Difference Between Chipotle’s Barbacoa and Carnitas

Sharing is caring!

Last Updated on March 21, 2024 by Share My Kitchen

I am a big fan of Mexican food and Chipotle, and I tend to frequently make barbacoa and carnitas for my family. Well, it is common knowledge that many people enjoy Mexican cuisine.

However, people who are not familiar with Mexican food don’t know the difference. The most important difference lies in the meat you use, and the way you prepare the meal.

Barbacoa is made with either goat, lamb, or beef. However, Chipotle makes their barbacoa with beef.

You may slow-cook it in an oven, a stovetop, or a crockpot.

Carnitas, on the other hand, is mainly shredded pork cut into large pieces after browning or being cooked until crisp.

How to Make Chipotle’s Barbacoa and Carnitas


The beef used in Chipotle’s barbacoa is claimed to be responsibly-raised. Farmers raise their animals in pastures using humane animal farming methods.

They do not administer hormones or other non-therapeutic antibiotics.

Chipotle uses beef cuts from the shoulder because it has enough fat to retain moisture during long braising when making barbacoa.

Then, they marinate the beef overnight in bay leaves, cloves, and oregano.

The meat is then slowly braised at low temperatures for a few minutes before being shredded by hand.

How to Make Barbacoa

Step 1: Two pounds of beef, one sliced red onion, and beef barbacoa slow-cooking sauce are required.

Step 2: Brown both sides of the beef.

Step 3: Add the beef to a slow cooker (keep in mind that it gets REALLY hot). Then, top it with the slow-cooking sauce and sliced red onions. Allow it to simmer on LOW for eight hours.

For total enjoyment, you can eat the barbacoa in tacos.


Carnitas at Chipotle is basically braised pork that is slow-cooked for at least eight hours and then shredded. Traditionally, pork is cooked in lard.

The carnitas is spiced, which adds flavor. It can be used as a topping for burritos, bowls, or tacos.

How to Make Carnitas

The secret ingredient in carnitas has always been juniper berries.

Step 1: Sear the pork to seal in the flavors

Step 2: Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a Dutch Oven or a large pot on a stove at high temperatures for five minutes. Once the oil has heated, you can wash your pork, dry it, then season it with salt and pepper on all sides.

Step 3: When the pot is heated, place the pork on the oil. Then, cook each side for 4 minutes until they have a crust.

Step 4: Take the pork out of the pot, and transfer it to a slow cooker. Then, add the juniper berries, dried thyme, bay leaves, and water. You may cook on high for at least 4 hours; on low for at least 8 hours.

Step 5: Once the time is up, take your carnitas out of the liquid and shred it with two forks.

Step 6: Drain the fat from the cooking liquid, and add the shredded pork back to absorb the juices in the liquid.

Step 7: Transfer your carnitas onto a parchment paper, and broil it in the oven for about 3-5 minutes to make its edges crispy. Or you can serve it right away.

Difference Between Chipotle’s Barbacoa and Carnitas

The most important difference between Chipotle’s barbacoa and carnitas lies in the meat you use and the way you prepare the meal.

Chipotle uses beef for their Barbacoa. It’s slow-cooked and tender.

Chipotle Carnitas are shredded pork that has been browned or cooked until it’s crispy.

Sharing is caring!