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Can You Freeze Barbacoa?

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By Ross Young

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Barbacoa is a delicious Mexican dish that is typically made from beef, goat, lamb, or mutton. Once cooked, barbacoa is full of flavour, tender and is a mouthwatering prospect for your dinner guests. But what happens if you have leftovers? What’s the best way to preserve it?

Can You Freeze Barbacoa?

Yes, you can freeze barbacoa for up to 3 months. Once cooked, leave it to cool at room temperature before bagging it up in individual portions. You can then seal and label the bags before leaving your barbacoa in the freezer.

Does Barbacoa Freeze Well? Yes

Can You Refreeze Barbacoa? No

How to Freeze Barbacoa

Although barbacoa is a relatively complex dish to get right, freezing it is nice and straightforward. And given that you’ve gone to all that effort to perfect this Mexican classic, the last thing you want is for the leftovers to go to waste!

So, to ensure you can enjoy barbacoa leftovers sometime in the future, here’s how to freeze this delicious dish:

  1. Cool
    As soon as you’ve removed the barbacoa from the oven, transfer it to a bowl and leave it sitting out at room temperature until it has cooled completely. The time it takes to cool will depend on the size of the portion that you’ve prepared. It’s best to cover the bowl with a paper towel while the meat is cooling. 
  2. Portion
    Next, decide how you want to split your cooked barbacoa to make your life that little bit easier when it comes to thawing it. We’d recommend splitting it into individual serving sizes, but it’s entirely up to you. 
  3. Bag up
    Place each serving of barbacoa in a freezer-safe bag, leaving at least an inch from the top. Then, press out as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it. This will help to protect the meat from freezer burn. 
  4. Label and freeze
    Write today’s date and the use-by date on the front of each of the bags before placing them in the freezer.

3 Tips for Freezing Barbacoa

Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing barbacoa to have the best results:

Freeze Any Meat Types
Although barbacoa is often made with beef, you can freeze this delicious Mexican dish whether you use beef, lamb, or mutton. You can freeze the dish regardless of its ingredients by following the steps above, so you don’t need to worry about which type of meat you have used.

Only Freeze Once
Barbacoa is a delicious dish when freshly prepared, but it still tastes great after it has been frozen once. However, you should only freeze barbacoa once.

This is because the meat is extremely tender when it has been oven-cooked, and the more times you freeze it, the more likely you are to spoil the texture of the meat. And given that barbacoa is renowned for its texture and consistency, you don’t want to risk spoiling it by freezing it more than once!

Freeze Before OR After Cooking
When preparing barbacoa for your family, you can freeze it before or after cooking it.

This is ideal if you’re preparing a particularly large batch, as you can set some aside for freezing while it’s still raw. Then, if you have leftovers after cooking your barbacoa, you can then freeze them in a separate freezer-safe bag.

How Long Can You Freeze Barbacoa?

You can freeze barbacoa for around three months. Meat generally does really well in the freezer, but we wouldn’t recommend exceeding this timeframe.

If you do, you might find that your barbacoa isn’t quite as tender as you would have hoped when you come to cook or reheat it in the future.

So, to avoid future disappointment, wrap and freeze your barbacoa for around three months for the best results.

You Can Freeze Barbacoa for up to 3 Months

How Do You Defrost Barbacoa?

Defrosting barbacoa is as straightforward as freezing it in the first place. The night before you plan to cook or reheat it, transfer it from the freezer to the fridge. It will defrost overnight and be ready to reheat or prepare in any way that you choose.

It’s important to thaw barbacoa before cooking or reheating it to ensure it has that delicious texture that the dish is renowned for.

You should never thaw barbacoa at room temperature, as doing so may cause the meat to spoil.

Can You Refreeze Barbacoa?

We would only recommend freezing barbacoa once. As mentioned above, this is because the Mexican dish is renowned for being tender and delicious.

If you freeze and thaw it several times, it will be much more difficult to cook it to perfection. This is why it’s a good idea to freeze barbacoa in smaller portions, so you can easily remove what you need at any given time, reducing the need to refreeze it.

Does Barbacoa Freeze Well?

Overall, barbacoa freezes really well, and you can freeze it raw or after cooking it. Just remember that you need to wrap it tightly and store it in sealed, freezer-safe bags, and your leftover barbacoa will be good in the freezer for around three months.

If you’ve still got questions about freezing barbacoa or barbacoa in general, then these may help:

Can You Freeze Shredded Beef?

Yes, shredded beef can be frozen for around 3 months. Once cooled, portion it out into good-quality freezer bags, seal and then place into the freezer.

Can You Freeze Barbacoa Sauce?

You can freeze barbacoa sauce or marinade. Decant into small Tupperware containers and seal tightly. It’s important that it is stored airtight. If you’re not sure the container is sealed tightly, wrap in a sheet of cling film or foil too.

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