Slow smoked BBQ beef is summer pitmaster perfection, but sometimes you just don’t have the time (or space, or equipment) to pull it off. That’s why we have not one but two slow cooker BBQ beef recipes.
Slow cooker barbecue beef is a precious thing, and couldn’t be easier—but there’s more than one way to make it (and we’re not even counting pouring a bottle of store-bought sauce into the crock, though that is another fine option). Here, we offer two fantastic Crock Pot BBQ beef recipes, plus ideas on how to serve them.
Instant Pot 6-Quart 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker, $79 from Walmart
Related Reading: How to Use Your Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker
Certain cuts of beef—hard-working ones, with lots of beefy flavor, that take a lot of simmering to get tender—were practically made for the slow cooker. Brisket, chuck, and other traditional pot-roast cuts are never better than after 4 or 5 hours (or more) at a slow, gentle simmer in the Crock Pot. Today, we’re showing you two takes on the basic idea that are both beguiling, but different enough that you’ll want to try both before you pick a favorite.
Related Reading: 12 of the Best Crock Pot Beef Recipes
There’s a lot of overlap in the recipe ingredients (ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, garlic, Worcestershire), but the first one is a little quicker and easier, in that all you have to do is dump everything in the slow cooker and turn it on.
Also worth noting: The first version is ready in about half the time (5 1/2 hours to cook vs 10 hours).
And while the results are equally delicious, the first BBQ beef (made with chuck roast) won’t be quite as tender; it retains a bit of toothsome chew (in a very good way) and needs a knife to be chopped to shreds—but you’ll add the cooking liquid to moisten it as much as you want.
The second BBQ beef rendition—made with brisket—will practically fall apart at the mere touch of a fork when it’s done, and all but melt in the mouth.
Without further ado, here they are—plus, some suggestions for what to do with them besides pile them between buns or bread.
This recipe is no-fail. It has richness and a sweet-spicy-tangy balance that lifts it out of the sugar-fat dimension some barbecue is stuck in. Remember to save any leftover sauce: It makes a great glaze for meatloaf, among other things. Get our Slow Cooker BBQ Beef recipe.
For this go-round, you’ll rub the beef with a combination of chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, cayenne, and garlic, then slow-cook it in a sweet-savory sauce that includes smoky chipotle chiles to be transformed into tender morsels of barbecue goodness. Get our Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Brisket recipe.
Related Reading: 10 BBQ Sauces to Cook Up in Your Crock-Pot
What to Do with BBQ Beef Leftovers
We love either version of BBQ beef in a hearty sandwich, but you’re bound to have leftovers, so here are some other ways to make good use of them:
Roll the Meat into Enchiladas (or Burritos)
These are an easy dinner if you already have your main protein cooked (and extra tasty after resting in the fridge overnight). Just follow our Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Enchiladas recipe and swap in your leftover BBQ beef. Do the same with our Carnitas Breakfast Burritos recipe.
Pile It Up on Nachos
Tuck It into Quesadillas
Yes, another permutation of the tortillas + cheese + meat formula, but you can’t go wrong with it, so why not? Grill your tortilla or cook it in a cast iron pan.
Top a Baked Potato
Saucy, spicy BBQ beef on a base of crisp-skinned, fluffy fleshed potato is a glorious thing, and a seriously easy meal at that. Add a green salad if you feel the need for something to lighten it up a bit.
Make an American Take on Poutine
OK, this is quite similar to the baked potato idea, but with fries…and cheese. If you’re using BBQ beef, you can skip the gravy and ladle extra sauce on top instead. See our Pulled Pork Poutine recipe for the basic process.
Get even more inspiration from these 11 Ways to Use BBQ Brisket leftovers.