Slow Cooker Beef Machaca – Slender Kitchen

Slow Cooker Beef Machaca is a healthy beef dish with bell peppers, tomatoes, and just enough spice that’s great for tacos, bowls, and more. Jump to Recipe keyboard_arrow_down


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Crockpot Machaca is a traditional Mexican dish full of peppers, tomatoes, and spice that makes a delicious taco or burrito filling. The beef comes out perfectly tender and it has just the right amount of heat. 

Last night I dreamed about being a cowboy, about long nights on the trail and campfires and ….smores. So maybe it was more like camping than cowboying, but I was riding a horse and dressed in the best of cowboy attire. Where did this cowboy dream come from? I think the blame lies with this Machaca which I ate much too much of last night.

You see, Machaca traditionally was a dish made by cowboys and ranchers involving dehydrated beef, some chili peppers, and was eaten with whatever was handy. Sometimes it was rolled into flour tortillas, many times it was scrambled up with eggs, and sometimes it was fried into crispy little taquitos. This version skips the dehydrated beef but uses all the traditional flavors and can be eaten a thousand different ways. Make extra. You can always freeze it if you don’t finish it.

Slow Cooker Beef Machaca on a plate with rice.

What is machaca?

Machaca is a traditional Mexican dish that is normally made by covering beef or pork with a blend of spices and dried chiles. Then the beef is pounded thin, dried in the sun, and shredded. It’s almost like Mexican beef jerky. It was a way to preserve meat that was used mostly by ranchers and cowboys. They would either take it with them on trips or rehydrate it to cook with at home.

Today with the advent of refrigeration, although some people still preserve and then rehydrate machaca, most machaca recipes are essentially shredded beef recipes using the same spices and chili peppers originally used to preserve machaca. 

How to serve machaca?

There are so many different uses for beef machaca and so many delicious ways to enjoy it. You definitely want to make a double or triple batch, 

  • Machaca and eggs: Saute some onion, tomato, and jalapeno in a skillet. Add the machaca and push everything to the side of the skillet. Add your eggs and scramble. Once they are almost cooked, mix in the machaca and veggies. Serve with corn tortillas. This is seriously so delicious.
  • Machaca tacos: Needless to say, this beef makes some amazing tacos. Warm up some corn tortillas, add the machaca meat, and top with cilantro, diced onion, and avocado.
  • Burritos and burrito bowls: This filling has so much flavor it is a great option to pair with beans, rice, and veggies for burritos or bowls.
  • Quesadillas: This makes a great quesadilla filling, just make sure to drain any extra liquid so that the tortilla doesn’t get soggy.
  • Enchiladas: This is the perfect shredded beef filling for enchiladas. I like to make them with red enchilada sauce and melted cheese on top.
  • Baked taquitos: Roll up the beef in some warm corn tortillas. Brush them with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until they are nice and crispy on the outside. 

Tips and Recipe Ideas

  • Most of the spice in the dish is coming from the serrano peppers. These can be very spicy but tend to mellow out a bit when they are cooked for a long time. If you are worried about the spice, you can use jalapenos or poblano peppers instead. You could also use canned chipotle peppers if you want to add a smoky flavor.
  • Although traditionally made with beef, this recipe is also really delicious with chicken. I prefer using chicken thighs since they stay nice and tender when cooked but chicken breast would also work as well. And although I haven’t tried it, I imagine that pork would work really well too.
  • If you can find Maggi sauce, it will give it more of a traditional flavor. Maggi is a seasoning sauce that is used in a lot of Mexican, Latin, and Asian cooking. It’s a salty sauce, kind of like soy, but it does contain MSG so depending on your dietary needs you may want to use soy or Worcestershire sauce instead. There are also many versions depending on the country its intended for. I prefer the Mexican Maggi Jugo if you can find it.
  • For a more traditional Machaca, add the shredded and drained beef to a hot skillet with some oil after cooking it.  Cook it until it gets browned and crispy, and even a touch dry, Then blend the cooking sauce in a blender to create a salsa to serve on the side.
  • For a smokier Machaca, you can substitute chipotle peppers in adobo for the serrano peppers or use dried ancho chili peppers.

Slow Cooker Beef Machaca with tomatoes, rice, and cilantro.

Side Dish Ideas

There are so many options for side dishes to serve Machaca. Here are some favorite traditional options and options that think outside the box.

  • Go traditional and serve the machaca with some refried beans and rice. 
  • For a lighter option, consider making a Mexican Street Corn Salad.
  • Although these are traditional served with tortillas, you could use lettuce wraps for something lighter.
  • During cooler months, this is pretty delicious with mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, or polenta. 

Original Recipe By Slender Kitchen

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