What Are The Differences Between Barbacoa Vs. Carnitas At Chipotle?

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If you are new to Mexican food, the similarities and differences between barbacoa vs. carnitas at Chipotle may confuse you. So how do they differ?

The main difference is in the sort of meat cooked and the cooking process. Chipotle uses beef to make barbacoa and pork for the carnitas.

This article will share with you more about the differences between these dishes. Let’s get right into the details!

What Are The Differences Between Barbacoa Vs. Carnitas At Chipotle?

It’s hard to determine the better option between barbacoa vs. carnitas at Chipotle. It’s all about your tastes in terms of flavor and nutrition, as well as the food you’re serving with.

Meat used

The most evident distinction between these cuisines is the meat used. Chipotle believes that only beef can make the best of its barbacoa. Similarly, pork is perfect for carnitas.


Barbacoa shines out a little more than its competitor in terms of texture and flavor, particularly at Chipotle. This dish has a heartier texture and a deeper taste.

Carnitas, on the other hand, has a significantly softer flavor profile. However, it has a crunchy texture from browning it after the slow-cooking process.

Some restaurants may cook pork with berries or bay leaves, giving it a somewhat fruity taste similar to a freshly roasted coffee. However, the greatest carnitas is simple, allowing the pork aroma to pop out.

Differences in meat and cooking methods lead to different tastes (image)


With the keto diet being all the rage these days now, you might be wondering which food is beneficial for people on a low-carb diet.

Fortunately, both are keto-friendly, although carnitas could be a better choice. Each serving of this dish has no carb. Meanwhile, you may expect about 2 grams of carbs for each serving of barbacoa.

Now, let’s summarize the differences between these Mexican cuisines:

Meat usedBeefPork
Carbs per serving2 grams0 gram


Chipotle claims to employ ethically farmed beef in their barbacoa. Healthy animal farming methods allow farmers to rear their animals on meadows.

Chipotle prefers the shoulder cut to prepare barbacoa because it includes fat to keep the flesh moist throughout the long slow cooking process.

They marinate the beef overnight with oregano, bay leaves, pepper adobo, and cloves. Then, they shred the meat by hand after slowly cooking it at low heat.

Ultimate Instructions To Create Barbacoa

To make this excellent cuisine, you can follow these steps:

  • Prepare 2 pounds of meat, one slice of onion, and sauce made for beef barbacoa.
  • Brown the meat on both sides.
  • Put the meat in a cooker.
  • Top your meat with onion and seasoning.
  • Allow it to cook for 8 hours on low heat.
  • You can serve the barbacoa with tacos for the best result.


Carnitas at Chipotle is shredded pork after being cooked for about eight hours with lard, traditionally.

The spicy carnitas adds more flavor and is perfect for putting in tacos, burrito bowls, or by themselves.

Step-By-Step Instructions Make Carnitas

The secret ingredient in making this dish is always juniper berries. Here is how to bring out the best of it:

  • Brown the pork to seal the flavors.
  • Put a big saucepan on the stovetop and add some veg oil, and heat for five minutes at high heat.
  • When the oil warms up, wash the pork, dry, and season it on all surfaces with salt and pepper.
  • After warming the saucepan, drop it in the oil and then cook for about four minutes per side, or until both sides form a crust.
  • Move your meat from the stovetop to the slow cooker. Add the juniper berries, bay leaves, dried thyme, and water in a large mixing bowl.
  • Simmer for four hours on high heat and eight hours on low heat.
  • Remove the meat from the water when the time has passed, and shred your food with two forks.
  • Drain the fat from the liquid and return the shredded meat to soak up any remaining juices.
  • You may either move the pork onto parchment paper and bake them for three to five minutes in the oven to brown up the edges or serve them right away.


These dishes have a lot in common. It all comes down to your preference and requirement to determine the better one.

Barbacoa is definitely your best bet if you’re looking for a flavorful, quick-to-prepare cuisine.

Carnitas, on the other hand, is suitable for big groups. However, you will need more time to prepare. Hopefully, you will find this article helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.