Beef, Dairy-Free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Main Course, Mexican

Beef Barbacoa & Bean Tostadas

One thing I have found as I have navigated the unknown waters of eating gluten -free over the past few months is that there are so many naturally gluten-free foods and meals that are nothing short of delicious. When I first learned about my Celiac diagnosis, as discussed more in depth in my very first post on this page, I had many panicky moments when I literally felt like I had absolutely no idea what in the hell I was going to eat. As the initial shock wore off, I began to review some of my recipes that I had spent the last 10 years collecting and developing. Some were obviously out… but so many were MOST DEFINITELY IN. With some minor tweaking, I found many of the recipes we had grown to love as a family were still going to be able to debut on the menu once in awhile.

Barbacoa Tostadas were one of the meals that didn’t even need any adjustments at all. I have found that to be the case with most ethnic cuisine. It is just more naturally gluten-free than many American staples. I turn to international inspiration when meal planning now more than ever before. I feel like it is so much more fresh and light, relies heavily on produce, is less processed, and just all around better.

These Barbacoa & Bean Tostadas definitely fall into that category…


Full of flavor and prepared with so many fresh ingredients… Top with lettuce, fresh guac, homemade (or not) salsa, jalapeno relish… the works. If you’re not dairy-free, these are also amazing topped with some cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Prep looks a lot like this…


Onions and garlic, fresh lime and orange juice, tomato sauce, adobo sauce, and abundant spices work together like magic to prepare the beef roast for 4-6 hours in the slow cooker.

One step I feel is really important is to make a thick paste out of the tomato paste, adobo sauce (which comes from a can of chipotle peppers- throw one of those in, too, if you like a little more heat), and all the spices. This paste then gets rubbed on all sides of the roast before it goes into the slow cooker, and the juice is then poured over top of all of it. This really seals the flavor in and helps keep the roast moist while cooking.

(Side note: Why does everyone hate that word? I would really like to know…who wants to fill me in?)

The end result is an incredibly flavorful, savory meat that is fork-shred tender. If tostadas aren’t much your thing, this barbacoa is also delicious with corn tortillas and a fresh slaw to top it with. Or you could make nachos. That is likely what I would use leftovers for if I ate more dairy. Nachos used to be my fav. (Another side note, because SQUIRREL!: I tried cashew nacho cheese for the first time this past weekend, along with some beet lemonade, from a vegan food truck and it was SO GOOD! I was scared, but I am so happy I stepped outta my comfort zone to give it a whirl. I would definitely eat it again, and it means nachos can still be a thing, which is basically EVERYTHING…)

Back on track and on to the recipe. Prepare for layers of fresh flavors to rock your world.

Beef Barbacoa and Bean Tostadas

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Beef  Barbacoa and Bean Tostadas

1 3-lb beef roast, boneless and trimmed of excess fat

1 medium onion, sliced

6 cloves garlic, finely diced -or- pressed

1/2 C orange juice

Juice of 2 limes

1 tbsp GF soy sauce or coconut aminos

1/4 C tomato paste

1 1/2 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp adobo sauce

2 tsp salt

1 tsp Sugar in the Raw, optional

For the beans:

2 15-oz cans GF refried beanse

1 4-oz can Hatch green chilies

Juice of 1/2 lime

For serving:

Tostada shells, shredded lettuce, salsa, guacamole, olives, jalapenos, and everything else that is delicious on top of Mexican food- the sky is the limit!

  1. Slow cooker liners are amazing. Get some and use one. 🙂 If not using one, spray your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Trim roast of excess fat. Slice your onion and put it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Mix together the tomato paste, adobo sauce, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and sugar till a thick paste forms. Rub the roast liberally with this paste, coating all sides. Place roast into slow cooker on top of onions.
  4. Whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, and soy sauce or coconut aminos. Pour over and around the roast in the slow cooker. Top with diced or topped garlic. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until the roast shreds easily with two forks.
  5. Shred your meat and return to the cooking liquid while you make the final preparations.
  6. Cook the refried beans in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the juice of half a lime and the 4-oz can of Hatch green chilies. Cook until heated through and easy to spread.
  7. Assemble your tostadas! Tostada shell -> refried beans -> barbacoa -> LOTS OF TOPPINGS! Get extra napkins- these get messy in the best possible way. 🙂



This makes amazing leftovers, too. You could even cook some rice and make barbacoa burrito bowls… YUM! The kids really enjoy this one, too, and it has incredibly well-developed flavors that the adults love. The hint of sweet with the tang of the juices and the smoky, subtle heat from the adobo sauce and cumin… seriously good stuff. u

As you’ve embarked on your gluten-free journey, which foods and meals have you come to rely on the most? I would love to hear what you’re having for dinner at your house- we are always on the lookout for new ideas to add into the mix. Find me on Facebook- @ifitbakesyouhappy– or follow me on Instagram– I’d love to connect with you!

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