Smoky Sweet Beef Tacos with Avocado Tomatillo Sauce

Austin is big on tacos. While the rest of the country has them relegated to lunch and dinner, we’ve made them a staple at breakfast and post-drunken noshings. Because we eat them so often, we’re always on the lookout for ways to change them up and take them back from certain fast-food joints and their dubious practices.

No weird ingredients or mislabeling here. We’ve got 100 percent Texas beef shoulder. A little bit of spice and an afternoon of cooking turns a hunk of meat into a tender, versatile dinner. It might not seem like much, but I love this cut of meat for how easy it is to turn into anything. Plus, a beef shoulder is big – you’ll have enough meat for a family dinner and then some, especially when paired with a crisp green salad.

Smoky Sweet Beef Taco
There are lots of recipes out there for shredded beef, but I have to question the multitude of ingredients many feature. One thing that puts many off cooking (including my husband) is an ingredient list with more line items than the Wisconsin state budget. Let’s keep it simple, OK?

Having too many ingredients causes competition for your taste buds. We don’t want competition when it comes to food. It’s confusing for your tongue to be assailed from all directions. We want the natural flavor of the beef to shine through. We want harmony. Rachel Berry flavors need not apply for a role in my kitchen.

I use the adobo sauce in both the beef and the avocado tomatillo sauce. You should be able to find this near the canned jalapenos in your grocery store. It’s labeled as Chipotle in Adobo Sauce. This recipe just uses the sauce, but save the chipotle for something else. If you’ve never cooked with adobo sauce before, be sure to try it before adding to the food. You may find you want more or less. I tend to keep the spice on the lower end because I’m cooking for a toddler. Heat should be an option, not a foregone conclusion.

Smoky Sweet Beef Taco

Smoky Sweet Beef Tacos
  • 1 beef arm shoulder, about 3 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into half-moons
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 dashes liquid smoke
  1. Preheat oven to 275F.
  2. Put the olive oil in a dutch oven and heat over medium.
  3. Mix the paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper together and rub into beef shoulder on all sides. Put shoulder in dutch oven and sear on all sides. Remove from heat. Lift up shoulder and put onions underneath.
  4. Mix together the remaining ingredients. You should have a thick sauce. Pour half of it over the beef and reserve the rest. Cover beef and put in oven for about 2 hours.
  5. Remove from oven, turn beef over, and pour on remaining sauce. Cook an additional 2-3 hours, until beef shreds easily. Serve with the roasted onions and avocado tomatillo sauce.

Recipe: Avocado Tomatillo Sauce


  • 4 tomatillos
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce


  1. Remove husks from tomatillos and wash off any stray dirt. Put into a small saucepan filled with water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, until skin is easily pierced. (Be careful; the juices can spurt.) Drain and set aside.
  2. Halve avocado and scoop into a bowl or blender. Juice lime and add to avocado, then add salt. Add tomatillos and blend until smooth. Stir in adobo sauce, and adjust salt to taste.

Smoky Sweet Beef Taco
Disclaimer: I created this recipe as part of my involvement with the Texas Beef Council via Foodbuzz. I have been compensated for my time and expenses, but my opinions are my own.

For more meaty goodness, check out my Beef board on Pinterest!
Follow Megan Myers | Stetted’s board Beef Recipes on Pinterest.


  1. says

    You had me at the sweet & smoky! I love a good taco — and I really like the idea of the cream tomatillo sauce. YUM.


  2. says

    Oh I can definitely eat tacos for every single meal. The craziest thing was when I first moved to SF and I could not for the life of me find a place that served breakfast tacos!! Isn’t that crazy?! I was so used to finding them everywhere in Texas! I love using the adobo sauce in those chipotle cans, so I can’t wait to try this recipe.


  3. says

    Tacos for breakfast? Did I read that right? Wow, I would never have thought. But then again, people have breakfast burritos right? These tacos look amazing! I am super jealous, and especially hungry now. And I really love your tomatillo avocado sauce. It looks really unique and fun.


    Megan Reply:

    Yes! Breakfast tacos are a cornerstone of Austin dining. Scrambled eggs are the basis of most, but you can do without eggs. Then add beans, bacon, sausage, chorizo, cheese, guacamole, salsa, potato… basically anything. LOVE them.


  4. says

    Oh SAD, I miss tacos now! I had some great tacos whilst in Texas and now I’m back in the UK I’m going to be totally taco-less. LAME.

    Guess I’ll have to make some of my own 😉

    Jax x


  5. says

    Wow, these look great! Texas has such awesome food. I can’t believe I never thought to combine avocado and tomatillos. And now I know why I’ve been saving that arm roast from our homegrown beef in the freezer. Thanks for the delicious inspiration. Can’t wait to try this. :)



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