Rick Bayless’ Slow Cooker Lamb Barbacoa

Rick Bayless’ Slow Cooker Lamb Barbacoa with Negra Modelo is packed with traditional Mexican flavors for an amazing crock pot dinner you’ll want to make again and again!

Rick Bayless' Slow Cooker Lamb Barbacoa with #NegraModleo is packed with traditional Mexican flavors for an amazing crock pot dinner you'll want to make again and again! #ThePerfectComplement #ad

You guys. I had a foodie dream come true. I met my chef crush, Rick Bayless, last week! He’s funny, super nice, put up with a crowd of people asking for pictures, and hot damn can that man cook! The wonderful people at Negra Modelo were nice enough to ask me out for a meet and greet with Chef Bayless and an amazing dinner showcasing Negra Modelo in some pretty fantastic recipes for the perfect complement.


The media meeting with Chef Bayless was an intimate event. We had delicious Negra Modelo beer and delicious appetizers – can we just talk about the Pork Mango Empanadas for a minute? Holy cow you guys!!


Looooook! I got to take a picture with him! This is going on the office wall.


The meet & greet was fun, but I was so ready to eat! I took my foodie friend Phil (say that 3 times fast) with me to the event. The outdoor setting was gorgeous and luckily we sat close enough to the chefs to smell all the smells. And oh lord were there some amazing smells!



Each of the chefs prepared a different entree. The resort chef prepared this gorgeous “poached” salmon with hominy broth. Think the best seafood posole you’ve ever had, but not really a soup. It was SO good!



In between recipe demos, Phil and I threw back a couple Negra Modelos. They’re a great medium bodied dark beer that’s delightfully smooth – AKA easy to drink and totally delicious.


We got to listen to Chef Bayless talk about his travels to Mexico.He told us where to find his some of his favorite restaurants, and about pork slabs that were “this” big to make chicharróns! It all sounded incredibly delicious, just like his lamb.


So this lamb dish is the bee’s knees. I’ve made a few of Chef Bayless’ recipes before (and have never been disappointed), but this one was completely delicious and incredibly simple. You’ve got to love a chef who’s slow cooker friendly. You really only need a few ingredients for this lamb. The meat, some agave, and the marinade. Simple food always seems to be the best food.

One thing I was a little nervous about was when Chef Bayless mentioned putting raw onions on the lamb as a garnish. Cilantro? I’m in. Tortillas? You have to get it in your mouth some how. But raw onions and I were never friends, until I learned about deflaming onions. If you run raw onion under cold running water for a couple minutes, it removes “the part about raw onions people don’t like” and it so did!


After the cooking demo, we received tasting samples of the chefs’ dishes and they tasted just as good as they smelled during the cooking demos! If you’re never cooked with beer you are missing out! This Slow Cooker Lamb Barbacoa is a great starter recipe. Beer, especially Negra Modelo, lends itself perfectly to so many recipes to enhance the layers of flavor and complexity in many dishes. So put on your apron and get cooking!

You can find more recipes from Chef Rick Bayless featuring Negra Modelo on the Negra Modelo USA website. Find future events and craveable food searching the #ThePerfectComplement and #NegraModelo hashtags on social media.

Rick Bayless' Slow Cooker Lamb Barbacoa with Negra Modelo is packed with traditional Mexican flavors and is surprisingly easy to make!
5 from 1 vote

Slow Cooker Lamb Barbacoa

Rick Bayless' Slow Cooker Lamb Barbacoa with Negra Modelo is packed with traditional Mexican flavors and is surprisingly easy to make!
Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4 to 6 servings
Author Chef Rick Bayless



  • One 12-inch chunk of agave leaf or 1 large banana leaf optional
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or 2 pound boneless chuck roast
  • One 12 ounce bottle of Negra Modelo
  • Salt


  • 2 guajillo chiles stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
  • 2 ancho chiles stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano regular oregano will work too


  • Corn tortillas
  • Chopped white onion
  • Torn cilantro leaves


  1. Roast the agave leaf over an open flame (your gas stove would work just fine for this), turning every few minutes until it becomes charred and piable, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. *If using a banana leaf, run the leaf over an open flames a few times to soften it. Cut the agave into 3 pieces.
  2. Pat the lamb shoulder dry with paper towels, and then season generously with salt.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place the lamb into the hot oil and sear each side of the lamb, turning as needed, about 10 minutes total. Place the lamb in your slow cooker.
  4. Place all the marinade ingredients in a blender (or food processor) with 2 cup of water and puree until smooth. Pour the marinade through a mesh strainer into the slow cooker and all over the lamb. Nestle the pieces of agave (or banana leaf) around the lamb.
  5. Turn the slow cooker to HIGH and cover. Cook for 6 hours. If you will not be ready to eat right away, turn the slow cooker to WARM once the cooking time it up.
  6. When ready to serve, coarsely shred the lamb and place the meat on a warm platter.
  7. Skim any fat from the sauce that remains in the slow cooker. Taste the sauce. If you feel like the sauce should be more concentrated, transfer it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat to reduce the sauce down. Season with salt if needed.
  8. Spoon the sauce over the meat. Garnish with cilantro and onions, and serve with corn tortillas, if desired.

Recipe Notes

If you don't like raw onion, fear not! Chef Bayless showed us the best trick ever! Deflame your onions by running the chopped onion under cold running water for a 1 to 2 minutes. This removes that harsh sting from the onions. I've never cared for raw onions, and I devoured my plate....onions and all very happily.

If you don't want to use your slow cooker, prepare the agave, meat and marinade as instructed. Place the meat, and other ingredients in a 6 to 8-quart Dutch oven and braise for 3 hours at 300 degrees F. Add water occasionally as needed to make sure the liquid stay at the same level.


This post is sponsored by Negra Modelo USA. 

I was guest at this event & received compensation for my honest opinion, promotion & time.


  1. says

    5 stars
    This dish looks and sounds amazing! And I love, love, love Negra Modelo almost as much as I love lamb. Enjoyed some Negro in Cabo – it was served in the bottle with a glass of ice alongside filled 1/3 full with freshly squeezed lime juice. Perfect Mexican fare beverage!

  2. Sarah Gharbi says

    I plan on making this for Christmas dinner and I’m wondering why you use a boneless cut of meat? Wouldn’t you want the bone in for additional flavor?

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