Whole30 Barbacoa Fries That Will Make You Forget About Rice

Barbacoa Fries Up Close

If you’ve ever gotten a bowl at Chipotle with Barbacoa and you like fries (like I do) You are going to fall in love with these Whole30 Barbacoa Fries! The beauty is for all my Whole30ers, while rice is a no-go on the plan, homemade oven fries are a YES! (within reason, of course.)

Are Whole30 Barbacoa Fries Mexican or Tex Mex?

The barbacoa part of this recipe, is Mexican-inspired but not an authentic Mexican recipe. (I use neither a whole cow’s head nor a hole in the ground.) These Barbacoa Fries are definitely not true Mexican, in fact they are not even Tex-Mex. As a Texan, I’m well versed in the cheese-centric Tex-Mex and a student of regional Mexican. I say student, because there is so much to learn about the beautiful and diverse cuisine of Mexico. It’s nothing like you get in most US Mexican restaurants. It’s fresh, veggie-centric and full of life. In reality, Southern California burrito joints add fries to burritos and LA has a running list of spots to get the best Carne Asada fries. So this recipe is actually more Cal Mex than Tex Mex or Mexican.

Barbacoa = Mexican Pot Roast?

As a born-and-raised suburban Texan I grew up eating mostly fast food and processed food including lots of Taco Bueno, the local answer (and FAR better) to Taco Bell. When my world expanded in college, I realized I had no food heritage of my own. The only “cuisine” that seemed different and unique to Texas was Tex-Mex and to this day I can plow through a dish of Mexican Layer Dip. That said, I never learned the typical Southern recipes since my mom, like so many moms in the 80s, didn’t cook. This barbacoa is about as close as I come to making any sort of pot roast at my house. When I have tried to make a true pot roast, my kids don’t love it. But they LOOOOOVE barbacoa.

What Is In Whole30 Barbacoa Fries?

Oven fries are the base. Then I top it with pickled onions, avocado, chipotle aioli and an easy slaw. It’s a welcome break from the typical paleo meal of protein with a salad or roasted veggies. Could you do a Chipotle-style bowl with cilantro cauliflower rice, salsa and guac? Yes, but these are better! If you are not eating potatoes or sweet potatoes, feel free to make parsnip fries, jicama fries or any other alternative you prefer.

Making Whole30 Barbacoa in an Instant Pot

Any time you’re making a chuck roast or other tough cut of meat, it will need time to really get tender. This recipe uses a slow cooker, but you can click here for my Instant Pot version. The Instant Pot will use high pressure to cook the meat more quickly, but should still remain pull-apart tender. Note: the Instant Pot recipe I link has ingredients that are slightly different and use a specific brand of broth. Just skip to the directions and ignore the ingredients. Or use that recipe for the meat and this recipe for the remaining fries and toppings.

Whole30 Barbacoa Fries


  • Barbacoa
  • 3 lbs chuck roast

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 onion sliced

  • 5 garlic cloves smashed

  • 1 tbsp kosher salt

  • 2 tbsp cumin

  • 3 ancho chiles or 2 tbsp ancho chile powder

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes (look for BPA free can)

  • Chipotle Aioli
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (Whole 30 compliant or homemade)

  • 1 tsp each chipotle powder, garlic powder and smoked paprika (if you are not on Whole 30 use a canned chipotle in place of spices)

  • 1 tbsp lime juice

  • sea salt to taste

  • Remaining Ingredients:
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • salt to taste

  • 2 lbs russet, yukon gold or sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2″ thick pieces

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil

  • 4 cups shredded cabbage

  • 1 cup thinly sliced red pepper

  • 1 cup shredded carrots

  • 1 cup thinly sliced, shaved or spiraled cucumber

  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, optional

  • Avocado, mashed or cubed

  • Chopped cilantro


  • For barbacoa:
  • Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours or until easily shredded. Shred the meat, reserving juice and discarding any fat, sinew or bones. Toss with the reserved juice and warm just before serving with remaining ingredients.
  • Chipotle Aioli
  • Whisk all ingredients together and season with salt. (If using canned chipotle, use a blender or food processor.)
  • Remaining Ingredients
  • Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Toss lime juice and red onion together and season liberally with salt. Let stand until onions turn dark pink.
  • Toss potatoes with avocado oil and season with salt. Bake in a single layer in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are blistered slightly and cooked all the way through.
  • While the potatoes are baking, toss the vegetables together with some of the juice from the pickled onions and a little salt. Massage to make a slaw then drain off any extra liquid. Stir in 2 tbsp of the chipotle aioli.
  • To serve: Layer the oven fries with barbacoa then top with slaw, avocado and pickled onions. Drizzle with aioli and sprinkle with cilantro.

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