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Mexican Shredded Beef (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

When I first started using a slow cooker, I remember thinking “How in the world did I stay well-fed without it?”

When I realized I could make bone broth in it and not have to hover over the stove all day, I was hooked. Many a pot roast, stew, chili, and batch of pulled pork later, a friend introduced me to the Instant Pot.

It’s a hybrid of a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker (and several other functions I have yet to even try).

Close to two years after purchasing it, I still make at least 3 meals a week in my Instant Pot. With a baby-turned-toddler in the house (how did that happen so fast?!), I have very little time to prepare food.

This means whatever is most efficient wins (within reason, of course).

I’m also admittedly not very good at meal planning in the traditional sense. I don’t go to the store with an exact grocery list for all of the meals I’ll cook that week. (If you’re curious what sort of lazy meal planning I employ, read this!)

I have a much more relaxed “Eh, that sounds good” and “Well, this showed up in our CSA box” kind of approach to cooking. Of course, I keep a well-stocked pantry of spices and staples to pull this off, but my point in sharing my disorganization with you is that somehow – with a toddler yanking at my pant leg (at all times) – I manage to get a meal on the table anyways.

The Instant Pot has really upped my game in the kitchen.

Instead of having to plan to put a roast in the slow cooker at 8am in order to have it ready by dinnertime, I can literally pull a fully frozen hunk of meat from the freezer, plop it in the Instant Pot with some spices, and know that I’ll have dinner on the table in roughly 90 minutes.

It’s kind of magical.

Plus, now that about 90% of the meat we eat (at home anyways) is from our cow share or pig share, a big portion of it requires the tender loving care of slow cooking. (Newsflash: Animals are not all filet mignon and tenderloin.) With the pressure cooking function of the Instant Pot, I can get the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of a slow cooker in a fraction of the time.

Anyways, enough of my love affair with the Instant Pot… Onto today’s recipe…

Mexican Shredded Beef makes a frequent appearance on our table.

It’s super simple to throw together, has great flavor, and can pair well with just about anything.

Here, I serve it atop a baby kale salad with purple cabbage slaw (pretty much this recipe for Tangy Coleslaw made with purple cabbage) and fresh cherry tomatoes. If I had a ripe avocado in the house, that would have made it on the salad, but alas, this wasn’t exactly a pre-planned meal. (I feel like I’m confessing to both culinary and dietetic sins right here!)

I also love using Mexican Shredded Beef in tacos (or lettuce wraps), alongside black beans and cauliflower rice, or adding it to a chili recipe in place of ground beef.

If you haven’t yet given in to the Instant Pot craze, I include instructions for making Mexican Shredded Beef in a traditional slow cooker. It’s just as good, but takes 5x longer to make it (though that’s not a big deal if you plan ahead and get the meat cooking in the morning). 😉

Mexican Shredded Beef (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

yield 8

  • 2 lb grass-fed boneless beef chuck roast
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp mild organic chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup water or bone broth (see notes)


  1. Place sliced onion into your slow cooker or Instant Pot.
  2. Mix spices, coconut sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over the beef roast and place in the pot on top of the onions. Add lime juice and 1/2 cup water (don't worry - a TON more liquid will cook out of the meat as well).
  3. If using an Instant Pot, close the lid, turn the vent to “sealing,” hit “manual” and set to cook for 60 minutes (high pressure). Once cooked, allow pressure to naturally release, which takes approximately 20 minutes. Once the pressure value has released, open the pot, remove the beef, and shred with two forks.
  4. If using a slow cooker, close the lid, set to cook on high for 6-10 hours (depending on how hot your slow cooker is). The meat is done when it easily pulls apart with two forks.
  5. To serve Mexican Pulled Beef, I like several options: a large salad (pictured), alongside beans and cauliflower rice, or as tacos (your choice of regular ol’ tortillas, a homemade version, or even a lettuce wrap).

Recipe Notes

Here's a tutorial for making bone broth.



I’m not sure dinner could be any simpler. Well, aside from take out, but I’m all about making cooking faster and easier than takeout. Unless you’re feeding a crowd or a big family, you’ll probably have leftovers from this recipe, which means you have another meal (or several) already ready already. #winning

If you give this recipe for Mexican Shredded Beef a try, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

And if you’re curious to learn more about the Instant Pot, check it out here. There’s a reason it’s the #1 rated pressure cooker. I swear it’s not the scary scary “is this gonna blow up the house or burn my face?” kind of thing of your grandma’s generation. It has a bunch of built-in safety mechanisms to keep you from destroying your kitchen. 😉

Until next week,

PS – Not a fan of beef? Try my recipe for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. My original recipe used a slow cooker, but you can follow the same instructions above for an Instant Pot version.

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


Leave a comment
  1. You seem to have forgotten the amount of liquid required for this recipe. As it’s intended for a pressure cooker you need a minimum amount of liquid to create steam/pressure and safely cook the contents.

    • Thanks for catching that error. Yes, I DO add liquid, but forgot to put it on the recipe. Sorry about the confusion. I’ve corrected the recipe.

  2. This looks yummy. So you didn’t add any liquid to the Instapot? I didn’t think the pressure cooker function would work within at least 1 cup liquid.

    • 1/2 cup water or bone broth. (I accidentally left it off the ingredient list, but have fixed the recipe. My mistake!) Personally, I do less liquid because so much more juice cooks out of the meat as it comes to temperature.

      I’ve never had an issue with 1/2 cup when cooking meat, but I s’pose for a recipe with lots of dry ingredients, you’d want to err on the side of caution and do a full cup.

  3. Thanks Lily! Made this last night for our inaugural instant pot use!!
    Would love if you did more instant pot recipes… Can’t tell you how nice it felt to spend less time prepping dinner than eating it! I am all about minimizing food prep time these days, and so is my 2 year old 🙂

    • Awesome, Maddie. Yeah, I resisted the Instant Pot for a while thinking “eh, I can just use my slow cooker for that.” The time savings was a game changer for us and has been even more crucial after baby. I’ll definitely be sharing more Instant Pot recipes!

  4. I’m not seeing where/when to add the lime juice. ????????????

    • It goes in with all ingredients before cooking. I updated the recipe directions so that’s more clear. 😉

  5. Does the cook time change if it is frozen vs thawed?

    • I usually add an extra 10 minutes to the cook time if it’s fully frozen.

  6. Could you make this in the oven, if you don’t have a slow cooker or Instapot?

  7. Thank you for this recipe! Does the time in the instant pot change depending on the size of the roast?

    • The time should remain about the same. I sometimes add 5-10 minutes if it’s a large roast (or if I’m cooking from frozen or partially frozen).

  8. I followed all the instructions here, using a Pyrex slow cooker and the onion badly burnt after about an hour 🙁

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