is slightly distinct. Make sure to pick a meat that has a good balance of marbling.
  • Make it hot: I add 1 1/2 teaspoons of chipotle pepper for heat and medium salsa. For added heat, you can also use cayenne pepper, chipotle chili peppers in adobo, hot sauce, hot salsa, or spicy sliced green chilies.
  • Make it saucy: When serving the beef, add some enchilada sauce if you want it to be “saucier”.
  • Add more lime juice to taste after shredding to make it more sour. For a tangier finish, you can also add lime juice and apple cider vinegar.
  • Buffet-style service:
  • Set out the rice, tortillas, tostadas, and/or Mexican beef along with all of the preferred toppings (lettuce, pickled red onions, cilantro, avocados, jalapenos, sour cream, Cotija cheese, queso fresco, etc.). Let loved ones or guests heap on all their favorites.


I add the beef and sauce to a big bowl, strain the excess liquid from the steak, then press the beef with a spatula. I then cook my rice with the drained liquid and any additional water required for INCREDIBLY delicious rice.


Mexican Shredded Beef can be used a number of ways, so it’s perfect to make a big batch then use it throughout the week.  These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg!

  • Shredded Beef Tacos: Top warm tortillas with Mexican Beef and desired toppings such as sour cream, homemade guacamole, cotija cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, pico de gallo, black bean corn salsa, avocado corn salsa, etc.
  • Baked Shredded Beef Tacos:  Line stand-up taco shells in a 9×13 baking dish.  Sprinkle some cheese on the bottom of each taco shell and bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes (baking crisps up the shells and the cheese prevents the shell from becoming soggy). Add the beef then top with additional cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.  Top with your favorite toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, etc.
  • Shredded Beef Burritos: Layer a burrito size tortilla with cheese, cilantro lime rice or Mexican Rice, black or pinto beans, Shredded Mexican Beef, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.  Fold and toast in a nonstick skillet until golden on all sides.
  • Smothered Shredded Beef Burritos:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a baking rack. Prepare burritos by layering burrito size tortillas down the center with ¼ cup rice, ¼ cup black beans (if using refried beans, layer first), 1 tablespoon sour cream, ½ cup Mexican Beef, and the desired amount of cheese. Place burritos on the baking rack and brush both sides lightly with olive oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Broil to desired crispiness, flip over and broil the other side until golden.  Remove baking rack and top burritos with warmed red or green enchilada sauce or salsa verde. 
  • Shredded Beef Burrito Bowls: Layer cilantro lime rice or cauliflower rice with cheese, black beans or pinto beans, Mexican Shredded Beef, chopped lettuce, and your favorite toppings such as tomatoes, corn, and crushed tortilla chips. I also love adding roasted sweet potatoes and roasted cauliflower. Top the bowls off with sour cream/Greek yogurt, Avocado Crema, Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
  • Shredded Beef Quesadillas:  Layer a burrito size tortilla with cheese and shredded beef and grill until golden, cheesy perfection.  Top with guacamole, sour cream, chopped lettuce, hot sauce, etc.
  • Shredded Beef Nachos:  Pile thick restaurant style tortilla chips with cheese and beans and bake.  Top with warm shredded beef and toppings such as guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos, cream, hot sauce etc.
  • Shredded Beef Flautas or Taquitos:  Roll shredded beef in corn (taquitos) or flour (flautas) tortillas along with cheese and beans if desired. To pan fry, heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until 325 degrees F. Once hot, add 2-4 flautas/taquitos seam side down in oil. Fry, turning as needed until golden brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting burner as necessary to maintain oil temperature so they don’t fry too quickly. To bake, place taquitos/flautas on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Brush the taquitos/flautas with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Broil for extra crispiness.
  • Shredded Beef Enchiladas:  Swap the ground beef for shredded beef in this recipe or make breakfast enchiladas in this recipe.
  • Shredded Beef Tostadas or Sopes:  Layer a tostada or sope with refried beans or avocado mash, top with Mexican Beef, lettuce or slaw, cilantro, avocados, sour cream, cotija cheese or queso fresco etc. and corn salsa.
  • Shredded Beef Tortas:  Slice French-style bread in half horizontally, spread refried beans on each side, top with beef, cheese, avocado slices or guacamole, tomatoes slices, pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos, etc. 
  • Shredded Beef Taco Salad:  Pile Mexican Beef over a bed of chopped Romaine lettuce. Add bell peppers, cucumbers, pepitas, olives, etc. and top with crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips.  Serve with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
  • Shredded Beef Huevos Rancheros: Top your layers of creamy refried beans, runny, sunny side up eggs and cooked salsa over warm tortillas with shredded beef then garnish with cilantro, avocados, and Cotija cheese.   
  • Shredded Beef “Empanadas:” Swap the chicken for shredded beef in this easy recipe using puff pastry. 


  • Use your favorite homemade or store-bought pizza crust, then top with your favorite pizza sauce or try the incredible tomato black bean sauce I used for my pulled pork taco pizza (pardon the very outdated images)! Mexican shredded beef, Monterrey Jack cheese, and your choice of toppings—lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, diced onions, Tomatillo Avocado Ranch, tortilla strips, etc.—should be added last.
  • To make shredded beef avocado toast, toast the bread, spread it with avocado, then top it with Mexican beef and optionally some shredded cheese to melt. With a variety of toppings, such as pickled red onions, pickled beets, sprouts, tomatoes, radishes, pico de gallo, etc., you can also keep it fresh. Also delicious would be a sunny side up egg.
  • Shredded Beef Ramen is a popular new hybrid that uses the braising liquid as the ramen broth in eateries all throughout the country. After removing the beef from the liquid, make the soup as desired by adding more beef broth. Add your preferred toppings, such as sliced onions, chopped avocados, shredded carrots, lime juice, cilantro, and crispy tortilla strips.
  • Make holes in washed, dried potatoes for the shredded beef loaded baked potatoes. Place on a baking sheet covered with foil, lightly spray with oil, and season with kosher salt. Bake potatoes for an hour, or until the skin is crisp and the potatoes are soft. Open the potatoes, add the beef and cheese, and return to the oven for an additional five minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Add sour cream, cilantro, onions, and other toppings.
  • Yukon gold potatoes and carrots can be cooked in the pot with the beef while making shredded beef stew. Serve with warmed tortillas, rice, chopped onions, cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime juice on the side.
  • Sliders with Shredded Meat: Place beef on toasted buns and top with coleslaw that has been mixed with cilantro and lime juice. If you’d like, include red onions and/or pickled jalapenos.


The Mexican Shredded Beef recipe can be made entirely ahead of time and reheated or you prep in steps:  

  • Meat: Can be seasoned, seared and stored in an airtight container or slow cooker with (or without) the sauce ingredients for up to 2 days.
  • Sauce:  Whisk all of the ingredients together and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • 100% Made Ahead:  After you shred the beef, remove the crockpot insert (if using) so the beef can cool more quickly.  Once cooled to room temperature, cover and refrigerate (DON’T drain any juices).  Reheat gently the next day for extra tender, flavorful beef.


  • To store: Let the shredded beef cool completely then transfer with the sauce to an airtight container.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze:  Let the shredded beef cool completely then transfer the beef in the sauce to a freezer safe container or portion it into smaller containers.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To reheat:  Warm the beef in the microwave for 1 minute then at 20 second intervals until warmed through or simmer gently on the stove until warmed through. 
  • Slow cooker:  Reheat on low for 1-2 hours until warmed through, stirring occasionally.

The Best Beef Cuts for Shredding

slow cooked pulled meat, top view

The Ideal Cuts of Beef for Shredding

Which beef cut is ideal for shredding? If your intention is to produce soft, juicy pieces of meat, not all roasts are created equal. No matter how long they are roasted, some cuts of beef are excellent for slicing and won’t shred. To locate the best meat for pulled beef for your upcoming supper, sort the roasts.

What Makes Good Shredding Beef?

Finding the right cut of beef to buy for a particular recipe can be challenging because there are so many options available. Because the characteristics of various cuts are suitable for various uses, there is no one best cut of beef.

You need a beef cut that becomes fork tender for shredding. Although it seems counterintuitive, the best cuts for this use start off being pricey and rough. They also include a significant amount of fat and connective tissue.

These connective tissues degrade under heat when you prepare the best kind of beef for shredding. Regardless of the cut, the roast with the most connective tissue and marbling will shred the easiest.

Best Roast for Shredded Beef

So, what is the best roast for shredded beef? The following options are the best meat for barbecue beef and other shredded-meat dishes:

  • Chuck roast: This inexpensive cut is sometimes called a blade pot roast since it comes from the neck and shoulder blade area. It has lot of marbling, which creates moist, tender meat that shreds well.
  • Beef brisket: Another inexpensive, tough cut that comes out moist and ready to shred is the brisket. This piece of meat from the foreshank will shred after proper cooking for long periods of time at low heat.
  • Round: The round comes from a cow’s rear leg. It’s a tough cut because the leg muscles get used so much. Look for a roast with plenty of marbling to get tender pieces.
  • Rump roast: The rump roast is another affordable cut that comes from the bottom round. You can get it with or without the bone.

Qualify of Beef

Regardless of the cut you select, the quality of the beef affects how nicely it shreds. The highest quality USDA Prime beef has the largest fat marbling. Young animals are used to produce this kind of beef.

USDA Choice is the grade that comes after. Although there is less fat marbling than in Prime beef, there is still some marbling. Keep in mind that after cooking, marbling helps transform tough meat into delicate, juicy shreds.

The lowest grade with the least amount of marbling is USDA Select. As a result, it is usually a little leaner than Choice or Prime. Lean meat that has less marbling might not become as tender and simple to shred as meat of greater grades.

Size and Shape of Cut

The success of your shredded beef can also depend on the size and form of your beef. The roast will cook unevenly if one end is thick and the other thin. Make sure the thicker part is well cooked because it could result in some harsh, dry patches.

Cooking Method Considerations

How you cook the beef is another element that affects how nicely it shreds. It takes time for those tough, connective tissue-filled meat slices to become supple enough to crumble. Shredding beef is best prepared by cooking it slowly over low heat. This promotes the efficient breakdown of certain connective tissues.

It is simple to cook your shredded beef in a slow cooker. The low temperatures you require are present. Depending on the model and whether you select the low or high option, the temperature of the majority of slow cookers ranges from 170 to 280 degrees Fahrenheit. For tender, fall-apart meat, most slow-cooker roast recipes advise cooking the meat on the low setting for at least eight hours.

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