Carne Deshebrada: 3 Cooking Methods + Tips and Uses

Carne deshebrada is a Mexican basic recipe. Learn how to cook it with 3 different methods, how to use it to make the most delicious recipes, and how to store it to have it always available for busy days!

Carne deshebrada in a bowl with Mexican spices scattered around.

What is carne deshebrada?

Carne deshebrada is a staple Mexican basic recipe made by boiling meat with spices until tender and then shredding it. Carne means meat in English and deshebrada translates into shredded.

Even though the word “carne” could easily mean any type of meat, when it comes to this recipe, most of the time it means beef is used to make it.

Once ready, this Mexican shredded beef can turn into many recipes. From street food such as tacos, quesadillas, and sopes. To traditional stews and even salads like Salpicón de res.

Close-up on Mexican shredded beef carne deshebrada.

In Mexico is customary to cook carne deshebrada it with lots of water so you can use the beef broth to make many other recipes like sauces, soups, and stews.

My mother taught me to make this recipe when I was a little girl, and shredding the meat was one of those tasks me and my sisters learn to do at a very young age. Just as many kids still do it in Mexico.

What type of beef to use

Believe it or not, the best beef cuts for tender Mexican shredded beef are the toughest cuts. Those types of cuts in the list below stand up nicely after being cooked for hours and become succulent and so tender.

  • Chuck roast (also known ad shoulder roast).
  • Flank.
  • Skirt.
  • Rump roast.
  • Brisket.

Not sure yet? Head over this guide for The Best Cuts For Shredding to know more about it.

The ingredients used in this recipe

Beef: For the recipe below I used beef brisket, in a large piece.

Spices: onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, cumin seeds, and oregano. Feel free to leave out one or two you don’t like, but don’t skip more than 2 or your meat won’t have that distinctive flavor.

And that’s it! You won’t even need beef stock to cook it because the meat and spices are enough to create all those delicious bold flavors.

How To Cook It In The Instant Pot

Time of cooking: 20 minutes for every pound of meat.

  • Place meat and all spices in your Instant Pot, add 1 tablespoon of salt, and pour water enough to cover the meat for 1 inch.
  • Close the lid, set the float valve up, and cook at high pressure for 40 minutes.
  • Natural release for 10 minutes then quick release the steam before opening the pot.
Collage of carne deshebrada cooked in an Instant Pot.

Notes: The Instant Pot can cook 1 pound of roast in 20 minutes, so if you’re cooking a 3 pound roast it will take about 60 minutes at high pressure to completely cook it.

How To Cook It In The Slow Cooker

Time of cooking: From 4 to 8 hours.

  • Place beef and spices into your Slow Cooker, add salt, and cover about 1-inch with water.
  • Cover with the lid and cook for 5 to 8 hours on low, or 4 to 6 hours on high depending on the beef cut you chose.
Beef cooked on a crock pot.

How To Cook It In The Stove Top

Time of cooking: From 4 to 8 hours.

  • Cut the beef into 3-inch chunks (for fast cooking). Place it in a large pot, add all the spices, salt, and cover with plenty of water.
  • Set heat to high and bring to a boil. Low heat to medium and loosely cover the pot.
  • Cook for about 3 hours skimming off the foam that forms on the surface and adding more water if necesary (meat should be ALWAYS covered with liquid).
Removing the foam from the pot with a slotted spoon.

How To Easily Shred It

Even though you can still shred your beef with your hands or using two forks, there’s this easy trick that will save you lots of time: Using your stand mixer.

So simply place it in the bowl of your stand mixer, attach the flat beater paddles and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds or until is fully shredded.

  • You will need the meat to be still hot from the cooking, cold beef is harder to shred with this method.
  • Also, make sure you drain well the meat before adding it to the mixer.
  • For easy shredding, use two forks to divide the meat into 2 or 3 chunks if you cooked a whole beef piece, before placing it into the bowl.

Recipes to use your Mexican shredded beef

  • Garnachas. Top those delicious corn cakes and serve with cabbage salad on the side.
  • Instant Pot Tamales. Flavor it up with chili sauce and make those super fast and scrumptious beef tamales.
  • Tacos Dorados. Mix up with mashed potatoes and create the most delicious crispy tacos ever.
  • Sopes. Add the carne deshebrada and then use your favorite toppings like lettuce, onions, cream, cheese, and salsa.
  • Tostadas. Top crunchy tortillas and pile them with lettuce, pickled onions, and cheese.
  • Salads. This Mexican salpicon is made using carne deshebrada de res, so go ahead and enjoy this refreshing salad any day of the week.
Adding spicy salsa to a tostada with carne deshebrada.

How To Store It

Carne deshebrada is the perfect basic prep recipe. It’s also perfect to double or triple it for parties and gatherings.

Once shred and cooled down, place it in a container with an airtight lid and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or transfer it to freezing bags, label them, and store in the freezer for up to 4 months.

When needed, thaw overnight and use it in your favorite recipes.

FAQs

What should I do with the cooking water?

Use a fine sieve to strain it well, then use it to make soups, stews, or a sauce to drizzle over crispy potato tacos.

Can I make it spicy?

Of course! Add serrano or jalapeño peppers to the pot where the meat is cooking. You can either add them whole for a subtle spicy flavor or chopped for a spicier kick.

What kind of meat is carne deshebrada?

In Mexican cooking, it can be beef, pork, or chicken. But you can also make it with other types of meat such as venison, wild duck, or even bison!

So, can I make it with chicken?

Absolutely. Technically, tinga de pollo is made this way. Just make sure to adjust the cooking times as chicken cooks faster than beef.

Is this recipe healthy?

Yes. Using a lean cut such as top sirloin or round steak yields in a healthier and low calories dish. Fatty cuts have more calories but since this recipe doesn’t use oil at all, the result is still light and healthy.

Carne deshebrada in a bowl.

Carne Deshebrada Recipe

author Maricruz
Learn how to make carne deshebrada to use it for tacos, burritos, stews, and salads.
prep 5 minutes
cook 40 minutes
total 45 minutes
serving 1

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ lb beef brisket (read notes)
  • 1 small onion (peeled)
  • 4 garlic cloves (skin on)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp coarse salt

Instructions
 

  • Place meat and all spices in your Instant Pot.
  • Add salt, and pour water enough to cover the meat for 1 inch.
  • Close the lid, set the float valve up, and cook at high pressure for 40 minutes.
  • Natural release for 10 minutes then quick release the steam before opening the pot.
  • Remove the meat from the pot and place in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Attach the flat beater paddles and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds or until is fully shredded.
  • Use it in your recipe or store it as suggested.

Notes

  • You can also use chuck roast, flank, skirt, or rump roast to make this recipe.
  • Check out the post where I tell you how to cook it using other methods.
  • Don’t throw away the cooking water! That flavorful beef broth is perfect to make soups, sauces, and stews.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 1096kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 143g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 422mg | Sodium: 7519mg | Potassium: 2406mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 123IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 161mg | Iron: 16mg
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for this detailed recipe, love the way you explain everything step by step and make sure is understandable. I make my own carne deshebrada at home just as my mom taught me too, but I am not good at explaining and wanted to give the recipe to a friend of mine that doesn’t speak spanish.