Recipe courtesy of Johnny Hernandez

Barbacoa Nortena

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr 25 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 8 to 12 servings
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5 pounds boneless leg of lamb

Salt and pepper

6 cloves garlic

1 white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick 

4 dried avocado leaves 

4 sprigs fresh oregano 

4 sprigs fresh thyme 

2 sprigs dried epazote 

1/4 bunch fresh parsley 

Banana leaves, to cover 


Chopped onions

Chopped fresh cilantro

Lime wedges

Avocado slices

Salsa, store-bought or homemade 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Generously rub the lamb with salt and pepper and place in a large pot. Add enough water to reach three-quarters of the way up the sides of the meat. Add the garlic, onions, avocado leaves, oregano, thyme, epazote and parsley. Cover the meat with banana leaves and the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Place in the oven and cook until fork tender (the meat should easily pull apart and shred), approximately 3 hours. Remove the herbs and chop the meat.
  3. Serve garnished with onions, cilantro, lime, avocado and salsa.

Cook’s Note

Barbacoa is traditionally served for breakfast with corn or flour tortillas. It also makes an excellent taco and a great accompaniment to huevos rancheros.