Sopes de Barbacoa: A Traditional Mexican Delight

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Sopes de Barbacoa is a beloved Mexican dish that combines the hearty and savory flavors of barbacoa with the delightful texture of sopes. Sopes are thick, round discs made from masa (corn dough) that are slightly fried and topped with various ingredients. When paired with barbacoa, a slow-cooked, flavorful meat, sopes become an irresistible and satisfying meal. This dish is perfect for family gatherings, special occasions, or simply when you want to enjoy a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine.


For the Barbacoa:
  • 3-4 pounds beef cheek meat or beef chuck roast
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup beef broth or water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Sopes:
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Oil for frying
For the Toppings:
  • Refried beans
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese
  • Sliced avocado
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Salsa or hot sauce
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges


  1. Prepare the Barbacoa:

    Marinate the Meat:

    • Trim any excess fat from the beef cheek meat or beef chuck roast and cut it into large chunks.
    • Season the meat generously with salt and pepper.
    • In a blender or food processor, combine minced garlic, chopped onion, chipotle peppers, ground cumin, dried oregano, smoked paprika, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, and beef broth or water. Blend until smooth.
    • Place the meat in a large bowl or dish and pour the marinade over it, ensuring each piece is well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

    Cook the Barbacoa:

    • Preheat your oven to 275°F (135°C) or prepare a slow cooker.
    • Transfer the marinated meat and marinade into a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, or into the slow cooker.
    • If using an oven, cover the pot and cook for 4-5 hours, or until the meat is tender and easily shreds with a fork. If using a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
    • Once cooked, shred the meat using two forks and keep it warm.
  2. Prepare the Sopes:
    • In a large bowl, combine the masa harina, warm water, and salt. Mix until a smooth dough forms.
    • Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball.
    • Flatten each ball into a thick disc, about 3-4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.
    • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
    • Fry the sopes in batches until golden brown and slightly crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Assemble the Sopes de Barbacoa:
    • Spread a layer of refried beans on each sope.
    • Top with a generous portion of shredded barbacoa.
    • Add shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, crumbled queso fresco, sliced avocado, and a drizzle of Mexican crema or sour cream.
    • Finish with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
    • Serve with salsa or hot sauce on the side.

Tips for Serving

  • For added flavor, you can lightly toast the sopes on a griddle before adding the toppings.
  • Sopes de Barbacoa pair wonderfully with a side of Mexican rice and a refreshing beverage such as horchata or a cold cerveza.
  • Customize your sopes with additional toppings like pickled jalapeños, radishes, or a sprinkle of chili powder.


Sopes de Barbacoa is a delicious and satisfying dish that brings together the best of Mexican cuisine. The combination of tender, flavorful barbacoa and crispy, golden sopes creates a culinary experience that is both comforting and exciting. Whether you’re enjoying them as a meal or serving them at a festive gathering, Sopes de Barbacoa are sure to impress and delight. Embrace the rich traditions of Mexican cooking with this delightful dish, and savor the flavors that make it so special.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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