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smoked beef cheeks taco

Smoked Beef Cheeks (Barbacoa) Tacos

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Author Mat Cotton


  • 1 beef cheek per person (plus 1 spare)
  • 11 oz ginger beer
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • tortillas

For the rub:

  • 2 parts ground pepper
  • 1.5 parts kosher salt
  • 1 part garlic granules

For the salsa:

  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes (I like roma tomatoes), diced
  • 2 small red onions, finely diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Make the rub by combining all ingredients in a large bowl and mixing well.
  • Trim your beef cheeks of all external fat and silverskin.
  • Lightly oil cheeks and sprinkle over rub on both sides of cheeks.
  • Prepare your smoker to 250 - 300 F.
  • Smoke beef cheeks for around 3 hours, until the deep mahogany color, or 170 F.
  • Prepare your salsa by combining all ingredients, except oil and lime juice, s&p. Refrigerate until needed.
  • Boat your beef cheeks in an aluminum tray, and cover with 330 ml ginger beer, and then sprinkle 2 tbsp brown sugar per 3 beef cheeks over cheeks. Cover with aluminum foil, then put back into the smoker.
  • Smoke for a further 2-3 hours, until they probe like butter. This should be around 203 - 210 F. Rest beef cheeks.
  • Add a drizzle of olive oil and juice of 1 lime to salsa, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pull beef cheeks and serve on tortillas with the salsa and some sliced chilli.