Crockpot Barbecue Beef

5 from 1 vote
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Enjoy the flavors of a summertime cookout all year long with mouthwatering Crockpot Barbecue Beef! This hearty shredded beef recipe is cooked low and slow in a bold and tangy homemade BBQ sauce. Perfect for easy family meals and potlucks! If you are short on time, there are Instant Pot directions for you too!

Hearty Slow Cooker BBQ Beef

With summer fast approaching, barbecue has entered the chat. Balmy nights, corn on the cob, pasta salads…  I can’t wait to get my hands on all of it, paired with juicy, tender shredded beef steeped in my favorite homemade BBQ sauce. I can practically taste our first cookout as I type!

Your crockpot isn’t just for cozy chilis and roasts in the cooler months. It’s actually the BEST for cooking during the summer, since it doesn’t heat up the kitchen like a stove or oven. I love this recipe for hearty barbecue beef that’s slow cooked in the crockpot. It has all the bold flavors of a summer cookout, and you can still make it any time of the year for potluck food, family meals, and more.

The sauce packs a punch that’s downright mouthwatering, and the beef ends up ultra tender in the crockpot. Plus you can prep the ingredients the night before and then just set it to cook. All that’s left is to load your crockpot beef into sandwiches or serve it with your barbecue sides! Easy, peasy.

A Crockpot barbecue beef sandwich served on a plate with three bean salad.

What You’ll Need

Ok, ok. So the list might look a little long! But I’ll bet that many of the ingredients for the homemade barbecue sauce are in your pantry already. If not, they’re common and easy to come by! Trust me. The reward is the best BBQ beef recipe to ever grace your crockpot!

  • Boneless Chuck Roast: Choose a good quality chuck roast from your local grocer or butcher. This cut of beef is easy to shred and my favorite for slow cooking. Rump roast will also work.
  • Tomato Paste: Tangy tomato paste thickens up the sauce and lends it a nice acidity.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Another acidic component to brighten the flavors in the sauce. Good alternatives are apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. 
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Yes to the umami flavor!
  • Dijon Mustard: Mustard brings a subtle heat and creaminess.
  • Molasses: For sweetness, molasses also pairs perfectly with the brown sugar.
  • Liquid Smoke: I love a deep, spicy and smoky barbecue sauce. Liquid smoke is a fast and easy shortcut to that incredible hint of flavor!
  • Brown Sugar: I highly recommend using brown sugar for its rich, caramelized flavors. 
  • Seasonings: This recipe uses a homemade BBQ seasoning blend of dry mustard powder, onion powder, dried oregano, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
  • Buns: Last but not least, if you’re making sandwiches, you’ll need regular or gluten free buns for serving. 
The ingredients for Crockpot BBQ beef.

How to Make BBQ Beef in the Crockpot

Making shredded BBQ beef in the slow cooker is super straightforward. You can have it ready overnight (or by the end of the day) in 4 easy steps! First, place your chuck roast into your crockpot. Next you’ll make the sauce, combine the ingredients, and cook:

Make the Sauce: Combine the BBQ sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl and give everything a good stir. Pour the sauce over the beef in the crockpot.

Cook: Close the lid and set the crockpot to cook. I suggest cooking the beef for 8-10 hours on Low for the most tender results. However, if time is not on your side, you can set it to cook on High for half the time (4-5 hours) in a pinch.

Shred & Serve: When the beef is ready, remove it from the pot and use a fork to shred it. Lastly, you’ll stir the meat back into the crockpot to get it nice and coated with the sauce. Dish up your barbecue shredded beef onto buns, top with extra sauce and coleslaw, and serve!

A fork and knife is used to shred a slow cooked barbecue beef chuck roast.

Can I Use the Instant Pot Instead?

Yes! If you’re pressed for time, the pressure cooker is the best way to achieve barbecue beef that’s just as tender in a hurry. To make this barbecue beef recipe in the Instant Pot:

  1. Combine the chuck roast and sauce ingredients in the bowl of your Instant Pot. 
  2. Set the Instant Pot to cook on Manual for 70 minutes. 
  3. Once the cooking time is up, let the pressure naturally release for about a half hour. Vent the remaining pressure manually, before shredding the meat as directed.

Tips for Success

  • When Making BBQ Beef Sandwiches: Toast the buns! Giving your buns (gluten-free or otherwise) a light toasting helps keep the bread from getting too soggy once it’s loaded up with the sauce and beef.
  • Cook Long and Low: Depending on the size of your chuck roast, you’ll likely leave it in for 8-10 hours when cooking it on Low. This results in the most tender, shreddable beef! If you need it ready quicker, I recommend making this recipe in the pressure cooker instead (See above).
  • If Your Beef Is Still Tough: If you notice that your beef is still tough/difficult to shred once the cooking time is up, this is likely a sign that it’s not done cooking. Pop it back into the crockpot for another hour at a time, until the meat falls apart easily.
A bowl of Crockpot barbecue beef next to gluten-free buns.

How to Serve Crockpot BBQ Beef

This crockpot barbecue beef is amazing all on its own. Though in this household, barbecue season means filling my favorite gluten free hamburger buns with as much saucy BBQ beef (or chicken, or pork) as possible, any chance we get! 

I love serving my sandwiches with toppings like Creamy Coleslaw or and even more tangy Mustard Coleslaw, and sauces like my Spicy Peruvian Green Sauce and Jalapeño Ranch Dressing. Of course, there are always more classic sandwich topping ideas:

  • Cheese
  • Avocado 
  • Onions
  • Pickles
  • Jalapeños

You can also enjoy this savory beef recipe wrapped up into tortillas, served over salads, or piled into taco shells – the possibilities are endless! Whichever way you serve it, let’s not forget some easy side dishes:

Barbecue beef in a white bowl next to bowls of coleslaw, three bean salad, and a tray of gluten-free buns.

Storage and Reheating

Store leftover barbecue beef in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftovers are great to enjoy cold over salads or in wraps. Otherwise reheat them in the microwave for a minute or two, or on the stovetop before serving.

You can also prepare the sauce ahead of time and store it separately. Just combine the ingredients in the slow cooker and set to cook!

Can I Freeze This?

I love making big batches of this crockpot beef to freeze the leftovers for another day. It’s great for sorting out quick weeknight dinners at short notice!

You can freeze your barbecue beef either altogether, or in portions that can be taken out and defrosted as needed. To freeze, make sure the shredded beef is cooled off completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe bag or container. Thaw the beef overnight in the fridge and then reheat!

A Crockpot barbecue beef sandwich served on a plate.

More Crockpot Must-Makes

Crockpot barbecue beef in a white bowl garnished with fresh parsley.
5 from 1 vote

Crockpot Barbecue Beef

Mouthwatering Crockpot Barbecue Beef is cooked long and low in a bold and tangy homemade BBQ sauce. An easy shredded beef recipe with all the flavors of a summertime cookout, perfect for potlucks and family meals!
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 hrs
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 3-3 1/2 lbs boneless chuck roast
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Regular or gluten free buns for serving, if desired

Instructions

  • Place the roast in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomato paste, vinegar, water, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, molasses, liquid smoke, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, oregano, cumin, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir to combine.
  • Pour the mixture over the roast, cover, and cook on Low for 8-10 hours or on High for 4-5 hours.
  • Transfer the roast to a plate or cutting board and shred the meat with a fork.
  • Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir to coat well with the sauce.
  • Serve on buns and top with extra sauce, if desired.

Notes

To cook in the Instant Pot: Set to Manual for 70 minutes. When the cooking time is completed, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 30 minutes before releasing the pressure manually and shredding the meat as directed.
Nutrition Facts
Crockpot Barbecue Beef
Amount Per Serving
Calories 280 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 91mg30%
Sodium 482mg20%
Potassium 650mg19%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 240IU5%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 44mg4%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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