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Make the ultimate Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Recipe with simple prep and delicious ingredients, including homemade barbecue sauce from a flavorful rub, tangy red onions, and quality beef!

pulled beef on a bun on a plate.

The crock pot is an incredible tool to have in your kitchen. It makes making meals on the busiest days possible with a tiny bit of prep and creates the most tender and flavorful results.

Easy shredded beef is excellent for beef tacos, beef sandwiches on hamburger buns, mini beef sliders, burrito bowls, and so much more!

If you love this recipe, you’ll enjoy my Braised Beef Short Ribs with Gnocchi and these Crockpot Steak BitesYum!

Why you’ll love this Slow Cooker BBQ Beef recipe!

  • Amazing flavor. Slow cooking beef roast with homemade BBQ sauce produces a rich, full flavor the whole family will love!
  • Versatile Dish. This tender beef crockpot recipe is perfect for saucy sandwiches with hoagie rolls, Mexican-style street tacos, cheesy quesadillas, BBQ salads, and so much more!
  • Easy Recipe. This is a super easy recipe with simple ingredients to make slow-cooked shredded beef, a delicious dinner for any night of the week. It only needs a short prep time and hands-free cooking time!
ingredients for slow cooker pulled beef on a table.

Ingredient notes

  • Chuck roast | The best cut of beef for this recipe is boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed.
  • Red onion | Create a saucy mixture with one medium tangy, thinly sliced red onion.
  • Brown sugar | Use dark brown sugar to add sweetness to the tangy BBQ sauce.
  • Tomato paste | Add some acidity and rich tomato flavor with tomato paste.
  • Worcestershire sauce | Bring out the savory notes of the recipe with classic Worcestershire sauce.
  • Chili powder | Add a hint of heat with chili powder.
  • Salt and pepper | Compliment the natural taste of the roast with classic kosher salt and black pepper.

How to make Slow Cooker Pulled Beef

This is an easy Slow cooker BBQ beef recipe with great flavor — perfect for busy weeknights or hosting a crowd.

sliced red onions in the bottom of a slow cooker; mixing up the spice rub for bbq beef; spreading spice rub on a chuck roast.

STEP 1 | Add the red onions

Dive right in by lightly coating the bottom of a 6 – 7 quart slow cooker with cooking spray, then add the sliced red onions.

STEP 2 | Combine spice rub ingredients

Next, combine the brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

a chuck roast in a slow cooker; brushing spice rub on top of roast; cooked beef in a dish; shredding beef with two forks.

STEP 3 | Coat with the rub

Then, spread half the rub on top of the roast and place it on the onions in the slow cooker with the coated side down. Pour the rest of the barbecue rub on the roast until completely covered.

STEP 4 | Cover and cook

Cover and cook the beef on HIGH for 5 hours or until tender. Ah, the ease of cooking with a crock pot!

STEP 5 | Shred, mix, and serve!

At the end of cooking the roast, transfer it to a platter or cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat.

Then, return the meat to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the onion mixture and beef broth, keeping the dish warm until ready to serve. Enjoy!

tips

  • I like to line the crock pot with a crock pot liner instead of coating it with cooking spray. It makes clean-up that much easier! 
  • You can use two forks or meat claws designed for shredding slow-cooked beef and other similar dishes.
slow cooker shredded beef in a dish with two forks after shredding the roast.

Variations and substitutions

  • Mexican Shredded Beef. Swap out some key ingredients to make the perfect shredded beef for all your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes, like tacos, burritos, and more. Swap the Worcestershire sauce for brightening orange juice, add minced garlic, and combine seasonings like chipotle, paprika, allspice, coriander, and oregano for a classic Hispanic flavor.
  • Pressure Cooker Method. You can also make this recipe in a pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot. It may help to cut the roast into three or four pieces. Then, add all ingredients to the pot, seal, and pressure cook on high for about 60 minutes. Afterward, use the natural pressure release for 10 to 15 minutes, vent, remove the beef, shred it, and serve!
  • Super Saucy. Add more BBQ sauce to the sauce made from the recipe by adding this homemade barbecue sauce when serving!
  • Use light brown sugar if you prefer a lighter sweetness for your rub.
  • Replace the Worcestershire sauce with red wine or beef broth, if desired.
  • I like the tanginess that red onions add to the recipe. However, you can use white or yellow onions if you prefer.

Storage and reheating tips

  • Save your leftover BBQ beef for later by storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
  • Then, reheat the dish with the juices and sauce in the crockpot, stovetop, or microwave.
placing shredded beef on a bun with tongs on a plate.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best cut of beef for pulled beef?

Most would agree that chuck roast is the best cut for pulled beef because of its tenderness, fat, and marbling.

How do you keep shredded beef from drying out?

When you store the leftovers of this beef recipe, keep them in a container with the cooking juices. Then, when you reheat the meat, it is surrounded by the flavors and has plenty of moisture.

Can shredded beef be made ahead of time?

Yes! Prepare the rub and keep it in an airtight container until you’re ready to add it to the beef and cook the dish for several hours. Or, make the complete recipe, then store it in the refrigerator. Then, let it come to room temperature on the counter and reheat the beef in the crockpot.

Can you freeze BBQ pulled beef?

Sure! Transfer the cooled beef to a freezer-safe container or bag, along with the cooking juices. Freeze for up to three months. Then, when ready to serve, let it thaw in the fridge for about 24 hours and reheat in a pan or slow cooker for the best results.

Serving suggestions

Swap out the chicken in my BBQ Chicken Pizza recipe or this Shredded Chicken Street Tacos recipe with this slow cooker BBQ beef. Or make a delicious Smoked Mac and Cheese bowl by topping this recipe with today’s slow-cooked beef!

slow cooker shredded bbq beef on a hamburger bun on a plate with pickle slices.

Looking for more Easy Slow Cooker Recipes?

Try my Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Street Tacos, Slow Cooker Pork Roast, Slow Cooker Country Style Ribs, or this Corned Beef and Cabbage Slow Cooker Recipe for more delicious crock pot creations!

slow cooker shredded bbq beef on a hamburger bun on a plate with pickle slices.

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slow cooker shredded beef in a dish with two forks after shredding the roast.

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Recipe (Pulled BBQ Beef)

Make the perfect Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Recipe with simple prep and delicious ingredients, like homemade barbecue sauce from a flavorful rub, tangy red onions, and quality beef!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 337 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium red onion thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ½ – 3 lbs. boneless chuck roast trimmed

Instructions
 

  • Lightly coat the bottom of a 6 – 7 quart slow cooker with cooking spray, then add the sliced red onions.
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Spread half the rub on top of the roast, then place the roast on top of the onions in the slow cooker with the coated side down. Then, pour the rest of the barbecue rub on the roast and spread until covered completely.
  • Cover and cook the beef on HIGH for 5 hours or until tender. (May cook on LOW for 8 hours.)
  • Transfer the roast to a platter. Using 2 forks, shred the meat. Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the onion mixture and cooking broth. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Notes

  • I like to line the crock pot with a crock pot liner instead of coating it with cooking spray. It makes clean-up that much easier! 
  • You can use two forks or meat claws designed for shredding slow-cooked beef and other similar dishes.
  • Save your leftover BBQ beef for later by storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
  • Then, reheat the dish with the juices and sauce in the crockpot, stovetop, or microwave.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 337kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 28gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 676mgPotassium: 757mgFiber: 1gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 804IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 62mgIron: 4mg

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword bbq, slow-cooker
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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